Mr. Deeds Goes to Town ★★★★

Do what you know to be the right thing. So what if you’ll look a little silly in the process. And fuck lawyers.

Capra is my kind of filmmaker. And what’s more, seemingly my kind of human. I’m a sucker for his screwy idealism and golden age sensibilities. I look to him as a name that embodies most everything I love about classic cinema, and this so-obviously-of-the-thirties work of genuine goodness is a marker for that time machine slash comfort watch I so adore. And Gary Cooper. Oh my God, Gary Cooper. So wonderful here as this tuba-playing country bumpkin, a character initially arriving with the vibe of a Jimmy-Stewart-type-beat but fast evolving into his own quirkily deadpan turn, funnier through playing it straight like a Leslie Nielsen before Leslie Nielsen. It’s all there, in the way he screws his face while mulling over his words, the way you never have any idea what he’s going to come out with next, the way he runs. My god, the way he runs. Oh yeah, and that Jean Arthur gal is pretty swell too, I guess.

But it’s with Capra's magic touch we're able to see such a wonderful transformation take place inside the courtroom. Stacked with the odds against him, Cooper’s Deeds outwits his detractors by simply pointing out the idiosyncrasies of everyone in the courtroom involved in a virtual lynching. His simple homespun logic and mannerly approach to the proceedings works like Kryptonite over the jaded and corrupt super city slickers looking for the soft spot on his neck. Fantasy of the highest order, this may be, but come the climax you’ll feel the cynicism practically melting away.

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