The Talk of the Town is a 1942 American film released by Columbia Pictures, starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman, Edgar Buchanan, and Glenda Farrell. The performance of Colman's valet/manservant (played by Rex Ingram) is especially significant, since it was rare for an Afro-American actor during this period to be given such a non-stereotypical part.
The movie was adapted by Dale Van Every, Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman from the story by Sidney Harmon. It was directed by George Stevens. Though there are elements of screwball comedy (and the film is generally misclassified as such), it is really a social (and political) drama with a number of screwball/comedic scenes.
Mill worker and political activist Leopold Dilg (Grant) is accused of burning down a mill and causing the death of a foreman in the fire. In the middle of his trial, Dilg escapes from jail and seeks shelter in a house owned by former schoolmate Nora Shelley (Arthur), now a schoolteacher on whom he has had a crush for years. Shelley has the house rented for the summer to distinguished law Professor Michael Lightcap (Colman), who plans to write a book. Both Lightcap and Dilg arrive within minutes of each other.
When Dilg is spotted by Lightcap, Shelley passes him off as her gardener. Lightcap and Dilg enjoy having spirited discussions about the law, Lightcap arguing from an academic viewpoint, while Dilg subscribes to a more practical approach. They become good friends as a result.
As a result of prodding by Shelley and Dilg's lawyer, Lightcap becomes suspicious and starts, in spite of his initial reluctance, to investigate further. He romances the girlfriend of the supposed murder victim and discovers that the former foreman is still alive and hiding in Boston. He is 'persuaded' to return to town and admit his guilt and that of the mill owner.
Lightcap also convinces Dilg of the importance of following the law and Dilg gives himself up. In due course, he is set free.
Soon afterward, Lightcap is appointed to the Supreme Court. He asks Shelley to marry him. Dilg tells Shelley that Lightcap's a fine man, but she decides in favor of Dilg.
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