When a car crash ends the life of a fabulously wealthy patron of the arts, the decedent’s $20,000,000 fortune is inherited by one Longfellow Deeds. When Deeds is convinced to move to New York, hard-boiled newspaper reporter Babe Bennett is dispatched to get the inside scoop on “The Cinderella Man”.
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Jesus, am I kicking myself for not seeing this sooner! Like any great Frank Capra movie it left me doing 3 things by the end: It left me reasonably misty, it made me clap and it restored my faith in humanity for now. It also made a Gary Cooper fan out of me despite the fact that I love several of his movies already. Worth pushing further up the list if you've been meaning to see it.
If Capra was sent here to amuse us with folksy innocence, and then have it steamroll over cynicism, this will do. Cooper's blank male presence is mined wonderfully: the world plays off him, and the romance with Arthur is very well done. Still, the last act doesn't quite connect—its dramatic turn is labored, its destination is obvious, and that folksy innocence could curdle easily into merrily-we-dance-towards-Trump.
“People are funny. They work so hard at living they forget how to live.” Capra made a career out of moralistic tales deconstructing the corruptive nature of money. He’s one of film’s great humanists, putting kindness and love on the forefront, something increasingly rare in an increasingly cynical world. Mr. Deeds isn’t my favorite Capra, but it’s very good, and still very much needed.
Cinematography by Joseph Walker. "Desire" list: Gary Cooper, again and again (but Jean Arthur is so great!).
" (...) There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied /in you,/There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good /is in you,/No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,/No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits /for you. (...)." (Walt Whitman)