Mr. Deeds Goes to Town [1936]

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is Frank Capra's classic screwball comedy about a village innocent who inherits $20 million, only to discover it's more trouble than it's worth. The screwball in question is Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper), a small-town greeting-card poet and tuba player transplanted to the big city to administer his newly inherited wealth, where fast-pattering, wised-up cynics, sneering society denizens, and corrupt lawyers lord it over the ingenuous and straightforward. Deeds's idiosyncrasies are amply magnified in the tabloids by journalist "Babe" Bennett (Jean Arthur), dating Deeds as a cover, only to discover she's the sap when she falls irresistibly for him. But the damage has been done, when Babe's column is used by a pack of corrupt lawyers, Cedar, Cedar, Cedar & Budington, to prove Deeds mentally unfit. The miracle of this unforgettable comedy is how it embraces dark material, calling into question some common assumptions about capitalism while maintaining an approachable atmosphere of light comedy, and deceptively so. You'll be so pixilated by its charm, you won't rest until you've doodled your way to a rhyme for "Budington." --Jim Gay

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Longfellow Deeds:
About my playing the tuba. Seems like a lot of fuss has been made about that. If, if a man's crazy just because he plays the tuba, then somebody'd better look into it, because there are a lot of tuba players running around loose. 'Course, I don't see any harm in it. I play mine whenever I want to concentrate. That may sound funny to some people, but everybody does something silly when they're thinking. For instance, the judge here is, is an O-filler.

Judge May:
A what?

Longfellow Deeds:
An O-filler. You fill in all the spaces in the O's with your pencil. I was watching him.

Longfellow Deeds:
That may make you look a little crazy, Your Honor, just, just sitting around filling in O's, but I don't see anything wrong, 'cause that helps you think. Other people are doodlers.

Judge May:
"Doodlers"?

Longfellow Deeds:
Uh, that's a word we made up back home for people who make foolish designs on paper when they're thinking: it's called doodling. Almost everybody's a doodler; did you ever see a scratchpad in a telephone booth? People draw the most idiotic pictures when they're thinking. Uh, Dr. von Hallor here could probably think up a long name for it, because he doodles all the time.

Longfellow Deeds:
Thank you. This is a piece of paper he was scribbling on. I can't figure it out - one minute it looks like a chimpanzee, and the next minute it looks like a picture of Mr. Cedar. You look at it, Judge. Exhibit A for the defense. Looks kind of stupid, doesn't it, Your Honor? But I guess that's all right; if Dr. von Hallor has to, uh, doodle to help him think, that's his business. Everybody does something different: some people are, are ear-pullers; some are nail-biters; that, uh, Mr. Semple over there is a nose-twitcher.

Longfellow Deeds:
And the lady next to him is a knuckle-cracker.

Longfellow Deeds:
So you see, everybody does silly things to help them think. Well, I play the tuba.

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