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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Arthur’

I was recently a member of a jury on a murder trial, which was sad because of the facts, but fascinating, too.  I was impressed with the attorneys — all did fine work — and the members of the jury who took their duties seriously.

Because of this, I was reminded of several romances that have courtroom scenes.

Cover of "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Remaste...

Cover of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Remastered)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) .   Is the hero crazy or just really sweet?  Very fun competency hearing in a courtroom.  I love Jean Arthur as the cynical reporter who becomes a little pixelated by love.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film)

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Witness for the Prosecution (1957).  This is not technically a romance in my mind (SPOILER) because it doesn’t end happily, but WOW, what a story.  Marlene Dietrich is beautiful and brilliant in this.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947).  The courtroom scene is played for humor with only a little romance.   That said, I like Santa Claus and I like the judge who doesn’t want to make a ruling.

A  side note:  These films make me want to buy some prettier suits.

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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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Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable in It Happen...

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable in It Happened One Night (Photo credit: Lea Ann Belter Bridal)

It Happened One Night

Bringing Up Baby

The Lady Eve

The More the Merrier

Ball of Fire

My favorite screwball comedies have a fairly normal person who finds him or herself in an outrageous situation — that gets worse.  

Cover of "The More the Merrier"

Source: Amazon.com

As I was thinking about my favorite black and white movies recently, I realized that my novels are a little like screwball comedies.  I can easily imagine Jean Arthur, Myrna Loy, Claudette Colbert or Barbara Stanwyck  as my heroines.  And my heroes — some of them could be James Stewart, Joel McCrea, Cary Grant or Henry Fonda.  None of the screwball stories are realistic, but they are fun to watch.  It’s the same with my fiction — it’s based on reality, but there is a quirkiness to it.

So the question is — If you have read my most popular book — Who would play the leads in BABY COMES FIRST if it were made into a film?  Any actor living or dead is fair game.  So yes, Richard Armitage could play ANY of my heroes.

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Cover of "You Can't Take It With You"

Cover of You Can't Take It With You

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy Frank Capra films?  It Happened One Night is beautifully constructed and Arsenic and Old Lace is amazingly scary and funny at the same time.  But lately I’ve been thinking about You Can’t Take It with You (1938) with James Stewart and Jean Arthur.  In this movie, the heroine Jean Arthur comes from a quirky family that enchants slightly stuffy/traditional James Stewart.  The heroine’s mother Penny Sycamore is played by Spring Byington.  She is a novelist because someone delivered a typewriter to the house one day.  She sits in the middle of the chaos, typing away, having a great time.  Her father makes fireworks in the basement, someone is cooking and selling candy (?) and a very young Ann Miller is dancing around the living room.

Cropped screenshot of Spring Byington from the...

Spring Byington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Penny Sycamore reminds me of myself.  Fortunately I have a computer rather than a typewriter.  And although the family is noisy and busy, they aren’t quite so quirky.  But I am determined to click out my stories, regardless of what is happening around me.  Hopefully I will be as gracious and pleasant as Penny during the process.

Note for other fans of black and white movies: Spring Byington played a darling character in The Devil and Miss Jones.  A grumpy millionaire business man falls in love with her tuna fish popovers (which sound revolting) and ultimately with her, too.

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Cropped screenshot of Jean Arthur from the tra...

I really like Jean Arthur movies.  She was the ideal smart-mouthed, tender-hearted heroine.  She had a sincerity about her acting that made me think that her characters would find and keep that happily ever after — after the closing credits.  She played the kind of woman that I secretly would like to be — or would like as a close friend.  One of my favorite Arthur films is The More the MerrierJoel McCrea is particularly endearing in this movie — slapping his chest and barking like a seal in the shower. 

History Is Made at Night (1937 film)

Another, less well known movie with Arthur is History is Made at Night

It doesn’t always make sense, plot-wise, but there are moments that shine.  The scene in the taxi where Arthur thinks she has been kidnapped by Charles Boyer, a man pretending to be a jewel thief, is wonderful.  The scene where Boyer has to serve dinner to Arthur, thinking that she has gone back to her scummy husband, is on par with his final discussions with Irene Dunne in Love Affair.  I think I need to rev up my VCR. (Good news:  History is Made at Night is now on DVD, too).

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