We had a super Mary Astor weekend at the Paramount -- Saturday was Meet me in St. Louis, with Astor playing the rather saccharine and stable matriarch of the family. Then yesterday we saw Preston Sturges' Palm Beach Story, where she plays a hilarious and fast talking millionaire and steals every scene she is in. Being a Preston Sturges film, the whole thing was riddled with snappy dialogue. Two of my favorites (both said by Rudy Vallee as John D. Hackensacker III):
"That's one of the tragedies of this life - that the men who are most in need of a beating up are always enormous."
"This was my grandfather's yacht. He only took it out once. He's dead. This is his hat."
Astor has been in a ton of movies, but the only other one I've seen is the Maltesse Falcon (which is also wonderful, but for different reasons). The three movies of hers that I've seen were all made in a three year period, but she plays a range of at least 20 years and goes from noir-y experience to sweet motherhood to over-the-top comedy. If you would like to see some Astor action (and you live in Austin), they are replaying Palm Beach Story on Tuesday at the Paramount. And if you want to get your money's worth of snappy dialogue, stay for The Lady Eve, another Sturges film that is equally great.