Friday, October 9, 2009

Uncle Billy, you cad!

So. I've been watching a lot of director Frank Capra's films lately, mainly movies I had seen before but not closely after one another. I began to notice that Capra had quite a few actors he liked and would use and and again. I knew about James Stewart and Gary Cooper starring in several films, but, for instance, I didn't realize Jean Arthur was in three of his movies.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was Thomas Mitchell. I've seen him turn up in some interesting places recently, such as Only Angels Have Wings (a non-Capra film which starred, huh, Jean Arthur). Mitchell is no doubt best remembered for his role as Uncle Billy in Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.

But this wasn't Mitchell's only part for Capra. He also featured in Lost Horizon, and some 7 years before playing Uncle Billy he was reporter Dizzy Moore in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

There he is in the attached picture with Jean Arthur. Although Arthur was in the film as James Stewart's love interest, her character also had a willing suitor in Mitchell's Dizzy Moore.

Wait. What?

Mitchell went from playing a rival for Stewart's leading lady to his beloved but addled uncle in just seven years? Wow. And apparently Arthur turned down a chance to star in It's a Wonderful Life. Maybe that was a good idea...

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