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.”
Having theme months is one of the excellent programming decisions that help make TCM such a pleasure to watch for movie fans. Uploaded by saint.org.
This is only the second television network to be selected for this list, after ESPN (Great American Things, September 9, 2009). But it’s one of the most valuable on the dial, because it allows us to see great classic movies, uninterrupted by commercials.
TCM came on the air in 1994, and its first film was Gone with the Wind (Great American Things, April 28, 2009). There are lots of things to like about the channel. For one thing, it seems to be run by people who really like movies. There’s an intelligence to the programming that isn’t evident at other networks.
Film historian and TCM host Robert Osborne. Uploaded by boxofficemojo.com.
Another thing to appreciate about TCM is how it dedicates days to the career of a single actor. For example, Jimmy Stewart (Great American Things, April 8, 2009) was featured recently, with back-to-back showings of six of his films. It gives you the opportunity to see an actor’s career development, and to catch films you may have never seen. Another highlight is its annual 31 Days of Oscar programming during the month of February. Not just Best Picture winners, but films that won in other categories get the spotlight for a whole month.
There was a time when I didn’t care about older movies, somehow deeming them irrelevant to today’s experience. I know, I know. Now I’m a big fan of old movies, when actors and directors made movies work, not computer effects. And I love Turner Classic Movies.