The Talk of the Town

The Talk of the Town ★★★½

Not surprisingly, scriptwriter Sidney Buchman co-wrote Mr Smith Goes to Washington, so despite the inclusion of the kind of slapstick comedy at which director George Stevens excelled, this has strong echoes of Frank Capra. However, as a semi-social political tract, it's less laboured than Capra, though the rose-coloured sentiments are similar. Jean Arthur is at her most typical — which is to say a delight of nervy yet steadfast romanticism which never lets anyone down — and gives a rather more confident performance than she did in her previous film with Cary Grant, Only Angels Have Wings. Grant and Ronald Coleman share the male lead, something unusual for stars of their stature at this period in Hollywood. Coleman is his steadfastly urbane self and well cast as the stuffy law professor. Cary Grant, though, is not exactly suited to the role of a working class activist, though it's indicative of Grant's enterprising choices he was inclined to make at this point in his career, and it's an interesting performance, so much so that one wishes he was on screen more. The best comedy occurs between Arthur and Coleman. Also, Rex Ingram arrives late into proceedings and is given the opportunity for a layered performance not usually allowed for African-American actors in 1942. Overall, it's a bit simple-minded, but a fun A-grade production nevertheless, superbly directed by Stevens.

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