Posts tagged ‘jean arthur’

October 8th, 2011

TCM: Be Still My Heart

The Jean Arthur Comedy Collection

The Jean Arthur Comedy Collection: No, this is not a dream. This is real life!

The other day, I took a little trip to do my laundry for free visit Mama Fierce.  Aside from functioning as a de facto laundromat, her place boasts such charming amenities as FOOD and TELEVISION, both of which are practically non-existent in my flat.  Ok, the food part is sort of voluntary, since I’m a terrible cook.  But as far as TV goes, at this point the lack thereof has become something of a lifestyle choice.  There was a time when I truly couldn’t afford it, but now I rather enjoy living a cable-less existence, if only to provide me with one less distraction.

Because let’s face it, I’m distracted at the best of times.

read more »

September 8th, 2011

History Is Made At Night (1937)

History Is Made At Night History Is Made At Night History Is Made At Night
Don’t be frightened. . .we have nothing to fear anymore. Everything now seems so little, so unimportant.

*N.B. I have the worst copy of this film in the world, hence the horrifying screen caps.

Aaaaaaaand I’m back!  Sorry for the radio silence.  I would make my excuses, but they would be just that:  excuses.  Plus, this is my blog, so I don’t have to.  Ha!  In any event, I was inspired to write about this film for two reasons:  1.)  Jean Arthur’s character is named Irene, and we were just visited by a lovely lady who was similarly christened (thanks, Mother Nature!).  2.)  Awhile back, Dana Delany tweeted about it.  At the time, I was so knocked out because I’ve never heard anyone mention this film before.  Ever. Which is a shame, because it is really a wonderful, forgotten little gem.  Obviously Dana is a woman of good taste!

Frank Borzage’s History Is Made At Night is interesting in many contexts, not the least of which is that of Jean Arthur’s career trajectory.  It was released the same year as Easy Living (1937), that imitable classic of 30s screwball comedy which we have already discussed.  Yet for Arthur, it represents an entirely different challenge, one that she rises to admirably and which enriches her resume beyond the comedic archetype that modern cinephiles so narrowly remember her by.

Arthur’s Irene Vail is the abused wife of millionaire ocean liner magnate Bruce Vail (Colin Clive).  Violently possessive, Vail is a man who sees perceived betrayal in Irene’s every move and treats her as if she were one of his ships; an empty vessel whose sole purpose is to be filled with the reflection of his desires.  When Irene finally decides to leave her husband, she runs away to Paris (cinematic city of dreams!), with Vail in dogged pursuit.  There, he concocts a scheme to forestall the divorce settlement by orchestrating a fake rendezvous between her and his valet.

Unfortunately for Vail, an interloper by the name of Paul Dumond (Charles Boyer) stumbles upon the scene, and in order to save the damsel in distress, stages a robbery undercover of which he spirits Irene away.  Outwitted, Vail kills the valet and plots to frame Paul, whom he rightly suspects is no thief, and wrongly assumes is his wife’s lover.   From this tragedy, the romantic spectacle at hand is born. . .

read more »

August 8th, 2010

Easy Living (1937)

Easy Living Easy Living Easy Living
Cloudy with a chance of fur coats // Her hat is ruined // Ball offers to buy her a new one

Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living explores the age-old question, “Who am I?,” through a series of would-be catastrophes predicated on a classic plot device:  mistaken identity.  Heroine Mary Smith (Jean Arthur) is an ordinary girl who experiences the extraordinary, when a fur coat drops from the sky and lands on her head.  The coat belongs to the wife of financier J.B. Ball (Edward Arnold), “the Bull of Broad Street.”  At $58,00 US (approximately $900,000 by today’s standards), the coat represents the sort of extravagance that precipitated Black Tuesday, and one that Ball is loathe to countenance. When triumphantly told by his wife that it cannot be returned, he tosses it off the roof to teach her a lesson.

In a random act of kindness, Ball offers to buy Mary a new hat to replace the one damaged by the fall of the coat.  The boutique staff assumes that she is his mistress, setting into motion a series of events that will change both the lives of Mary, Ball, as well as that of Ball’s dilettante son, John (Ray Milland).

read more »