August 22, 2012


The Legend of Jean Arthur (DAVID MERMELSTEIN, 8/20/12, WSJ)

With a voice lying somewhere between squeaky and sexy and an appealing gamine figure, Jean Arthur made a distinct impression on American moviegoers in the 1930s and '40s--when she starred opposite Gary Cooper, James Stewart and Cary Grant in films directed by Frank Capra, Howard Hawks and George Stevens. Yet today Arthur lacks the renown many of her contemporaries still command. Shy, anxious and publicity-averse in private life, she left acting relatively early, forsaking the professional longevity enjoyed by peers like Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck. When she died in 1991, at age 90, she hadn't made a picture in nearly 40 years. And that final performance-- as a stoic pioneer wife to Van Heflin's homesteader in Stevens's "Shane" (1953)--was atypical.

Screwball comedy was Arthur's m├ętier. When it came to clever banter, lighthearted exasperation and improbable romance, she was nonpareil.
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Posted by at August 22, 2012 5:04 AM

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