Jane Wyman Title and Navigation bar
Magic Town
1947 Jump to Synopsis and Details
Magic Town #1
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #9
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #10
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #5
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #6
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #8
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #4
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #7
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #2
Click graphic to enlarge
Contributed by Daniel López
Magic Town #12
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #11
Click graphic to enlarge
Magic Town #3
Click graphic to enlarge

Rip Smith's opinion-poll business is a failure...until he discovers that the small town of Grandview is statistically identical to the entire country. He and his assistants go there to run polls cheaply and easily, in total secrecy (it would be fatal to let the townsfolk get self-conscious). And of course, civic crusader Mary Peterman must be kept from changing things too much. But romantic involvement with Mary complicates life for Rip; then suddenly everything changes... ~ by Rod Crawford


Lawrence 'Rip' Smith (played by James Stewart) and his assistants are pollsters, and Stewart believes there is a perfect community in the middle of United States that can be used for polling its citizens. He has finally found a town where the percentages of the opinions of the citizens perfectly mirror those of the American people as a whole. Stewart goes to the town and sets up undercover with the intention of using the citizens as his poling guinea pigs, but he gets involved with town inhabitants. When his plans are revealed, the town goes crazy. Their sudden unofficial power goes to their heads, and instead of giving the sensible polling answers to questions they give outlandish ones. This causes the crash of their reputation and failure of Smith's plan.

Review from NY Times

Published: October 8, 1947

A peculiarly roundabout tribute to the American pot-bellied stove and to the brand of parochial thinking which traditionally surrounds that community hub is paid by Robert Riskin in his first produced film, "Magic Town," a genial comedy-drama which came to the Palace yesterday. At least, that appears his intention, since the film seems to make the ultimate point that the hot-stove league's humble conclusions are more reliable than any public-opinion poll. And, of course, Mr. Riskin is noted as the Hollywood sage of the simple American folk, having been the author of such pictures as "Meet John Doe" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town."

But somehow his film lacks conviction, for all its humorous reflections of small-town life and for all the loose-jointed, soda-cracker acting of James Stewart in the principal role. And that, we're afraid, is because Mr. Riskin wasn't altogether sure of his point—or, maybe, tried to build a bridge to it with a lot of rather old theatrical boards.

At the outset, it looks as though he's tangled with a good-natured travesty on the business of public-opinion taking as he gallops into a small town with a clever young sampler who has discovered that this small town is a perfect composite of the United States. And the humor blends happily with romance as this young fellow, keeping his business in disguise, falls in love with a local young lady who has the community's best interests at heart.

But the going becomes a bit heavy when the fellow's true traffic is exposed and the town is publicly lauded as the "mathematical miracle" of the United States. For then Mr. Riskin brings to it a rush of attention and a boom such as one could barely imagine for a place in which they'd struck oil. And out of this fickle prosperity he engineers such an eventual bust, of both a spiritual and material nature, as only Sodom or Gomorrah could have known. Through this humiliation and the regenerated integrity of his boy, Mr. Riskin brings the town back to its senses and to a reliance upon its councils around the stove.

However, the author-producer does not bring his picture back to the playful and pleasant disposition it has in its first half or two-thirds. Nor does he succeed in making plausible this lugubrious soul-search of his town. Allowing that pride, even in such a small thing as infallibility, usually leads to a fall, it does not seem reasonabe that the consequence should be so shattering or bewildering as it is here. And Mr. Riskin's device for salvation smacks strongly of a sentimental cliché.

Granted that Mr. Stewart's performance is in his nicest old-coat and slouch-hat style (even though it is hardly consistent with the city-slicker role presumed for him) and that Jane Wyman's skeptical surrender as the town girl is romantically sweet. Granted, too, that William Wellman has directed a couple of scenes between the two in a charmingly casual manner which is worth a lengthy wait. The incidental characters, notably those played by Ned Sparks and Wallace Ford, are embarrassingly theatrical and the sets are as phony as a slug.

In fact, if a scientific breakdown of public opinion on this film were made, we would fear for its optimism. The hot-stove league will express itself in time.


