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Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) is an uncomplicated man. Living a happy life as a bachelor in a small Vermont town, his chief passion is playing the tuba in his local band. But when a long-lost wealthy uncle dies in a car wreck, Deeds unexpectedly inherits an estate worth $20 million, including a mansion, several servants, and various financial responsibilities. Not sure what to make of his newfound fortune, Deeds relocates to New York City, but upon his arrival he is targeted by the local scandal-sheets, and in particular reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur), who strikes up a dating relationship with the innocent millionaire while mocking him as the "Cinderella Man" in the morning papers. But, in the midst of several fistfights that he gets into whenever he feels he's been slighted by any city-dwellers, Deeds turns his attention to his opera-house, which he plans to overhaul and make a profitable enterprise. Frank Capra's 1936 Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, with its story of the common man in the midst of haute society, was a box-office smash with Depression-era moviegoers and earned Capra the second of his three Oscars. Cooper, one of Hollywood's most popular dramatic actors of the day, shows his comic side under Capra's direction (as did Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart in other Capra classics), and Jean Arthur was soon on her way to becoming one of Capra's favorite leading ladies, playing the urban sophisticate she would later reprise in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (in fact, that film was supposed to star Cooper, reprising his role as Deeds, but Jimmy Stewart eventually got the part and the title was changed; watch both back-to-back to see what Capra had in mind). Columbia TriStar's DVD edition of Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, part of their superb "Columbia Classics" series, offers a source print of varying quality, but for the most part it is very good (it's also the restored print currently housed in the Library of Congress). The monaural audio is wonderfully clear, with barely any ambient noise. Supplements include a commentary track by Frank Capra Jr., a short retrospective with Capra Jr., original movie posters and lobby cards, a trailer gallery, and cast-and-crew notes. This one belongs in every Capra fan's personal collection.
—JJB



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