Friday, September 21, 2012

Talk of the Town (1942)




“What is the law? It's a gun pointed at somebody's head. All depends upon which end of the gun you stand, whether the law is just or not.”

            When I read the summary for Talk of the Town I was expecting the film to be a long straight forward drama. I should have known a bit better since Jean Arthur one of the funniest classic actresses and Cary Grant are in the film together… although they had made the drama Only Angels Have Wings which was not that great. Anyway, honestly I watched the film mostly because I was looking for something different to watch and I found it on Youtube and I wanted to watch it before it disappeared. I had an excellent time watching Talk of the Town it was a perfect mix of seriousness and comedy.
            The film begins with a fire at a factory and a man dying in the fire. The fire and the death are immediately blamed on Leopold Dilg (Grant). Leopold escapes from jail. He evades the police long enough to run to the home of a woman he had grown up with. Nora Shelley (Arthur) was at her former house that she and her mother are renting out to someone the next day when Leopold shows up. She is not happy to see him but has no choice to keep him in the house after he collapses from running and the pain in his ankle.
            Not long after there is a knock on the door. Nora rushes Leopold to the attic. Standing outside is the renter a law professor named Michael Lightcap (Ronald Coleman). Nora keeps Michael outside for a few minutes to allow Leopold to get to the attic. She is freaking out a little bit because Michael was not supposed to be at the house until the following day. All Michael wants is to go to sleep he is very tired. He tells Nora not to slam the door on her way out but she slams the door and runs back upstairs to Leopold. When Michael wakes up in the middle of the night for another blanket he sees Nora is still in the house. She tells him that she and her mother have had a fight and she had planned to stay the night to give her some space from her mother. Michael gives her pajamas to sleep in. During the rest of the night Leopold can be heard snoring very loudly in the attic. Michael thinks the snoring is coming from Nora and tells her in the morning.
            In the morning Leopold’s lawyer comes to the house explaining that Leopold was set up for the fire and the murder the owner of the factory hated him. Michael does not want anything to do with the case he is on vacation to write a book. At this point everyone and their mother comes to the house either reporters or furniture movers or the police. When everyone leaves Nora tells Michael she can be his stenographer and cook so she can stay in the house for Leopold. He reluctantly agrees.
            One day as Michael was dictating a letter to Nora outside she sees Leopold come downstairs from the attic looking for food. He cannot help but put in his two cents about law and philosophy. Nora quickly pulls herself together telling Michael that Leopold is the gardener Joseph. The same day the senator comes by the house to tell Michael that the President of the United States has named him (Michael) as a judge of the Supreme Court. All he has to do is stay out of the papers.
            As the days go by Leopold and Michael become very good friends. He has Nora take Michael places to see how corrupt the town is with their views on Leopold. The judge of the case already has his mind made up that Leopold is guilty without hearing the evidence. The police get a tip that Leopold is at Nora’s house after Michael and Nora order food from a deli of something only he gets. Michael finds out who Leopold really is but when he goes to call the police Leopold punches him out.
            To make a very long story short Michael and Nora help to get the man who was supposed to be dead and expose the corrupt judge as well as the factory owner.
            I loved the way Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, and Ronald Coleman all worked together they were excellent. You can tell they all got along (well I hope they got along it seems like they did) and had good chemistry. I like seeing Cary Grant play a seemingly bad guy but turns out to be good. That did not work too well for him in Suspicion but that aspect works very well for him here. Jean Arthur was a panic. She was a neurotic mess. She was the comedic break of the film. I was cracking up when she woke up the morning after Leopold and Michael came to the house and she was in Michael’s pajamas. She was looking at herself in the mirror and doing a little act that was so cute and hysterical. The whole scene where she is in Michael’s pajamas was adorable everyone kept commenting. Ronald Coleman was just charming and sweet. I can listen to the man talk all day he is the kind of actor that can make the phone book sound interesting. Coleman was in his fifties by this time and he did not look like it at all he was still incredibly handsome.
            Talk of the Town while a little long and drawn out in some parts especially at the end was very good and very entertaining. The story was not bad at all. The characters and the actors were perfect. Talk of the Town is still on Youtube so watch it if you can before it gets taken down.