Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Mr. Deeds Goes to Town</strong> (1936)

(On Cable TV, February 2018) As much as it pains me to say so, I’m having a bit of trouble properly assessing Mr. Deeds Goes to Town given the existence of the Adam Sandler remake Mr. Deeds. It shouldn’t be this way—Gary Cooper is a far more likable performer than Sandler, and the Frank Capra-directed original is a far more mature piece of work than the lowbrow remake. Still, both movies follow the same structure to such an extent that even a few weeks after seeing the original (oops; I should write these reviews sooner!) the two of them are blurring together. I’m reasonably confident that Winona Ryder wasn’t alive in 1936, though, so here goes: Highlights of the original include a warm performance from Gary Cooper, as well as a fascinating look at mid-thirties New York City, a surprisingly contemporary look at the gossip media news cycle, and a funny montage or two. (One of Capra’s strengths, even from today’s perspective, is his ability to use montages effectively.) It all amounts to an amiable movie, even a heart-warming one … even though its impact may be blunted in those who have seen the remake. I liked it, and while Mr. Deeds Goes to Town clearly show why Gary Cooper was a star, it also shows why Cooper isn’t as fondly remembered as Cary Grant (who was far better at comedy) or James Stewart (a more relatable everyday man). It’s certainly worth a look, even for those who have seen the remake.

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