Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

In director Frank Capra's famous Capra-corn romantic comedy:

  • the startling opening of the death of civil leader, banker, and financier Martin W. Semple in Italy, due to a high-speed motor accident-crash off a bridge; the headlines declared: "Trustees of Semple Estate Declares Huge Fortune Close to Twenty Million"; the Disclosure of Semple's Will by Attorney Cedar, Semple's Estate Representative, was Highly-Awaited; it was announced in other headlines: "Investigators Searching for Heir to Semple Millions" - the Semple Heir Was Yet Unknown
  • the Semple heir was located in the small Vermont town of Mandrake Falls, introduced by its train station sign: "Welcome to Mandrake Falls, Where the Scenery Enthralls, Where No Hardship E'er Befalls, Welcome to Mandrake Falls"
  • the heir was unassuming, eccentric bumpkin Mr. Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) from the small town of Mandrake Falls, VT - 28 years old, a guileless, tuba-player, local tallow factory manager, an unworldly bachelor, a poet and writer of rhymes for sentimental birthday cards, and the unexpected heir of $20 million dollars from his uncle Martin Semple; Deeds reacted unbelievably: ("I wonder why he left me all that money. I don't need it")
  • the scene of Deeds' first contact with unscrupulous and "oily" lawyer John Cedar (Douglas Dumbrille), who insisted that Deeds be brought to New York City; after a large town send-off on the train, Deeds moved into an enormous, inherited mansion on Fifth Avenue; he encountered many annoyances upon his arrival from the media and many others; as his measurements were being taken by a tailor, he noted to Cedar: ("The strangest kind of people - salesmen, politicians, moochers, all want something. I haven't had a minute to myself. Haven't seen Grant's Tomb yet")
  • the scene of Deeds' meeting with the non-profit opera board, to serve in the place of his deceased uncle who was the chairman of the board, when he told off the snobbish gathering that wanted him to pay the $180,000 bills: ("If it's losing that much money, there must be something wrong. Maybe, maybe you charge too much. Maybe you're selling bad merchandise. Maybe a lot of things")
  • the character of Deeds with boyish charm, such as: racing to the window to watch a fire engine, or sliding down the stairway bannister of his mansion, or tickling the bottom of the foot of a marble statue of a young woman
  • the scene of wily reporter Louise "Babe" Bennett's (Jean Arthur) masquerade as poverty-stricken "Mary Dawson" in a rainstorm, when she pretended to faint and he came to her rescue outside his mansion, and took her for a meal at Tullio's - where she told him the sob story of her life: "I'm really just a nobody"
Babe Masquerading as Poor 'Mary Dawson'
'Mary's' Sob Story in Restaurant: "I'm really just a nobody"
Her Reporting on Him as "The Cinderella Man"
  • the second encounter between Babe and Deeds (after she had ridiculed him as a 'sap' and dubbed him "The Cinderella Man" in her most recent column), including a sight-seeing tour to an aquarium, a ride on the open top of a Fifth Avenue bus, and a visit to Grant's Tomb where he patriotically extolled America as a place where any boy could become President: ("Oh, I see a small Ohio farm boy becoming a great soldier. I see thousands of marching men. I see General Lee with a broken heart surrendering. And I can see the beginning of a new nation, like Abraham Lincoln said. And I can see that Ohio boy being inaugurated as President. Things like that can only happen in a country like America"); shortly later, he expressed his idealism: "What puzzles me is why people seem to get so much pleasure out of, out of hurting each other? Why don't they try liking each other once in a while?" - and his uncomfortableness with the big city: "People here are funny. They-they work so hard at living they forget how to live"
  • their visit to Central Park, where on a park bench, they sang an improvised duet of "Swanee River," with "Mary" drumming on the lid of a garbage can with two sticks, while he made tuba-like oom-pah-pah bass sounds with his mouth: ("Way down upon the Swanee River. Far, far away...")
  • the over-romantic Deeds' marriage proposal to "Mary" - with the presentation of a sentimental poem to her that she read outloud (barely audible) in a moving, emotionally-choking whisper: ("I've tramped the earth with hopeless beat, Searching in vain for a glimpse of you. Then heaven thrust you at my very feet, A lovely angel, too lovely to woo. My dream has been answered, but my life's just as bleak. I'm handcuffed and speechless, in your presence divine. For my heart longs to cry out, if it only could speak. I love you, my angel, be mine, be mine"); she responded breathlessly, "Oh, darling," and collapsed in his arms, but he was so embarrassed that he fled
