Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

115 or 118 mins | Comedy-drama | 12 April 1936

Director:

Frank Capra

Writer:

Robert Riskin

Producer:

Frank Capra

Cinematographer:

Joseph Walker

Editor:

Gene Havlick

Production Designer:

Stephen Goosson
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HISTORY

A Gentleman Goes to Town and Opera Hat were the working titles of this film. Opera Hat was inserted into the 1934-35 production schedule by Columbia when Lost Horizon , which Capra had intended to make directly after Broadway Bill , was delayed due to casting difficulties. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was itself delayed when Paramount did not make Gary Cooper available for several months. According to HR news items, Ned Sparks was set for an unspecified comedy lead, and Columbia negotiated with Walter Wanger to borrow Peggy Conklin for an unspecified leading role, but it has not been determined why they did not participate in the finished picture. HR production charts list the following additional actors, whose inclusion in the final film has not been verified: Gennaro Curci, Si Jenks, Marjorie Gateson and Henry Otho. This was opera singer Margaret Matzenaur's first film and Cooper's first film for Columbia. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town received an Academy Award for Best Director, and was nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Cooper's first nomination), Writer and Sound Recording. It was also voted best picture by New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review and was named one of the ten best films of the year by the FD Poll of Critics. According to a MPH news item, the film was banned in Germany "on the ground that non-Aryan actors had participated" in the production. On 1 Feb 1937, Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur performed a radio version of the film for ... More Less

A Gentleman Goes to Town and Opera Hat were the working titles of this film. Opera Hat was inserted into the 1934-35 production schedule by Columbia when Lost Horizon , which Capra had intended to make directly after Broadway Bill , was delayed due to casting difficulties. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was itself delayed when Paramount did not make Gary Cooper available for several months. According to HR news items, Ned Sparks was set for an unspecified comedy lead, and Columbia negotiated with Walter Wanger to borrow Peggy Conklin for an unspecified leading role, but it has not been determined why they did not participate in the finished picture. HR production charts list the following additional actors, whose inclusion in the final film has not been verified: Gennaro Curci, Si Jenks, Marjorie Gateson and Henry Otho. This was opera singer Margaret Matzenaur's first film and Cooper's first film for Columbia. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town received an Academy Award for Best Director, and was nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Cooper's first nomination), Writer and Sound Recording. It was also voted best picture by New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review and was named one of the ten best films of the year by the FD Poll of Critics. According to a MPH news item, the film was banned in Germany "on the ground that non-Aryan actors had participated" in the production. On 1 Feb 1937, Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur performed a radio version of the film for Lux Radio Theater . According to HR news items, Columbia and Capra intended to make a sequel to Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , starring Cooper and Jean Arthur, entitled Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington , based on the story "The Gentleman from Wyoming" (alternately called "The Gentleman from Montana" by both contemporary and modern sources) by Lewis Foster. This story was instead turned into the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , directed by Capra and starring Arthur and James Stewart. Most contemporary and modern sources list H. B. Warner's character as Judge Walker, but in the film he is called Judge May. Modern sources also credit Charles Wilson with the role of the court clerk, but Gladden James is credited with the role on the CBCS, while Charles Wilson is listed as a guard. In a modern interview, Edward Bernds, the sound engineer, states that the opening scenes of Mandrake Falls were shot on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot's New England Street set, while in his autobiography, photographer Joseph Walker describes the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA, where Deed's mansion was built and filmed. While modern sources list many so-called "remakes" of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , there have been only two official remakes, employing the same character and basic plot. The first was an ABC television series entitled Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , starring Monte Markham in the Cooper role, which ran from 26 Sep 1969 to 16 Jan 1970. The second was the 2002 film Mr. Deeds , directed by Steven Brill and starring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4-Apr-36
---
Daily Variety
25 Mar 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Mar 36
p. 9.
Film Daily
30 Mar 36
p. 6.
Film Daily
8 Apr 36
p. 15.
Film Daily
12 May 36
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 36
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jan 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 37
p. 46.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
26 Mar 36
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Mar 36
p. 29.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Apr 36
p. 37.
New York Times
17 Apr 36
p. 17.
New York Times
9 Nov 37
p. 19.
Variety
22 Apr 36
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Sam Blum
Bud Flannigan
Lawrence Wheat
Jim Millican
Harvey Sheppard
B. L. Dale
Charles E. Brinley
Georgie Billings
Carleton E. Griffin
Georgia Cooper
Dora Clement
Peter Duray
Flo Wix
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Harry Cohn, President; A Frank Capra Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Spec cam eff
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Rec eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Press agent
STAND INS
Stand-in for Gary Cooper
Stand-in for Douglass Dumbrille
Stand-in for Jean Arthur
Stand-in for Lionel Stander
Stand-in for George Bancroft
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Budington Kelland in American Magazine (Apr--Sep 1935).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Opera Hat
A Gentleman Goes to Town
Release Date:
12 April 1936
Production Date:
13 December 1935--5 February 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
8 April 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6259
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
115 or 118
Length(in feet):
10,617
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1966
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Martin W. Semple dies and leaves $20 million to his nephew, Longfellow Deeds, a tuba-playing resident of Mandrake Falls, which is a small town in Vermont. John Cedar, the deceased's lawyer, and Cornelius Cobb, a press agent, tell Deeds about his fortune and take him to New York City. Deeds quickly becomes tangled in the problems of the rich, including being the chairman of the board of the local opera company and dismissing a false claimant to the estate. Meanwhile, Cedar tries to obtain power of attorney from Deeds to cover up the half million dollars his firm embezzled from the estate. Cobb fights off the press, with the exception of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Babe Bennett, who poses as impoverished Mary Dawson to get a scoop on Deeds. She faints in front of the kindhearted Deeds, who takes her to a restaurant and falls for her almost immediately. The restaurant is a favorite spot for famous writers, and after being introduced to some poets he admires, Deeds realizes they are ridiculing his greeting card poetry. He punches two of the sneering poets, but lets one of them, Morrow, take him on an all-night binge. The normally temperate Deeds gets drunk, feeds donuts to a horse and, wearing only his underwear, is escorted home by the police. The next day a newspaper article appears chronicling his adventures and branding him "The Cinderella Man." Cobb restrains Deeds from any rash action, and although hurt by the article, Deeds carries on. Weeks pass, and Cedar is distraught about not obtaining power of attorney from Deeds, while Mr. and Mrs. Semple, Deeds' cousins, come to ... +


