In a powerhouse cast that included Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart, only one earned an Academy Award for acting - Jimmy Stewart. Uploaded by listal.com.
This movie starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart.
Really, do I need to say anything else? Could that incredible cast possibly produce anything less than a timeless gem? We don’t know the answer to that, but The Philadelphia Storyis one of the best representations of the romantic comedy, probably the most popular film genre. Directed by the great George
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Cukor and released in 1940, the movie is taken from the play of the same name in which Hepburn also starred. (Joseph Cotten played the Cary Grant role, and Van Heflin had Jimmy Stewart’s part. Hepburn had wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the movie roles.)
The Philadelphia Story received seven Academy Award nominations, winning two – Best Actor (Stewart) and Best Writing, Screenplay. In the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, it ranked number 51. By the way, the film was adapted to a musical (High Society) in 1956 with another blockbuster cast: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. You can bet that movie will be on this list before long.
Cinematographer Robert Burks (and Alfred Hitchcock, of course) created two iconic images for this movie: The pursuit of Cary Grant by a crop duster, and the concluding chase scene across the faces of Mount Rushmore. Uploaded by artsmeme.com.
Alfred Hitchcock directing. Cary Grant starring. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Script by Edward Lehman. I’m sure with such credits it’s possible to make a bad movie, but it wouldn’t be easy. And North by Northwest is in the pantheon of the best movies of the 1950s, a surprisingly good decade for films.
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I didn’t mention cinematographer Robert Burks, because his career is so intertwined with Hitchcock’s. But in North by Northwest, Burks captured two of the most iconic images in Hollywood history. The first is when Cary Grant (Great American Things, June 16, 2009) is buzzed and then shot at by a biplane that’s “dusting crops where there ain’t no crops.” The second is at the film’s conclusion when Grant and Eva Marie Saint are desperately trying to escape their pursuers and make their way across the faces on the Mount Rushmore monument – a chase scene Hitchcock said he’d always wanted to film.
Despite all the luminaries mentioned at the beginning of this post, only Lehman received an Academy Award nomination. Ben-Hur dominated the 1959 Oscars, and Hitchcock was never given his proper due by the Hollywood crowd. The American Film Institute knows better, however. In its listing of 100 Years…100 Movies, North by Northwest was ranked number 40. And in the sub-list 100 Years…100 Thrills, it came in at number 4.
Jean Arthur's three films with Frank Capra -- "You Can't Take It With You," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" -- established her as one of the greatest comedic actresses of all time. Uploaded by the-frame.com.
I’ll readily admit that Jean Arthur isn’t as well known today as some of her contemporaries. But during the 1930s and 1940s she reigned as one of Hollywood’s leading leading ladies, especially in the comedy genre. Robert Osborne, host on the network where you can still see Jean Arthur’s films (Turner Classic Movies), called her “the quintessential comedic leading lady.”
While she made a couple of dozen films during the Twenties and early Thirties, her breakout role came when Frank Capra cast her as a tough newspaper reporter who fell in love with a country bumpkin. The country bumpkin was Gary Cooper (Great American Things, April 28, 2010) and the film was Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Capra loved her distinctive voice and pretty girl-next-door
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looks, and cast her in two more hits, both with Jimmy Stewart (Great American Things, April 8, 2009): You Can’t Take It with You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Arthur also made several comedies (Only Angels Have Wings and The Talk of the Town) with Cary Grant, who was considered more of a comic actor than a leading man early in his career. She was nominated for an Academy Award for 1944’s The More the Merrier. Arthur all but retired after that year, only appearing in two more movies, one of which was the classic Shane.
Arthur eventually taught drama, first at Vassar College (where Meryl Streep was one of her students), then here in Winston-Salem at the North Carolina School of the Arts. One of the skills she stressed with her classes was the art of being natural on stage and film. She said, “I had to learn that to appear natural on the screen requires a vast amount of training, that is the test of an actor’s art.”