5 February 2004 | mgmax
Charming programmer vehicle for Horton
The late William K. Everson used to carry this around as one of the Paramount programmers he would occasionally show, and it's a charming example of how good even mid-level Hollywood product could be at conjuring up likable characters, believably lived-in settings and swift-moving plots in a short running time. Horton is the accountant for a newspaper whose beancounting ways make him unpopular among his expense account reporters-- and under the humor there's a real melancholic touch about how a man's job can keep people from knowing the man himself. It's an interesting reversal of the usual 30s newspaper movie, in which we get the point of view of the Ralph Bellamy type being mocked by the fast- talking journalists-- and before the story is done the decency of the Horton type will be demonstrated to put the cynical reporter types in their places.
He's much more at home, unlikely as it may seem, at the remote fishing village where he spends his annual vacation-- and the plot thickens when a rich man with a mansion not far away is kidnapped. Horton uses his local connections to sew up the story for his paper, but he also has to make hard choices (which never occur to his reporters) about how far to push his manipulation of the locals--or how far to push his status as a neighbor with the family of the kidnapped man. None of these points are pushed so hard that the movie is really "about" issues like the morality of the sensational press, in the end this is mainly a light comedy, but they're taken in stride in the course of a comic plot that is realistic and mature enough to recognize that such issues exist.