People Will Talk
Based on a play by Curt Goetz, a physician helps a pregnant woman by marrying her. He loves her and answers charges about his past and his mysterious friend.
Professor Rodney Elwell (Hume Cronyn) asks housekeeper Sarah Picket (Margaret Hamilton) about Dr. Noah Praetorius and Shunderson. Dr. Noah Praetorius (Cary Grant) lectures to Elwell’s class about a cadaver, and Deborah Higgins (Jeanne Crain) faints. Noah has a clinic that respects patients. He tells Deborah that she is pregnant. She is not married and does not want to have it because her father needs her. Deborah shoots herself, and Noah operates on her. Shunderson (Finlay Currie) says she will try it again.
Noah rehearses an orchestra and has Professor Barker (Walter Slezak) play his part. At home Barker warns Noah that Elwell is investigating him. Barker says that Shunderson is called “the Bat.” Noah tells Deborah that she is not pregnant, but he tells Barker that she is. Noah gets a call and is told that Deborah is missing.
Noah and Shunderson drive to a farm, and Shunderson makes the dog stop barking. Arthur Higgins (Sidney Blackmer) and Deborah invite them for dinner. Arthur tells Noah that Deborah keeps him alive. The farm belongs to Arthur’s brother John Higgins (Will Wright), who is conservative and chats with Noah. Deborah shows Noah the dairy and says she ran away because she is in love with him. She asks why he came there, and he kisses her. Deborah packs her clothes and is going to marry Noah.
Sergeant Coonan and Elwell plan to get a photo of Shunderson, and one is taken. Shunderson offers to leave, but Noah tells him not to. Elwell comes to talk with Noah, but Deborah says he is busy. Elwell says the dean has charges against Noah, and he leaves. Noah, Barker, and Arthur argue about their electric trains, and Deborah cries. She learns her baby is coming sooner and realizes it is not Noah’s. He says he fell in love with her.
At the hearing the dean lets Elwell question Noah about his butcher shop in a small town. Noah says he made sick people well. Barker says that Noah is envied by Elwell. Noah says his housekeeper learned he was a doctor, and he had to leave town. Elwell asks Noah about Shunderson, but Noah refuses to answer. Elwell says Shunderson was convicted of murder. Shunderson comes in and tells how he was framed for murder, and then fifteen years later he saw the victim and killed him. Shunderson says he was hanged and woke to see Noah, who says he was given the body and found he was alive. Deborah comes in, and they go out to the concert. Shunderson tells Elwell he is little in mind and heart. During the concert Deborah is stirred.
This romantic comedy has the qualities of a spiritual parable to convey the intangible aspects of love and healing in life and transcendence in death as contrasted to the cold science of misguided investigation.