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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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A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How did it get to be December 22nd already?  I’ve been working at my newish job, commuting, driving kids around to places, revitalizing an exercise program, thinking about The Hobbit, and suddenly Christmas is upon me, when in my mind I should still have a week or two, maybe three to get ready.

Am I going to get everything done that coulda, shoulda, oughta be done before the big day?  No.  But thanks to internet shopping, I might be able to make a credible showing.

And, I’m going to schedule the rest of the few days remaining, carving out time for a few traditions: driving around to see Christmas lights and spending one evening watching It’s a Wonderful Life.

And I’m going to slow down and count my blessings.

Life is good.

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It’s the time of year to watch It’s a Wonderful Life again, although arguably, it should be watched year ’round.

Poster for IAWL

Poster for IAWL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I watch this film, I am reminded to be thankful for the many blessings in my life.  George Bailey, although an admirable man, isn’t as thankful as he should be in the beginning of the film.  It’s only when he loses what he has that he realizes how wonderful his life really is.

I don’t want that to happen to me.  I want to enjoy life and be thankful right now.   But that requires some attention.   To explain:

Before my wedding I was given some wonderful advice that I’ve tried to pass on to other brides.

Your wedding day is going to be hectic and distracting.   If you’re not careful, you’re going to go through the whirlwind and not really remember much of it, except for the photographic evidence.  So take time, several times during the day, to be still and observe what is going on, so you will have distinct, clear memories of this important day.

Two men wearing morning coats at a wedding. 1929.

Two men wearing morning coats at a wedding. 1929. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point of this is to slow down and be mindful.  I have several very clear, very sweet memories of my wedding day, one of which was sitting down quietly alone with my mom.  I wore her wedding dress,  and we talked about that and my great love for her.   In the twenty-something years that have passed since that day, the memory of that conversation has remained a sweet and tender moment for me,  giving me strength and comfort.  There were no photographs, but the memory is there.

I want to make good memories now in other areas of my life.  Slowing down and being observant is good, but I’m also trying to write significant moments down in a journal.  Some people keep diaries, others keep gratitude journals, others scrapbook or blog.

Life is more than a never-ending to-do list.  I believe that gratitude is key to happiness.

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Ever since I mentioned Jim Hutton in my blog post yesterday, I’ve been thinking about how much I enjoy him in Walk Don’t Run.  He is tall, thin, and moves in a lanky, endearing way.  I looked up his height and he was 6’5″

Since I’m 6 feet tall,  I tend to notice tall, lanky dudes.

Cropped screenshot of James Stewart from the t...

Cropped screenshot of James Stewart from the trailer for the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I thought about other tall, lanky dudes.  My favorite is James Stewart (6’3″).  He was particularly lanky in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life.  I love it when he stretches out his hands and arms to express himself when he talks.

And although Richard Armitage is tall (6′ 2 1/2″), he doesn’t look  “lanky.”  He’s too  muscular for that, although he was almost lanky in Spooks Series 7.

A modern lanky actor?  Paul Bettany (6’3″).  I understand that he bulked up for some recent roles, but I think naturally he has a thinner look.

Which is not to say that short, stocky men can’t be charming, too, but that’s a post for another day.  And with The Hobbit looming, I might mention a dwarf or two.

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There is a wonderful scene in Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Joan Cusack where Joan tells Julia that she’s quirky, and Julia says, “You’re quirky, too,” but Joan corrects her.  “I’m not quirky, I’m weird.  There is a world of difference between quirky and weird.”  (I’m paraphrasing this).

Film poster for Runaway Bride (1999 film) - Co...

Film poster for Runaway Bride (1999 film) – Copyright 1999, Paramount Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This scene was hilarious and insightful to me, because I felt weird through much of my adolescence (who doesn’t?) and as I’ve gotten older, I am becoming more confident, and therefore, more quirky (hopefully less weird).

Which made me think of weird and quirky heroes and heroines.

Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby — rotates between being weird and quirky.

Katharine Hepburn in  Holiday – quirky and sweet.

Jean Arthur‘s entire family in You Can’t Take It With You — quirky.

Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping — quirky.

Jim Hutton in Walk Don’t Run — quirky.

Gary Cooper in Ball of Fire — quirky.

Often “quirky” is left for the humorous sidekick characters.  But I like quirky.

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