  • soon after, Deeds' disgruntled discovery that "Mary" was a deceitful, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter, when it was revealed in a newspaper clipping by his press agent: ("Mary Dawson my eye! That dame took you for a sleigh ride that New York will laugh about for years...She's the slickest, two-timing, double-crossing...She's the star reporter on the Mail! Every time you opened your kisser, you gave her another story. She's the dame who slapped that moniker on ya Cinderella Man! You've been making love to a double dose of cyanide")
  • after the dramatic revelation, Deeds descended his stairs and was confronted by an unemployed, outraged, hunger-crazed farmer (John Wray): ("Did you ever think of feeding doughnuts to human beings?") - he caused Deeds to rethink things, to remain in New York, and to give away his entire fortune - the newly-acquired source of all his misfortune - to dispossessed, unemployed farmers
  • the long concluding and climactic sequence of Deeds' lunacy hearing, presided over by Judge May (H.B. Warner); Babe hysterically pleaded to the judge: "The whole hearing's ridiculous. That man's no more insane than you are....It's obviously a frame-up. They're trying to railroad this man for the money they can get out of him...What kind of a hearing is this? What are you trying to do - persecute the man? He's not defending himself. Somebody's got to do it"; but after a number of witnesses (seen in short vignettes), the judge recommended committing Deeds, for his own safety, in an institution as prescribed by law
  • Babe urged Deeds to speak up, and testify against the charges he was faced with: ("He could never fit in with our distorted viewpoint, because he's honest and sincere and good. If that man's crazy, your Honor, the rest of us belong in strait-jackets"); to begin, Deeds debunked all the silly quirks that people have: the Judge's 'O-filling', Dr. Haller's doodling, and his Uncle's nose-twitching and his Aunt's knuckle-cracking as other examples: ("So you see, everybody does silly things to help them think. Well, I play the tuba")
  • to the charge of being "pixilated," Deeds debunked the two nice elderly Faulkner sisters, Jane and Amy Faulkner (Margaret Seddon and Margaret McWade), brought there from his hometown (who declared him "pixilated"); they were unmasked as self-centered and frivolous, and neutralized when under further questioning, they admitted: "Why, everybody in Mandrake Falls is pixilated - except us"
Mr. Deeds' Lunacy Hearing - Finally Defending Himself
Noticing People's Silly Quirks
"Why, everybody in Mandrake Falls is pixilated - except us"
Defending His Philanthropy to Help the 'Underdog'
  • and then Deeds' successful defense of his philanthropy with a speech about helping the 'underdog': ("From what I can see, no matter what system of government we have, there will always be leaders and always be followers. It's like the road out in front of my house. It's on a steep hill. Every day I watch the cars climbing up. Some go lickety-split up that hill on high, some have to shift into second, and some sputter and shake and slip back to the bottom again. Same cars, same gasoline, yet some make it and some don't. And I say the fellas who can make the hill on high should stop once in a while and help those who can't. That's all I'm trying to do with this money. Help the fellas who can't make the hill on high")
  • the final declaration of the Judge on Deeds' insanity: ("Mr. Deeds, there has been a great deal of damaging testimony against you. Your behavior, to say the least, has been most strange. But, in the opinion of the court, you are not only sane but you're the sanest man that's ever walked into this courtroom. Case dismissed")
  • Babe and Deeds were reconciled to each other and kissed in the film's final moments - Babe peppered her lover's face with kisses, and with tightly-closed lips, Deeds kissed her back amidst cheers and the singing of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"
The Judge's Final Determination in the Case
Deeds Declared Sane and The Case Dismissed
Babe and Deeds Reconciled

Death of Financier in Italy

The Mandrake Falls Welcome Sign at the Train Station

Tuba-Playing Mr. Deeds

Send-Off on Train to NYC

In 5th Avenue Mansion With Opera Board

Sliding Down the Stairway Bannister

Deeds' Patriotic Thoughts at Grant's Tomb

Performance of "Swanee River" in Central Park

Marriage Proposal Poem

Newspaper Clipping Revealing Mary's Real Name and Occupation

Confrontation with Hungry Farmer - Causing Deeds to Vow to Give Away His Fortune

Deeds' Vow of Philanthropy

Babe Urged Deeds to Defend Himself ("It's obviously a frame-up")

Some of the Damning Testimony Against Deeds


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