People Will Talk [1951]

After winning consecutive best director Oscars (for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve), Joseph Mankiewicz turned his attention to this extremely curious social comedy. Cary Grant plays a famous, idealistic gynecologist whose mysterious past is questioned by a vindictive colleague (Hume Cronyn). Meanwhile, the doctor falls for a pregnant patient (Jeanne Crain), whose unmarried status is daring for a movie of 1951 vintage. The title is an all-too-apt description of Mankiewicz's chatty style, but it also carries sinister echoes of the McCarthy era--specifically, an attempted right-wing purge of the Director's Guild, I which Mankiewicz was the main target. This subtext lends interest beyond the movie's rather tame romance. The Grant character, named Doctor Praetorius (no relation to the Bride of Frankenstein wacko, one hopes), conducts a college orchestra and is prone to "twilight sadness"--it's an offbeat role for the actor, and one he clearly relishes. --Robert Horton

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