People Will Talk

People Will Talk

DVD - 2003
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Successful and well-liked, Dr. Noah Praetorius becomes the victim of a witchhunt at the hands of Professor Elwell, who disdains Praetorius's unorthodox medical views and also questions his relations with Mr. Shunderson.


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Apr 28, 2019

Following the rules and doing the right thing are not always synonymous, an observation which forms the backbone of writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s odd little drama that hovers somewhere between heart-warmer and farce. With Hume Cronyn playing a jealous Judas to Grant’s smugly self-assured Christ, Jeanne Crain giving a demure Mary Magdalene as an unwed mother-to-be, and Finlay Curries’ Shunderson going for Lazarus (his not-quite-believable backstory giving the film an unexpected bite), Mankiewicz’s satire about a charming maverick bucking authority must have hit a chord or two when it was released during America’s McCarthy era. Premarital sex may not be the scandal it once was, and the role of women in Praetorius’ life seems trite in these liberated times (where would those gals be without him?!) but the dialogue still crackles with witty insights and Grant’s underdog is still worth cheering. Character actor Walter Slezak co-stars as a jovial physics professor whose wisdom stretches beyond atoms; Sidney Blackmer plays Crain's dad, a failed everyman figure whose hopes and dreams now reside in his daughter; and an uncredited Margaret Hamilton plays a wicked witch of a different kind.

I saw this shown on television under the title "Dr. Praetorius," and came close to madness trying to find it later. There is indeed a lot of talking, and also a superb supporting cast, including Hume Cronyn, Finlay Currie, Sidney Blackmer, and the inimitable Walter Slezak. In case you miss it, in the rabbit and frog conversation between Cary Grant and Jeanne Crain in his California-style doctor's office, they are hinting around about an abortion. They couldn't come right out and say as much in those days. In fact, it's surprising they managed to say she was pregnant.

Jan 19, 2015

This is a romantic comedy directed and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the German play by Curt Goetz, which had been made into a movie in Germany (Frauenarzt Dr. Prätorius, 1950).
The director seems to have put too may themes into this film so that you might wonder, "Which is the main dish?"
The film is said to be a reaction to the director's own experiences during the communist witch hunts of the late 1940s, early 1950s which were initiated by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
While President of the Director’s Guild, Mankiewicz was openly attacked by Cecil B. DeMille, a once great filmmaker and hard-line conservative, for his unwillingness to support the anti-communist campaign.
Mankiewicz was a liberal who refused to denounce others working in Hollywood who had communist sympathies.
The film's investigative trial has parallels to the congressional hearings by anti-communist crusaders.
So the lead character, played by Cary Grant, declines to clear his own name by revealing the private business of another person, in this case Mr.Shunderson.
Although the film looks like a cautionary tale about the dangers of witch hunts, it deals with many other issues such as the pregnancy of a single woman, the corrosive effect of unfettered capitalism, as well as the human cost of the Korean war.
You may be side-tracked.
In any case, it is an interesting film for you to look back into the 1950s as a history lesson.


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