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Magic Town

Overview

With Robert Riskin as screenwriter, director William Wellman proved in Magic Town that it was possible to make a Frank Capra-esque picture without Capra himself at the helm. James Stewart plays Rip Smith, a cynical pollster who comes across a small American town named Grandview, which represents a "perfect" balance of ethnic types, professions, political beliefs, and personal opinions a parody of the then-current "Middletown" study. Smith publicizes this discovery, leading to a barrage of media attention and an ...
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Overview

With Robert Riskin as screenwriter, director William Wellman proved in Magic Town that it was possible to make a Frank Capra-esque picture without Capra himself at the helm. James Stewart plays Rip Smith, a cynical pollster who comes across a small American town named Grandview, which represents a "perfect" balance of ethnic types, professions, political beliefs, and personal opinions a parody of the then-current "Middletown" study. Smith publicizes this discovery, leading to a barrage of media attention and an onslaught of get-rich-quick entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, all of this has an adverse effect on the heretofore "average" citizens of Grandview; it also seriously threatens Smith's blossoming romance with local girl Mary Peterman Jane Wyman, who feels that her friends and neighbors are being used, exploited, and in some cases, corrupted. The satirical thrust of the film bogs down into sentimentality toward the end, but it's fun while it lasts. One of the colorful supporting characters is played by screwball-comedy favorite Donald Meek, who died during production, necessitating a number of hasty and not altogether successful rewrites. Though it pleases audiences today, Magic Town was a financial disappointment in 1947, prompting James Stewart to seek out "tougher" and more challenging roles to restore his box-office appeal.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Magic Town could have used a little magic itself -- especially the kind of magic provided by that old wizard, Frank Capra. Magic demonstrates just how important a factor Capra was to the success of his films. Written (and produced) by Capra writer Robert Riskin, Magic has many of the ingredients that one associates with Capra, but it lacks the spark to animate them or to transform the sticky sentimentality that pervades the film into genuine heartfelt sentiment. William Wellman doesn't really make a stab at Capra magic, nor does he take a different tack and try explore the satirical elements in the situation; instead, he provides fairly flat direction that lacks distinction. Fortunately, Magic does have a marvelous cast that makes up for many of the film's flaws, with James Stewart and Jane Wyman taking top honors. It also has a number of scenes -- the dual poem-recitation scene, a great drinking segment -- that do take flight. If all the film were as delightful as these scenes, Magic Town would have been a terrific film. As it is, it's certainly light and entertaining, but not much more.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/23/2013
  • UPC: 887090059206
  • Original Release: 1947
  • Rating:

  • Source: Olive Films
  • Aspect Ratio: Academy Aperture (1.37:1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:43:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 57,088

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
E.J. Ballantine Moody
James Stewart Lawrence "Rip" Smith
Mary Currier Mrs. Frisby
Jane Wyman Mary Peterman
Julia Dean Mrs. Wilton
Kent Smith Hoopendecker
Ann Doran Mrs. Weaver
Ned Sparks Ike Sloan
Frank Fenton Birch
Wallace Ford Lou Dicketts
Regis Toomey Ed Weaver
Howard Freeman Richard Nickleby
Harry Holman Mayor
George Irving Senator Wilson
Donald Meek Mr. Twiddle
Mickey Roth Bob Peterman
Ann Shoemaker Ma Peterson
Griff Barnett Henry
Wheaton Chambers Electrician
Edgar Dearing Gray-haired Man
Dick Elliott
William Haade
Edna Holland Secretary
John Ince Postman
Paul Maxey Fat Man in Hallway
Garry Owen Man Smoking Offensive Cigar
Eddie Parks Bookkeeper
Lee Phelps
Harry "Snub" Pollard Townsman
Emmett Vogan Reverend
Eddy Waller Newcomer
Dick Wessel Moving Man
Lee "Lasses" White Old Timer
Mickey Kuhn Hank Nickleby
Selmar Jackson Charlie Stringer
Robert Dudley Dickey, the Reporter
Joel Friedkin Dingle
Paul Scardon Hodges
George Chandler Bus Driver
Frank Darien Quincy
Lawrence Wheat Sam Fuller
Jimmy Crane Shorty
Richard Belding Junior Dicketts
Danny Mummert Benny
Technical Credits
William Wellman Director
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Constantin Bakaleinikoff Musical Direction/Supervision
Lionel Banks Production Designer
Joseph Biroc Cinematographer
Arthur S. Black Jr. Asst. Director
Terry Kellum Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Riskin Producer, Screenwriter
George Sawley Set Decoration/Design
Sherman Todd Editor
John E. Tribby Sound/Sound Designer
Roy Webb Score Composer
Richard G. Wray Editor
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