Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Directed by Frank Capra
Written by Robert Riskin

When I think of Frank Capra, I think of All-American, heartwarming storytelling. While I have only seen It’s a Wonderful Life by him, directors do have reputations. I love It’s a Wonderful Life with all my heart, and while I know a lot of that has to do with Jimmy Stewart, I am not naive enough to think that Frank Capra is anything but the man when it comes to making films that are right up my alley. Happy, heartwarming stories are why I love stories, so it is only natural that I am so attracted to them in film, and so attracted to Frank Capra as a director, if at least in principle. Well now I have two films of his under my belt, and while I did not like Mr. Deeds as much as I did It’s a Wonderful Life, it was still absolutely delightful to watch, and Jean Arthur and Gary Cooper were two great reasons why.

My experience with Mr. Deeds Goes to Town comes from the 2002 remake starring Adam Sandler, which I always felt was an underrated Sandler comedy. I know I may be mostly on my own on these forums when I say that I greatly enjoy Adam Sandler as a comedic actor and love his films for the greater part of his career, but I do. But I will say this, I always felt Mr. Deeds was good because of the story. Such a fun, classic story. And at the time I had no idea it was a remake. Once I got into film I did find out, but it was not until tonight that I got around to watching it. The story is so charming and, as I said, All-American. It’s small town, do-it-yourself meets big time corporate backstabbing city in the Big Apple. It comes alive on the screen with the direction of Capra and the acting of Arthur and Cooper. Cooper plays the dead pan Mr. Deeds seemingly to perfection. At first I was put off by this style, but once taken to the big city it made sense and fit the character perfectly. Arthur, on the other hand, is both beautiful and spunky as the reporter looking for the angle, Babe Bennett.

The thing that is so great about this is the comedy mixed with the great heartwarming spin put on the story. It may have been somewhat spoiled by seeing the remake first and liking it as much as I did, but nothing will be able to ever take away the classic status of this film from me. I had an inkiling that Capra was my kind of guy, but I was tenative about him only having seen the one film by him. If this is any indication of how the man makes movies, I am confident that at the end of this marathon I will confidently place him on my list of Best Directors of All Time and very well may climb quite high. A good start to what hopes to be a spectacular marathon filled with great discoveries, both in terms of films and directors.

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