Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Cary Grant and Jeanne Craine
I had never seen People Will Talk before, nor had I ever remembered even hearing about it.
However, when I saw the description on my TV my interest was piqued.
I saw 1951.
I saw Carey Grant.
I saw something about an unplanned pregnancy, and I saw the title, People Will Talk.
Needless to say, I had to see this.
So, I recorded it with my DVR a while back and took some time to watch it yesterday.
Maybe it is just me, but I get some kind of thrill out of watching old movies deal with taboo subjects, like an unwanted pregnancy. If you are like me, you too will enjoy People Will Talk and how it handles some sticky subject matter. People Will Talk follows Dr. Noah Praetorius (played by Carey Grant) as a mysterious past catches up with him, threatening to possibly ruin his medical career. Part of what puzzles those who are investigating his past is his inexplicable connection to a man named Shunderson, someone who hardly ever leaves the side of Praetorius and someone to which Dr. Praetorious seems to be very very close. Dr. Praetorious refers to Shunderson as his “friend” but it is up to the viewer to determine exactly what their connection is. Also, under investigation is the doctor’s peculiar medical past and practices, including his beginnings in a small town and how his time there funded the opening of his own clinic.
This is a movie that is not only political, but way ahead of its time. It is meant to come across as a light romantic comedy, but underneath that 1950s conservative surface it deals with what were likely some of the director’s and/or writer’s political soapboxes. If for no other reason the movie is captivating due to how it deals with topics like premarital sex, abortion, the HUAC hearings, homosexuality, tax laws and ethics, the pharmaceuticals industry, government jobs, and the field of medicine, etc.
Don’t expect this movie to be preachy, it shys away from being preachy and was likely enjoyed and still can be enjoyed on a very surface level as a fun romantic comedy. That is to the credit of the script and the direction, much like many film makers that show a command of the medium, this film entertains and fascinates on many levels. There are some flaws to the film, the basic story line is a little drawn out (though I never found myself bored), some of the dialogue seems too scripted, and there are some unanswered questions (I was dying to know what became of the lives of those in this movie after the movie ends) that may be frustrating to some, but it certainly kept me attentive and I think classic film fans especially will be glad they took the time to see this atypical 1950s film.
Carey Grant is fun to watch as he plays this role. He seems to really enjoy the role, and his love for the character or the story or the issues being handled certainly is apparent. The life of Dr. Noah Praetorious and Carey Grant certainly are both filled with mystery. What is the truth about this man and this character he played? No matter what you think, no matter what conclusions you come to, People Will Talk will certainly have you talking about it, well after it is over.
By: Greg Dickson