Jun 8, 2011

Movie Review: People will talk (1951)

Cary Grant plays a gynecologist....

The end. 

Just kidding. I just thought you might enjoy the idea :) Well, Cary Grant plays Noah Praetorious (really) a rich doctor/gynecologist/shaman/musician that has his own method to treat patients: he actually cares about them, just like Patch Adams. But he's not like a clown, he talks to people wearing an elegant suit and sees that they're comfortable. The movie has two main threads: his relationship with Jeanne Crain and an investigation against him held by a medical board.

The cool thing about People Will Talk  (directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, one of my faves), is that it deals with  subjects that are touchy even today: single moms, alternative medicine AND an alternative medicine practitioner marrying a young patient/single mom. There is also a scene in which Cary unveils a young woman corpse in front of a class (not the whole body of course, but head and shoulders) and I thought that was kind of unusual in an old movie.

Well, Cary marries pregnant Jeanne (the real father was a soldier that died in the war and she says she wasn't sure about him). It's super refreshing to see these kind of topics being treated in a movie from 1951 and it's really nice how Cary deals with both situations, in a very natural way, always trying to reassure and comfort Jeanne and the audience. And he becomes an even stronger figure when you learn that Jeanne and her dad are living with a very unkind uncle that treats them bad.

The chemistry between the main stars is great and you really root for the couple. This is one of my favorite scenes, in which Cary starts "chasing" Jeanne and ends up trapped:

Then, there are terrific secondary characters: the Wicked Witch playing a woman that gives information against Cary, Finlay Currie playing a mysterious man that follows Dr. Praetorious everywhere, Walter Slezak is really funny as Cary's friend and Hume Cronyn as the detestable "medical prosecutor".

It seems that Cary "refused to acknowledge this film" and I've read a lot of comments from people saying that this one is a  stinker. Some say that it should have been called People will talk, talk, talk..., an idea I find really funny, but untrue. I never even thought that they were talking too much. Others say that the genre is not very well defined (a fact I hate in Made for each other, for example) but I never took this movie like a comedy. It's just a film dealing with several topics in a serious way, with some fine comic relief moments. 

So, follow my advice, you won't regret: this is a very interesting movie. I even included Noah Praetorious (I like writing that name) and Deborah Higgins in the 20 coolest couples from Classic Movies (I find "fashionably attractive or impressive" the fact of a doctor marrying a pregnant patient, especially if the doctor is Cary Grant).

And guess what? You can watch it on Youtubehttp://youtu.be/T3NU9Zk1L-k


  1. I love this movie! Each time I see it I appreciate it more. The long scene where she realizes she's pregnant is beautifully written and acted and covers so much emotional territory! And I love the model trains. :) It's definitely a "different" film, but in many ways an overlooked gem that was perhaps ahead of its time.

    Best wishes,

  2. Clara, it's hard to believe how little-known this movie is. I think the writer created something extraordinary, and the actors brought it to life with perfection. It's definitely a different part for Grant, and he was extraordinary. I wonder why on earth he didn't acknowledge it? Do you know what he said about it?

    Finlay Currie as Mr. Shunderson is unforgettable. I found this movie fun, moving, unusual for its time -- I talk it up as often as possible as one that should be seen. I'm really glad to find someone else who feels the same way!

  3. Clara, this is one of my favorite Cary Grant movies. It's a hardly veiled comment on McCarthyism of the 50s and doesn't pull any punches (in a very calm way). It's heart and mind is in the right place and - just saying - I wouldn't mind Cary as my GYN.

  4. Hmm, I guess I didn't really care for this one. There was just a really weird 'vibe' to the whole thing. It was part comedy, part drama, part mystery...but none of it worked (at least for me). I also found somethings--like Mr. Shunderson--to be really creepy. Perhaps a second viewing will improve my opinion of it. I do think that it is cool that, like you noted, it addressed some interesting and relevant topics.

  5. Ooh... this sounds great! I think it's the cover that makes it look like a comedy. The summary sounds quite serious! Thank you for the review!

  6. Yay, nice to know that more people cares about "People will talk". It definitely gets better and better every time you see it. OMG, yes, the scene in which she realizes she's pregnant is sooo good! In fact she realizes twice (after the wedding, Cary reveals to her that she was definitely pregnant all the time) and I love both scenes, what emotional roller coasters! Very ahead of its time. Thanks for visiting, Laura :)

  7. I know, very underrated film! Over Imdb they explained that Cary didn't count this movie as part of his filmography and the reason the give is that it wasn't a commercial success...And I agree with everything you said, an unusual & extraordinary film! Glad to find more fans of "People will talk"...thanks for visiting, Rebecca!!

  8. Yeah, this is one of my favorites movies from him too! He's so understanding and transmits such peace and confidence :) That's why I wouldn't mind to have him as my doc (any doc, in fact, dentist, whatever) :) Thanks for the feedback Marsha!

  9. Yeah, you should totally consider a second viewing, trying to watch it not as a comedy, but as a serious film with comic relief scenes. I felt sorry for Mr. Shunderson, and when you know his story is easier to sympathize with him. Thanks for visiting Audrey, I hope you like it the second time :)

  10. You're welcome, Emma! Yeah, the poster is a bit misleading, but I think that it was the way they tried to sell this movie to the public, being a Cary Grant film and all. I hope you can watch "People will talk" soon, it's very good and very underrated :) Thanks for visiting, girl!



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