Mr. Deeds Goes to Town


1h 55m 1936
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Brief Synopsis

When he inherits a fortune, a small-town poet has to deal with the corruption of city life.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Gentleman Goes to Town, Opera Hat
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Apr 12, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Budington Kelland in American Magazine (Apr--Sep 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,617ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

Martin W. Semple dies and leaves $20 million to his nephew, Longfellow Deeds, a tuba-playing resident of Mandrake Falls, which is a small town in Vermont. John Cedar, the deceased's lawyer, and Cornelius Cobb, a press agent, tell Deeds about his fortune and take him to New York City. Deeds quickly becomes tangled in the problems of the rich, including being the chairman of the board of the local opera company and dismissing a false claimant to the estate. Meanwhile, Cedar tries to obtain power of attorney from Deeds to cover up the half million dollars his firm embezzled from the estate. Cobb fights off the press, with the exception of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Babe Bennett, who poses as impoverished Mary Dawson to get a scoop on Deeds. She faints in front of the kindhearted Deeds, who takes her to a restaurant and falls for her almost immediately. The restaurant is a favorite spot for famous writers, and after being introduced to some poets he admires, Deeds realizes they are ridiculing his greeting card poetry. He punches two of the sneering poets, but lets one of them, Morrow, take him on an all-night binge. The normally temperate Deeds gets drunk, feeds donuts to a horse and, wearing only his underwear, is escorted home by the police. The next day a newspaper article appears chronicling his adventures and branding him "The Cinderella Man." Cobb restrains Deeds from any rash action, and although hurt by the article, Deeds carries on. Weeks pass, and Cedar is distraught about not obtaining power of attorney from Deeds, while Mr. and Mrs. Semple, Deeds' cousins, come to the law firm to make a claim against him. During this time, Babe, who is falling in love with Deeds, continues to secretly publish inflammatory articles about him. Soon Deeds and society hostess Madame Pomponi hold a charity reception, but Deeds, sick of his guests' arrogance and eager to keep a date with Babe, throws them out, then rushes to Babe's apartment, gives her a poem and proposes. She quits her job the next morning, hoping that Deeds will forgive her when she tells him the truth. At the same time she is quitting, however, Cobb is revealing her identity to Deeds, who is crushed. He is about to leave for Mandrake Falls when a starving farmer bursts in and accuses him of neglecting the poor by wasting his money on high society high jinks. Inspired by the man's pleas, Deeds decides to give farms to needy families, and devises an $18 million dispersement plan, which horrifies Cedar and the Semples, who have Deeds arrested on an insanity charge. At the sanity hearing, the dispirited Deeds refuses to defend himself, preferring to listen silently to the exaggerations and lies told about him. When Judge May concludes that Deeds must be committed to an asylum, Babe protests in open court, explaining that Deeds is not defending himself because he has been hurt by her and the others. Under cross-examination by Cedar, she admits she loves Deeds, while her editor, MacWade, Cobb and the farmers all urge him to defend himself. He finally takes the stand and points out the eccentricities of others in the courtroom, including those of Judge May and the psychiatrist, then explains that he is giving the money away to those who need it most. Judge May dismisses all the charges against Deeds and the crowd sweeps Deeds out, while Babe remains weeping until he returns to carry her away.

Cast

Gary Cooper

Longfellow Deeds

Jean Arthur

[Louise] Babe Bennett [also known as Mary Dawson]

