The Whole Town’s Talking ( 1935) – reviewed by George

Well, this is an Edward G. Robinson unlike anything I had ever seen before. He plays a timid office drone, A.F. Jones, who happens to look exactly like Public Enemy No. 1, “Killer” Mannion. Of course he plays Mannion as well. Jones’s only outlet is at home at night when he writes adventure fiction about himself, and poetry devoted to his crush, a girl at the office played by Jean Arthur. Jones also has a cat named Abelard and a canary, Heloise, which he gives the French pronunciation, “Ail-wahs”.
Arthur Ferguson Jones has never been late in the 8 years he has worked for the J.G. Carpenter Company, and since he is the only such employee, J.G. (Paul Harvey) orders Etienne Girardot as Seaver, the Office Manager, to give him a raise. And since tardiness is such a problem for the office, J.G. also says the next person late is to be fired. Of course Jones is late that very day, so he fits both criteria. Then at lunch another meek soul, Mr. Hoyt,  played by Donald Meek (the traveling salesman from “Stagecoach”), spots him and turns him in as Mannion. From this point on Meek will haunt law enforcement for the reward.
Robinson is very good, surprisingly so, as the timid accountant (Miss Clark, Jean Arthur’s character, calls him a “rabbit”), and naturally good as Mannion, since a tough megalomaniac was practically his regular movie persona.
The movie is a lot of fun, and only falters a little after the mob kidnaps Miss Clark. Her absence deprives us of her wisecracks. But then, she is somewhat underused anyway. The film can boast a great pedigree, with a screenplay by Jo Swerling and Robert Riskin, from a story by W.R. Burnett, and John Ford directed.

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