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What to Watch: Saturday

Ring a Ding Ding

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Although I had seen a number of Gary Cooper movies from his older-gentleman days (Love in the Afternoon and High Noon, for instance), I do not think I was ever so thrilled by him as in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. When I caught this Frank Capra classic a few months ago, it was the first I had seen of young Cooper, who happens to be extremely handsome.

The story of young, small-town poet and tuba player Longfellow Deeds and his unexpected inheritance of millions has Cooper giving a performance unlike any other role in which I have seen him. His overly innocent character is a hoot to watch as he battles with New York society and the ravenous press, including the always adorable Jean Arthur as a reporter who goes undercover to get close to Deeds, only to fall in love with him.

Jean Arthur has really grabbed my attention recently. Thanks to an intro by my loyal reader and movie aficionado, Nick, to Too Many Husbands, I have since been watching as many of her flicks as I can come across (my favorite probably being Talk of the Town). Although she typically plays the same cute, almost ditsy, and usually flustered gal, she is a great comedienne and always enjoyable to watch. Although Cooper’s character in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town certainly makes the movie memorable, her portrayal of the female half of the story makes for a powerful balance of male and female energies.
Capra would go on to make Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which was originally meant as a sequel to this one, but with Cooper either unavailable or unwilling to take up the role again, the torch was passed to Jimmy Stewart. This film would also be remade more recently as the tragic Adam Sandler-Winona Ryder movie Mr. Deeds. The two actors in the reboot really could never hold the candle to the original duo, so I find the contemporary attempt rather embarrassing.
  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is set for 10:15 p.m. ET Dec. 18 and 1 p.m. ET Feb. 5 on TCM.

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