Starring Jean Arthur

Starring Jean Arthur

17 Episodes

Though she came up through the silent era, Jean Arthur was truly made for talkies. With her wonderfully expressive voice, offbeat delivery, and impeccable comic timing, she quickly emerged as one of the greatest stars of the screwball genre and a particular favorite of director Frank Capra, who cast her as the plucky working-girl heroines of his classics MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. Throughout the late 1930s and early ’40s, Arthur delivered memorable performances in comedies and dramas alike for top directors like Frank Borzage (HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT), Howard Hawks (ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS), and George Stevens (THE MORE THE MERRIER) before abruptly retiring in 1944, after which she made only a handful of screen appearances. A famously private figure who shunned the spotlight throughout her career, Arthur endures as one of the most beloved and enigmatic personalities of Hollywood’s golden age, a singular star whose eccentric charm was the very essence of screwball.

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Starring Jean Arthur
  • Starring Jean Arthur Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Introducing Jean Arthur

    Episode 2

    The following interview with critic Farran Smith Nehme was recorded in 2020.

  • Whirlpool

    Episode 3

    Directed by Roy William Neill • 1934 • United States
    Starring Jack Holt, Jean Arthur, Donald Cook

    The first film that Jean Arthur made at Columbia—where she would soon be launched to stardom by Frank Capra—is a uniquely pre-Code blend of underworld tale and father-daughter melodrama. Sentenced t...

  • The Whole Town’s Talking

    Episode 4

    Directed by John Ford • 1935 • United States
    Starring Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur

    Edward G. Robinson spoofs his own tough-guy image in this lively gangster farce, one of director John Ford’s rare forays into straight comedy. In a delightful double role, Robinson plays mild-mannered office cl...

  • Public Hero Number 1

    Episode 5

    Directed by J. Walter Ruben • 1935 • United States
    Starring Lionel Barrymore, Jean Arthur, Chester Morris

    Based on the true story of the nefarious Purple Gang, the mob that viciously controlled regional bootlegging and vice rackets in early 1930s Detroit, this gritty, ripped-from-the-headlines c...

  • Party Wire

    Episode 6

    Directed by Erle C. Kenton • 1935 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, Victor Jory, Helen Lowell

    In this seriocomic portrait of small-town 1930s America, Jean Arthur plays a bank clerk who, when she begins a romance with the son (Victor Jory) of a prominent local family, becomes the victim of m...

  • If You Could Only Cook

    Episode 7

    Directed by William A. Seiter • 1935 • United States
    Starring Herbert Marshall, Jean Arthur, Leo Carrillo

    Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall make a superb comedy team in this breezy, Depression-era tale of mistaken identity and romantic misunderstanding. Fed up with his board of directors, wealthy...

  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

    Episode 8

    Directed by Frank Capra • 1936 • United States
    Starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft

    Gary Cooper’s everyman appeal and Jean Arthur’s comedic sparkle found a perfect fit with director Frank Capra’s brand of populist screwball in this irresistible romantic-comedy classic. When small-t...

  • The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

    Episode 9

    Directed by Stephen Roberts • 1936 • United States
    Starring William Powell, Jean Arthur, James Gleason

    Jean Arthur teams with William Powell in a playful murder mystery that proves Myrna Loy isn’t the only fluty-voiced comedian who can trade banter and hunt killers with the suave star of the THI...

  • History Is Made at Night

    Episode 10

    Directed by Frank Borzage • 1937 • United States

    Jean Arthur plays a married woman who falls in love with a French headwaiter, much to the chagrin of her possessive and jealous husband.

  • You Can’t Take It With You

    Episode 11

    Directed by Frank Capra • 1938 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart

    Frank Capra’s irresistible adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize–winning stage hit by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart is perhaps the most bighearted and optimistic comedy from a filmmaker who speciali...

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

    Episode 12

    Directed by Frank Capra • 1939 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains

    Frank Capra’s patented blend of rousing populism and rollicking entertainment achieved a near perfect balance in this beloved root-for-the-underdog classic. James Stewart gives one of his defining pe...

  • Arizona
    Episode 13


    Episode 13

    Directed by Wesley Ruggles • 1940 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, William Holden, Warren William

    This epic western stars William Holden as Peter Muncie, a lonesome drifter who, en route to California, happens upon Tucson’s first female citizen, Phoebe Titus (Jean Arthur). Falling in love, ...

  • The Devil and Miss Jones

    Episode 14

    Directed by Sam Wood • 1941 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn

    This class-conscious screwball charmer blends vivacious wit with an unapologetic message of working-class solidarity. When he learns that the employees of a department store he owns are planning to ...

  • The Talk of the Town

    Episode 15

    Directed by George Stevens • 1942 • United States
    Starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman

    Jean Arthur is caught between Cary Grant and Ronald Colman—a pretty good place to be—in this effervescent romantic comedy. She plays a schoolteacher who, when Grant’s firebrand liberal activist is a...

  • The More the Merrier

    Episode 16

    Directed by George Stevens • 1943 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn

    Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and Charles Coburn find that three’s a crowd in this delightful screwball romp. Set during the 1940s wartime housing shortage, THE MORE THE MERRIER stars Arthur as Washin...

  • The Impatient Years

    Episode 17

    Directed by Irving Cummings • 1944 • United States
    Starring Jean Arthur, Lee Bowman, Charles Coburn

    The last film Jean Arthur made at Columbia before virtually retiring from the screen is a diverting wartime romantic comedy originally intended as a quasi-sequel to the smash hit THE MORE THE MERR...