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Frank Capra
Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, Lionel Stander, George Bancroft
Writing Credits:
Robert Riskin

Simple-hearted Vermont tuba player Longfellow Deeds inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Dolby Monaural
German Dolby Monaural
Italian Dolby Monaural
Portuguese Dolby Monaural
Castillian Spanish Dolby Monaural
Latin Spanish Dolby Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 10/4/2016

• Audio Commentary with Frank Capra Jr.
• “Frank Capra Jr. Remembers…” Featurette
• Vintage Advertising Gallery
• Trailer
• Book


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Mr. Deeds Goes to Town [Blu-Ray] (1936)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 1, 2016)

Fresh off the success of 1934’s It Happened One Night, Frank Capra cranked out another classic: 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Our title character Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) lives a simple existence in small town Vermont.

Deeds’ life changes radically when he inherits a fortune from a dead relative. As part of this, he goes to Manhattan so he can deal with various issues and responsibilities.

This turns Deeds into an unusual talk of the town and sets him up to be used and manipulated by all sorts of folks. Newspaper reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur) connives to get a story out of him but eventually finds herself smitten with Deeds and his genial manner.

Most Capra efforts come with moralistic tendencies, and this seems even more prominent with Town. Really, the Deeds character often seems to exist solely so the movie can present lectures about the right and wrong ways to live life.

A little of this goes a long way, and I think Town overdoes it. Sure, I expect a less than subtle moral lesson from Capra, but this film lacks nuance. It badgers us with its notions and leaves little room for flexibility or alternate ideas.

Despite this pedantic tendency, Town manages a reasonable amount of entertainment. While I think Cooper was a fairly limited actor, he gives Deeds a wide-eyed innocence that feels appropriate. In the wrong hands, Deeds could become a thoroughly irritating concoction, but Cooper adds enough charm to overcome those issues.

Arthur played a lot of roles like Babe, the cynical city woman who becomes smitten by the earnest outsider. Arthur did this sort of role well, and she handles Babe in the expected manner. Arthur does no heavy lifting but she gives her character the expected layers.

While I largely enjoy Town, I admit I view it as second-tier Capra. The director’s better efforts come with a little more meat on their bones, as I think Town lacks enough real substance to carry its 116 minutes. Nonetheless, it offers reasonable charm and becomes a likable diversion.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The 80-year-old movie barely showed its age via this excellent transfer.

Sharpness seemed quite good. A smidgen of softness crept into a couple of shots, but not in a major way. This left the movie as an accurate, distinctive presentation.

I saw no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With natural grain, I didn’t suspect overuse of digital noise reduction, and print flaws never caused problems.

Blacks looked strong. The movie came with dark tones and solid contrast throughout the experience. Shadows seemed smooth and concise, without excessive thickness. I felt wholly pleased with this terrific image.

I don't expect a whole lot from an 80-year-old soundtrack, but the DTS-HD MA monaural audio worked pretty well. Dialogue seemed intelligible and showed good definition despite some inevitable thinness. Effects didn’t play a huge role, but they gave us reasonable accuracy.

Music favored the treble side of the coin, but the score had decent pep and fullness. Background noise wasn’t an issue – indeed, I felt like the source got a little too much tampering there, as the results seemed unnaturally quiet. Overall, though, the audio seemed satisfying.

As we move to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director’s son Frank Capra Jr. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the movie’s path to the screen, cast/crew, some production topics and thoughts about his dad.

Capra tends to be a spotty audio commentary participant, and this track reminds us of his negative tendencies. At times, Capra manages to produce a few interesting nuggets. However, these remain few and far between, so much of the movie passes without any information. That makes it a slow chat without much merit.

We hear more from Junior during Frank Capra Jr. Remembers... Mr. Deeds Go to Town. This 11-minute, 11-second piece looks at the project’s roots and development, script, story and characters, cast and performances, and the film’s reception/legacy. Capra offers a few decent notes but lacks much insight.

In addition to a theatrical re-release trailer, we find a vintage advertising gallery. It provides eight stills that show promo items from the 1930s. It’s a brief but enjoyable compilation.

This package also contains a book bound into the Blu-ray packaging. It presents photos, advertising and essays. The book adds a nice component to the package.

Though not one of Frank Capra’s strongest films, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town manages to deliver an entertaining piece. I could live without its rampant moralizing, but the experience boasts enough charm to overcome its deficits. The Blu-ray delivers optimal visuals along with reasonably good audio and mediocre supplements. Even with inconsistencies, Town ends up as a likable enough fable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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