Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1936. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by Robert Riskin, from a story by Clarence Budington Kelland. Cinematography by Joseph Walker. Produced by Frank Capra. Music by Howard Jackson. Production Design by Stephen Goosson. Costume Design by Samuel Lange. Film Editing by Gene Havlick.
Gary Cooper is gorgeous as an easygoing, normal fellow who has an entire fortune fall into his lap when a rich benefactor leaves him a sizable inheritance thanks to his being the benefactor’s only living relative (and a distant one at that). Being a man of the people, Cooper decides that the money will be better served if he gives it all to unemployed men living in Washington where his new mansion is, but he finds this difficult when evil suits decide to get in the way and take the estate away from him. Jean Arthur is at her peak as a reporter who at first ridicules Cooper but ends up being completely romanced by his good nature. If you’ve seen one Capraesque political comedy, you’ve seen them all, but this one is so good that it’s worth watching with a fresh perspective.
Academy Award: Best Director (Frank Capra)
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Gary Cooper); Best Screenplay; Best Sound Recording
Venice Film Festival: In Competition