She's a one-woman Match.com and TCM is showing one of her rare performances as a movie's lead character.
Thelma Ritter didn't have many lead roles in her highly entertaining film career. But, when she did land a lead role, she knocked it out of the park -- just like the six roles she did that brought her Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Ritter just looked, sounded, moved and behaved like a typical New Yorker who could both one tough customer and best friend you'd ever hope to have. Not a beauty but audiences took to her face when she made her screen debut as the skeptical Macy's holiday shopper in Miracle on 34th Street. She didn't get an Oscar nomination for that performance. But she'd soon be in the race thanks to director/writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
George Cukor directed gorgeous Jeanne Crain and Thelma Ritter in The Model and the Marriage Broker. Jeanne is the fashion model. Thelma is the lonelyhearts matchmaker in New York City. This is a rarely seen movie that, although not a great film, is a must-see for Thelma Ritter fans and Cukor enthusiasts. First of all, it's a bit of a stretch to think that Jeanne Crain as a fashion model would not be able to meet Mr. Right on her own and have a fine romance in New York City with that face, figure and grace.
The attitudes are very 1950s, very pre-feminist era. This isn't as sophisticated and successful as the Oscar-winning film Jeanne Crain and Thelma Ritter starred in together, A Letter to Three Wives written by directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz who also gave us All About Eve, but I loved seeing Thelma Ritter stride through the lead role like a pro. She was a real character and a versatile actress. On Broadway, Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker starred Ruth Gordon (screenwriter, A Double Life starring Ronald Colman and Adam's Rib starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn; Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for Rosemary's Baby). This is the vehicle later musicalized as the famous Broadway musical comedy Hello, Dolly! The Paramount Pictures film version of The Matchmaker starred Shirley Booth (Best Actress Oscar winner for Come Back, Little Sheba). If Booth hadn't been available to play Dolly Gallagher Levi, I think Thelma Ritter would've been terrific in the role.
Garland starred as an unknown singer with big band and Noonan played the band's pianist who sees his friend get discovered by and fall in love with the fading Hollywood star played by James Mason.
Will marriage broker Thelma Ritter save model Jeanne Crain from loneliness and heartache? Will the matchmaker admit that she's just as lonely?
So...how's your love life?
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