The Whole Town's Talking


1h 35m 1935
The Whole Town's Talking

Brief Synopsis

A gangster hides from the law by trading places with a mild-mannered double.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Jail Breaker, Passport to Fame
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Jail Breaker" by W. R. Burnett in Collier's (Jul--Aug 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Arthur Ferguson Jones is late for his job as an advertising clerk for the first time in his life, just as he was about to be given a raise in salary by his bosses, Seaver and J. G. Carpenter. While Jones's contrition enables him to retain his position, the unrepetant attitude of another late employee, Wilhemina "Bill" Clark, the object of Jones's unspoken love, causes her to be fired. She points out to the staff the resemblance between a picture in the newspaper of the escaped convict "Killer" Manion and Jones. While Jones lunches at a restaurant, the obsequious Hoyt also notices the similarity and turns Jones over to the police in expectation of a reward. Seaver establishes Jones's identity, but to protect him from another mistaken arrest, he is given a special passport to show wary policemen. Back at the office, "J. G." encourages Jones, an aspiring writer, to sign a deal with newspaperman Healy to author a special serial on his own appraisal of Manion. The three men get drunk together, and Jones later kisses the thrilled Clark and orders Seaver to put her back on the payroll. However, Manion waits for Jones at his apartment and demands the use of the passport at night to protect him during criminal undertakings. Although for the first time in Jones's life everyone is deferential toward him, and Clark affectionately asserts control over his career, Jones lives in perpetual fear of Manion. The publicity-seeking criminal demands that Jones's newspaper series be turned into his reminiscences, which raises the suspicion of authorities. Clark innocently visits Jones's apartment and does not recognize Manion until it is too late. The district attorney orders that Jones be placed under protective custody in prison, but Manion takes Jones's place to kill fellow gangster, "Slugs" Martin, who turned stool pigeon on him. After the murder of Martin and the release of the supposed Jones, the disappearance of Seaver and Clark tips off authorities to the true state of affairs. Manion plans to have Jones killed in a police ambush to convince them that Manion is dead. However, Jones forgets his wallet and returns prematurely to the hideout while Manion is with a girl friend. The gangsters unintentionally reveal to Jones his fate, and when Manion returns, Jones, who had passed up an earlier opportunity to murder Manion, accepts their offer to shoot the man they believe is Jones but is really Manion. Jones then grabs a machine gun, locks up the criminals, and frees their prisoners, Seaver, Clark, and Jones's nagging Aunt Agatha. Meanwhile the persistent Hoyt, still trailing Jones in the belief that he is Manion, has summoned the police just in time. Jones and Clark marry and take his long hoped-for trip to Shanghai.

Cast

Edward G. Robinson

Arthur Ferguson Jones [/"Killer" Manion]

