People Will Talk

Synopsis: Successful and well-liked, Dr. Noah Praetorius becomes the victim of a witch hunt at the hands of Professor Elwell, who disdains Praetorius's unorthodox medical views and also questions his relationship with the mysterious, ever-present Mr. Shunderson. Fuel is added to the fire when Praetorius befriends young Deborah Higgins, who has become suicidal at the prospect of having a baby by her ex boyfriend, a military reservist who was called up for service in the Korean War and killed in action.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Production: Twentieth Century Fox
  1 nomination.
110 min


- I am Rodney Elwell. Do you wish to see me?

- Pickett.

- I beg your pardon?

- Sarah Pickett.

Quite so. Your name.

In any case, I'm late for class...

- They said for me to come right away.

- Who said?

- The agency.

- The agency? What...

Oh, of course. The detective agency.

Sergeant Coonan.

- Yes. Come in. Come in.

- If I come in, does the door get closed?

- Naturally.

- Then I don't come in.

- Why not?

- You know why not. You're grown up.

- My dear Mrs. Pickett...

- Miss Pickett. And don't butter me up.

I have conducted my affairs

behind closed doors for 20 years.

Not with me.

You overestimate both of us.

Have it your way.

Ah, yes, here we are.

You are Rebecca Pickett.

Is that correct?

Sarah Pickett.

Quite so. Sarah.

Rebecca Pickett is my grandma.

- Was your grandma.

- She still is. She's 103.

- Interesting.

- She's a liar.

- Possibly.

- 108 if she's a day.


Miss Sarah Pickett,

you were engaged some 15 years ago...

- by one Noah Praetorius as his housekeeper?

- That's right.

- Where?

- Goose Creek, where I come from.

Goose Creek. Goose Creek is

a little village way downstate, is it not?

- Way back in the hills.

- And at that time...

what was the profession

of this Praetorius?

- He was a doc.

- A doc?

- He healed people.

- How?

If I knew how,

I'd be a doc myself.

I mean, what were

his methods of treatment?

Well, some healers use one thing

and some use another...

but Doc Praetorius

used them all.

Once he'd give a powder,

sometimes syrup...

sometimes pills,

sometimes a jab with a needle...

and sometimes just talk...

just sit there and talk about

a body's misery...

and talk a body into being well...

like workin' a miracle.

Ah, a miracle worker too, eh?

- Well, if my grandma isn't a miracle, what is?

- Your grandma?

Four times she laid down to die,

and four times he talked her up on her feet.

Told her she was gonna live forever.

Looks like he was right.

Doc, healer, miracle worker...

possible hypnotist.

Check on narcotics administered.

Now, Miss Pickett, are you

completely certain...

that this man's name

was Noah Praetorius?

Would I make up a name like that?

And is this Doc Praetorius

by whom you were employed...

the same man as the famous Dr. Praetorius

of this university and this city?

Doc Praetorius was already as famous

as you can get back in Goose Creek.

He had people coming

from miles around.

But is he now the famous Dr. Praetorius?

When you say "doctor",

do you mean school doctor, out of books?

- That is precisely what I mean.

- Can't say.

For my part, I wouldn't get caught dead

in a room with one of'em.

Miss Pickett,

I am a school doctor out of books.

That's one reason

why the door is open.

This man...

is he the healer,

the miracle worker?

- Is this Doc Praetorius?

- That's him...

only he looked younger

15 years ago.

- We all did.

- Not me.

We come now, Miss Pickett,

to the most important subject of all.

What can you tell me

about a man named...


- Who did you say?

- Shunderson.


It's, uh... It's Hoskins,

Professor Elwell.

Well, in case, perhaps,

Professor Elwell, you'd forgotten...

the class is still waiting.

Oh. Yes, Professor.

Of course.

No, no, no. Not at all.

It... It's just that, well, uh...

Dr. Praetorius

is also waiting to see you.

Dr. Praetorius?

To see me? Well.

Well, he'll have to wait too.

But not for long,

eh, Miss Pickett?

- What's the matter with you?

- What's in this for me, Professor Elwell?

I thought that Sergeant Coonan

had made it quite clear.

He said you wanted some

information from me...

but also that you were

going to give me a job.

- That's right.

- What kind of a job?

In the dissecting room

as a sort of a housekeeper.

What I want to know is

will the job be worth it?

Will the job be worth what,

Miss Pickett?

- Shunderson.

- Tell me about him.

I didn't know very much.

Nobody did.

Tell me everything you knew

or heard, every detail.

You're a professor, and it's hard to make you

understand anything that ain't in a book.

Well, most of what goes on

in the world ain't in a book.

Spare me your philosophy.

What about Shunderson?

To begin with, we used

to call him the Bat.

Hmm. Did it ever occur to you, Shunderson,

that skeletons always laugh?

Now, why?

Why should a man die

and then laugh for the rest of eternity?

- What news, Uriah?

- I've just spoken with Professor Elwell, Doctor.

He regrets exceedingly

that he is unavoidably detained.

A meaningless phrase

which could signify...

anything from oversleeping

to being arrested for malpractice.

I've never known the professor

to be late before.

Hmm, he'd be the last

to tolerate it in anyone else.

Ah, it saddens me, Uriah.

An unmistakable symptom of human weakness.

Professor Elwell

of all men.

Have you your notebooks ready?

I would be quite unable to give

the lecture you came to hear...

and I'm not sure you should hear

the lecture I'd like to give.

Well, we want to hear

anything you've got to say, Dr. Praetorius.

That's very flattering.

Thank you.

We thank you.

The cadaver and I.

A cadaver in a classroom.

As students of medicine,

it's important at the outset...

that you realize that a cadaver in a classroom

is not a dead human being.

I don't understand that, Doctor.

Anatomy is more or less

the study of the human body.

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Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Joseph Leo Mankiewicz (February 11, 1909 – February 5, 1993) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and he twice won the Academy Award for both Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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