One of my favorite movies of all times is Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I’m pretty much a sucker for anything Frank Capra or Jimmy Stewart, but next to It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith is my favorite.
And it illustrates the typical dynamic between hero & heroine in my books. Though Mr. Smith isn’t a romantic movie at it’s core, there are elements of romance. You have Jefferson Smith, the naive, wide-eyed country guy who just wants to do right by the amazing honor he’s been given, do right by the country and state he’s now representing. He’s determined and hard working.
The woman who is his secretary is determined and hard working too. But Saunders (Clarissa) is jaded. She’s had to work since she was a teenager and she’s seen the seedy side of Washington. She doesn’t really believe in the good of people; she’s cynical. Until Jeff comes along and she starts to see things in a new light.
In the movie, Clarissa is the strong one. In fact, Jefferson doesn’t even call her by her first name until practically the end. (That’s how you know they’re in love). Though Clarissa has a bit of a breakdown and leaves, Jeff is the one crying at the Lincoln Memorial, and Clarissa is there to remind him of why he’s there and what he can do.
Now, I don’t have any stories where my heroine is comforting a crying hero, but as I have mentioned (oh, a million times) before, I like a tough heroine. Clarissa’s a great example of that. Oh, she has flaws, she has insecurities, but I can’t help but like the story of that tough, cynical shell being opened up by the hero. Maybe it’s because I can relate to the cynical and sarcastic better than the cheerful and sweet, but I want my heroine to have some grit.