George Bancroft

MacWade

Lionel Stander

Cornelius Cobb

Douglass Dumbrille

John Cedar

Raymond Walburn

Walter

H. B. Warner

Judge May

Ruth Donnelly

Mabel Dawson

Walter Catlett

Morrow

John Wray

Farmer

Margaret Matzenauer

Madame Pomponi

Warren Hymer

Bodyguard

Muriel Evans

Theresa

Spencer Charters

Mal

Emma Dunn

Mrs. Meredith

Wyrley Birch

Psychiatrist

Arthur Hoyt

Budington

Stanley Andrews

James Cedar

Pierre Watkin

Arthur Cedar

Christian Rub

Swenson

Jameson Thomas

Mr. Semple

Mayo Methot

Mrs. Semple

Russell Hicks

Dr. Malcolm

Gustav Von Seyffertitz

Dr. Frazier

Edward Le Saint

Dr. Fosdick

Charles Lane

Hallor

Irving Bacon

Frank

George Cooper

Bob

Gene Morgan

Waiter

Barnett Parker

Butler

Margaret Seddon

Jane Faulkner

Margaret Mcwade

Amy Faulkner

Harry C. Bradley

Anderson

Edward Gargan

Second bodyguard

Edwin Maxwell

Douglas

Paul Hurst

First deputy

Paul Porcasi

Italian

Adrian Rosley

Italian interpreter

Franklin Pangborn

Tailor

George F. Hayes

Farmers' spokesman

Charles Wilson

Guard

Harry Holden

Guard

Gladden James

Court clerk

Billy Bevan

Cabby

George Meeker

Brookfield

Edward Keane

Member of the board of directors

John Picorri

Member of the board of directors

Frederic Roland

Member of board of directors

Harry Stafford

Member of the board of directors

George Pauncefort

Member of the board of directors

Edwin Mordant

Member of the board of directors

Lee Shumway

Bailiff

Eddie Kane

Henneberry

Beatrice Curtis

Secretary

Beatrice Blinn

Assistant secretary

Frank Holliday

Mr. Dodsworth

Sherry Hall

Charlie

Frank Austin

Mr. Rankin

Jack Clifford

Court policeman

Oliver Eckhardt

Dr. Emerson

Lew Hicks

Chuck Collins

Arthur Rankin

Reporter

Steve Clark

Reporter

Richard Powell

Reporter

John Tyrrell

Reporter

Jack Hatfield

Reporter

Jack Mower

Reporter

Sam Blum

Reporter

Jess Mendelson

Reporter

Antrim Short

Reporter

Bert Moorhouse

Reporter

Bud Flannigan

Reporter

Charles Conrad

Reporter

Al Herman

Reporter

Mike Lally

Reporter

Ralph Mccullough

Reporter

James B. Leong

Chinese chauffeur

Edgar Bingham

Tailor

Lawrence Wheat

Clerk

Ky Robinson

Second deputy

William Irving

Writer

John T. Murray

Writer

Jay Eaton

Writer

James Conaty

Auditor

John Binns

Old lawyer

Jack H. Minton

Young lawyer

Bond Davis

Young lawyer

Pauline Wagner

Telephone operator

Frank Hammond

Man at information desk

Lee Willard

Business man

Bill Phillips

Cameraman

Bob Wallace

Cameraman

Charles Sullivan

Taxicab driver

Patricia Monroe

Hat check girl

Lillian Ross

Hat check girl

Peggy Page

Cigarette girl

Janet Eastman

Shop girl

Mary Lou Dix

Shop girl

Bob Ellsworth

Policeman

Hal Price

Policeman

Jack Cheatham

Policeman

Charles Hamilton

Policeman

Fay Holderness

Nurse

Katherine Block

Nurse

Otto Gervice

Patient

Don Wayson

Intern

Jim Millican

Intern

Harvey Sheppard

Intern

Hal Budlong

Elevator man

B. L. Dale

Farmer

Hank Bell

Farmer

Fred Cady

Farmer

S. S. Simon

Farmer

Charles E. Brinley

Farmer

Ced Talbot

Farmer

Ethel Palmer

Governess

Dale Van Sickel

Lawyer

Georgie Billings

Florence Dudley

Carleton E. Griffin

Ed Mortimer

Thomas Curran

Larry Steers

John W. Gustin

Arthur Stuart Hull

Gertrude Pedlar

Esther Peck

Georgia Cooper

Helen Hickson

Dora Clement

Louise Bates

Vesey O'davoren

Vera Burnett

Mrs. Chasen

Joe Bordeaux

Bobby Dunn

Charles W. Hertzinger

Anne Kunde

Anne Schaefer

Bessie Wade

Lillian Lawrence

Mary Starling

Rita Donlin

Bobbie Beal

Barbara Knox

Kathryn Connolly

Barbara Bodwin

Althea Henley

Mary Jane Carey

Peter Duray

Broderick O'farrell

Pat Somerset

Frederick Lee

Susan Rhoades

Ellinor Vanderveer

Flo Wix

Stella Le Saint

Beth Hartman

Bess Flowers

Kay Smith

Peggy Terry

Juanita Crosland

Ann Doran

Photo Collections

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Movie Posters
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Movie Posters

Videos

Movie Clip

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - I Wonder Why He Left Me All That Money? Lawyers Cedar and Anderson (Douglas Dumbrille, Harry C. Bradley) and PR man Cobb (Lionel Stander) find Gary Cooper (title character, ) at his Vermont home, informing him of his giant inheritance, Frank Capra directing from Robert Riskin’s screenplay, in Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - I'm Really Just Nobody Planning his first unsupervised evening in New York, newly super-rich Vermonter Gary Cooper ducks his minders (Charles Wilson, Harry Holden) then falls completely for the act staged by reporter Babe (Jean Arthur), their first meeting, in Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - Your Power Of Attorney Reporter Babe (Jean Arthur) is introduced as editor MacWade (George Bancroft) berates his staff, while the title character (Gary Cooper), adjusting to his inheritance, frustrates crooked lawyer Cedar (Douglas Dumbrille), who aims to formalize his status, in Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - Cinderella Man Corny Cobb (Lionel Stander), PR man from the law firm of the uncle who left him $20-million, visits the title character (Gary Cooper), alarmed by news of his first night on the town, neither knowing that his new friend Babe (Jean Arthur) is the reporter, in Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - You Money-Grabbing Hick! Storming home to Vermont after finding out his girlfriend was a sneaky reporter, Gary Cooper (title character), with PR man Cobb (Lionel Stander), is confronted by a farmer (John Wray), incensed by stories of his inheritance and lifestyle, a big moment in Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) - Let That Be A Lesson To You Babe (Jean Arthur), with roommate (Ruth Donnelly), takes a call from Gary Cooper (title character) then frets about not telling him she’s the reporter writing the stories about him, then a famous bit with his valet (Raymond Walburn) et al, in Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, 1936.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
A Gentleman Goes to Town, Opera Hat
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Apr 12, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Budington Kelland in American Magazine (Apr--Sep 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,617ft (12 reels)

Award Wins

Best Director

1936
Frank Capra

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1936
Gary Cooper

Best Picture

1936

Best Screenplay

1936

Best Sound

1936

Articles

The Essentials - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


SYNOPSIS

Small-town poet Longfellow Deeds inherits $20 million from an uncle he barely knew. His benefactor's big city lawyers expect him to be easily manipulated as they continue to profit from the estate at the expense of the poor and downtrodden, but Deeds proves to be an eccentric independent determined to use his fortune to help Depression America. Complicating matters is his involvement with Babe Bennett, a beautiful woman he thinks is just another unfortunate, not realizing she's the tabloid reporter who's been making a mockery of him in the press. When Deeds' lawyers set out to have him declared insane, the stage is set for a showdown as inspiring as it is comic.

Producer/Director: Frank Capra
Screenplay: Robert Riskin
Based on the Story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Buddington Kelland
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Editing: Gene Havlick
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson
Music: Howard Jackson
Cast: Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Babe Bennett), George Bancroft (Mac Wade), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb), Douglass Dumbrille (John Cedar), Raymond Walburn (Walter), H.B. Warner (Judge May), Ruth Donnelly (Mabel Dawson), Walter Catlett (Morrow), John Wray (Farmer), Ann Doran (Girl on Bus), George "Gabby" Hayes (Farmer's Spokesman), Mayo Methot (Mrs. Semple), Dennis O'Keefe (Reporter in Courtroom), Franklin Pangborn (Tailor)
BW-115m.

Why Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is Essential

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town marked a change in director Frank Capra's films. It was the first time he consciously tried to make a social statement. The film's success would lead him to continue to make socially oriented films, including You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). All of them dramatized the same theme, which Capra would define as "the rebellious cry of the individual against being trampled to an ort by massiveness -- mass production, mass thought, mass education, mass politics, mass wealth, mass conformity." Some critics have affectionately (and at times not so affectionately) labeled this viewpoint "Capra-corn."

From this point on, Capra refused to accept just any film that came out of the writing department. Instead, he insisted on spending six months to a year getting each of his scripts ready for production. As such, he inspired other directors to seek more control over their films. That control and his penchant for stories that tackled society's ills made him one of the first directors hailed as an auteur when French critics like Francois Truffaut began focusing their work on the director and his personality.

This was the seventh of 12 films on which Capra would collaborate with screenwriter Robert Riskin, who played a key role in the development of Capra's directorial style. Their other collaborations included It Happened One Night (1934), You Can't Take It With You and Meet John Doe. Riskin won a Best Screenplay Oscar® for It Happened One Night.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town established the screen persona that Gary Cooper would play for the rest of his career. Whereas previously he had been a popular male sex symbol, making screens sizzle as he shared love scenes with the likes of Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich, after Deeds he was seen as a pure, homespun all-American type. Future Cooper characters would be easily vamped by the likes of Barbara Stanwyck and Ingrid Bergman. As compensation for losing the smoldering sexuality of his previous screen persona, he would become one of the screen's most beloved stars and win Oscars® for playing all-American heroes in Sergeant York (1941) and High Noon (1952).

Mr. Deeds also made it possible for Cooper to maintain his independence from the Hollywood studios. It was the first film he made after completing his contractual obligations to Paramount Pictures and independent producer Sam Goldwyn. Its success made it unnecessary for him to sign another long-term studio contract.

Jean Arthur had been making films since 1923, but had made no great impact before Mr. Deeds except for her appearance in John Ford's 1935 The Whole Town's Talking, starring Edward G. Robinson and co-written by Riskin. With Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, she finally burst through to screen stardom.

