Jean Arthur (1900-1991) worked as a stenographer and then a model in New York before being signed to a contract by Fox in the early 1920s. For her, stardom did not come at once—she worked hard but found success difficult to come by. An early 1930s stint on Broadway boosted her confidence, and when she returned to Hollywood in 1932 she began to get better roles. However, she only really emerged as a star when Frank Capra cast her as reporter Babe Bennett in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936. The director, who later said Arthur was his favorite actress, reunited with her later in the decade for two more comedy classics, You Can’t Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Arthur’s other starring roles in the late 1930s included playing Calamity Jane in The Plainsman, the screwball comedy Easy Living, and the aforementioned Only Angels Have Wings. In the early 1940s, she worked with director George Stevens on a pair of great romantic comedies, The Talk of the Town and The More the Merrier. She received her only Oscar nomination, for Best Actress, as Connie Milligan in the latter film.
Felicity Jones turns 33 today. She began acting in her teens, and for several years worked in British television, not making her film debut until 2008. Since then she has worked very steadily—in 2011, for example, she had five films come out, including playing Miranda in Julie Taymor’s version of The Tempest and Beth Fischer in Albatross, opposite Jessica Brown Findlay. Her career took a bit step forward in 2014, when she was cast as Jane Wilde Hawking in The Theory of Everything:
Daffy and I are back with new episodes of our podcast, Le Show. As we did last year, we’re tackling the Academy Awards. Rather than ramble on for an hour about all the major categories, we decided to split things up. So instead of one long show, we’ll be putting out several shorter installments. In the third episode, we run through the five Best Actress nominees, who we think will win and who we think should win.
The biographical film has a pretty checkered history. Sometimes the real facts of a person’s life need only a little dramatic polishing to produce something truly entertaining and meaningful. Other times you can feel the filmmakers stretching to really fill out what should be a fascinating story because while the events or accomplishments may be enormously important, that doesn’t mean that they are very cinematic. Unfortunately, despite some truly wonderful and engaging elements, the new Stephen Hawking biopic too often falls into the latter category.