The Talk of the Town ★★★

Quite simply, this is one of the oddest screenplays I've come across in some time. Cary Grant stars as Leopold Dilg, an escaped, would-be arsonist the police just can't seem to catch. Ronald Colman appears as legal scholar and future Supreme Court justice Professor Lightcap, while Jean Arthur is true to form as his ditzy landlady. The three become pals of a sort based purely on circumstance. I wouldn't go so far as to label this a romantic triangle, although the movie definitely wants to go there.

There's something very Capra-esque about the movie, although Frank Capra had nothing to do with it. Set in a small New England town, it's suffused with quirky Americana. And the story goes exactly where you expect it to, with the law professor defending the escaped convict. But the movie has to stretch so often to rope in the weird tangents of the plot that it begins to lack credulity. And Arthur winds up with the wrong guy. Of course, it has to be Cary Grant, because he's Cary Grant. But the only real emotional connection in the film is between her and Lightcap, and even that's not very strong.

This is an enjoyable, comforting watch for a gray weekend evening at the end of winter, waiting for the snow to melt outside. But its quirkiness gets the best of it and the film doesn't quite work.

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