The Talk of the Town

( 1 )

Overview

George Stevens' The Talk of the Town (1942) is one of the stranger movies to come out of Hollywood during World War II, ranking right up there with The Ox-Bow Incident, even though it's ostensibly a comedy. Actually, it is, but it isn't the kind of comedy that elicits many visible laughs, apart from one side-splitting scene worthy of a French farce about 30 minutes into the film. It's mostly cleverer and more sophisticated than that, a comedy of ideas closer in spirit to the work of George Bernard Shaw than that ...
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Overview

George Stevens' The Talk of the Town (1942) is one of the stranger movies to come out of Hollywood during World War II, ranking right up there with The Ox-Bow Incident, even though it's ostensibly a comedy. Actually, it is, but it isn't the kind of comedy that elicits many visible laughs, apart from one side-splitting scene worthy of a French farce about 30 minutes into the film. It's mostly cleverer and more sophisticated than that, a comedy of ideas closer in spirit to the work of George Bernard Shaw than that of Frank Capra, but also as weighty as Capra's best work for Columbia and very rewarding on a romantic level, as well. But before one watches it, they should be prepared -- how many comedies open with an arson, a murder, an indictment, a trial in progress, an escape, and a manhunt? Columbia did well enough with the movie, thanks to a cast led by Cary Grant (in one of his more offbeat roles), Ronald Colman, and Jean Arthur, and it was nominated for Best Picture (as well as Best Screenplay, Best Original Story, Best Score, Best Editing, and Best Interior Decoration), but it never really loomed large in the scheme of wartime comedies, mostly because it is very serious, thoughtful, and demanding -- it's not Abbott and Costello's Buck Privates. The movie works far better today for modern viewers, especially as it's steeped in issues that are still current, about what the law ought to be. Columbia-TriStar Home Video obviously has a lot of faith in the film, as they've put it out in a full-priced edition (as of 2003) on DVD from a digitally restored source. The movie looks splendid for most of its 118 minutes -- far better than the laserdisc version -- and sounds even better with the volume pitched at a decent level, which gives its audience the full-impact of the clever and witty score. The film-to-video transfer is one of the better on a vintage Columbia title from this period in DVD history, with excellent detail throughout and very little in the way of film or digital playback flaws. It's full-frame, of course (1.33:1), as shot, though, for some reason, the video company has added a disclaimer describing this as an "alteration" in the original movie to fit the home screen. The film has been treated well in the programming, with 28 chapters for its two-hour running time. There are no other bonuses, apart from trailers for His Girl Friday and two otherwise utterly unrelated Columbia-TriStar titles. It might have been much more interesting to see how the studio sold, or tried to sell, this movie at the time -- how did they get people in 1942, in the middle of a war, to pay money to see a comedy that includes a lynch mob? The only flaw in the package, other than that omission, is in the final 17 minutes of the movie. Apparently, the final reel wasn't nearly as well-preserved as the rest of it, and we see scratches, grain, and wear. It doesn't mar the viewing experience, though it is noticeable compared to what comes before it.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Digitally mastered audio and video; Remastered in high definition; Full-screen presentation; English soundtrack; English, French, Japanese, and Korean subtitles; Bonus trailers; Interactive menus; Scene selections
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Part debate about the American legal system, part sophisticated romantic comedy, George Stevens's The Talk of the Town (1942) portrays a legally loaded love triangle between a wrongly accused fugitive, a local New England schoolteacher and a cloistered law professor. With Cary Grant as the accused Leopold, Jean Arthur as the teacher Nora and Ronald Colman as the jurist Lightcap, Stevens and screenwriters Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman seamlessly interweave introspective discussions about the law with clever repartee as Leopold and Nora scheme to convince Lightcap to abandon his disinterested stance and help Leopold's cause against the corrupt town machine. Spiked with bits of visual and physical comedy such as a bloodhound chase and some judiciously placed fried eggs, The Talk of the Town manages to be both serious about its patriotic message, and hilarious in its telling. Stevens's opening montage, complete with a threateningly dour Grant, is a model of economical story-telling, as is the exchange of parting glances between the three before Nora makes her romantic move. A substantial hit, The Talk of the Town was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture and Screenplay.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/25/2003
  • UPC: 043396078093
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:58:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 8,819

