The Talk of the Town ★★★★

Throw it all in a blender, and let's see what comes out. This is certainly enjoyable, and with Arthur, Grant, and Coleman, you'd expect it to be. I guess the mix of styles will be seen as a strength by some, and a weakness by others, but I'm on the middle rail. We start with a pretty dark story of a mill burning down, a foreman dying, and a suspect, Leopold Dilg (Grant) being railroaded, jailed, and escaping. OK, we know Grant isn't guilty, he's Cary Grant, but we take a hard right into comedy as Nora Shelley is introduced, fixing up a house for a new tenant, with Dilg bursting in begging for help on his badly sprained ankle at nearly the same time as the new tenant (Ronald Coleman,) renowned law professor Michael Lightcap. Light comedy ensues, but we already know that although Shelley hides Dilg in the attic, the three will share a mix of adventure and comedy proving Dilg's innocence. Dilg is a plain talking, somewhat aggressive street corner philosopher, and Coleman is a brilliant student of law books, but a bit removed from how the law works in actual practice, and they both are hot for Nora, and of course, who wouldn't be. They begin to rub off on one another, as each begins to recognize the value the other's legal perspectives. George Stevens mixes in some speeches about law, here and there, with Coleman getting a big one in front of a mob at the courthouse. A side story that adds some possible consequences to Lightcap's questionable legal actions is that he's being considered for a spot on the Supreme Court. Adventure ensues as Coleman finds out the damning evidence against the mill owner and the judge who was in his pocket. It all ends happily, of course, and Nora ends up with one of our two heroes. It doesn't matter which, because, of course, we love them both.
The mixture of comedy, drama, adventure, and social commentary has a very Capra like touch, but overall the film suffers a bit from trying to hit too many bases, and in the end we have too many plots to tie up. Aside from Edgar Buchanan and Rex Ingram, the supporting cast could have been more engaging, but they're merely adequate in most cases. That leaves all the heavy lifting to our principles, and they all come through with shining colors, so while I can't say it's an outright unmissable classic, it is a very nice way to spend a couple of hours.

Jim liked this review