Martin W. Semple dies and leaves $20 million to his nephew, Longfellow Deeds, a tuba-playing resident of Mandrake Falls, which is a small town in Vermont. John Cedar, the deceased's lawyer, and Cornelius Cobb, a press agent, tell Deeds about his fortune and take him to New York City. Deeds quickly becomes tangled in the problems of the rich, including being the chairman of the board of the local opera company and dismissing a false claimant to the estate. Meanwhile, Cedar tries to obtain power of attorney from Deeds to cover up the half million dollars his firm embezzled from the estate. Cobb fights off the press, with the exception of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Babe Bennett, who poses as impoverished Mary Dawson to get a scoop on Deeds. She faints in front of the kindhearted Deeds, who takes her to a restaurant and falls for her almost immediately. The restaurant is a favorite spot for famous writers, and after being introduced to some poets he admires, Deeds realizes they are ridiculing his greeting card poetry. He punches two of the sneering poets, but lets one of them, Morrow, take him on an all-night binge. The normally temperate Deeds gets drunk, feeds donuts to a horse and, wearing only his underwear, is escorted home by the police. The next day a newspaper article appears chronicling his adventures and branding him "The Cinderella Man." Cobb restrains Deeds from any rash action, and although hurt by the article, Deeds carries on. Weeks pass, and Cedar is distraught about not obtaining power of attorney from Deeds, while Mr. and Mrs. Semple, Deeds' cousins, come to the law firm to make a claim against him. During this time, Babe, who is falling in love with Deeds, continues to secretly publish inflammatory articles about him. Soon Deeds and society hostess Madame Pomponi hold a charity reception, but Deeds, sick of his guests' arrogance and eager to keep a date with Babe, throws them out, then rushes to Babe's apartment, gives her a poem and proposes. She quits her job the next morning, hoping that Deeds will forgive her when she tells him the truth. At the same time she is quitting, however, Cobb is revealing her identity to Deeds, who is crushed. He is about to leave for Mandrake Falls when a starving farmer bursts in and accuses him of neglecting the poor by wasting his money on high society high jinks. Inspired by the man's pleas, Deeds decides to give farms to needy families, and devises an $18 million dispersement plan, which horrifies Cedar and the Semples, who have Deeds arrested on an insanity charge. At the sanity hearing, the dispirited Deeds refuses to defend himself, preferring to listen silently to the exaggerations and lies told about him. When Judge May concludes that Deeds must be committed to an asylum, Babe protests in open court, explaining that Deeds is not defending himself because he has been hurt by her and the others. Under cross-examination by Cedar, she admits she loves Deeds, while her editor, MacWade, Cobb and the farmers all urge him to defend himself. He finally takes the stand and points out the eccentricities of others in the courtroom, including those of Judge May and the psychiatrist, then explains that he is giving the money away to those who need it most. Judge May dismisses all the charges against Deeds and the crowd sweeps Deeds out, while Babe remains weeping until he returns to carry her away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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