Matinee Monday – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

curtains

For at least three decades, one of my favorites movies has been Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936). Directed by the great Frank Capra, it’s a perfect example of the heart-warming Capra-corn that he was so famous for. It tells the story of a small-town poet who inherits a fortune during the depression, and how cynical big-city smoothies and sharpies try to mock and take advantage of him.

What is a wonder to me is that Gary Cooper, the star of Mr. Deeds, was a huge heart-throb. I’ve seen many of his pictures, and in almost every one, he is as slow and awkward as he was in real life. Cooper lacked co-ordination, and one behind-the-scenes story from Pride of the Yankees tells how the director had to film Cooper in a Yankee uniform with backwards lettering. It turned out he was so awkward that when they tried to get him to mimic Lou Gehrig’s left-handed batting, it was painful to watch. Instead, they reversed the lettering, filmed him batting right-handed, and then reversed the film

And yet, he was included in Irving Berlin’s great song about being smooth and suave, “Putting on the Ritz”:

Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper
Super-Duper

Despite all this, Cooper could act, and make you care. In Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, when he’d rather be railroaded into a mental asylum rather than give the city any more fodder to mock him, you feel his pain.

Here’s the trailer for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – While I enjoy Adam Sandler’s remake, Mr. Deeds, it’s a pale comparison. Find it and rent it if you can.

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