Here are 10 things you should know about the wonderful Jean Arthur, born 118 years ago today. She was a reluctant and, some say, unlikely star, but she was one of the true greats in the genres of screwball and romantic comedies.
Here are 10 things you should know about the lovely Claudette Colbert, born 115 years ago today.
We saw her perform on Broadway 33 years ago opposite Rex Harrison in a drawing room comedy called Aren’t We All? and it remains among our greatest regrets that we didn’t play Stage-Door Johnny after the show to tell her how we admired her. In fact, we try very hard not to think about it, so much does it torment us.
The wonderful Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Happy birthday, Ms. Lombard, wherever you may be!
Here are 10 things you should know about Carole Lombard…
- Dunne’s father was a government steamboat inspector and her mother was a concert pianist and music teacher.
- Her father died with Dunne was six and she moved with her mother and younger brother to her mother’s hometown, Madison, Indiana.
- Dunne was raised Roman Catholic and remained devout for the rest of her life.
- She attended Chicago Musical College on a scholarship and had designs on a career as an operatic soprano, but her audition for the Metropolitan Opera Company in NYC was not a success.
- Having added an “e” to her last name, Dunne then set her sights on musical theatre. She toured in the popular play Irene in the early 1920s and made her Broadway debut in 1922 in The Clinging Vine by Zelda Sears.
- She earned a role in Showboat after meeting Flo Ziegfeld in an elevator, and it was while touring in that show that she was discovered by Hollywood, signing a contract with RKO in 1929. Her first film role was in Leathernecking (1930), based on the musical Present Arms.
- Dunne, who had married Francis Griffin, a New York dentist, in 1927, moved to Hollywood with her mother and brother, maintaining a long-distance relationship with Griffin for more than five years. He finally moved west in 1936.
- Dunne was originally featured in dramas and musicals and is said to be have been hesitant to tackle comedies, but she hit the comic ground running in 1936 in Theodora Goes Wild. She would go on to excel in screwball and romantic comedies, including The Awful Truth (1937) and My Favorite Wife (1940).
- Dunne’s last film was It Grows on Trees (1952), though she worked on radio and television after that. “I drifted into acting and drifted out,” she once said. “Acting is not everything. Living is.”
- Dunne was nominated five times for the Best Actress Oscar—for Cimarron (1931), Theodora Goes Wild, The Awful Truth, Love Affair (1939) and I Remember Mama (1948)—but never took home the statuette.
Happy birthday, Irene Dunne, wherever you may be!
If you think you’ve seen every classic Christmas picture (and most of them one too many times, at that), you’ll be pleasantly surprised, we hope, to learn of one that’s flown under the radar of many a classic movie buff.
Remember the Night (1940) was the last movie Preston Sturges wrote before moving into the director’s chair with The Great McGinty (1940). Mitchell Leisen directs here, and though Sturges was said to have been disappointed with Leisen’s efforts, it’s hard to imagine why. It’s a terrific picture, one that should be every bit the holiday favorite that pictures such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, The Shop Around the Corner, and others have become.
Remember the Night features Fred MacMurray as an ambitious assistant D.A. in NYC who finds himself with shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck on his hands because he has asked for a delay in her trial, so as to avoid the jury feeling any holiday-inspired sympathy for her.
It soon comes out that both the D.A. and the dame are Hoosiers, so she accompanies him on a road trip to visit their respective families. Stanwyck’s brief visit with her mother doesn’t go so well, though, so she sticks with MacMurray, whereupon romance and laughs ensue.
Remember the Night is plenty sentimental enough to qualify as a holiday classic, but like It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s got a dark side, too, delivered with gimlet-eyed bite.
It’s a favorite of ours, a picture that deserves much greater fame and acclaim that it has been afforded. Turner Classic Movies has teamed with Universal to offer it on DVD, but if you’d like to try before you buy, it’s airing on TCM tonight (Dec. 18, 2015) at 11:30 p.m. eastern. Set your DVR now and give it a look; you won’t regret it.
This post was first published on December 6, 2013.