James Stewart as Rip Smith

Jane Wyman as Mary Peterman

Kent Smith as Hoopendecker

Ned Sparks as Ike

Wallace Ford as Lou Dicketts

Regis Toomey as Ed Weaver

Ann Doran as Mrs. Weaver

Donald Meek as Mr. Twiddle

E.J. Ballantine as Moody

Ann Shoemaker as Ma Peterman

Mickey Kuhn as Hank Nickleby

Howard Freeman as Nickleby

Harry Holman as Mayor

Mary Currier as Mrs. Frisby

Mickey Roth as Bob Peterman

Frank Fenton as Birch

George Irving as Senator Wilton

Selmer Jackson as Stringer

Robert Dudley as Dickey

Julia Dean as Mrs. Wilton

Joel Friedkin as Dingle

Paul Scardon as Hodges

George Chandler as Bus Driver

Frank Darien as Mr. Quincy

Larry Wheat as Sam Fuller

Jimmy Crane as Shorty

Richard Belding as Junior Dicketts

Danny Mummert as Benny

Griff Barnett as Henry (Stringer's Office)

Ralph Brooks as Birch's Secretary

John Butler as Smoke Shop Counter Customer

Wheaton Chambers as Electrician

Edgar Dearing as Questioning Grandview Citizen

Dick Elliott as New Arrival

Tom Fadden as Soda Jerk

Franklyn Farnum as Townsman

Bess Flowers as Mayor's Secretary

William Forrest as George

Jack Gargan as Man with Reporter

Joseph Granby as (uncredited)

William Haade as Moving Man with Wastebasket

Sam Harris as Businessman on Street

Gabriel Heatter as Himself - Radio Newscaster

Al Hill as Townsman

Eddie Kane as Radio Host

Tom Kennedy as Moving man

Frank Marlowe as Moving Man

Paul Maxey as Man in hall outside Stringer's Office

Bert Moorhouse as Newspaper Man

Philip Morris as Townsman

Ken Niles as Reporter

Anne O'Neal as Naturally Nosey Lady

Garry Owen as Cigar Counter Clerk

Eddie Parks as Bookkeeper

Vic Perrin as Elevator Starter

Lee Phelps as City Council Member

'Snub' Pollard as Townsman

Cyril Ring as Newspaper Man

John Sheehan as Mailman

Harry Tenbrook as Shoe Shine Customer

Jim Toney as Joe

Emmett Vogan as Minister

Nella Walker as Grandview Citizen

Ray Walker as Stringer's Associate

Eddy Waller as New Citizen in Crowd

Billy Wayne as Reporter

Dick Wessel as Moving Man

Lee 'Lasses' White as Shoe Shine Man


Directed by
William A. Wellman

Writing credits
Robert Riskin and Joseph Krumgold - story
Robert Riskin - screenplay

Produced by
Robert Riskin - producer
William A. Wellman - producer

Original Music by
Roy Webb

Cinematography by
Joseph F. Biroc (director of photography)

Film Editing by
Sherman Todd
Richard G. Wray

Production Design by
Lionel Banks

Set Decoration by
George Sawley

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Arthur S. Black Jr. - assistant director

Sound Department
Terry Kellum - sound
John E. Tribby - sound (as John Tribby)

Camera and Electrical Department
Clyde Taylor - gaffer

Costume and Wardrobe Department
Milo Anderson - costume designer: Miss Wyman

Editorial Department
William Hornbeck - montage

Music Department
C. Bakaleinikoff - musical director
Robert Wells - composer: song "Magic Town"

Other crew
William S. Holman - general manager
Robert Riskin - presenter

Now You Can Stop Your Break Up, Divorce, Or Lovers Rejection...Even If Your Situation Seems Hopeless!

| Home | Biography | Filmography | Photographs | Posters | Video | Obituary | Testimonials | Contact Us / Share |
© 2007 - Present jane-wyman.com. All Rights Reserved.
Website designed and maintained by Oliver Del Signore