Jean Arthur

Miss [Wilhemina "Bill"] Clark

Arthur Hohl

Detective-Sergeant Boyle

James Donlan

Detective-Sergeant Howe

Arthur Byron

Spencer

Wallace Ford

Healy

Donald Meek

Hoyt

Etienne Girardot

Seaver

Edward Brophy

"Slugs" Martin

Paul Harvey

"J. G." Carpenter

J. Farrell Macdonald

Warden

Effie Ellsler

Aunt Agatha

Robert E. O'connor

Police lieutenant

John Wray

Manion's henchman

Joseph Sauers

Manion's henchman

Frank Sheridan

Russell

Clarence Hummel Wilson

President Chamber of Commerce

Ralph M. Remley

Ribber

Virginia Pine

Seaver's private secretary

Ferdinand Munier

Mayor

Cornelius Keefe

Radio man

Francis Ford

Reporter

Emmett Vogan

Reporter

Sherry Hall

Reporter

Charles Sherlock

Reporter

Brooks Benedict

Reporter

Don Brody

Reporter

Bob Stanley

Reporter

Ned Norton

Reporter

Jack Santoro

Reporter

Charles Cross

Reporter

Robert E. Homans

Detective

Pat O'malley

Detective

Frank O'connor

Detective

Philip Morris

Detective

Charles Hickman

Detective

Jack Richardson

Detective

Ky Robinson

Detective

Grace Hale

Sob sister

Walter Long

Convict

Gaylord Pendleton

Convict

Jules Cowles

Convict

Kit Guard

Convict

Steve Clark

Convict

Harry Abrahams

Convict

Maston Williams

Convict

Harry Wilson

Convict

Ben Taggart

Policeman

William L. Thorne

Policeman

Brady Kline

Policeman

Ethan A. Laidlaw

Policeman

Eddie Hearn

Policeman

C. A. Bachman

Policeman

Charles Mcavoy

Policeman

Kernan Cripps

Policeman/Guard

Al Hill

Gangster

Ed Hart

Gangster

Stanley Mack

Gangster

Dutch Hendrian

Gangster

Sam Flint

City official

Bess Flowers

Secretary

Gladden James

Secretary

Sunny Ingraham

Secretary

Arthur Rankin

Clerk

Maurice Brierre

Clerk

Carmen Andre

Clerk

Nancy Caswell

Clerk

Allyn Drake

Telephone operator

Rosita Foucher

Telephone operator

Richard Powell

Police lieutenant

Arthur Stuart Hull

Official

Phillips Smalley

Official

Harry Dunkinson

Customer

Roger Gray

Customer

William E. "babe" Lawrence

Customer

Sydney De Grey

Customer

Ivan Christy

Customer

George Frank

Customer

Carol Holloway

Customer

Mary Gordon

Landlady

Irving Newhoff

Henchman

Charles Sullivan

Henchman

Robert Wilber

Henchman

Eddy Chandler

Driver

John Tyke

Flight convict

Allen Caven

Conductor

William Jeffrey

Bank messenger

Ted Oliver

Motorcycle officer

Floyd Criswell

Motorcycle officer

Joseph E. Bernard

Officer

Desmond Gallagher

Officer

Eddie Baker

Police officer

Bernadine Hayes

Waitress

May Foster

Fat woman

Bud Jamison

Cop

Jack C. Grey

Cop

Arthur Belasco

Cop

Pat Hartigan

Cop

George Barton

Cop

Rodney Hildebrand

Cop

Allan Sears

Cop

Dick Rush

Cop

Budd Fine

Cop

Charles Mcmurphy

Vance Carroll

Cop

Harry Bowen

Taxi driver

Harry Tenbrook

Look-out

Eddie Fetherston

Cameraman

Bobby Dale

Cameraman

William Saverick

Cameraman

Harry Semels

Italian visitor

Jimmy Phillips

Pickpocket

James Quinn

Pickpocket

Blue Washington

Doorman

Lynton Brent

Secretary to Warden

Edwin J. Brady

Trustee

Larry Fisher

Trustee

Billy West

Elevator man

Sidney D'albrook

Waiter

Nick Copeland

Waiter

Hal Price

Fingerprint expert

Jack Cheatham

Guard

Tom London

Guard

Jack Mower

Guard

Harry Mount

Newsboy

Lee Shumway

Sergeant

Charles King

Man who bumps Robinson

Stanley Blystone

Man who bumps Jones

Oscar Rudolph

Office clerk

Arthur Thalasso

Gatekeeper

Jerry Larkin

Porter

Frank Marlowe

Steward

Lew Davis

Steward

Lucille Ball

Gordon Demain

Larry Steers

Robert Graves

Lloyd Whitlock

Lowell Drew

Christian J. Frank

Pearl Eaton

Don Roberts

John Ince

Ernest F. Young

Jay Eaton

Carlton E. Griffin

Mitchell Ingraham

Monte Carter

H. Barnum

William A. Williams

Corinne Williams

Peggy Leon

Pauline High

Rita Donlin

Pardner Jones

Reginald Simpson

Charles Marsh

Marion Sheldon

Alice Dahl

Maurine Gray

Edwards Davis

Photo Collections

The Whole Town's Talking - Movie Posters
The Whole Town's Talking - Movie Posters
The Whole Town's Talking - Lobby Cards
Here are a few lobby cards from The Whole Town's Talking (1935), starring Edward G. Robinson. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Whole Town's Talking, The (1935) - I've Got A Stamp From Shanghai Lowly ad-clerk Jones (Edward G. Robinson), fazed because he’s the look-alike of the major gangster identified in that day’s newspaper, is noticed in the cafe by Hoyt (Donald Meek), then joined by just-fired colleague “Bill” Clark (Jean Arthur), with whom he’s secretly smitten, trouble ensuing, in John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking, 1935.
Whole Town's Talking, The - Open, Fire Jones! Opening credits and the anxious under-boss Seaver (Etienne Girardot) sucking up to "J-G" (Paul Harvey) in John Ford's comedy The Whole Town's Talking, 1935, starring Edward G. Robinson and Jean Arthur.
Whole Town's Talking, The (1935) - I'd Like To Meet That Fellow Lowly clerk Jones (Edward G. Robinson), tipsy from celebrating having been hired to write about his gangster look-alike Mannion, returns home to meet the man himself, who's heard about the "passport" given him by the police commissioner, director John Ford with camera tricks, in The Whole Town's Talking, 1935.
Whole Town's Talking, The (1935) - So Long, Slaves! The newspaper editor (Wallace Ford) and ad agency boss (Paul Harvey) are celebrating with lowly employee Jones (Edward G. Robinson), who’s never had a drink before, their idea to have him write about his gangster lookalike, and he meets his supervisor (Etienne Girardot) and his beloved fired colleague Clark (Jean Arthur) on the way out, in The Whole Town’s Talking, 1935.
Whole Town's Talking, The (1935) - He-Man Plus! Ad agency clerk Jones (Edward G. Robinson), late for the first time ever, tries to tiptoe past Seaver (Etienne Girardot), who explains his predicament, then takes out his frustration on Miss Clark (Jean Arthur), whom Jones secretly loves, and plot features are revealed, in John Ford's The Whole Town's Talking, 1935.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Jail Breaker, Passport to Fame
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Jail Breaker" by W. R. Burnett in Collier's (Jul--Aug 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

The Whole Town's Talking


If you think you're seeing double in The Whole Town's Talking (1935), you're right. You get two Edward G. Robinsons for the price of one in this black comedy with a favorite Hollywood plot device - mistaken identity. At the opening of the film, you meet Arthur Ferguson Jones (Robinson), a timid hardware-store clerk with a crush on fellow worker Wilhelmina Clark (Jean Arthur). Without warning, he is arrested by the police who have mistaken him for his dead ringer, 'Killer' Mannion (also played by Robinson), a notorious public enemy. Once his innocence is quickly established, he is provided with an identity card to avoid future altercations and released. Naturally, Mannion gets word of this and shows up at Jones' home, demanding the use of the card so he can move easily about the city. To insure that Jones doesn't notify the police, Mannion takes Jones' girlfriend and his aunt (Effie Ellsler) as hostages.

The Whole Town's Talking managed to sneak past the Hays office and its stringent censorship of gangster pictures because the film was treated as a farce. Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore a darker side to the proceedings which seem to endorse an extreme solution for justice. The milquetoast clerk experiences a sense of power and self-confidence only by assuming the identity of his evil doppelganger, and his manhood is confirmed when he orders mob members to carry out a death sentence.

