Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher in this multi-Oscar-nominated classic comedy drama directed by George Stevens.
Leopold Dilg (Cary Grant), who was unlawfully condemned of starting a fire deliberately, manages to get himself out from jail. While on the run, he discovers the home of Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur), an old pal from school for whom he loves, but doesn’t tell anyone.
Nora believes Leopold did not commit the crime and lets him pretend to be her landscaper; meanwhile, Professor Lightcap (Ronald Colman), a lawful specialist, has just started hiring a room in Nora’s house. Lightcap, like Leopold, also has eyes for Nora, which leads to a love triangle.
Cary Grant and Ronald Colman give very good performances in their respective roles as the prisoner and professor battle it out to get their hands-on Nora.
They both suit their roles really well and make the most of their screen time. However, Colman might be more remembered for his part in Random Harvest, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Also giving an excellent performance is Jean Arthur in her role as Nora, the schoolteacher who finds herself involved in the love triangle and having to decide as to who she loves the most. Who will she choose and who will she leave broken-hearted?
The direction from Stevens is excellent because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a pleasant atmosphere happening as well.
The script is written to a terrific standard by Dale Van Every, Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman as they make the movie really easy to follow and create some funny moments. But even when the movie isn’t funny, you can still understand what is happening, because the narrative is definitely there.
The technical aspects that stand out best in glorious black-and-white are the set, camera, music and editing, because the set is terrific to view at all times; the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the sometimes funny and tense moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status; the music is very enjoyable to listen to; the film is edited to a brilliant standard.
The movie managed to win 7 Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Story (Sidney Harmon), Best Screenplay (Sidney Buchman and Irwin Shaw), Best Production Design (Black-and-White), Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Film Editing. Even though it didn’t win any of those prizes, the nominations were deserved.
Overall, The Talk of the Town is one love triangle that works so well because Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur are at their best.