Synopsis by Hal Erickson
People Will Talk was less a movie than a conduit for the genteel liberalism of screenwriter/director Joseph M. Mankiewicz. Cary Grant plays Dr. Praetorius, an unorthodox medical professor at a sedate midwestern college who seems more interested in the human soul than in the cold facts of the human body. Praetorius' nemesis is a conservative rival doctor (Hume Cronyn) who presses for an investigation of our hero's clouded past--with special emphasis given the mysterious old man (Finlay Currie) who lives with Praetorius and waits on him hand and foot. In the course of the film, Praetorius falls in love with one of his students, an unmarried pregnant girl (Jeanne Crain). At the climactic hearing concerning Praetorius' fitness, the presiding judge (Basil Ruysdael) decides that Praetorius' "modern" methods are more worthwhile than the pragmatic, cut-and-dried theories of his enemies. Based on a German play by Curt Goetz, People Will Talk is a bit too proud of its own cleverness, with Mankiewicz' political planks being wedged in at all the inappropriate times (while conversing with the father of the pregnant girl, Praetorius launches on a gratuitous attack against farm subsidies!) Still, the film is ten times more intelligent than most of Hollywood's 1951 output, and contains one of Cary Grant's best and subtlest seriocomic performances. Bonus: In the first scene of People Will Talk, the snoopy lady who brings Praetorius' "shady" past to the attention of Hume Cronyn is played by an uncredited Margaret ("Wicked Witch of the West") Hamilton.
anatomy, attack, boarding-school, challenge, college, conquest, control, course [path], cure, diagnosis, director, disease, doctor/nurse, emotion, employment, enemy, faint, father, forbidden-love, friendship, girl, home, hypocrisy, instructor, investigator, justice, killing, lady, lecture, life, love, man, medical, midwestern, mind, modernity, nemesis, opportunity, partner, past, patient [medical], philosophy, plight, practice [professional], pregnancy, profession, professor, school, scientist, servant, strange, student, teacher, theory, unmarried, unorthodox, wife, winner, wit, woman, youth