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Mr. Deeds Goes To Town

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town

By Patrick Samuel • January 23rd, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Original release: April 16th, 1936
Running time: 118 minutes

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Clarence Budington Kelland, Robert Riskin

Cast: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, Raymond Walburn, Lionel Stander, Walter Catlett, George Bancroft

Mr Deeds Goes To Town

They say money changes us. Take a look around, we see it happening all the time. When we don’t have it we’ll do anything to get it, and when we do have it we’ll do anything to get rid of it. It doesn’t make any sense, but there it is in a nutshell. What happens then when someone who never cared for it, ends up with more than he can cope with it? Does it change him for better – or for worse?

Based on the short story, Opera Hat, by Clarence Budington Kelland, Mr Deeds Goes To Town is the kind of film I loved watching when I small and it’s one I still watch now and then, for reasons which soon become clear. It follows a small-town poet and tuba player, Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper). After inheriting his previously-unknown uncle’s $20 million fortune, he waves goodbye to the townspeople and sets off for the Big Apple to take over his business empire.

Before Deeds can shake 2¢ together he’s descended upon by lawyers, accountants, journalists, employees and all types of other moochers who want a piece of him and his fortune for their own selfish needs. Newspaper reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur) is assigned to report on the naïve and trusting millionaire when her editor says Deeds is too good to be true. Her assignment is to dig up dirt on him and she weasels her way into his life by posing as a damsel in distress. Deeds goes weak at knees for her and she uses it for her story.

As Babe discretely writes one popular article after the next, Deeds is nicknamed “Cinderella Man” but has no idea they’re written by the woman he’s falling in love with. Deeds uses his fortune to do good things for others, but his scheming attorney, John Cedar (Douglass Dumbrille), tries to have him declared as mentally incompetent on the basis that anyone so generous must be insane. Eventually he comes to learn the harsh truth about those around him, but even with his good nature, can he look past Babe’s ruthless betrayal of loyalty?
Mr Deeds Goes To Town

Gary Cooper, one of Hollywood’s greatest screen legends, at 6′ 3″, softly spoken and with his trademark slow delivery of his lines, is wonderful in this role. Deeds is charming, innocent and likeable, something which Capra knew Coop would be able to bring to the role. He was his first, last and only choice and the director waited until he was available, delaying filming at a cost of $100,000.

Coop would say of his chance to work with Capra:

“Working for Capra meant that I would one of the very best directors in the business and I would be getting an excellent opportunity to try out what I always wanted to do on a large scale – subdued comedy.”

He would count Mr. Deeds as one of his favourite film in the long list of films he played in.

“It was the most enjoyable I ever made. I liked Mr. Deeds. Heck of a good fellow. Wish I could meet him somewhere.”

Mr. Deeds has always been a wonderful example of how you can still be a good person, even if you’re surrounded by vultures. Despite coming from a humble background and suddenly finding himself thrust into the spotlight with his inheritance, he never lets it go to his head and always treats people with respect and due diligence.


  • George Carpozi Jnr (1970) The Gary Cooper Story, W.H. Allen

He’s a man who lives by the dictum, “do onto others as you would have them do onto you” and while it doesn’t always work in his favour, it’s never a reason for him to stop.

Mr. Deeds always gives me great pleasure to watch and leaves me with a hopeful feeling that whatever happens in life, there’s always a practical solution that doesn’t involve lowering your morals. Having seen many of Coops films, it’s this one I associate him with the most and the one I’ll always choose for my Gary Cooper nights in at home.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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