Capra would re-team with Cooper for Meet John Doe, another tale of a simple man who takes on the powers of corruption. He would use Arthur as his leading lady again in You Can't Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

by Frank Miller
The Essentials - Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)

The Essentials - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

SYNOPSIS Small-town poet Longfellow Deeds inherits $20 million from an uncle he barely knew. His benefactor's big city lawyers expect him to be easily manipulated as they continue to profit from the estate at the expense of the poor and downtrodden, but Deeds proves to be an eccentric independent determined to use his fortune to help Depression America. Complicating matters is his involvement with Babe Bennett, a beautiful woman he thinks is just another unfortunate, not realizing she's the tabloid reporter who's been making a mockery of him in the press. When Deeds' lawyers set out to have him declared insane, the stage is set for a showdown as inspiring as it is comic. Producer/Director: Frank Capra Screenplay: Robert Riskin Based on the Story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Buddington Kelland Cinematography: Joseph Walker Editing: Gene Havlick Art Direction: Stephen Goosson Music: Howard Jackson Cast: Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Babe Bennett), George Bancroft (Mac Wade), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb), Douglass Dumbrille (John Cedar), Raymond Walburn (Walter), H.B. Warner (Judge May), Ruth Donnelly (Mabel Dawson), Walter Catlett (Morrow), John Wray (Farmer), Ann Doran (Girl on Bus), George "Gabby" Hayes (Farmer's Spokesman), Mayo Methot (Mrs. Semple), Dennis O'Keefe (Reporter in Courtroom), Franklin Pangborn (Tailor) BW-115m. Why Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is Essential Mr. Deeds Goes to Town marked a change in director Frank Capra's films. It was the first time he consciously tried to make a social statement. The film's success would lead him to continue to make socially oriented films, including You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). All of them dramatized the same theme, which Capra would define as "the rebellious cry of the individual against being trampled to an ort by massiveness -- mass production, mass thought, mass education, mass politics, mass wealth, mass conformity." Some critics have affectionately (and at times not so affectionately) labeled this viewpoint "Capra-corn." From this point on, Capra refused to accept just any film that came out of the writing department. Instead, he insisted on spending six months to a year getting each of his scripts ready for production. As such, he inspired other directors to seek more control over their films. That control and his penchant for stories that tackled society's ills made him one of the first directors hailed as an auteur when French critics like Francois Truffaut began focusing their work on the director and his personality. This was the seventh of 12 films on which Capra would collaborate with screenwriter Robert Riskin, who played a key role in the development of Capra's directorial style. Their other collaborations included It Happened One Night (1934), You Can't Take It With You and Meet John Doe. Riskin won a Best Screenplay Oscar® for It Happened One Night. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town established the screen persona that Gary Cooper would play for the rest of his career. Whereas previously he had been a popular male sex symbol, making screens sizzle as he shared love scenes with the likes of Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich, after Deeds he was seen as a pure, homespun all-American type. Future Cooper characters would be easily vamped by the likes of Barbara Stanwyck and Ingrid Bergman. As compensation for losing the smoldering sexuality of his previous screen persona, he would become one of the screen's most beloved stars and win Oscars® for playing all-American heroes in Sergeant York (1941) and High Noon (1952). Mr. Deeds also made it possible for Cooper to maintain his independence from the Hollywood studios. It was the first film he made after completing his contractual obligations to Paramount Pictures and independent producer Sam Goldwyn. Its success made it unnecessary for him to sign another long-term studio contract. Jean Arthur had been making films since 1923, but had made no great impact before Mr. Deeds except for her appearance in John Ford's 1935 The Whole Town's Talking, starring Edward G. Robinson and co-written by Riskin. With Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, she finally burst through to screen stardom. Capra would re-team with Cooper for Meet John Doe, another tale of a simple man who takes on the powers of corruption. He would use Arthur as his leading lady again in You Can't Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. by Frank Miller

Pop Culture - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


Pop Culture 101 - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town introduced the words "pixilated" and "doodle" to the vocabulary.

In 1969, ABC premiered a half-hour situation comedy based on the film. It starred Monte Markham as Longfellow Deeds and Pat Harrington, Jr. as the PR man he inherited from his wealthy uncle. Scheduled opposite the vastly popular Hogan's Heroes, it only lasted half a season.

In a speech before the National Alliance of Business in 1981, President Ronald Reagan would quote from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town to defend his administration's economic policies and his espousal of volunteerism over federal welfare programs.

In 2002, Adam Sandler played the title role in a loose remake titled Mr. Deeds. Winona Rider was Babe Bennett, with John Turturro as the butler and Peter Gallagher as the head lawyer. As a tribute to the original film, they used the Mandrake Falls sign from the earlier film. The remake was not well-received by critics, most of whom complained that it vulgarized the original material.

by Frank Miller

Pop Culture - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

Pop Culture 101 - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN Mr. Deeds Goes to Town introduced the words "pixilated" and "doodle" to the vocabulary. In 1969, ABC premiered a half-hour situation comedy based on the film. It starred Monte Markham as Longfellow Deeds and Pat Harrington, Jr. as the PR man he inherited from his wealthy uncle. Scheduled opposite the vastly popular Hogan's Heroes, it only lasted half a season. In a speech before the National Alliance of Business in 1981, President Ronald Reagan would quote from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town to defend his administration's economic policies and his espousal of volunteerism over federal welfare programs. In 2002, Adam Sandler played the title role in a loose remake titled Mr. Deeds. Winona Rider was Babe Bennett, with John Turturro as the butler and Peter Gallagher as the head lawyer. As a tribute to the original film, they used the Mandrake Falls sign from the earlier film. The remake was not well-received by critics, most of whom complained that it vulgarized the original material. by Frank Miller

Trivia - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

Director Frank Capra was paid $159,500 for making Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, his contractual salary of $100,000 per picture plus a bonus. His contract also gave him 10 percent of the film's profits, which over time would amount to $299,406.

Rentals during the initial release of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town came to a high for the time $1,040,767. By 1985, it had earned over $3 million, most of it back when movie tickets cost less than a dollar.

Although Gary Cooper had a minimalist acting style that fit his innocent, homespun heroes perfectly, the roles he played were a far cry from the man off-screen. The real Cooper, despite his Montana roots, was a worldly sophisticate who collected modern art and had off-screen romances with some of the screen's most beautiful actresses, including Lupe Velez and Patricia Neal.

Jean Arthur was so unsure of herself that though she saw the film's rushes, she couldn't make herself watch Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in its finished form until 1972, when she accompanied Capra to a screening at the USA Film Festival in Dallas.

Other cast members who worked with Cooper frequently include Raymond Walburn (Walter), who was in four of his films; H.B. Warner (Judge May), who was in five and won an Oscar® nomination for Capra's Lost Horizon (1937); and Ann Doran (Girl on Bus), who appeared in five but was only credited on You Can't Take It With You.

Cooper and Jean Arthur re-teamed later that year as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane in Cecil B. DeMille's epic Western The Plainsman (1937).

Babe's description of Deeds as "The Cinderella Man" in her newspaper stories was borrowed from an earlier Capra-Riskin film, Platinum Blonde (1931), in which a hard-nosed reporter earns the title when he marries a beautiful heiress.

Despite the film's socially progressive tone, Capra was a Republican who resented President Roosevelt and his New Deal for encroaching on his newfound wealth. He also opposed the creation of the Screen Directors Guild.

Cooper, too, was more conservative than his character. In 1947 he was one of the "friendly witnesses" testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) about Communist infiltration of Hollywood. Among the actors blacklisted as a result of HUAC's hearings was Lionel Stander, who played the cynical press agent in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

Famous Quotes from MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

"WELCOME TO MANDRAKE FALLS
WHERE THE SCENERY ENTHRALLS
WHERE NO HARDSHIP E'ER BEFALLS
WELCOME TO MANDRAKE FALLS" -- Town sign for Mandrake Falls, written by Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds.

"I wonder why he left me all that money. I don't need it." -- Cooper as Longfellow Deeds, questioning his good fortune.

"Tell me, Walter, are all these stories I hear about my uncle true?"
Well, sir, he sometimes had as many as 20 [women] in the house at the same time."
"Twenty! What did he do with them?"
"That is something I was never able to find out, sir." -- Cooper as Deeds, questioning Raymond Walburn as his butler, Walter.

"People here are funny. They work so hard at living, they forget how to live." -- Cooper as Deeds.

"I know I must look funny to you, but maybe if you went to Mandrake Falls, you'd look just as funny to us, only we wouldn't laugh at you and make you feel ridiculous, because that wouldn't be good manners. I guess maybe it is comical to write poems for postcards, but a lot of people think they're good. Anyway, it's the best I can do." -- Cooper as Deeds, defending himself against the jeers of the New York literati.

"That guy is either the dumbest, stupidest, most imbecilic idiot in the world, or else he's the grandest thing alive. I can't make him out." -- Jean Arthur as Babe Bennett, delivering her judgment of Deeds' character.

"I just wanted to see what a man looked like that could spend thousands of dollars on a party when people around him were hungry." -- John Wray as the Farmer, threatening Deeds and inspiring his social conscience.

"He's been hurt, he's been hurt by everybody he met since he came here, principally by me. He's been the victim of every conniving crook in town. The newspapers pounced on him, made him a target for their feeble humor. I was smarter than the rest of them: I got closer to him, so I could laugh louder. Why shouldn't he keep quiet -- every time he said anything it was twisted around to sound imbecilic! He can thank me for it. I handed the gang a grand laugh. It's a fitting climax to my sense of humor....Certainly I wrote those articles. I was going to get a raise, a month's vacation. But I stopped writing them when I found out what he was all about, when I realized how real he was. He could never fit in with our distorted viewpoint, because he's honest, and sincere, and good. If that man's crazy, Your Honor, the rest of us belong in straitjackets!" -- Arthur, as Babe Bennett, defending Deeds in court.

"About my playing the tuba. Seems like a lot of fuss has been made about that. If, if a man's crazy just because he plays the tuba, then somebody'd better look into it, because there are a lot of tuba players running around loose." -- Deeds defending himself on the witness stand.

"Why, everybody in Mandrake Falls is pixilated -- except us." -- Margaret Seddon as Jane Faulkner, describing her hometown, herself and her sister (Margaret McWade as Amy Faulkner).

"From what I can see, no matter what system of government we have, there'll always be leaders and always be followers. It's like the road out in front of my house. It's on a steep hill. Every day I watch the cars coming up. Some go lickety-split up that hill on high, some have to shift into second, and some sputter and shake and slip back to the bottom again. Same cars -- same gasoline -- yet some make it and some can't. And I say the fellows who can make the hill on high should stop once in a while to help those who can't. That's all I'm trying to do with this money -- help the fellows who can't make the hill on high." -- Deeds explaining his plans to the court.

"Mr. Deeds, there has been a great deal of damaging testimony against you. Your behavior, to say the least, has been most strange. But in the opinion of the court, you are not only sane, but you're the sanest man that ever walked into this courtroom!" -- H.B. Warner as Judge May, delivering his verdict.

"He's still pixilated."
"He sure is!" -- Seddon as Jane Faulkner and McWade as Amy Faulkner, ending the film with their final judgment on Deeds.

Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff Director Frank Capra was paid $159,500 for making Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, his contractual salary of $100,000 per picture plus a bonus. His contract also gave him 10 percent of the film's profits, which over time would amount to $299,406. Rentals during the initial release of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town came to a high for the time $1,040,767. By 1985, it had earned over $3 million, most of it back when movie tickets cost less than a dollar. Although Gary Cooper had a minimalist acting style that fit his innocent, homespun heroes perfectly, the roles he played were a far cry from the man off-screen. The real Cooper, despite his Montana roots, was a worldly sophisticate who collected modern art and had off-screen romances with some of the screen's most beautiful actresses, including Lupe Velez and Patricia Neal. Jean Arthur was so unsure of herself that though she saw the film's rushes, she couldn't make herself watch Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in its finished form until 1972, when she accompanied Capra to a screening at the USA Film Festival in Dallas. Other cast members who worked with Cooper frequently include Raymond Walburn (Walter), who was in four of his films; H.B. Warner (Judge May), who was in five and won an Oscar® nomination for Capra's Lost Horizon (1937); and Ann Doran (Girl on Bus), who appeared in five but was only credited on You Can't Take It With You. Cooper and Jean Arthur re-teamed later that year as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane in Cecil B. DeMille's epic Western The Plainsman (1937). Babe's description of Deeds as "The Cinderella Man" in her newspaper stories was borrowed from an earlier Capra-Riskin film, Platinum Blonde (1931), in which a hard-nosed reporter earns the title when he marries a beautiful heiress. Despite the film's socially progressive tone, Capra was a Republican who resented President Roosevelt and his New Deal for encroaching on his newfound wealth. He also opposed the creation of the Screen Directors Guild. Cooper, too, was more conservative than his character. In 1947 he was one of the "friendly witnesses" testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) about Communist infiltration of Hollywood. Among the actors blacklisted as a result of HUAC's hearings was Lionel Stander, who played the cynical press agent in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Famous Quotes from MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN "WELCOME TO MANDRAKE FALLS WHERE THE SCENERY ENTHRALLS WHERE NO HARDSHIP E'ER BEFALLS WELCOME TO MANDRAKE FALLS" -- Town sign for Mandrake Falls, written by Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds. "I wonder why he left me all that money. I don't need it." -- Cooper as Longfellow Deeds, questioning his good fortune. "Tell me, Walter, are all these stories I hear about my uncle true?" Well, sir, he sometimes had as many as 20 [women] in the house at the same time." "Twenty! What did he do with them?" "That is something I was never able to find out, sir." -- Cooper as Deeds, questioning Raymond Walburn as his butler, Walter. "People here are funny. They work so hard at living, they forget how to live." -- Cooper as Deeds. "I know I must look funny to you, but maybe if you went to Mandrake Falls, you'd look just as funny to us, only we wouldn't laugh at you and make you feel ridiculous, because that wouldn't be good manners. I guess maybe it is comical to write poems for postcards, but a lot of people think they're good. Anyway, it's the best I can do." -- Cooper as Deeds, defending himself against the jeers of the New York literati. "That guy is either the dumbest, stupidest, most imbecilic idiot in the world, or else he's the grandest thing alive. I can't make him out." -- Jean Arthur as Babe Bennett, delivering her judgment of Deeds' character. "I just wanted to see what a man looked like that could spend thousands of dollars on a party when people around him were hungry." -- John Wray as the Farmer, threatening Deeds and inspiring his social conscience. "He's been hurt, he's been hurt by everybody he met since he came here, principally by me. He's been the victim of every conniving crook in town. The newspapers pounced on him, made him a target for their feeble humor. I was smarter than the rest of them: I got closer to him, so I could laugh louder. Why shouldn't he keep quiet -- every time he said anything it was twisted around to sound imbecilic! He can thank me for it. I handed the gang a grand laugh. It's a fitting climax to my sense of humor....Certainly I wrote those articles. I was going to get a raise, a month's vacation. But I stopped writing them when I found out what he was all about, when I realized how real he was. He could never fit in with our distorted viewpoint, because he's honest, and sincere, and good. If that man's crazy, Your Honor, the rest of us belong in straitjackets!" -- Arthur, as Babe Bennett, defending Deeds in court. "About my playing the tuba. Seems like a lot of fuss has been made about that. If, if a man's crazy just because he plays the tuba, then somebody'd better look into it, because there are a lot of tuba players running around loose." -- Deeds defending himself on the witness stand. "Why, everybody in Mandrake Falls is pixilated -- except us." -- Margaret Seddon as Jane Faulkner, describing her hometown, herself and her sister (Margaret McWade as Amy Faulkner). "From what I can see, no matter what system of government we have, there'll always be leaders and always be followers. It's like the road out in front of my house. It's on a steep hill. Every day I watch the cars coming up. Some go lickety-split up that hill on high, some have to shift into second, and some sputter and shake and slip back to the bottom again. Same cars -- same gasoline -- yet some make it and some can't. And I say the fellows who can make the hill on high should stop once in a while to help those who can't. That's all I'm trying to do with this money -- help the fellows who can't make the hill on high." -- Deeds explaining his plans to the court. "Mr. Deeds, there has been a great deal of damaging testimony against you. Your behavior, to say the least, has been most strange. But in the opinion of the court, you are not only sane, but you're the sanest man that ever walked into this courtroom!" -- H.B. Warner as Judge May, delivering his verdict. "He's still pixilated." "He sure is!" -- Seddon as Jane Faulkner and McWade as Amy Faulkner, ending the film with their final judgment on Deeds. Compiled by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


