Supreme Court judge John Josephus Grant (Frank Morgan) goes on a duck shooting holiday in the small town of Crownport. Travelling incognito he is soon accosted by a local marshall for not having the right local stamp on his shooting licence. This introduces him to the seedy corrupt underbelly of the town which is run by an established group including the local mayor and judge.
There is a mayoral election in the offing and he encounters the more or less paper-candidate Bill Adams (Richard Carlson) standing against the incumbent Jim Connison (Robert Barrat). Grant takes to Bill Adams and encourages him to become more effective. Grant's secretary Lucy (Jean Rogers) arrives with some papers he needs to review and is met by Bill with predictable disastrous, humorous and romantic consequences.
Grant discovers a way for Bill to undermine the corrupt officials and supporting him in court makes an impassioned plea for the freedom of the people and the responsibility of those elected to office to care for all the people not just themselves. Democracy prevails and a happy ending ensues.
A pleasing little propaganda story
by rogerco on Wed 30th Dec 2020. Streaming proj @ home
The explicit propaganda is saved until the denouement, although, as standard Hollywood fare it is deeply embedded in the whole storyline.
It moves along at a good pace, the romance interest between Bill and Lucy is inevitable from their comedy-disastrous first meeting, when he collects her at the train station for the judge.
It is not quite clear what potential J.J.Grant sees in Bill Adams from his initial encounters with him, where Bill is more or less going through the motions of being both a lawyer and a candidate - but ultimately the judge gets him to stand on his own feet.
Released in 1943 as the US was preparing to enter the war the message at the end is pretty clear - the need to stand up for and defend the american way of life, with the incumbent mayor and his thugs standing in for the fascists and the local judge representing extreme appeasement, which has to be turned around.