Gary Cooper received his first Oscar nomination out of five for playing Longfellow Deeds a small town man who comes to New York City to deal with the millions he has inherited.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town follows the small town man as he deals with the strange city values with his simple small town attitude. The film is typical Capra which is enjoyable in its old fashioned way. I liked the film well enough although it is not his best film, it works well in his usual way.
Gary Cooper is an actor that does not seem to work out for me that well. A lot of his work he seems rather dull or tired looking, but that is not the case with Deeds. Well not completely, the beginning of his performance where he overplays the small town guy just a little bit, but later his performance improves greatly. When he first arrives in the city his performance still is a bit too simple but his routine did start to grow on me more though as the film progressed. I thought he did a good job showing his small time philosophy, it still comes off as a little forced but Cooper helps it along. I liked his romantic scenes with Jean Arthur and I liked when he brashly reacted to the New York snobs. He properly naive without overdoing it too much. His best scenes though are when he hears about the true nature of the Arthur character. His facial reaction is just perfect. His hidden pain from that realization are perfectly channeled by Cooper. Cooper handles all the final scenes very well. He handles the court room very well. It is completely focused on him and Cooper can handle it. Cooper is best when he is being silent, because he says the most with his expressions which hold a lot of power. His verbal abilities are slightly lacking but his physical abilities are well up to the task. It is not a perfect performance but it is one that gets better throughout the film for sure. For this Cooper gets: