James Stewart stars as Rip Smith, a pollster who finds a small town that happens to have the exact make-up of the nation, but on a much smaller scale. The ethnic types, occupations, political beliefs, and personal opinions all perfectly mimic the thought's of the nation, and Rip moves to the town, undercover as an insurance salesman, with the intention of exploiting this discover for all it's worth. Magic Town is rather weird film for William A. Wellman to make, as if he was trying to prove a point that he too could make a film that is Capra-esque in it's depiction of small town charm and sensibilities. What's interesting about this film though, The film unfolds around a romance that begins between Rip and Mary, a local newspaper editor. The theme of a rather selfish man learning the error his ways through the virtues of a small town is indeed prevalent but what's interesting about the film is Mary's viewpoint. Through Mary, Wellman somewhat challenges the notions of a small town, the notion that a town needs to grow and adapt, desperately needing new industry to thrive and grow while still crediting the small town morals and ethics. The romantic fallout and consummate reunion also felt far more genuine, a sequence where Mary declares that their relationship has destroyed a town, was a great scene and resonant. These things are a great addition to the rather basic premise that elevates the film beyond it's counterparts, though it's still a lesser Wellman. There are a few great Wellman-esque scenes though-the way he shoots the sequence where Mary discovers the truth about Rip's intentions are shot in a very dark, shadowy, moody setting.
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