Longfellow Deeds lives in a small town, leading a small town kind of life - including playing the tuba in the town band. When a relative dies and leaves Deeds a fortune, Longfellow picks up his tuba and moves to the big city where he becomes an instant target for everyone from the greedy opera committee to the sensationist daily newspaper. Deeds outwits them all until Babe Bennett comes along. Babe is a hot-shot reporter who figures the best way to get close to Deeds is to pose as a damsel in distress. When small-town boy meets big-city girl anything can, and does, happen. Written by
Tuba player inherits fortune and becomes a Cinderella Man and gets pixiliated in Manhattan!
One of Frank Capra's strengths as a film director was the great team he assembled. Not only did he have a great technical group behind him, but his casts combined talent that went from the major stars to the bit players.
In this fable, Mr. Capra gives an answer to those of us that always pondered: what would one do if one inherited a lot of money, or if one won the lottery (fat chance!) It must be terrifying to suddenly have a lot of wealth, in this case 20 million during the worst days of the Great Depression. Sometimes it's better to stay poor rather than have to deal with strangers that have designs on one's newly found wealth!
Gary Cooper has never been as charming as the tuba playing, country bumpkin whose life is changed dramatically when he has to go to Manhattan to claim his inheritance. His Longfellow Deeds gets to see first hand how the high society, his uncle belonged to, deals with this unsophisticated greeting card writing poet.
Jean Arthur was a natural comedienne. She is wonderful in this movie as the reporter who tricks Deeds into speaking with her and in the process falls in love with the man, the object of the ridicule she writes about.
Leonard Standing, one of the best character actors of the era, is equally effective as Cobb, the man who knows a thing or two about those society folks. George Bancroft was also good as MacWade.
The film has a pace that never lets the viewer down. In comparison with what passes today as film comedy, this is a masterpiece. It shows the genius of Frank Capra in charge of this group of people that make us treasure films like this one even if it's pure nonsense, which after all, was what the director was looking for to make us laugh.
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