© 1951 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

People Will Talk (1951)

This is odd and underrated film that I found by pouring over Cary Grant’s filmography, looking for the few films of his I haven’t seen yet.

Grant played doctors and scientist in film like Bringing Up Baby and Monkey Business, creating comedic situation by setting an analytical persona against madcap situations. But this is a very different type of film in which Grant plays a very different type of doctor. Made one year after director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Oscar triumph with All About Eve, People Will Talk is full of unexpected depth and, for the time, surprisingly enlightened views on medicine, unplanned pregnancy, education and other social taboos which are handled in an almost matter-of-fact way.

Grant plays Noah Praetorius, a doctor with a forward-thinking clinic and adjunct faculty member at a prestigious university where he is extremely popular amongst students but whose unorthodox methods are reviled by the rest of the staff, namely Prof. Elwell (Hume Cronyn), who hires private investigators to try to dig up something on the past of the doctor and his near-mute companion Shuderson (Finlay Currie). Meanwhile, the doctor treats a student (Jeanne Crain) who is faced with an unexpected pregnancy by a man who went on to die in the armed forces. While this film lacks the melodrama of All About Eve, the dialogue, especially in the climatic inquest into Praetorius’ background, is some of the best to come out of Hollywood in the ’50s.

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