Under suspicion of arson and murder, Leopold (Cary Grant) has just broken out of jail and fled to the home of his childhood sweetheart, Nora (Jean Arthur). Knowing that he’s innocent and struck with a injured ankle, she decides to hide him in the attic, but that same night Professor Lightcap (Ronald Colman) arrives a day early. He’s rented the home so he can write a book on law. After a while of jumping through hoops to keep Leopold hidden, he’s introduced to Lightcap as the gardener. They get along swell and share some very philosophical ideas about laws and justice. Once Lightcap discovers Leopald’s true identity, he’s faced with the decision of upholding the law or helping a friend.
Professor Lightcap is the most interesting of the three main characters because he’s strung into the middle of the action and has the most inner conflict with so much to lose and gain at once. During Lightcaps first day at the house, there’s a slew of visitors, everyone from the press, police and one man who informs Lightcap of some very good news. He’s currently being considered for the Supreme Court, he just needs to lay low out of the papers for a while. With an escaped man in the house and Nora’s ideas of hoping that Lightcap can help him, we know laying low won’t happen. And that’s where things get predictable.
Another side of Lightcap comes out later in the film, where he starts to question his beard he’s so proud of. You see, I guess his beard is a symbol to the world that he’s an old stick-in-the-mud intellectual now and has no time for trivial things like romance or dancing. He realizes a way to help Leopold with his case, but must sacrifice his beard. It’s one of those moments where the physical change helps us identify his change of heart.
Let’s start with some positives. There’s a good mix of drama and comedy, one doesn’t overbear the other. I had a few goodhearted laughs in that first act. There are even elements that make this film a thriller, romance and political drama all at once. Really, nearly everyone can enjoy this film. And with the characters varying from escapee, intellectual and the chick ideas are not narrowed or one sided.
This film sports an all star cast with Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman but is barren of acting nominations. I was kinda disappointed. That’s basically the feel of the whole film, it’s good at face value, the plot catches your attention but in the end it isn’t much more than a slew of pretty faces in a story that goes on too long. There were a few good bumps in the road I didn’t anticipate, but all in all, I saw it coming.