The Talk of the Town ★★★½

"I like to break out in a cold sweat every time the doorbell rings."

George Stevens' featherbrained The Talk of the Town tracks the saga of Leopold Dilg (Cary Grant), a labor activist wrongly accused of arson by his avaricious employer. Dilg absconds from a holding cell to the home of old school crush Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur), hobbled by an ankle injury in the process. Unbeknownst to Dilg, however, Shelley is letting the house to the doctrinaire Michael Lightcap (Ronald Colman)—a potential Supreme Court justice who seems to amaze all parties by wearing a beard. Unwilling to dislodge Dilg amidst a manhunt, Shelley misrepresents him as a gardener and persuades Lightcap to let her stay on as his assistant/maid/cook while he works on an upcoming book. Instead of helping, she and Dilg's lawyer (Edgar Buchanan) continually browbeat Lightcap into exerting his influence over the ongoing miscarriage of justice, which he resists as long as possible on dogmatic grounds. Another evident factor is that he knows any controversy could scuttle his SCOTUS bid, but eventually his scruples win out over self-interest as he is ennobled both by his unwitting friendship with Dilg and his aborning love for Shelley.

This is about as frivolous as it gets, but the performances are first-rate across the board (especially Arthur). Nonetheless, the love triangle resolves somewhat awkwardly with Colman practically handing Arthur off to Grant as though he were her father. I was therefore not surprised to learn that Stevens also shot an alternate ending in which Arthur ends up with Colman, ultimately letting test audiences decide the matter—obviously they're taking Grant ten times out of ten. Still I wish Stevens had considered cuckoo's suggestion to put them in a poly triad.

Some stray notes:
-ONE MOVE AND I'LL BRAIN YOU
-NOTHING DERANGES A WOMAN'S MIND MORE THAN MARRIAGE
-I'VE NEVER SEEN SUCH MONUMENTAL INEFFICIENCY
-SHE MUST HAVE ADENOIDS
-A MORNING FOR JAILBIRDS TO KEEP THEIR HEADS IN
-I'M HIDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A PARADE
-WHAT IS THE LAW? IT'S A GUN POINTED AT YOUR HEAD
-FACTS ALONE—THAT'S A NUT WITHOUT A KERNEL
-WHEN A THAW SETS IN, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
-DON'T EVER SHAVE IT OFF, MR. TWILIGHT
-CULTURE—IT'S A CULTURED KISS
-WHERE DID HE GO WITHOUT HIS BEARD?
-A STICKLER TO THE LAST
-'LET US HAVE DILG' SIGN

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