Edward G. Robinson was already tired of being cast as gangsters when he learned through his agent as well as gossip columnist Louella Parsons that Jack Warner had loaned him out to Columbia to make The Whole Town's Talking. He wasn't at all happy about making the film, which was adapted from a novel by William R. Burnett, the author of Little Caesar. Once he read the screenplay by Jo Swerling and Robert Riskin, he changed his mind and rose to the challenge of playing dual roles. He also enjoyed an excellent working relationship with director John Ford and co-star Jean Arthur of whom he wrote in his autobiography, All My Yesterdays: "She was whimsical without being silly, unique without being nutty, a theatrical personality who was an untheatrical person. She was a delight to work with and to know."

Director: John Ford
Producer: Lester Cowan, John Ford
Screenplay: W. R. Burnett, Robert Riskin, Jo Swerling
Cinematography: Joseph H. August
Editor: Viola Lawrence
Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Arthur Ferguson Jones/'Killer' Mannion), Jean Arthur (Wilhelmina 'Bill' Clark), Wallace Ford (Healy), Arthur Hohl (Michael F. Boyle), Edward Brophy ('Slugs' Martin), Donald Meek (Mr. Hoyt).
BW-93m.

by Jeff Stafford
The Whole Town's Talking

The Whole Town's Talking

If you think you're seeing double in The Whole Town's Talking (1935), you're right. You get two Edward G. Robinsons for the price of one in this black comedy with a favorite Hollywood plot device - mistaken identity. At the opening of the film, you meet Arthur Ferguson Jones (Robinson), a timid hardware-store clerk with a crush on fellow worker Wilhelmina Clark (Jean Arthur). Without warning, he is arrested by the police who have mistaken him for his dead ringer, 'Killer' Mannion (also played by Robinson), a notorious public enemy. Once his innocence is quickly established, he is provided with an identity card to avoid future altercations and released. Naturally, Mannion gets word of this and shows up at Jones' home, demanding the use of the card so he can move easily about the city. To insure that Jones doesn't notify the police, Mannion takes Jones' girlfriend and his aunt (Effie Ellsler) as hostages. The Whole Town's Talking managed to sneak past the Hays office and its stringent censorship of gangster pictures because the film was treated as a farce. Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore a darker side to the proceedings which seem to endorse an extreme solution for justice. The milquetoast clerk experiences a sense of power and self-confidence only by assuming the identity of his evil doppelganger, and his manhood is confirmed when he orders mob members to carry out a death sentence. Edward G. Robinson was already tired of being cast as gangsters when he learned through his agent as well as gossip columnist Louella Parsons that Jack Warner had loaned him out to Columbia to make The Whole Town's Talking. He wasn't at all happy about making the film, which was adapted from a novel by William R. Burnett, the author of Little Caesar. Once he read the screenplay by Jo Swerling and Robert Riskin, he changed his mind and rose to the challenge of playing dual roles. He also enjoyed an excellent working relationship with director John Ford and co-star Jean Arthur of whom he wrote in his autobiography, All My Yesterdays: "She was whimsical without being silly, unique without being nutty, a theatrical personality who was an untheatrical person. She was a delight to work with and to know." Director: John Ford Producer: Lester Cowan, John Ford Screenplay: W. R. Burnett, Robert Riskin, Jo Swerling Cinematography: Joseph H. August Editor: Viola Lawrence Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Arthur Ferguson Jones/'Killer' Mannion), Jean Arthur (Wilhelmina 'Bill' Clark), Wallace Ford (Healy), Arthur Hohl (Michael F. Boyle), Edward Brophy ('Slugs' Martin), Donald Meek (Mr. Hoyt). BW-93m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Jail Breaker and Passport to Fame. Some contemporary reviews mention a scene between Manion and Jones's Aunt Agatha, that was apparently deleted in later prints. Edward G. Robinson was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the film. The Variety review predicted that this film would be a turning point in Robinson's career, which had been foundering after box office failures. Other reviews concurred with that estimation and modern sources note that the success of The Whole Town's Talking did restore Robinson's career. According to modern sources, prison footage was taken from Columbia's film The Criminal Code.