Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
- Information at Internet Movie Database
- Greed, Love, Doers of the Word,
- Mr Semple, a society tycoon dies in car crash
leaving a $20 million fortune to an unknown recipient who turns out
to be Longfellow Deeds from Mandrake Falls Vermont a poet and
distant nephew of the deceased. Mr Semple's lawyers travel to the
town to inform him of his windfall and bring the new millionaire to
New York. When our hero finds out the amount of his fortune he
comments 'How come he left me all that money?, I don't need it'.
Just a sample of the integrity of this man, who is more concerned
about his dreams of saving a lady in distress then of the money most
people only dream about.
On their return to New York, lawyer Mr Cedar tells his colleagues that he's 'as naive as a child'. hoping to get the power of attorney. What our hero does not know is that Mr Cedar and co has been fiddling the books for their own profit for years. Others share Mr Cedars opinion of the new arrival believing they can pull the wool over his eyes and extort as much of his new found wealth as possible. They're wrong. Mr Deeds may be a good honest romantic but is also a shrewd Businessman who's knowledge and common sense is displayed when he makes comments such as 'All these people wanting to work for nothing, It isn't natural' and 'I intend to do a lot of good with this money, and I'm not going to put it in to anything that I don't look into'. The best of these comments is when a bogus attorney comes to see Deeds with a bogus claim on the estate saying his client was entitled to $7 million but she will happily settle for $1million. With this statement Deeds exposes him has a liar and a crook by saying 'There's something fishy about a guy who will settle for $1 million when he can get $7million'. at which point he has him ejected from his house.
The Newspapers are burning to get a story on Deeds and Morning Post reporter Babe Bennett is promised a months vacation with pay if she gets the low down on him. After meeting him by fainting outside his house (remember the lady in distress) he takes her for dinner and over the course of the evening he meets up with a fellow poet named Morrow who get him drunk which has embarrassing results.
The next day the Morning Post has a field day by displaying Deed's drunken ramblings in print and photographs, branding Deeds 'The Cinderella Man' much to his anger and without the knowledge that the person writing it is the object of his affections. He carries on seeing her, unknowingly giving her another story every time he opens his trap.
He tells her of his dislike of people in New York saying 'Why do people get so much pleasure out of hurting one another?' and 'they created a lot of grand palaces but forgot to create the noblemen to put in them'.
She falls in love with him when she realises that she is mostly responsible for the events that have befallen him. She even cries to her room-mate 'He's honest, sincere and good he can never fit in with our distorted viewpoint'
The major body blow comes when Deeds finds out the truth about this woman that he has fallen in lurve with. With that he decides to leave for Mandrake falls and she quits her job unable to live with the guilt of what she has done to the man she has fallen in lurve with.
When leaving his New York house, Deeds is accosted by a desperate man with a gun who in the age of the great depression wants to know why he was throwing parties and living a lavish lifestyle while others around him went hungry. Narrowly escaping death he decides that he will give away his entire fortune to needy farmers so he can go back to his quite happy life and do some good at the same time.
Sounds simple, but Mr Cedar has other ideas, and has Deed's accused of insanity and he is arrested and committed to the county hospital for mental examination pending an insanity hearing. The trial begins with Deeds not even willing to defend himself against the charge of which he stands accused.
Ludicrous yet convincing evidence is presented before the judge, as to why he should be committed to the cuckoos nest. Yet Deeds shows no sign of the basic human emotion of self-preservation.
The judge gives Deeds one last chance to defend himself but to no avail, and is about to commit him when Babe Bennett pleads with the judge to take the stand, where she testifies 'If he's crazy your honour, then the rest of us belong in strait jackets' (one of my favourite lines). She also pleads with Deeds face to face and admits she loves him. With this news Deeds realises he has something to protect and cherish and takes the stand to defend himself.
Deeds systematically demolishes every single argument the lawyers and Doctors have put forward to commit him. with even the judge showing signs of amusement and affection for the accused.
The judge asks why he has this bizarre plan to give away his whole fortune. Deeds answers this question in three parts. 'If you were living in small town getting along just fine when someone drops $20 million in your lap, but you found all this money was making you unhappy and bringing a lot of vultures around your neck, you'd feel like you had a hot potato in your hands and you'd want to drop it' which displays his reason for wanting to be rid of the money. 'If you were out in a row boat one day and you saw two men....which one would you rescue?, the guy who was tired of rowing and wanted a free ride (pointing at Cedar), or the guy who was drowning (pointing at the mass of farmers who had made a pilgrimage to the trail of their would be benefactor).......any 8 year old child would give you the answer to that one' Beautiful. He then goes on to explain his plan. He was going to give each family a horse a cow and some seed, and if they work the farm for 3 years it's theirs'.
Mr Deeds then says their is one more thing he would like to get off his chest, and proceeds to give Mr Cedar a right cross to the jaw. After the court room has returned to business as usual, the judge closes the film with the statement: 'There has been a lot of damaging testimony against you, and your behaviour to say the least has been most strange.....but in the opinion of this court, you are not only sane but you're the sanest man that ever walked into this courtroom' the courtroom erupts with celebration and they carry Deeds off on their shoulders the triumphant hero. Only for Deeds to return and claim his lady.
The positive messages that can be drawn from this highly enjoyable movie are thus:
1) Money truly is the root of all evil
2) The will to help fellow man is inbuilt in us all
3) Love conquers all
4) and finally you can put a price on most things but not the human spirit
which after all is priceless.
I urge anybody who has not seen this movie to watch it as soon as possible and judge for yourselves how uplifting and brilliant it is. (Martyn Smith)
- Mr Semple, a society tycoon dies in car crash leaving a $20 million fortune to an unknown recipient who turns out to be Longfellow Deeds from Mandrake Falls Vermont a poet and distant nephew of the deceased. Mr Semple's lawyers travel to the town to inform him of his windfall and bring the new millionaire to New York. When our hero finds out the amount of his fortune he comments 'How come he left me all that money?, I don't need it'. Just a sample of the integrity of this man, who is more concerned about his dreams of saving a lady in distress then of the money most people only dream about.
- Greed, Love, Doers of the Word, Integrity