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Archive for the ‘James Stewart’ Category

From richardarmitagenet.com

From richardarmitagenet.com

I’m a woman who likes brooding men in cravats, so it’s not surprising that I enjoyed North and South, but I really really liked it  – to the point that it rivaled my passion for the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

I watched all four hours of North and South four times in the first week.   I remember sneaking it in while I was folding laundry, etc., hoping that no one else in the family would realize how often I was watching it.   I couldn’t get enough – and the main reason was Richard Armitage and his portrayal of John Thornton.

Richard Armitage is an attractive man, but I didn’t think he was all that handsome until episode 3, when he told his mother that Margaret refused his marriage proposal.  At that moment, he became fascinatingly beautiful to me, and he has remained fascinating for eight years.  But why do I still like him so much?

I’ve thought about that this past week as others have posted their “I Saw Something Fine” posts on the Richard Armitage Flash Fan Event.

He is fascinating because his portrayal of male thought and emotion is so complex.  With his micro expressions, he makes his characters seem real.  He makes me feel their pain, their fear, their joy.  The good characters have hints of bad, and the bad characters have hints of good.  I find myself caring about them, even when I don’t always like them or the choices they make. (I still don’t understand the end of Robin Hood Season 2.  Personally I think Gisborne should have drugged Marion and forced her to marry him.  That would have made an interesting Season 3, but since I write quirky sweet romances rather than fanfic, I don’t think it’s going to show up as a subplot.)

But it isn’t just his technical skills that make Richard so compelling.  I have admired the acting style of other actors and not followed their careers so closely.  With Richard, I read and watched his interviews and found I liked the man behind the roles.  He cares about his craft and takes his work seriously.  Over time, I’ve enjoyed his cheerful good humor, his politeness and respect for others.  He seems like the kind of guy who would be fun to work with, a good friend, and ultimately, good to fall in love with.  (As a very happily married woman, I wish him all the best in that department).

In some ways, he reminds me of Jimmy Stewart.  Whenever I see a photograph of Jimmy Stewart, I smile because I like the man and the actor.  It’s the same with Richard Armitage.  I hope he has a long and happy career, making many more movies and television shows.

And if he could narrate a few more books, I’d appreciate that, too.  I could write another essay on “I Heard Something Fine.”

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Although the Christmas season is over and New Years Day has almost passed, I wanted to discuss one last Christmas movie.  No doubt I’ll cover more next year, too.  My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, which contains enough romance to be considered a romantic Christmas movie as well.

 

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna...

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the American film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve written about this movie before, so I will mention one thing that I noticed as I watched it this year:  Good writing lets the viewer fill in the blanks.

Early in the movie, Mary (George Bailey‘s future love interest) says to George “I will love you till the day I die.”   Now she’s only about 8 at the time and she’s talking into his deaf ear, so he doesn’t hear her, but we, the viewers, hear her.  Since we know that about her, all she has to do is look at George meaningfully in later scenes and we fill in the blanks.

 

At the high school dance, she looks at him and we know she wants to dance with him because she loves him.    After the dance, when she’s flirting with him and smiles mischievously, we know she loves him.   She tells George that she’d like to live in the ratty old house.  Then when she throws the rock to make a wish, we know that she’s wishing to someday live in that ratty old house with George.

 

It really is wonderful what a few well placed hints in a screenplay can do.   Part of the joy of fiction is having our expectations met.  We feel clever when we figure things out before the protagonist does.  Which is not to say that we don’t want some surprises, too.  But the best surprises are ones that we realize had been hinted at earlier — if we’d only paid attention or understood.

 

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At Christmas, two feuding co-workers don’t know that their antagonist is actually the anonymous pen pal they’re falling in love with.

Great premise, full of humor and angst.

Cover of "The Shop Around the Corner"

Cover of The Shop Around the Corner

The original is Shop Around the Corner with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.  Stewart is endearingly awkward.    This film is black and white, sometimes stagy (looks more like a 1936 movie than 1940), and I think it could have used about ten more minutes of plot development to make it completely wonderful.  I don’t revisit this film often, but I do like it — a lot.

The first remake is In the Good Old Summertime with Van Johnson and Judy Garland.  It’s a musical, although I can’t remember any of the songs,  and fun.  Johnson doesn’t have the emotional depth of Stewart, but it’s still good.

The second remake is You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  This is a great movie, with the plot updated to feuding company owners rather than co-workers, and email instead of hand written letters.  My only quibble about this version is one I have for several Meg Ryan films.  Her characters tend to be living with someone and then upgrade to Mr. Right.  That might be realistic, but it’s not what I consider romantic.  However, Tom Hanks plays his part with great humor and sensitivity, so I like this version very much.

Cover of

Cover of You’ve Got Mail

While analyzing these movies, I realized that there are two things I like about them.  First, I love it when the audience knows something the characters don’t.  It’s fun to watch the leads be rude to each other when we know that they are actually in love with each other.   And second, I find the heroes in these movies tender.  They may be jerks at work, but when they discover the truth, they are kind to the heroines — especially when they take care of them when they are ill.   That melts my heart.

And gives me hope for all the grumpy, annoying people I’ve encountered over the years.

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