The Big Idea Behind MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

After his blockbuster success with It Happened One Night (1934), director Frank Capra considered several properties as a follow-up. A serious illness left him determined to tackle more significant topics as a way of justifying his growing good fortune. Among the works he read most closely were Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Maxwell Anderson's historical play Valley Forge and Clarence Buddington Kelland's short story "Opera Hat."

Ultimately he decided he didn't feel he understood the Russian spirit enough to direct one of that country's classic novels and was too contemporary for the historical story. That left "Opera Hat."

"Opera Hat" was the story of country boy Longfellow Deeds, who inherits $20 million and an Opera House in New York City. The story focused primarily on his dealings with the opera crowd.

Kelland was also the author of a series of comic stories about Scattergood Baines, small-town businessman. They were filmed at RKO Studios in the early '40s as a vehicle for character comic Guy Kibbee.

Capra was drawn to the story because he found the premise intriguing. He would later write: "I wanted to see what an honest small-town man would do with $20,000,000 -- how he would handle it and how he would handle all the predators that would surround him, and what good would come out of that thing, what statements you could make about a man being his brother's keeper."

He asked Harry Cohn, the production chief at Columbia Studios, where he was under contract, to buy the story for him and assign Robert Riskin, who had won an Oscar® for writing It Happened One Night, to write the adaptation.

The first thing he and Riskin did was minimize the opera angle, which Capra considered too highbrow for general audiences. Instead they focused on how Deeds would handle his sudden fortune in the middle of the Great Depression. In place of an innocent secretary with whom Deeds falls in love, they created Babe Bennett, a cynical newspaper woman modeled on Clark Gable's character in It Happened One Night.

Capra biographer Joseph McBride (Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Simon & Shuster, 1992) has suggested that Capra's ideal of the little man, first realized on film in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, was inspired by Mr. Blue, a 1928 novel by actor Walter Connolly, a friend of Capra's who appeared in four of his films. The novel tells of a modern Christ figure trying to maintain his purity in the midst of a modern city.

Director Frank Capra could only envision one actor as the quintessential American hero of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. "Who in Hollywood could play honest, humble, 'corn tassel poet' Mr. Deeds," he wrote. "Only one actor: Gary Cooper. Every line in his face spelled honesty. So innate was his integrity he could be cast in phony parts, but never look phony himself. Tall, gaunt as Lincoln, cast in the frontier mold of Daniel Boone, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, this silent Montana cowpuncher embodied the true-blue virtues that won the West: Durability, honesty and native intelligence."

Capra had a much harder time finding a leading lady. Carole Lombard turned the film down three days before shooting was scheduled to start (shortly afterwards she turned down Riskin's proposal of marriage, too). The role was still unfilled when Capra started shooting the film. He later claimed he caught some rushes from a Jack Holt Western and was struck by leading lady Jean Arthur's talents and her husky voice -- only she never made a Western with Jack Holt and her previous film with him, The Defense Rests (1934), was released a year before Deeds went into production. More likely, he saw her performance in The Whole Town's Talking, which had been co-written by Riskin. She had been in films so long without any success, that he had to fight to get studio head Harry Cohn to let him cast her.

by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

The Big Idea Behind MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN After his blockbuster success with It Happened One Night (1934), director Frank Capra considered several properties as a follow-up. A serious illness left him determined to tackle more significant topics as a way of justifying his growing good fortune. Among the works he read most closely were Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Maxwell Anderson's historical play Valley Forge and Clarence Buddington Kelland's short story "Opera Hat." Ultimately he decided he didn't feel he understood the Russian spirit enough to direct one of that country's classic novels and was too contemporary for the historical story. That left "Opera Hat." "Opera Hat" was the story of country boy Longfellow Deeds, who inherits $20 million and an Opera House in New York City. The story focused primarily on his dealings with the opera crowd. Kelland was also the author of a series of comic stories about Scattergood Baines, small-town businessman. They were filmed at RKO Studios in the early '40s as a vehicle for character comic Guy Kibbee. Capra was drawn to the story because he found the premise intriguing. He would later write: "I wanted to see what an honest small-town man would do with $20,000,000 -- how he would handle it and how he would handle all the predators that would surround him, and what good would come out of that thing, what statements you could make about a man being his brother's keeper." He asked Harry Cohn, the production chief at Columbia Studios, where he was under contract, to buy the story for him and assign Robert Riskin, who had won an Oscar® for writing It Happened One Night, to write the adaptation. The first thing he and Riskin did was minimize the opera angle, which Capra considered too highbrow for general audiences. Instead they focused on how Deeds would handle his sudden fortune in the middle of the Great Depression. In place of an innocent secretary with whom Deeds falls in love, they created Babe Bennett, a cynical newspaper woman modeled on Clark Gable's character in It Happened One Night. Capra biographer Joseph McBride (Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Simon & Shuster, 1992) has suggested that Capra's ideal of the little man, first realized on film in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, was inspired by Mr. Blue, a 1928 novel by actor Walter Connolly, a friend of Capra's who appeared in four of his films. The novel tells of a modern Christ figure trying to maintain his purity in the midst of a modern city. Director Frank Capra could only envision one actor as the quintessential American hero of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. "Who in Hollywood could play honest, humble, 'corn tassel poet' Mr. Deeds," he wrote. "Only one actor: Gary Cooper. Every line in his face spelled honesty. So innate was his integrity he could be cast in phony parts, but never look phony himself. Tall, gaunt as Lincoln, cast in the frontier mold of Daniel Boone, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, this silent Montana cowpuncher embodied the true-blue virtues that won the West: Durability, honesty and native intelligence." Capra had a much harder time finding a leading lady. Carole Lombard turned the film down three days before shooting was scheduled to start (shortly afterwards she turned down Riskin's proposal of marriage, too). The role was still unfilled when Capra started shooting the film. He later claimed he caught some rushes from a Jack Holt Western and was struck by leading lady Jean Arthur's talents and her husky voice -- only she never made a Western with Jack Holt and her previous film with him, The Defense Rests (1934), was released a year before Deeds went into production. More likely, he saw her performance in The Whole Town's Talking, which had been co-written by Riskin. She had been in films so long without any success, that he had to fight to get studio head Harry Cohn to let him cast her. by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


Behind the Camera on MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

Gary Cooper's relaxed acting style mirrored his off-stage approach to the work. Although the film marked a major step in his career, between scenes he would often lie down on the floor, pull his hat over his eyes and grab a quick nap in the midst of all the commotion of filmmaking.

