Saturday, September 21, 2019

People Should Shut Up

Tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM, FXM is running People Will Talk.

The movie starts off with Dr. Elwell (Hume Cronyn), a professor at a university teaching medicine, talking to an older lady sent to him by a private investigator. Elwell seems to be trying to get some sort of dirt on one of his colleagues, Dr. Pretorius (Cary Grant), and this woman used to know Pretorius when he was practicing medicine in a small town in the southern part of the state ages ago.

As for Dr. Pretorius, he's lecturing to what is supposed to be Elwell's class, when one of the students, Deborah Higgins (Jeanne Crain), faints. After some discussion, Pretorius takes Higgins to his private hospital, where tests are run to determine that Higgins is pregnant (and that word is actually used in the movie)! Higgins is unmarried and the father of the child is not in the picture and probably a one-night stand, so she tries to kill herself.

Pretorius decides that the best thing to do for Higgins is to marry her, which seems like a rather severe violation of ethics since she's one of the students at the same university where he teaches. But this isn't why Elwell is going after Pretorius. Instead, Elwell seems worried that Pretorius is bringing disrepute on the medical profession through supposedly unorthodox practices. More worrying to Elwell is the presence of Pretorius' mysterious factotum, Mr. Shunderson (Finlay Currie), who has a past that's finally explained at a professional ethics hearing.

People Will Talk is a movie that has a lot going on, and frankly I thought that it didn't handle the clash of styles particularly well. There's no good reason given for Elwell's zeal in going after Pretorius; Shunderson's back story is unrealistic; and the Higgins plot line isn't really resolved. In addition to all of these subplot, there's a fourth involving Pretorius being the conductor of the "student" orchestra whch inexplicably also has a professor on it in the form of Barker (Walter Slezak), who seems there more for comic relief. Cary Grant is either miscast or misdirected, too.

Still, some of you will probably like People Will Talk, so check it out. It doesn't seem to be in print on DVD, so you're going to have to catch the FXM showings.

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