Magic Town could have used a little magic itself -- especially the kind of magic provided by that old wizard, Frank Capra. Magic demonstrates just how important a factor Capra was to the success of his films. Written (and produced) by Capra writer Robert Riskin, Magic has many of the ingredients that one associates with Capra, but it lacks the spark to animate them or to transform the sticky sentimentality that pervades the film into genuine heartfelt sentiment. William Wellman doesn't really make a stab at Capra magic, nor does he take a different tack and try explore the satirical elements in the situation; instead, he provides fairly flat direction that lacks distinction. Fortunately, Magic does have a marvelous cast that makes up for many of the film's flaws, with James Stewart and Jane Wyman taking top honors. It also has a number of scenes -- the dual poem-recitation scene, a great drinking segment -- that do take flight. If all the film were as delightful as these scenes, Magic Town would have been a terrific film. As it is, it's certainly light and entertaining, but not much more.
by Craig Butler review