Capra, who had first made his name writing and directing for silent comic Harry Langdon, used several tricks from his Langdon films to make Cooper look young and innocent. In Cooper's first scene, he wears a bow tie with a jacket that's too short and tight for him.

Jean Arthur may have been the screen's most neurotic actress. She was so overcome with stage fright, that she often vomited before scenes and would run back to her dressing room after each take to have a good cry. Yet she was totally cool on camera. Cooper was one of the few actors who could make her feel comfortable on the set.

One way Capra maintained control over his work was by refusing to shoot if any studio executives came on the set. During Mr. Deeds, whenever Cohn would come on set, Capra would call a half-hour coffee break. The lost time was so expensive, Cohn rarely showed his face.

Capra considered the scene in which Babe reads Deeds' poem about her and realizes he loves her extremely corny. He considered not even shooting it, but Arthur pleaded that she had worked on it for weeks to play against the scene's sentimentality. Then he added the perfect touch, having Deeds trip over a trashcan at the end.

Although Capra always boasted that he never went over budget, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town came in five percent over budget, mainly because he shot from more different angles than he had on his earlier films, bringing the picture in five days over schedule. The film's final cost was $806,774.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town premiered April 12, 1936 to both critical and box office success. Columbia Pictures had so much faith in it that they sold the film to exhibitors as a one-shot deal, rather than including it in a package of films designed to sell each other.

by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

Behind the Camera on MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN Gary Cooper's relaxed acting style mirrored his off-stage approach to the work. Although the film marked a major step in his career, between scenes he would often lie down on the floor, pull his hat over his eyes and grab a quick nap in the midst of all the commotion of filmmaking. Capra, who had first made his name writing and directing for silent comic Harry Langdon, used several tricks from his Langdon films to make Cooper look young and innocent. In Cooper's first scene, he wears a bow tie with a jacket that's too short and tight for him. Jean Arthur may have been the screen's most neurotic actress. She was so overcome with stage fright, that she often vomited before scenes and would run back to her dressing room after each take to have a good cry. Yet she was totally cool on camera. Cooper was one of the few actors who could make her feel comfortable on the set. One way Capra maintained control over his work was by refusing to shoot if any studio executives came on the set. During Mr. Deeds, whenever Cohn would come on set, Capra would call a half-hour coffee break. The lost time was so expensive, Cohn rarely showed his face. Capra considered the scene in which Babe reads Deeds' poem about her and realizes he loves her extremely corny. He considered not even shooting it, but Arthur pleaded that she had worked on it for weeks to play against the scene's sentimentality. Then he added the perfect touch, having Deeds trip over a trashcan at the end. Although Capra always boasted that he never went over budget, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town came in five percent over budget, mainly because he shot from more different angles than he had on his earlier films, bringing the picture in five days over schedule. The film's final cost was $806,774. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town premiered April 12, 1936 to both critical and box office success. Columbia Pictures had so much faith in it that they sold the film to exhibitors as a one-shot deal, rather than including it in a package of films designed to sell each other. by Frank Miller

The Critics Corner - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)


MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

"Everywhere the picture goes, from the endearing to the absurd, the accompanying business is carried through with perfect zip and relish." -- Otis Ferguson, The New Republic.

"Mr. Deeds is Capra's best film (it is on quite a different intellectual level from the spirited and delightful It Happened One Night), and that means it is a comedy quite unmatched on the screen. For Capra has what Lubitsch, the witty playboy, has not: a sense of responsibility, and what Clair, whimsical, poetic, a little precious and a la mode, has not, a kinship with his audience, a sense of common life, a morality: he has what even Chaplin has not, complete mastery of his medium, and that medium the sound film, not the film with sound attached to it....I do not think anyone can watch Mr. Deeds for long without being aware of a technician as great as Lang employed on a theme which profoundly moves him: the theme of goodness and simplicity manhandled in a deeply selfish and brutal world." -- Graham Greene, The Spectator.

"Gary Cooper turns another corner in a career which has slowly developed him from a wooden-faced hero of horse-operas into a sensitive player with a reticent but wholly American wit." -- Henry T. Murdock, Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger.

"Capra, like his hero, with whom he might be identified, is naive, committed, and artful. Mr. Deeds himself can be seen as a kind of Roosevelt accused by his opponents of instituting the New Deal and "wasting millions" in helping the poor and unemployed. Riskin's script is excellent: never mawkish and never merely sermonizing. And Gary Cooper, a gawky rube, fitted his role perfectly." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films.

"The fable of the naive country cousin thrown into New York, and the attempts of cynical people to fleece him, carries some telling comments on cosmopolitan materialism and on the force wielded by the unintimidated individual (one of Capra's recurrent themes). The film's wide popularity was helped by the intriguing casting against type of Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. One of Longfellow Deeds's Vermont traits which outraged the city slickers originated the verb 'to doodle,' a term that has now gained general currency." - The Oxford Companion to Film.

"Capra's first film to really attack the city; to show that it has deprived its people of their basic human values; as in his later films, only the uncorrupted small-town boy can lead them back to the right path. It never reflects the cynicism of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe or It's a Wonderful Life - it is the only one of the four films where the happy ending seems completely natural. While enjoyable, it's not on the level of the Jimmy Stewart films." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic.

"Before Capra got down to Christmas card morals, he perfected the screwball comedy technique of pursuing common sense to logical ends in a lunatic situation. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is one of the best with Cooper saying nope to a $20 million inheritance, and newshound Jean Arthur going for his 'inside story'..." - Don Macpherson, TimeOut.

"Capra's is a great talent all right, but I have the uneasy feeling he's on his way out. He's starting to make movies about themes instead of about people." -- Alistair Cooke, BBC and NBC Radio. "Frank Capra destroyed Gary Cooper's early sex appeal when he made him childish as Mr. Deeds. Cooper, once devastatingly lean and charming, the man Tallulah [Bankhead] and Marlene [Dietrich] had swooned over, began to act like an old woman and went on to a long sexless career -- fumbling, homey, mealy-mouthed." -- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

Awards & Honors

Starting off the awards season with a bang, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town won the National Board of Review's Best Picture award.

The New York Film Critics named it Best Picture on only the second ballot. The only film to come close to it in the votes was Fritz Lang's anti-lynching drama Fury. They passed over Gary Cooper for Best Actor in favor of Walter Huston, who had re-created his stage performance in Dodsworth, and Frank Capra for Rouben Mamoulian for The Gay Desperado.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was nominated for five Oscars®: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Sound. It only won one award - for Best Director for Capra. The trade papers theorized that Warner Bros. and MGM had worked a deal whereby Warners employees voted for MGM's big film, The Great Ziegfeld, for Best Picture, while MGM's employees backed Warner's contract player Paul Muni's performance in The Story of Louis Pasteur for Best Actor. At the time he was appearing in MGM's The Good Earth, which he had made on loan from Warner's.

