Review: ‘The Whole Town’s Talking’

Robert Riskin and Jo Swerling put the scenario together [from a story by W.R. Burnett]. It's a model in the expert manipulation of such hokum as the office worm thrust into danger by coincidence and emerging with fame, fortune and the girl.

Robert Riskin and Jo Swerling put the scenario together [from a story by W.R. Burnett]. It’s a model in the expert manipulation of such hokum as the office worm thrust into danger by coincidence and emerging with fame, fortune and the girl.

Edward G. Robinson plays a dual role. He is a softie in one part and tough in the other. Plot twist to the worm-turning is that the softie bookkeeper is a dead ringer for a gangster wanted by the police. Police have orders to shoot on sight, and when picking up the hoodlum’s counterpart, and third-degreeing him, they are confronted with a dilemma: what to do to protect an innocent citizen from the police. So the bookkeeper gets a pass identifying him as okay. Real criminal, of course, shows up and quietly takes over the passport as a shield to continue his activities.

Robinson’s characterization of the submerged, over-polite and indecisive office worker is human and believable.

Second in unusualness among the cast is Jean Arthur. She’s gone blonde and fresh. She’s more individualistic, more typically the young American, self-reliant, rather sassy, stenog.

The Whole Town's Talking

Production

Columbia. Director John Ford; Producer [Lester Cowan]; Screenplay Jo Swerling, Robert Riskin; Camera Joseph H. August; Editor Viola Lawrence; Music [uncredited]; Art Director [uncredited]

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Edward G. Robinson Jean Arthur Wallace Ford Arthur Hohl Donald Meek Etienne Girardot
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