Grant plays noble physician Dr. Noah Praetorius, who runs a clinic for women and teaches at a university. Praetorius' patient-first philosophy ("Patients are sick people--not inmates") earns him a reputation for being unconventional. It also makes him hugely popular among his patients and students as well as financially successful. That leads to some professional jealously, principally on the part of rival professor Rodney Elwell (Hume Cronyn). Of course, Praetorius doesn't hold Elwell in high regard either, describing him as the "only person I know who can say 'malignant' like other people say bingo."
|Grant and Jeanne Crain.|
In the hands of a less gifted actor, Praetorius could have come off as an oddball. Cary Grant, though, imbues the physician with nobility, charm, and compassion. He also always seems in control, as if Praetorius knows what is coming next and is already prepared for it (at one point, Deborah even calls him a "pompous know-it-all"). At times, Grant's performance reminded me of Dudley the angel from the earlier The Bishop's Wife.
|Finlay Currie as Shunderson.|
|Hume Cronym as Elwell.|
Prior to starting the film, Mankiewicz encountered difficulties with the Production Code, which refused to approve the script because of its frank discussion about abortion and unwed pregnancy (as well as an incident in Shunderson's past). Mankiewicz eventually gained approval in 1951 after minor rewrites (e.g., Praetorius and Deborah discuss abortion, but the word "abortion" is never used).
If you have never seen People Will Talk, I strongly recommend seeking it out. It's an interesting, entertaining drama that deserves serious consideration when discussing its star's best movies.