Some industry insiders thought Capra's selection for Best Director was a political choice. He was president of the Academy® and had been fighting against the unionization of actors and directors. When he received the award, Capra said, "I don't see how anybody could look over these nominees and pick one out." Host George Jessel quipped, "Well, they all may be president of the Academy someday, and they can select whom they please."

At the time, the Academy® revealed the voting order for the awards. Muni had beaten second-place Cooper by a wide margin, but Capra had only bested his closest competition, W.S. Van Dyke for San Francisco and Gregory La Cava for My Man Godfrey, by a few votes.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Critics Corner - MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936)

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff "Everywhere the picture goes, from the endearing to the absurd, the accompanying business is carried through with perfect zip and relish." -- Otis Ferguson, The New Republic. "Mr. Deeds is Capra's best film (it is on quite a different intellectual level from the spirited and delightful It Happened One Night), and that means it is a comedy quite unmatched on the screen. For Capra has what Lubitsch, the witty playboy, has not: a sense of responsibility, and what Clair, whimsical, poetic, a little precious and a la mode, has not, a kinship with his audience, a sense of common life, a morality: he has what even Chaplin has not, complete mastery of his medium, and that medium the sound film, not the film with sound attached to it....I do not think anyone can watch Mr. Deeds for long without being aware of a technician as great as Lang employed on a theme which profoundly moves him: the theme of goodness and simplicity manhandled in a deeply selfish and brutal world." -- Graham Greene, The Spectator. "Gary Cooper turns another corner in a career which has slowly developed him from a wooden-faced hero of horse-operas into a sensitive player with a reticent but wholly American wit." -- Henry T. Murdock, Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger. "Capra, like his hero, with whom he might be identified, is naive, committed, and artful. Mr. Deeds himself can be seen as a kind of Roosevelt accused by his opponents of instituting the New Deal and "wasting millions" in helping the poor and unemployed. Riskin's script is excellent: never mawkish and never merely sermonizing. And Gary Cooper, a gawky rube, fitted his role perfectly." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films. "The fable of the naive country cousin thrown into New York, and the attempts of cynical people to fleece him, carries some telling comments on cosmopolitan materialism and on the force wielded by the unintimidated individual (one of Capra's recurrent themes). The film's wide popularity was helped by the intriguing casting against type of Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. One of Longfellow Deeds's Vermont traits which outraged the city slickers originated the verb 'to doodle,' a term that has now gained general currency." - The Oxford Companion to Film. "Capra's first film to really attack the city; to show that it has deprived its people of their basic human values; as in his later films, only the uncorrupted small-town boy can lead them back to the right path. It never reflects the cynicism of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe or It's a Wonderful Life - it is the only one of the four films where the happy ending seems completely natural. While enjoyable, it's not on the level of the Jimmy Stewart films." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic. "Before Capra got down to Christmas card morals, he perfected the screwball comedy technique of pursuing common sense to logical ends in a lunatic situation. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is one of the best with Cooper saying nope to a $20 million inheritance, and newshound Jean Arthur going for his 'inside story'..." - Don Macpherson, TimeOut. "Capra's is a great talent all right, but I have the uneasy feeling he's on his way out. He's starting to make movies about themes instead of about people." -- Alistair Cooke, BBC and NBC Radio. "Frank Capra destroyed Gary Cooper's early sex appeal when he made him childish as Mr. Deeds. Cooper, once devastatingly lean and charming, the man Tallulah [Bankhead] and Marlene [Dietrich] had swooned over, began to act like an old woman and went on to a long sexless career -- fumbling, homey, mealy-mouthed." -- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies. Awards & Honors Starting off the awards season with a bang, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town won the National Board of Review's Best Picture award. The New York Film Critics named it Best Picture on only the second ballot. The only film to come close to it in the votes was Fritz Lang's anti-lynching drama Fury. They passed over Gary Cooper for Best Actor in favor of Walter Huston, who had re-created his stage performance in Dodsworth, and Frank Capra for Rouben Mamoulian for The Gay Desperado. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was nominated for five Oscars®: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Sound. It only won one award - for Best Director for Capra. The trade papers theorized that Warner Bros. and MGM had worked a deal whereby Warners employees voted for MGM's big film, The Great Ziegfeld, for Best Picture, while MGM's employees backed Warner's contract player Paul Muni's performance in The Story of Louis Pasteur for Best Actor. At the time he was appearing in MGM's The Good Earth, which he had made on loan from Warner's. Some industry insiders thought Capra's selection for Best Director was a political choice. He was president of the Academy® and had been fighting against the unionization of actors and directors. When he received the award, Capra said, "I don't see how anybody could look over these nominees and pick one out." Host George Jessel quipped, "Well, they all may be president of the Academy someday, and they can select whom they please." At the time, the Academy® revealed the voting order for the awards. Muni had beaten second-place Cooper by a wide margin, but Capra had only bested his closest competition, W.S. Van Dyke for San Francisco and Gregory La Cava for My Man Godfrey, by a few votes. Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town


Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) was based on a book called Opera Hat, about a simple country boy named Longfellow Deeds who inherits $20 million and an opera house in New York. Deeds goes to the city to pick up his inheritance, only to be badgered by various sharks who all want a piece of the inheritance. Frank Capra loved the idea of the story (minus the opera part), and in 1935 he asked Columbia Studios chief Harry Cohn to buy it. Having just directed It Happened One Night and Broadway Bill (both in 1934), Capra at this point was entering the peak period of his career. Cohn not only acquired the property but gave Capra above-the-title credit for the first time ("Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town") and left him alone to make the picture. Cohn even let him cast perennial B-player Jean Arthur after the director spotted her in a minor Western. Cohn was smart to do all this, for Capra would go on to win his second directing Oscar. (He also picked up his first Best Picture nomination, and Robert Riskin was nominated for the script.)

Capra considered Mr. Deeds Goes to Town "the first of a series of social-minded films in which I presumed to 'say' something to the audience. Whatever "my films" said had to come from those ideas inside me that were hurting to come out. No more would I accept scripts hurriedly written and count on my ability to juggle many balls in the air to make films entertaining - Regardless of the origin of a film idea, I made it mine." The message of Mr. Deeds was that it's noble to be an honest human being. To Capra, Longfellow Deeds "was not just a funny man cavorting in frothy situations. He was the living symbol of the deep rebellion in every human heart - a growing resentment against being compartmentalized. And when he used only his simple weapons of honesty, wit and courage, audiences not only laughed, they cheered!"

Only one actor in Hollywood could play this humble, tuba-playing country poet and get away with it: Gary Cooper. "Every line in his face spelled honesty," wrote Capra. "So innate was his integrity, he could be cast in phony parts but never look phony himself." Cooper's naturalistic technique as Mr. Deeds brought him his first Oscar nomination. He said, "Naturalness is hard to talk about, but I guess it boils down to this: You find out what people expect of your type of character and then you give them what they want." Cooper noted some parallels between Mr. Deeds' sudden wealth/fame and Cooper's own rising stardom. "Both of us had unexpected fortune dumped in our laps," he said. "Deeds got his bequest. The movies gave me mine, by degrees."

