Longfellow Deeds lives in a small town, leading a small town kind of life - including playing the tuba in the town band. When a relative dies and leaves Deeds a fortune, Longfellow picks up his tuba and moves to the big city where he becomes an instant target for everyone from the greedy opera committee to the sensationist daily newspaper.
OSCAR Winner for Best Director (Capra)
Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Sound, Best Screenplay
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Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) is primarily a romantic comedy; it followed his best known romantic comedy, It Happened One Night, and the forgotten Broadway Bill, both from 1934. But Mr. Deeds has more than romance and comedy— it's an early example of Capra using these genres but also including metaphors to comment more gravely on the state of the country and society. The reason that this original film is so superior to the remake Mr. Deeds (2002) is simply that in the more recent film they upped the romance and ridiculous comedy, and left out the social importance. Capra's genius partly lay in creating (with the help of great writers) entertaining films for Hollywood that fit into familiar genres but also had social relevance, which is lacking in the majority of Hollywood films today, certainly the current bland romantic comedies.
The climax of the film is in a courtroom , where the attorneys are charging Deeds with insanity and an inability to handle the amount of money he has been given. He refuses to defend himself, seeming to have lost faith in society and its people, and it is Babe Bennett who helps save him from his hopelessness and wrong conviction, since she is after all in love with him as well. The story is indeed a romance, since Deeds saves Bennett—“the woman in distress” who he has always wanted to save—by making her a better person, and she in turn saves him. Their relationship is simple and sweet, the actors and director never create overly sappy moments; they create a romantic and hopeful pairing. And, through the romance plot, Capra creates a bigger picture of hope: one of a better society in which those with money will help those without, instead of using them to get ahead in the world.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is one of the three Oscars Capra received for Best Director, and he is today a great example of one of the old Hollywood directors who knew how to use popular genres to make big studio films, without sacrificing content. While many shallow films were made by the studios to help people forget about the Depression and escape into a world of music and laughter, Capra was reminding the public of the hard times, while also giving a sense of hope and romance.