People Will Talk
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Screen legend Cary Grant stars as Dr. Noah Praetorius, a lovable professor and head of a medical clinic who becomes the subject of a McCarthy-style investigation initiated by a jealous colleague (Hume Cronyn). Along the way, Praetorius befriends and ultimately marries a young woman who attempts suicide when she discovers she is pregnant. Baut as the witch-hunt into the good doctor's personal life progresses, so do the laughs in this well-crafted, all-star treasure that should be part of every film lover's collection of classics.
After winning consecutive best director Oscars (for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve), Joseph Mankiewicz turned his attention to this extremely curious social comedy. Cary Grant plays a famous, idealistic gynecologist whose mysterious past is questioned by a vindictive colleague (Hume Cronyn). Meanwhile, the doctor falls for a pregnant patient (Jeanne Crain), whose unmarried status is daring for a movie of 1951 vintage. The title is an all-too-apt description of Mankiewicz's chatty style, but it also carries sinister echoes of the McCarthy era--specifically, an attempted right-wing purge of the Director's Guild, I which Mankiewicz was the main target. This subtext lends interest beyond the movie's rather tame romance. The Grant character, named Doctor Praetorius (no relation to the Bride of Frankenstein wacko, one hopes), conducts a college orchestra and is prone to "twilight sadness"--it's an offbeat role for the actor, and one he clearly relishes. --Robert Horton
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one thing that will be evident to cary grant's fans is his subtle handling of the characterization of dr praetorius. he's not so Out There that he seems grating or disgustingly cocky. the attraction between grant and jeanne craine doesn't rush at you either, but evidence of it is there early in the film, and it blossoms.
there are several scenes that stand out in this film. my favorite is the little monologue served up to prof. elwell by mr shunderson at the end. but there's also shunderson's story as told by him and dr praetorius.
the entire movie is delicious and, as always, it's a pleasure to gaze upon the exquisite gorgeousness and high-level talent that is cary grant.
Hume Cronyn -- in a nice performance as a curmudgenly medical doctor/professor -- is jealous of Grant. He goes after Grant to try to smear him and get him dismissed from the college where Grant is also a medical doctor/professor. Cronyn throughout his career could play anything and could play any age. He was still fairly young when this film was made, but he manages to give the viewer the impression that he is a crotchety old guy who can't stand anyone who is more popular or skilled than he.
Jeanne Crain somehow pulls off a cringe-worthy character whose dialogue at times is so dumb you want to scream -- but it doesn't matter because she does a good job of making you believe that she believes who she is.
Margaret Hamilton -- (Wicked Witch of the West -- Wizard of Oz) -- supplies the inside info so Cronyn can go after Grant.
Walter Slezak plays a professor and friend of Grant's. He gives the film the comic relief it needs. Why the film has Grant as the conductor of the college orchestra is a mystery -- unless it was supposed to be a counterpoint to his doctor role -- and to allow Slezak a fine comic bit while playing a cello.
The production code was till in effect when this film was made, which probably accounts for some of the strange dialogue, and of course, the "happy" ending -- mandatory at the time.
It is not a long film. Worth seeing.
Do we value our social status in life, more than our compassion for another human being? Can we protect the dignity of another person with all our heart and energy?
These are just a couple of the fascinating topics explored by this wonderful movie. A simply fantastic movie full of social commentary that is just as relevant now as it was over 60 years ago when this movie was filmed.
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