The Talk of the Town (1942 film)

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The Talk of the Town
The Talk of the Town dvd cover.jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by George Stevens
Produced by George Stevens
Fred Guiol
Screenplay by Dale Van Every
Irwin Shaw
Sidney Buchman
Story by Sidney Harmon
Starring Cary Grant
Jean Arthur
Ronald Colman
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography Ted Tetzlaff
Edited by Otto Meyer
Production
  company
Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 20, 1942 (1942-08-20) (US)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million[1]

The Talk of the Town is a 1942 American comedy/drama film directed by George Stevens, starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman, with a supporting cast featuring Edgar Buchanan and Glenda Farrell. The screenplay was adapted by Dale Van Every, Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman from a story by Sidney Harmon. The picture was released by Columbia Pictures.

Plot[edit]

Mill worker and political activist Leopold Dilg (Cary Grant) is accused of burning down a mill and causing the death of a foreman in the fire. In the middle of his trial, Dilg escapes from jail and seeks shelter in a house owned by former schoolmate Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur), now a schoolteacher on whom he has had a crush for years. Shelley has the house rented for the summer to distinguished law professor Michael Lightcap (Ronald Colman), who plans to write a book. Both Lightcap and Dilg arrive within minutes of each other.

When Dilg is spotted by Lightcap, Shelley passes him off as her gardener. Lightcap and Dilg enjoy having spirited discussions about the law, Lightcap arguing from an academic viewpoint, while Dilg subscribes to a more practical approach. They become good friends as a result, but meanwhile they become romantic rivals, as Lightcap also falls in love with Nora.

As a result of prodding by Shelley and Dilg's lawyer, Lightcap becomes suspicious and starts, in spite of his initial reluctance, to investigate the case against Dilg further. He romances the girlfriend of the supposed murder victim and discovers that the former foreman is still alive and hiding in Boston. He is 'persuaded' to return to town and admit his guilt and that of the mill owner.

Lightcap also convinces Dilg of the importance of following the law and Dilg gives himself up. In due course, he is set free.

Soon afterward, Lightcap is appointed to the Supreme Court. He asks Shelley to marry him. Dilg tells Shelley that Lightcap's a fine man, but she decides in favor of Dilg.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The Talk of the Town began with the working title "Mr. Twilight", but Cary Grant insisted it be changed, suspecting that if the movie appeared to be about a single male character, then Colman, who had the better role, would steal the show.[citation needed] The title The Talk of the Town was registered to Universal Studios, and Columbia had to give them the rights to use Sin Town in return. The film is now considered a classic.[2]

Other titles once mentioned as possible for the film included "Three's a Crowd", "The Gentlemen Misbehave", "Justice Winks an Eye", "In Love with You", "You're Wonderful", "A Local Affair", "The Woman's Touch", "Morning for Angels", "Scandal in Lochester", "The Lochester Affair", and even "Nothing Ever Happens".[3]

Principal photography, originally scheduled to begin January 17, 1942, was delayed when the news of the accidental death of Carole Lombard became known.[4]

The role of Colman's valet, played by Rex Ingram, was at the time a rare example of a non-stereotypical part for an African-American actor. Also unusual was the presence of two leading men: at this point in their careers both Grant and Colman had been used to having that role all to themselves. The situation is reflected in the plot, since audiences are kept guessing until the end who Arthur's character would chose to marry.[4] Stevens filmed both versions, leaving it to test screenings to determine the ending.[4]

Reception[edit]

Critical assessments[edit]

According to Bosley Crowther, "the essential purpose of this tale is to amuse with some devious dilemmas, and that it does right well"; he called the script "smart and lively."[5] According to Variety, the film's "transition from serious or melodramatic to the slap-happy and humorous sometimes is a bit awkward, but in the main it is solid escapist comedy."[6]

Academy Awards[edit]

Nominations[7]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Dick, p 160
  2. ^ Dick, p.79
  3. ^ Moss, Marilyn Ann (2004), Giant: George Stevens, a life on film, Terrace Books, p. 94, ISBN 978-0-299-20430-3 
  4. ^ a b c Thames, Stephanie. "The Talk of the Town (article)". TCM.com. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (August 28, 1942). "The Talk of the Town, a Smart Comedy, Starring Cary Grant, Ronald Colman, Jean Arthur, Arrives at the Music Hall". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  6. ^ "Talk of the Town". Variety. 1942. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  7. ^ "The Talk of the Town". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 

Bibliography

External links[edit]