GOOD DAMES,VIRTUE IN THE CINEMA is a 1974 book by the prolific writer,James Robert Parish. The reason for the title escapes me. The book is a series of what amounts to mini-biographies of 5 actresses, EVE ARDEN, THELMA RITTER,AGNES MOOREHEAD,ANGELA LANSBURY and EILEEN HECKART.
I’m also not sure why Eileen Heckart was included. Not an actress I know much about, but at the time the book was written in 1974, Ms Heckart had only made a dozen movies unlike the other ladies who had been active for decades.
The book was a delightful surprise, so well written and researched, with rare photos,lots of quotes and, for each lady, around 70 pages covering their entire career on stage, in radio,TV and of course films.
For this review, I am highlighting Eve Arden,someone whom I thought I knew a lot about. What I did discover is that there a lot of Eve Arden films out there I have never seen.One is called SLIGHTLY HONORABLE (1940), in which she meets a sticky end!
At the age of 24, on Broadway, Eve was described as “a young,gentle and savage comedienne,comely and humorous.”
The author points out that some of Eve’s best lines in STAGE DOOR were directed at her close pal,Henry the cat.
Taking a gander at one of the girl’s fur wraps,Eve wisecracks,”Get a load of that,Henry.That’s where you’ll wind up.”
Audiences remembered long legged, sardonic Eve and her feline neckpiece!
Warners wanted Eve for a 7 year contract and she agreed because she very much wanted the role of the celebrated Russian sniper in THE DOUGH GIRLS(1944). though she did say, “Whenever I get a yoke around my neck,I immediately start gnawing at it.”
Eve once complained to columnist,Sheilah Graham, “I want to play parts like Rosalind Russell or Irene Dunne.” She could be the romantic lead in her stage roles(.In fact she played Irene Dunne’s part in a stage production of OVER TWENTY ONE).
The real Eve said,”I couldn’t come up with a wisecrack to save my life.!”
This is a great book and I got a used copy quite cheaply on Amazon.
By the way, does anyone know a film Thelma Ritter made with Ginger Rogers, PERFECT STRANGERS(1950)?