When the lawyers whisk Longfellow off to their New York offices, they see him as a total pushover, one whom they will be able to manipulate to do exactly what they want him to with all his money. Alas, though, Mr. Deeds is NOT as easy to push around as they think he is!! And his plan for the money is MUCH different than the lawyers' plans, for he intends to use it to help out the less fortunate, since he himself is already adequately provided for and quite comfortable. (This movie was released in the middle of the Great Depression and takes place during that time period.)
The local newspaper sees Mr. Deeds' inheritance of his uncle's fortune as a sensational story from which they can benefit. Therefore, one of the ace reporters, Louise "Babe" Bennett (Jean Arthur), determined to get "the scoop," hatches a scheme of deception. Pretending to be an unemployed woman looking for work, Babe, strolls in front of Longfellows' New York residence, fainting dead away just as Mr. Deeds exits the house. Thinking he has rescued a hungry, down-on-her-luck woman, Mr. Deeds takes her (now calling herself Mary) out to dinner and then spends a sweet evening with her. Feeling that Mary is sincere and kind-hearted, Longfellow talks openly and honestly with her.
The next morning, when the lead story in the newspaper refers to Mr. Deeds as "The Cinderella Man" and recounts stories about him which make him appear to be a simpleton, he is confused as to how they got such information. He has no idea that "Mary" is not what she appears to be, and he continues to see her, eventually falling in love.
Meanwhile, Mr. Deeds has determined that he will use his $20 million to give a helping hand to hundreds of farmers who have lost their farms in The Depression. However, this idea infuriates the lawyers, who see their grip on the money loosening, and they attempt to have Mr. Deeds declared insane, thus allowing his inheritance to fall back into their hands.
Eventually, Longfellow discovers that Mary is really the reporter who has been writing all the negative stories about him, and since he has fallen in love with her, he is quite devastated by her deception, so devastated, in fact, that at his sanity hearing, he refuses to open his mouth in his own defense.
Will Mr. Deeds be declared insane by the court? Will his inheritance be awarded to another? Will he ever forgive Mary for deceiving him and making him appear "simple" in her news articles? Those are the questions which play out in the balance of this charming film.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town really is a sweet movie, directed by none other than Frank Capra, of It's a Wonderful Life fame. This is my favorite Capra film (even more than It's a Wonderful Life) and my favorite Gary Cooper film. It's just a tender and touching story...a little sappy and sentimental, yes, but sweet nonetheless.
FYI...this movie was remade in the early 2000's, under the name of Mr. Deeds, and starring Adam Sandler in the title role. I have not seen the remake, nor do I ever intend to. For me, Adam Sandler cannot hold a candle to Gary Cooper, and I have no desire to see him try. Additionally, the remake is rated PG-13 for "Language including sexual references and some rear nudity." Well, I've seen the original---and loved it---and such things were not necessary for it to be a good movie. I'm not sure why the makers of the newer version felt compelled to add unnecessary junk.
Out on DVD, this film should be readily available and quite easy to track down. Hope you get a chance to watch it...and that you enjoy it.