I fell in love with Jean Arthur for the first time in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. She guided Jimmy Stewart as a Junior Senator who stumbled over some corruption during his first time in Washington. I could go on an on about the film itself–its great casting, the marvelous filming around Washington, D.C., as well as the involvement of the child-actors who really made the film special. But we’re talking about Jean Arthur today. Let’s take a peek–and a listen–
I saw her as smart and street-smart, with a heart as big as a 1956 Buick when she sees he’s in trouble and wants to help. Turn her around a few times and put her in Shane, and you almost think you have a different woman. As the wife of Starrett, she is good and wholesome, a kind and loving wife and mother and doesn’t look like she ever saw a skyscraper or a streetcar, and she makes you believe it. She is also tough as she has to be as settlers in the western U.S. during a tough time, when you had to wait days or more to see the law or a doctor or a minister.
But where I really fell in love for good was in a film I found quite by accident in YouTube. You have to hunt a little for it, as it is uploaded in several parts and labeled cryptically. The film is The More, the Merrier and her co-stars are Joel McCrea, who she was in three films with, and the great Charles Coburn, who is at his most charming and funny in this.
The plot is simple–and takes place post-WWII in Washington, D.C.–in the middle of a housing crisis. The three of them end up living together and getting to know one another after some stumbling about and walking on eggshells, and each others’ toes. But the attraction is there and eventually cannot be denied. Many agree that this is one of a handful of the most sexy scenes ever even though no one gets naked, and there are only a few kisses. But the chemistry is there, and palpable. Watch this clip to its end. You won’t be sorry.