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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Top 6 Word: Goes

It's cinema on-the-go this time around in the Top 6 Word series. Movies with the word "Goes" in the title seem to be predominantly series episodes. Such titles tell you immediately what new environment your favorite recurring characters will experience: for example, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, The Thin Man Goes Home, My Friend Irma Goes West, Tarzan Goes To India, Jason Goes To Hell, Francis Goes To West Point, Blondie Goes To College, Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood, and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

But the top of my list is dominated by individual stories. In general they skew older than usual -- they don't make "Goes" movies like they used to -- but one of them is brand new.

6. Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Members of a small town are scandalized by a popular racy novel. Little do they know that the book was written under a pseudonym by one of their own. That's only the beginning of a convoluted screwball comedy plot that would make your head spin to hear it told, although the film walks us through it clearly step by outrageous step. The author is played by Irene Dunne, who gets to exercise her comedic talents in the same way that would one year later make The Awful Truth one of the classics of the genre. This one isn't up to that standard, but lovers of the genre should seek it out.

5. Maisie Goes To Reno (1944) and Up Goes Maisie (1946)

They're all but forgotten now, but I love the ten movies that make up the Maisie comedy series (1939-1947). The storylines are fine but no better; the triumph of this series is its main character, a woman who is down-and-out but never broken, impossible not to love and root for, and played alternately with tenderness and gumption by Ann Sothern. Unusually, there is no continuity across the series, so you can watch them in any order. In these two episodes, Maisie runs afoul of con artists and corporate spies, respectively, and a romantic entanglement or two.

4. The Ghost Goes West (1935)

The French director Rene Clair made a number of popular lighthearted films in both French and English. The common thread across almost all of them is a kind of magical elegance. The world of his films is just a little prettier, a little sweeter, a little funnier, and a little friendlier than real life. His best known film, And Then There Were None, an adaptation of the Agatha Christie play Ten Little Indians, is a bit of an outlier for him, dealing as it does with murder and mortal peril, and yet it is the best of the many adaptations of that story precisely because its tone holds the inherent gloom of the situation somewhat at bay.

The Ghost Goes West, his first English language film, is more typical of his filmography: a clever but gentle comedy about a ghost who must haunt the family's Scottish castle, even after it is dismantled and rebuilt in Florida, until he can repair his honor.

3. Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)

Gary Cooper plays a simple, unassuming man who inherits a fortune. Immediately he is hounded by people who want to take advantage of him. Director Frank Capra manages to make the film a sharp social commentary, but a relentless (and, some would say, outmoded) optimism softens the sting. Cooper, who often played tough guys in westerns and such, is perfectly cast in this gentlest of roles.

2. Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris (2022)

With cinemas dominated by young adults in capes shooting special effects at each other, it's odd that this film, a subdued comedy-drama about an aging maid in 1950s London who dreams of owning a Christian Dior dress, found room to screen in theaters. It's a ridiculously charming film anchored unforgettable performance -- which feels so unlike a "performance" that I faltered on using the word -- by Leslie Manville. Maybe you don't care about fancy dresses, but it doesn't matter: the film brings Mrs. Parris to life so compellingly that we care about everything she cares about.

1. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

With this film, Frank Capra solidifies his strangehold on "Goes" movies with one of his best known and loved films, a fairy tale about an ordinary honest man (Jimmy Stewart) taking on the wolves in the world of national politics. Again, Capra's optimistic nature defines the film. You can't imagine Billy Wilder making this, for example. To many today, it will come across as corny, but who wouldn't rather live in Capra's world?

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