Jean Arthur - Rotten Tomatoes

Jean Arthur

Highest Rated:   100% A Foreign Affair (1948)
Lowest Rated:   89% Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Birthplace:   Plattsburgh, New York, USA
The daughter of a commercial artist, Jean Arthur became a model early in life, then went on to work in films. Whatever self-confidence she may have built up was dashed when she was removed from the starring role of Temple of Venus (1923) after a few days of shooting. It was the first of many disappointments for the young actress, but she persevered and, by 1928, was being given co-starring roles at Paramount Pictures. Arthur's curious voice, best described as possessing a lilting crack, ensured her work in talkies, but she was seldom used to full advantage in the early '30s. Dissatisfied with the vapid ingenue, society debutante, and damsel-in-distress parts she was getting (though she was chillingly effective as a murderess in 1930's The Greene Murder Case), Arthur left films for Broadway in 1932 to appear in Foreign Affairs. In 1934, she signed with Columbia Pictures, where, at long last, her gift for combining fast-paced verbal comedy with truly moving pathos was fully utilized. She was lucky enough to work with some of the most accomplished directors in Hollywood: Frank Capra (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town [1936], You Can't Take It With You [1938], Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939]); John Ford (The Whole Town's Talking [1935]); and Howard Hawks (Only Angels Have Wings [1937]). Mercurial in her attitudes, terribly nervous both before and after filming a scene -- she often threw up after her scene was finished -- and so painfully shy that it was sometimes difficult for her to show up, she was equally fortunate that her co-workers were patient and understanding with her . Arthur could become hysterical when besieged by fans, and aloof and nonresponsive to reporters. In 1943, she received her only Oscar nomination for The More the Merrier (1943), the second of her two great '40s films directed by George Stevens (Talk of the Town [1942] was the first). After her contract with Columbia ended, she tried and failed to become her own producer. She signed to star in the 1946 Broadway play Born Yesterday -- only to succumb to a debilitating case of stage fright, forcing the producers to replace her at virtually the last moment with Judy Holliday. After the forgettable comedy The Impatient Years in 1944, Arthur made only two more films: Billy Wilder's A Foreign Affair (1948), and George Stevens' classic Shane (1952). She also played the lead in Leonard Bernstein's 1950 musical version of Peter Pan, which co-starred Boris Karloff as Captain Hook. In the early '60s, the extremely reclusive Arthur tentatively returned to show business with a few stage appearances and as an attorney on ill-advised 1966 TV sitcom, The Jean Arthur Show, which was mercifully canceled by mid-season. Surprisingly, the ultra-introverted Arthur later decided to tackle the extroverted profession of teaching drama, first at Vassar College and then the North Carolina School of the Arts; one of her students at North Carolina remembered Arthur as "odd" and her lectures as somewhat whimsical and rambling. Retiring for good in 1972, she retreated to her ocean home in Carmel, CA, steadfastly refusing interviews until her resistance was broken down by the author of a book on her one-time director Frank Capra. She died in 1991.


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey
  • Herself
No Score Yet Yesterday And Today
  • Actor
97% Shane
  • Marion Starrett
100% A Foreign Affair
  • Phoebe Frost
No Score Yet A Lady Takes a Chance
  • Molly J. Truesdale
94% The More the Merrier
  • Connie Milligan
93% The Talk of the Town
  • Nora Shelley
100% The Devil and Miss Jones
  • Mary Jones
No Score Yet Too Many Husbands
  • Vicky Lowndes
No Score Yet Arizona
  • Phoebe Titus
94% Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Clarissa Saunders
100% Only Angels Have Wings
  • Bonnie Lee
91% You Can't Take It With You
  • Alice Sycamore
100% Easy Living
  • Mary Smith
No Score Yet History Is Made At Night
  • Irene Vail
No Score Yet More than a Secretary
  • Carol Baldwin
No Score Yet The Plainsman
  • Calamity Jane
No Score Yet Adventure in Manhattan (Manhattan Madness)
  • Claire Peyton
No Score Yet The Ex-Mrs. Bradford
  • Paula Bradford
89% Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  • Babe Bennett
No Score Yet Public Hero #1
  • Actor
No Score Yet Born to Battle
  • Eunice Morgan
100% The Whole Town's Talking
  • Miss Clark
No Score Yet Diamond Jim
  • Actor
No Score Yet If You Could Only Cook
  • Joan Hawthorne
No Score Yet The Silver Horde
  • Mildred Wayland
No Score Yet Danger Lights
  • Mary Ryan
No Score Yet Street of Chance
  • Judith Marsden
No Score Yet Young Eagles
  • Actor
No Score Yet Paramount on Parade
  • Guest Star
No Score Yet The Canary Murder Case
  • Alice LaFosse
100% Seven Chances
  • The Receptionist
No Score Yet Cameo Kirby
  • Ann Playdell

Quotes from Jean Arthur's Characters