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"Talk of the Town"

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Character's Name: Leopold Dilg
Release Date:  August 20, 1942
Director: George Stevens
Studio: Columbia
Running Time: 118 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Leopold Dilg), Jean Arthur (Nora Shelley), Ronald Colman (Michael Lightcap), Edgar Buchanan (Sam Yates), Glenda Farrell (Regina Bush), Charles Dingle (Andrew Holmes), Emma Dunn (Mrs. Shelley), Rex Ingram (Tilney), Leonid Kinskey (Jan Pulaski), Tom Tyler (Clyde Bracken)

- by Zoë Shaw
Leopold Dilg is wanted for murder and arson, and persuades the prettiest girl in town, Nora, to hide him in a house which she has rented to a law school dean (Michael) for the summer. Michael becomes Dilg's defense lawyer, and they both try to win Nora's heart.

- by Lori Felt
Leopold Dilg (CG) an injured escapee from prison, hunted on a murder and arson charge, persuades Nora Shelly to hide him in the house she has rented to Mr. Lightcap, an austere law school dean, who plans to spend a quiet summer writing, in anticipation of a Supreme Court appointment. Lightcap can be compared to a "quiet librarian who the world does not interrupt", a man who sees things in black and white and has always hid from the world behind his beard.

Dilg, in the guise as the gardener, and Lightcap become philosophical adversaries in the reality of the justice system, but manage to develop a mutual friendship in the process. Lightcap is made to see that justice is not always in the letter of the law, and despite that this might jeopardize his Supreme Court appointment, he undertakes to be Dilg's champion. As usual someone gets the girl in the end, but just who is not shown until the final scene.

While Dilg is set on showing the professor that life according to books is quite different from reality, the character of Nora as a sort of comic relief steals the show. She is quite charming and fun to watch as Nora has to be constantly on her toes to keep Dilg's true identity a secret from Lightcap in addition to preventing the police from finding Dilg.

VARIETY Film Review - September 24, 1942
- by "Wear"
- submitted by Barry Martin
'Talk of the Town' looks like boxoffice sugar.  Another in the string of semi-serious, whacky comedies patterned after 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town' and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' the combined lure of Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman will speak loudly at the wickets.

Story at times tries too hard to follow the general formula of predecessors.  Yet even in its more flighty, absurd episodes, the sense of comedy always is retained by director George Stevens.  Transition from serious or melodramatic to the slap-happy and humorous sometimes is a bit awkward, but in the main it is solid escapist comedy.  Somewhat overboard in length, intelligent pruning of the series of anti-climaxes would help.

Case of Cary Grant, the outspoken factory town, soapbox 'anti' worker, being tried for arson and the death of factory foreman in the blaze, serves as a vehicle to introduce a pert schoolteacher (Jean Arthur) and a law school dean (Coleman) in a procession of comedy dissertations on law, in theory and practice.  Plot has Grant escaping before his trial is completed and seeking refuge in the schoolmarm's home.

This setup is complicated by the arrival, a day ahead time, of Mike Lightcap, law school dean (Colman), since he has rented the girl's home for a quiet summer of writing.  Miss Arthur hides the escaped Grant, passing him off as the gardener.  While so masquerading, Grant takes the law expert over the verbal hurdles by expounding the more practical concepts of law.  Both Grant and his own lawyer, with the acquiescence of the teacher, attempt to thaw out the professor after they learn he is about to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Story doesn't give Grant quite enough to do, with plenty of meaty lines an situations handed Colman, who manages the transition from the stuffy professor to a human being with the least amount of implausibility.  Miss Arthur adds another clear-cut comedy characterization as the schoolteacher.  Support, while not heavy on names, is well chosen, including solid performances by Edgar Buchanan, Glenda Farrell and Rex Ingram.

Stevens' direction is topflight for the most part, exceptions being his tendency to go hokey at times.  Ted Tetzlaff's photography is A-1 all the way; Donald Starling's montage only so-so.  

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - August 28, 1942
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
It is more than a passing coincidence that Columbia Pictures, which made "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," is also the company responsible for "The Talk of the Town," now at the Music Hall.  For there are several nice points of similarity between the two remote comedies, not least of which is the fact that they both entertain delightfully.  Leopold Dilg, the cause célèbre of "The Talk of the Town," may not be quite as respectable "pixillated" as was Longfellow Deeds of the former film, and certainly his perilous dilemma is not so funny as was his predecessor's.  But both boys have in common the unmerited scorn of society; both have to put up a battle against intolerance and hypocrisy, and both have the obvious advantage of Jean Arthur in their corners.

Thus, there is ample reason to be almost as thoroughly pleased with the manner of Leopold Dilg's salvation as we were with that of Longfellow Deeds.  Almost - but not quite.  The one hitch is that Leopold's case becomes confused by some dubious disputation over the letter versus the spirit of the law.  And the logic of Leopold's contention that an innocent man, falsely accused, has the right to become anarchistic is a bit too obscurely professed.  The sole weakness of the picture is that it never presents a clear brief.  

But that is a point we won't labor, for the essential purpose of this take is to amuse with some devious dilemmas, and that it does right well.  This Dilg, it seems, is a straight guy who doesn't like to be kicked around.  And so, for that, he is framed into a murder charge by the nabob of a New England town.  Well, he breaks out of prison and seeks shelter in Miss Arthur's house just on the night that an eminent law professor arrives to rent it for a term.  The professor is a theorist, a bachelor and an appointee to the Supreme Court.  And so the whole problem of the picture is to get him to spring to Dilg's defense and, once in that groove, to spring Dilg.  A lot of fun and excitement result.

Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman wrote a smart and lively script for the film and George Stevens has directed it with the slyness of a first-rate comedy man.  No opportunities for comment with the camera have got by Mr. S.  Cary Grant plays Leopold Dilg with a casualness which is slightly disturbing, but Ronald Colman as the bearded professor is 100 percent Harvard Law.  (Cultured, that is.)  Miss Arthur is charming, as usual, in her bewilderment, and Edgar Buchanan, Glenda Farrell and Rex Ingram are rich in lesser character roles.

"The Talk of the Town" is going to make a lot of people laugh and feel good.  It may be off beam in its philosophy, but its quality of humor is not strained.  

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