Tag Archives: Frank Capra

Donna Reed: It’s A Wonderful Actress

3 Dec


This is the time of year I’m reminded of how wonderful Donna Reed is. You know, the romantic lead opposite Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra’s seminal IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The black & white film is always playing on some channel virtually night and day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s a classic to be sure, but that’s not the real reason it oversaturates the airwaves during the holiday season – or at least used to. That’s because the movie fell into the public domain for several decades when some studio nincompoop didn’t renew the copyright. Networks and cable stations could therefore play the film without having to pay residuals and royalties – and the movie and it’s classic characters became as commonplace if not more nourishing than fruit cake. However, the real feast for the eyes will forever be Donna…Donna Reed.


Donna Reed had that all-American sweetheart look that everyone but George Bailey seemed to see, until it was too late for him to escape Bedford Falls. But really, how could anyone NOT fall in love with Donna – especially when she had been on the hunt for good ole’ George since High School (remember the famous dance scene where the floor divides and people start falling into the gymnasium pool?! Donna was George’s destiny and she would stick with him for better or worse, through thick and thin until the very end when Zuzu’s petals would magically reappear in his vest pocket. Talk about bygone days. If Frank Capra were alive today – the movie might not have ended so happily. But what makes the film so timeless is the love story itself. Because if Donna weren’t the amazing actress she was – it would not nearly be so believable that Jimmy Stewart would feel like he lost everything worth living and dying for when she doesn’t recognize after Clarence the Angel is so good to show George what it would be like if he’d never been born. Then again, Donna Reed as an old maid is a stretch. Probably the hottest old maid ever portrayed on film IMHO.


Donna Reed went on to have a respectable career on film and her very own TV show, THE DONNA REED SHOW, on on of television’s very first episodic shows. But that’s not why she will forever be remembered. In my house, I’ll always sit down and take time out to watch Donna say, “He’s making violent love to me, Mother!” from her living room when George inevitably visits one night to find that he has been hopelessly in love with her every since he first laid eyes on her, naked in a bush in front of her house. Me too!

Happy Holidays!

Who is this Famous Movie/TV Star?

10 Sep

Any ideas? Why, of course it’s the one and only Donna Reed! Many of you probably didn’t recognize her by this early glamor shot. Still more because, well, you don’t remember this beauty like I do. Her best remembered role is as Jimmy Stewart’s sweetheart-cum-wife from It’s A Wonderful Life. This holiday classic is one of my favorite films and has one of the best all-time movie lines in it – uttered by Miss Reed herself:

“He’s making violent love to me, Mother!”

Awesome. It doesn’t get better than that. You bet it does with Donna Reed scamping around in the bushes of Bedford Falls naked and Jimmy S. lassoing the moon for her. I hope you know what I’m talking about because this is really a phenomenal movie that no one should miss. Donna was a big star after this and several other movie roles that I can’t remember. She even got her own TV show – The Donna Reed Show.

Donna is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen on the silver screen. Wholesome, bright and not above being a serious flirt – she was an amazing talent who never really got a chance to shine the way I think she could of. Maybe the movie roles just never came. Maybe her friendly, approachable good looks were more conducive to the silver screen (ironically, how most everyone of later generations would come to know her – from a gazillion It’s A Wonderful Life reruns – I wonder, is that movie public domain?).

Check out Donna’s work on Netflix when you get a chance. She’ll make you smile and remind you of that girl next door that you had a crush on, then moved away. Or, the cheerleader in High School that was always so popular yet still deigned to talk to you. Most of all, she was the older sister of your best friend that you could rip your eyes off of every time you went over to his house on Mac and Cheese night.

I wish.

Is it too soon to watch It’s A Wonderful Life again?

Claudette Colbert: It Happened On It Happened One Night

31 Mar

Claudette looked like a woman you could lift up over your head with one hand. So petite, refined and beautiful (those eyes in her head were so big and you couldn’t help but be mesmerized) who would ever think she could be a hellcat. But like the little kitten with a cold you got for Christmas when you were a little kid, then they get better and rip down the tree, shred the curtains and destroy the couch – Claudette was not a sugar puss you want to tangle with (note: puss in this usage means face, okay).

It happened on the set of It Happened One Night, the Frank Capra classic with Colbert playing a rich, spoiled heiress opposite Clarke Gable’s everyman newspaper reporter. If you haven’t seen the black and white gem, then crawl out of the color rock your suffering under and rent it tonight. It is sublime. It is ridiculous. It is one of the most magical pairs under the stars. And it was anything but fun to make. There were three big reasons for this and they were all Claudette Colbert. 1) She thought the script was crap. 2) She didn’t like Capra and; 3) She wanted to go on vacation in 4 weeks (non-negotiable) after the start of filming and made everyone on the set’s life a living hell to get the filming done before she flew off. The pay-off? Five Oscars. One for each of the stars, the director, best picture and and best screenplay adapted by Robert Riskin (so there, Claudette!).

Now, before you get the idea that I don’t like Claudette Colbert, you’re right – I don’t like her. I LOVE her. She is perfect in the movie. A sultry, sassy and sexy minx with so impeccable comedic timing and gams (i.e. legs) to die for. The fact she was insufferable to everyone around her on set must have super-charged the atmosphere to the point where it spilled on to the celluloid. Because everyone knows that the harder it is to make a movie, usually the better it turns out. Paradoxically, this is true of the reverse. If a star says the making of their latest movie was one big party, then you know not only are they lying – but that the film itself will be crap. If you don’t believe me, then rent one of Jennifer Aniston’s last five films. But I digress.

Claudette was an amazing screen presence whose beauty haunts to this day. She make Cleopatra sexy when Liz Taylor was still in diapers. And she was no prude. Even though she refused to lift her skirt up and expose her leg in the famous “hitch-hiking” scene in It Happened One Night (she later changed her mind after Capra brought a “leg double” on the set who didn’t come near to Claudette’s perfect gams) Claudette showed enough skin on screen in her many movies that one could imagine her naked. It only adds to her mystique that she could be a complete temperamental nightmare to work with. But the final result was so perfect, pure and magical that you didn’t care. That’s when you know you have a star in your midst. You’ll put up with anything from them because you know you’re making cinematic history – and those opportunities just don’t come around that much to avoid the pain-in-the-ass part of Hollywood filmmaking.

To Claudette’s credit, when she accepted her Oscar (she had to be whisked from a train station to the theater, after not bothering to even show up) she gave a special thanks to her long suffering director, Frank Capra. She knew she had put him through hell, and in return got Hollywood’s highest honor. What happened on It Happened One Night had all been made worthwhile. The exact definition of all’s well that end’s well, I’d say.