Turner Classic Movies and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are proud to present The Jean Arthur Drama Collection. Presented for the first time on DVD, digitally restored and remastered, these four features showcase Arthur’s range and virtuosity at an early stage in the sound era, playing everything from melodramas and tearjerkers to courtroom dramas and morality tales.
(Whirlpool, 1934) Buck Rankin (Jack Holt), the owner of a disreputable traveling carnival, is sentenced to prison for twenty years on a manslaughter charge. Not wanting his wife to waste her life waiting for him, he forges a note from the warden to her, claiming he died in an escape attempt. Upon his release years later, Rankin reinvents himself as a nightclub owner but his past life comes back to haunt him when his daughter Sandra (Jean Arthur), a newspaper reporter, begins investigating him for a front page expose. An unconventional portrayal of a father-daughter relationship, (Whirlpool) unfolds as a brisk, unpredictable human drama with an emotionally affecting climax.
(The Defense Rests, 1934) Law school graduate Joan Hayes (Jean Arthur) is so impressed with the brilliant accomplishments and successful trial record of attorney Matthew Mitchell (Jack Holt) that she hounds him for a job. Impressed by her spunk and intelligence, Mitchell hires her but Joan quickly becomes disillusioned with her employer’s criminal clients and the questionable methods he uses to win cases. Ethics triumph over immorality in this rousing courtroom drama based on a screenplay by Oscar® winner Jo Swerling (The Pride of the Yankees, 1942).
(The Most Precious Thing In Life, 1934) Ellen (Jean Arthur), an elderly cleaning woman, returns to her former hometown and finds a job at the university. While cleaning the dormitory rooms, she learns that one of the attending students is Chris Kelsey (Richard Cromwell), the son she had to abandon years earlier. Though she keeps her true identity a secret, Ellen develops a close attachment to Chris, becoming his confidant. In the grand tradition of Madame X, this tearjerker provides Jean Arthur with one of her most challenging early roles, taking her from youth to old age.
(Party Wire, 1935) When Matthew Putnam (Victor Jory), heir to the Putnam Dairy fortune, returns to his hometown to attend to family business, the local women take a special interest in his bachelor status. Once it becomes apparent that he is only interested in Marge Oliver (Jean Arthur), jealousy gives way to gossip when an overheard conversation on the town’s party line is misinterpreted and results in a rumor that leads to a near tragedy. A poisonous portrayal of small town life and the effect of gossip, (Party Wire) is a riveting morality tale distinguished by a superb supporting cast including Charley Grapewin, Helen Lowell and Walter Brennan.