The Talk of the Town ★★★★

It gets a bit hard to parse at times - are we watching a madcap screwball comedy or a message film about justice and corruption? - but its great strength is that it manages to convincingly be both those things. It has a very similar template to Stevens's very next film, The More the Merrier (mismatched trio flung together by circumstance find a common cause; one of them is played by Jean Arthur), but it lacks its successor's ability to work unforced social commentary into a story with a more prevalent comic tone. Still, it's miles more intelligently written than we have any right to expect it to be, and the cast is perfect.

Ranking George Stevens

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