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cary Grant Leopold Dilg
Jean Arthur Nora Shelley
Ronald Colman Michael Lightcap
Edgar Buchanan Sam Yates
Glenda Farrell Regina Bush
Charles Dingle Andrew Holmes
Rex Ingram Tilney
Emma Dunn Mrs. Shelley
Leonid Kinskey Jan Pulaski
Tom Tyler Clyde Bracken
Don Beddoe Chief of Police
George Watts Judge Grunstadt
Clyde Fillmore Sen. James Boyd
Frank M. Thomas District Attorney
Dorothy Babb School Girl
Georgia Backus
Holger Bendixen
William Benedict Western Union Boy
Ferike Boros Mrs. Pulaski
Al Bridge Desk Sergeant
Lloyd Bridges Forrester
Leslie Brooks Secretary
Eddie Bruce Reporter
Jack Carr Usher
Eddie Coke
Gino Corrado Waiter
Joe Cunningham McGuire
Ralph Dunn
Al Ferguson Detective
Joe Garcia
Jack Gardner Cameraman
Bud Geary
William Gould Sheriff
Dave Harper
Edward Hearn Sergeant
Dutch Hendrian
George Hickman
Maynard Holmes Vendor
Dick Jensen
Robert Keats
Harold Kruger Ball Player
Bill Lally
Eddie Laughton Henry
Jack Lowe Workman
Herman Marks
Joe McGuinn Jailer
Patrick McVey Cop
Frank Mills
Clarence Muse Doorkeeper
Charles Perry
Ralph Peters
Lee Phelps
Lee Prather Sergeant-at-Arms
Al Rhein
Dewey Robinson Jake
Al Seymour
John Shay
Roberta Smith
Frank Sully Road Cop
Mabel Todd Operator
Victor Travers
Lelah Tyler Woman
John Tyrrell
Ralph Volkie Man
Max Wagner Moving Man
Robert Walker Deputy Sheriff
Lee "Lasses" White Hound Keeper
Technical Credits
George Stevens Director, Producer
Lionel Banks Art Director
Sidney Buchman Screenwriter
Norman Deming Asst. Director
Fred Guiol Associate Producer
Sidney Harmon Screenwriter
Frederick Hollander Score Composer
Irene Costumes/Costume Designer
Otto Meyer Editor
Irwin Shaw Screenwriter
Rudolph Sternad Art Director
Morris W. Stoloff Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Ted Tetzlaff Cinematographer
Dale Van Every Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start
2. Leopold Dilg Escapes
3. Nora Shelley & the Fugitive
4. An Evening With Michael Lightcap
5. Early Morning Parade
6. A Cook & A Stenographer
7. Joseph the Gardener
8. Supreme Court Appointment
9. His Picture in the Paper
10. At the Ballpark
11. Chess & Argument
12. Right Scent, Wrong Man
13. Borscht With An Egg in It
14. At the Factory Ruins
15. Inviting Nora to Washington
16. His Identity Revealed
17. In Sam's Office
18. The Beard Comes Off
19. Regina in Mourning
20. Dancing With Miss Bush
21. Back in the Attic
22. Roadblock
23. Clyde Bracken, Alive & Well
24. Dilg Captured
25. Lightcap's Resolution
26. Justice Prevails
27. In Chambers
28. Nora Gets Her Man
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Subtitles
      English
      Japanese
      French/Fran├žais
      Korean
      Subtitles Off
   Scene Selections
   Trailers
      His Girl Friday
      I Dreamed of Africa
      Seems Like Old Times
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Classic Cary!

    Cary Grant and Jean Arthur once again have great chemistry! A good story about the 'little guy' going up against the 'big, corrupt guy' and winning, eventually. Cary has a long, rough fight though. Along the way Cary, Jean and Ronald have some classic comedic moments. And of course Cary is, as always, unforgettable and sexy! Ronald Coleman gives a memorable and sexy performance himself, in a quiet and sophisticated way . George Stevens does a great job at the helm, as always.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews