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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)



Reviews and Comments

Many of Frank Capra's films are about ordinary guys caught up one way or another in the merciless wheels of government and economics. He doesn't pull his punches when portraying the brutality and injustice frequently caused by a system that's lost its humanity, and yet he still manages to make you laugh and, by the end, feel good.

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town is one of the first such movies to come from Capra, and while he topped himself later several times, this film is a cherished classic. Mr. Deeds is played by Gary Cooper, and he's perfect for the part of the down-to-earth protagonist -- so perfect that he was cast as a similar character in Capra's Meet John Doe five years later. The movie opens with Deeds inheriting 20 million dollars from a long lost relative. But it doesn't phase him. It doesn't excite him unduly, as such an event would one of the unwitting slaves to the world of economics. And when he wants to do something charitable with the money, it sends everyone who's after it into raging fits. The wheels of injustice threaten.

The social commentary here is admittedly obvious, but it's done with such artistry and humor and performed by an instantly likeable cast. It's hard not to be won over by the film, and that is part of Capra's timeless magic.