best film: The answer is Shane but Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is not far behind. This category, overall, is a weakness for Arthur, but there is depth here as Howard Hawks Only Angels Have Wings is not a terrible number three (if you blink you’ll miss her in Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances so it is hard to really count that).
best performance: Her accomplishment in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is closer to Jimmy Stewart’s than she often gets credit for. Her Saunders character is wise to the world and the driving force of the narrative. She goes toe to toe with Stewart (both Capra alums even at this point in 1939) and even steals her share of scenes. Her scenes with the scenery-chewing master Thomas Mitchell are some of the strongest in the entire film.
stylistic innovations/traits: Arthur was a fast-talking comedic talent who is indispensable in two of Hollywood’s Golden Years’ best films: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Only Angles Have Wings. She had three great collaborations with Frank Capra and worked with Wilder and Hawks, too- playing one of the greatest of Hawks’ legendary women of strength. She retired with Shane in 1953 (having only made two total films since the end of World War II) and went out on top.
directors worked with: Frank Capra (3), George Stevens (2), Buster Keaton (1), Billy Wilder (1) and Howard Hawks (1). Arthur collaborated with some of the great comedic minds in cinema working during her era.
top five performances:
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- Only Angels Have Wings
- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
- You Can’t Take It with You
|1925- Seven Chances|
|1936-Mr. Deeds Goes to Town|
|1938- You Can’t Take It with You|
|1939- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington|
|1939- Only Angels Have Wings|
|1942- The Talk of the Town|
|1948- A Foreign Affair|