Over his career, Jimmy Stewart managed to play several characters named Smith. The characters include Jefferson Smith and Bill Smith. In 1947 he added in Rip Smith with the film Magic Town. This movie stars Stewart opposite Jane Wyman, one of the stars of The Lost Weekend. She would later win an Oscar for her performance in Johnny Belinda. Interestingly enough, while filming this movie she was married to Ronald Reagan. For Stewart this was the only film he would make in 1947. This was the second movie he was involved in after returning from his military service during World War II. The following year he would star in four feature films including Rope and You Gotta Stay Happy.
This movie is directed by William A. Wellman, the same director who was behind classics like The Public Enemy (1931) and A Star is Born (1937) which earned him his first Oscar. He would later win another Academy Award for his directing in The High and Mighty.
Rip Smith (Stewart) is a determined man. A war hero with a public opinion firm, he’s looking for a way to best the competition. He may have found his success when a small town he polls appears to predict the views of the entire nation. When he heads to the town he advertises himself as an insurance salesman. While trying to make his business work he’s met with suspicion from a young newspaper editor (Wyman) who seems determined to see him fail.
This is a lighthearted movie with a nice message. It definitely isn’t a highlight in the careers of Wyman or Stewart, but it’s still fun to watch.
The chemistry between Stewart and Wyman is pretty evident in their scenes together. Their characters have a love-hate relationship that plays well into the story. The rest of the cast is also good in their roles throughout the film. This includes work by Wallace Ford who would later work with Stewart in Harvey (1950).
For Jimmy Stewart, this film was the calm before the storm. As his career ramped back up he would go on to have some of the more prolific years of his career. This would include 10 more movies before the end of 1950.