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People Will Talk

An odd, subversive comedy/drama, 1951's People Will Talk tackles some sensitive issues without coyness and manages to slip in some pointed criticisms of the era's commie-baiting. Cary Grant plays Dr. Noah Praetorius, an unconventional professor/physician who's beloved by his patients and students but disliked by his jealous colleagues. One of these colleagues, Prof. Rodney Elwell (Hume Cronyn, in a slimy turn),, spearheads a McCarthy-style witch hunt against Praetorius, attempting to discredit him due to his close relationship with an gentle giant named Shunderson (Finlay Currie). Meanwhile, Praetorius treats a young woman (Jeanne Crain), single and pregnant, who attempts suicide because of her condition. Unaware of Elwell's machinations, Praetorius tells her that she's not pregnant and convinces her to marry him. Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewiecz and based on the play "Dr. Praetorius" by Curt Goetz, the plot is fairly preposterous and the storylines underdeveloped. But Grant is, as always, charming, Cronyn throws himself full-on into the role of villain, and the obvious HUAC bashing is, with the wisdom of hindsight, both clever and brave. This is one of Grant's more overlooked films, and worth a viewing if only for curiosity's sake. Fox's DVD release of People Will Talk offers a very clean full-frame transfer (1.33:1) with a few specks here and there on the rich black-and-white source-print. The Dolby Stereo 2.1 audio, in mono or stereo, is clean if unexceptional. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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