Although Frank Capra made it seem easy to make a Capra-esque comedy, The Magnificent Dope demonstrates that it's far trickier than it seems. Clearly inspired by the likes of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dope takes on the hayseed-vs.-city slicker conflict and does absolutely nothing original with it. Dope is predictable from start to finish. Predictability can be alright in this type of picture, but only if it is set up in such a way that it feels more like inevitability -- and only if the characterizations have a spark of originality and the dialogue has a crispness or sparkle to it. These qualities are largely missing here, and while Walter Lang does keep things moving at a brisk pace and tries to divert attention from the screenplay's flaws, it isn't quite enough. Fortunately, Dope does have a very good cast. Henry Fonda hated doing the film, but his performance doesn't show it; he makes the absolute most of every moment he is given, and his presence and ease give a substantial boost to the film. Don Ameche is also in very excellent form, playing off of both Fonda and Lynn Bari with smoothness. Bari does quite well with the love interest part, and Edward Everett Horton is appealing though given little to do.
by Craig Butler review