Though she'd already appeared in an astonishing 70 films, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was Jean Arthur's breakthrough A-picture. She plays "Babe," a reporter who pretends to befriend Deeds so that she can secretly write articles that mock him. She became Capra's favorite actress, but the director was surprised at her nervousness. "Never have I seen a performer plagued with such a chronic case of stage jitters," he wrote. "I'm sure she vomited before and after every scene. When the cameras stopped she'd run headlong to her dressing room, lock herself in, and cry." But in front of the cameras, Jean Arthur was perfect.

Producer/Director: Frank Capra
Screenplay: Robert Riskin, Clarence Budington Kelland (story)
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Film Editing: Gene Havlick
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson
Music: Howard Jackson
Cast: Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Louise "Babe" Bennett), George Bancroft (Editor Mac Wade), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb), Douglass Dumbrille (John Cedar), Raymond Walburn (Walter).
BW-116m.

by Jeremy Arnold

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) was based on a book called Opera Hat, about a simple country boy named Longfellow Deeds who inherits $20 million and an opera house in New York. Deeds goes to the city to pick up his inheritance, only to be badgered by various sharks who all want a piece of the inheritance. Frank Capra loved the idea of the story (minus the opera part), and in 1935 he asked Columbia Studios chief Harry Cohn to buy it. Having just directed It Happened One Night and Broadway Bill (both in 1934), Capra at this point was entering the peak period of his career. Cohn not only acquired the property but gave Capra above-the-title credit for the first time ("Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town") and left him alone to make the picture. Cohn even let him cast perennial B-player Jean Arthur after the director spotted her in a minor Western. Cohn was smart to do all this, for Capra would go on to win his second directing Oscar. (He also picked up his first Best Picture nomination, and Robert Riskin was nominated for the script.) Capra considered Mr. Deeds Goes to Town "the first of a series of social-minded films in which I presumed to 'say' something to the audience. Whatever "my films" said had to come from those ideas inside me that were hurting to come out. No more would I accept scripts hurriedly written and count on my ability to juggle many balls in the air to make films entertaining - Regardless of the origin of a film idea, I made it mine." The message of Mr. Deeds was that it's noble to be an honest human being. To Capra, Longfellow Deeds "was not just a funny man cavorting in frothy situations. He was the living symbol of the deep rebellion in every human heart - a growing resentment against being compartmentalized. And when he used only his simple weapons of honesty, wit and courage, audiences not only laughed, they cheered!" Only one actor in Hollywood could play this humble, tuba-playing country poet and get away with it: Gary Cooper. "Every line in his face spelled honesty," wrote Capra. "So innate was his integrity, he could be cast in phony parts but never look phony himself." Cooper's naturalistic technique as Mr. Deeds brought him his first Oscar nomination. He said, "Naturalness is hard to talk about, but I guess it boils down to this: You find out what people expect of your type of character and then you give them what they want." Cooper noted some parallels between Mr. Deeds' sudden wealth/fame and Cooper's own rising stardom. "Both of us had unexpected fortune dumped in our laps," he said. "Deeds got his bequest. The movies gave me mine, by degrees." Though she'd already appeared in an astonishing 70 films, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was Jean Arthur's breakthrough A-picture. She plays "Babe," a reporter who pretends to befriend Deeds so that she can secretly write articles that mock him. She became Capra's favorite actress, but the director was surprised at her nervousness. "Never have I seen a performer plagued with such a chronic case of stage jitters," he wrote. "I'm sure she vomited before and after every scene. When the cameras stopped she'd run headlong to her dressing room, lock herself in, and cry." But in front of the cameras, Jean Arthur was perfect. Producer/Director: Frank Capra Screenplay: Robert Riskin, Clarence Budington Kelland (story) Cinematography: Joseph Walker Film Editing: Gene Havlick Art Direction: Stephen Goosson Music: Howard Jackson Cast: Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Louise "Babe" Bennett), George Bancroft (Editor Mac Wade), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb), Douglass Dumbrille (John Cedar), Raymond Walburn (Walter). BW-116m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Even his hands are oily.
- Longfellow Deeds
He talks about women as if they were cattle.
- Longfellow Deeds
Every man to his taste, sir.
- Walter
Tell me, Walter, are all these stories I hear about my uncle true?
- Longfellow Deeds
Well, sir, he sometimes had as many as twenty in the house at the same time.
- Walter
Twenty! What did he do with them?
- Longfellow Deeds
That is something I was never able to find out, sir.
- Walter
People here are funny. They work so hard at living they forget how to live.
- Longfellow Deeds
When the servant comes in, Mr. Hallor, I'm going to ask him to show you to the door. Many people don't know where it is.
- Longfellow Deeds
Do you know the defendant, Mr. Longfellow Deeds?
- John Cedar
Oh yes, yes, of course we know him.
- Jane Faulkner
How long have you known him?
- John Cedar
Since he was born.
- Jane Faulkner
Yes, Elsie Taggart was the midwife.
- Amy Faulkner

Trivia

Notes

A Gentleman Goes to Town and Opera Hat were the working titles of this film. Opera Hat was inserted into the 1934-35 production schedule by Columbia when Lost Horizon, which Capra had intended to make directly after Broadway Bill, was delayed due to casting difficulties. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was itself delayed when Paramount did not make Gary Cooper available for several months. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Ned Sparks was set for an unspecified comedy lead, and Columbia negotiated with Walter Wanger to borrow Peggy Conklin for an unspecified leading role, but it has not been determined why they did not participate in the finished picture. Hollywood Reporter production charts list the following additional actors, whose inclusion in the final film has not been verified: Gennaro Curci, Si Jenks, Marjorie Gateson and Henry Otho. This was opera singer Margaret Matzenaur's first film and Cooper's first film for Columbia. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town received an Academy Award for Best Director, and was nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Cooper's first nomination), Writer and Sound Recording. It was also voted best picture by New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review and was named one of the ten best films of the year by the Film Daily Poll of Critics. According to a Motion Picture Herald news item, the film was banned in Germany "on the ground that non-Aryan actors had participated" in the production. On February 1, 1937, Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur performed a radio version of the film for Lux Radio Theater. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Columbia and Capra intended to make a sequel to Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Cooper and Jean Arthur, entitled Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington, based on the story "The Gentleman from Wyoming" (alternately called "The Gentleman from Montana" by both contemporary and modern sources) by Lewis Foster. This story was instead turned into the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, directed by Capra and starring Arthur and James Stewart. Most contemporary and modern sources list H. B. Warner's character as Judge Walker, but in the film he is called Judge May. Modern sources also credit Charles Wilson with the role of the court clerk, but Gladden James is credited with the role on the CBCS, while Charles Wilson is listed as a guard. In a modern interview, Edward Bernds, the sound engineer, states that the opening scenes of Mandrake Falls were shot on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot's New England Street set, while in his autobiography, photographer Joseph Walker describes the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA, where Deed's mansion was built and filmed. While modern sources list many so-called "remakes" of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, there have been only two official remakes, employing the same character and basic plot. The first was an ABC television series entitled Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Monte Markham in the Cooper role, which ran from September 26, 1969 to January 16, 1970. The second was the 2002 film Mr. Deeds, directed by Steven Brill and starring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video October 19, 1989

Released in United States 1982

Released in United States 1936

Released in United States on Video October 19, 1989

Released in United States 1982 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition ("Marathon of Mirth": Comedy Maratho) March 16 - April 1, 1982.)

Released in United States 1936