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Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

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Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, by Frank Capra
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Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, by Frank Capra

Synopsis of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Small-town innocent Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) heads to New York to collect a $20 million inheritance. There, he ends up a target of ridicule thanks to Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur). She’s a cynical reporter whose demeaning stories have made him the joke of the city. Then, he discovers his sweet and unassuming new girlfriend is actually the hard-boiled Bennett in disguise.

A disillusioned Deeds decides to give his fortune away. But that’s an act of charity his crooked lawyer will stop at nothing to prevent! Winner of the 1936 Academy Award® for Best Director Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is the quintessential screwball comedy.


  • Gary Cooper (Sergeant York) … Longfellow Deeds
  • Jean Arthur (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) … Babe Bennett
  • George Bancroft (Angels with Dirty Faces) … MacWade
  • Lionel Stander (Unfaithfully Yours) … Cornelius Cobb
  • Douglass Dumbrille (The Frozen Ghost) … John Cedar
  • Raymond Walburn (The Count of Monte Cristo 1934) … Walter
  • H.B. Warner (Five Star Final) … Judge May
  • Ruth Donnelly (Thank Your Lucky Stars) … Mabel Dawson
  • Walter Catlett (Bringing Up Baby) … Morrow
  • John Wray (Doctor X) … Farmer

Editorial review of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is Frank Capra’s classic screwball comedy about a village innocent who inherits $20 million, only to discover it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The screwball in question is Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper), a small-town greeting-card poet and tuba player transplanted to the big city to administer his newly inherited wealth, where fast-pattering, wised-up cynics, sneering society denizens, and corrupt lawyers lord it over the ingenuous and straightforward. Deeds’s idiosyncrasies are amply magnified in the tabloids by journalist “Babe” Bennett (Jean Arthur), dating Deeds as a cover, only to discover she’s the sap when she falls irresistibly for him.

But the damage has been done, when Babe’s column is used by a pack of corrupt lawyers, Cedar, Cedar, Cedar & Budington, to prove Deeds mentally unfit. The miracle of this unforgettable comedy is how it embraces dark material, calling into question some common assumptions about capitalism while maintaining an approachable atmosphere of light comedy, and deceptively so. You’ll be so pixilated by its charm, you won’t rest until you’ve doodled your way to a rhyme for “Budington.” –Jim Gay

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