Theme Times – James Stewart

I Use the following resources to compile the bios
Wikipedia Bio
Wikipedia
IMDB
YouTube Trailer Clips
Theme Times Directory
Dedicated to Angie of King Ben’s Grandma
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Let me know below.

James Stewart By Studio publicity still – [1], Public Domain,

James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor, singer and military officer. Known for his distinctive drawl and everyman screen persona, Stewart’s film career spanned 80 films from 1935 to 1991.

Born and raised in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Stewart started acting while studying at Princeton University. After graduating in 1932, he began a career as a stage actor, appearing on Broadway and in summer stock productions. In 1935, he landed his first of several supporting roles in movies and in 1938 he had his big breakthrough in Frank Capra’s ensemble comedy You Can’t Take It with You. The following year, Stewart garnered his first of five Academy Award nominations for his portrayal of an idealized and virtuous man who becomes a senator in Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). He won his only Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in the screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story (1940), which also starred Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

A licensed amateur pilot, Stewart enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps soon after the United States entered the Second World War in 1941. After fighting in the European theater, he attained the rank of colonel and had received several awards for his service. He remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was promoted to brigadier general in 1959. He retired in 1968, and was awarded the United States Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.

Stewart’s first postwar role was as George Bailey in Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Although it earned him an Oscar nomination, the film was not a big success at first. It has increased in popularity since its release, and is considered a Christmas classic and one of Stewart’s most famous performances. In the 1950s, Stewart played darker, more morally ambiguous characters in movies directed by Anthony Mann, including Winchester ’73 (1950), The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and The Naked Spur (1953), and by Alfred Hitchcock in Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958). Vertigo was ignored by critics upon release, but is now recognized as an American cinematic masterpiece. His other films in the 1950s included the Broadway adaptation Harvey (1950) and the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959), both of which landed him Academy Award nominations. He was one of the most popular film stars of the decade, with most of his films becoming box office successes.

Stewart’s later Westerns included The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964), both directed by John Ford. He appeared in many popular family comedies during the 1960s. After a brief venture into television acting, Stewart semi-retired by the 1980s. He received many honorary awards, including an Academy Honorary Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, both in 1985.

The Philadelphia Story
1940

This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature. As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart). Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

I can’t remember the exact first film l saw James Stewart in although The Philadelphia Story rings a bell, so that might have been it on account of Katharine Hepburn’s accent as well. I never saw him in Australia growing up as l didn’t really love watching Black and white movies till l was early teens in the UK.

What l liked the most about him though was his manner of speaking, his famous drawl that really appealed to my sense of quirk. When l was younger l had a slight affliction with the way l spoke and my accent. At one point in my life and this was between the ages if around 13 – 15 l had a very flat voice – some might even have suggested that it was quite monotone – and l never knew why, but l worked at correcting it and the best way l learned to correct my voice and accent was in fact listening to the accents of the actors that l was a fan of.

So l learned to mimic and by the time l was 17 l was very good with perhaps a dozen or so accents and impressions of actors l admired, so l worked their accents and style of speaking into my own, it’s still with me today.

It wasn’t always unusual for my parents to come to breakfast one day and hear me talking in American Southern drawl, or Australian Occa, South African twung or a clipped English accent – l just loved speaking in an accent other than my own.

This got me into a lot of trouble when l was younger and many a time a lot of teachers made the stern suggestions to my parents that l needed medical help.

These days well my accent is an odd combination still of all sorts!

I was a huge fan of James Stewart for a number of years and below are my 9 personal favourites – they may not be yours, they may not be commercial favourites – they may not be what you would expect in a line up of his – l loved a lot of his films, but these below are just 9 of mine.

Were you a fan and if so, what were your favourite movie performances? Here are 9 of mine …

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1 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington– 1939

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart, and featuring Claude Rains and Edward Arnold.
2 – Destry Rides Again – 1939

The small town of Bottleneck is under the control of Kent (Brian Donlevy), a power-hungry boss who gets control over the local cattle ranchers by winning a rigged game of cards. When the local sheriff questions the legitimacy of the game, Kent has him killed and names the town drunk, Dimsdale (Charles Winninger), as sheriff. What Kent doesn’t know is that Dimsdale knows legendary lawman Tom Destry, who in turns sends his daring son Tom Destry Jr. (James Stewart) to Bottleneck to save the day.
3 – The Stratton Story – 1949

The true story of Monty Stratton, the baseball star who fought to continue his career after losing a leg. Monty decides to learn to walk on his false leg, and within months he is tossing a baseball.
4 – Harvey– 1950

A man is deemed insane by his family when he has conversations with a six foot-tall rabbit. But this may not be a figment of his imagination after all.
5 – Rope – 1948

Two young men, Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan, commit a murder and host a dinner party to toast for a perfect murder. However, reporter Rupert Cadell finds them suspicious and starts probing them.
6 – The Glenn Miller Story – 1953

The Glenn Miller Story is a 1954 American biographical film about the eponymous American band-leader, directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart in their second non-western collaboration
7 – Rear Window – 1954

Professional photographer Jeff is stuck in his apartment, recuperating from a broken leg. Out of boredom, he begins to spy on his neighbours and comes across a shocking revelation.
8 – The Man Who Knew Too Much – 1956

People involved in perpetrating an assassination in Morocco conspire to eliminate the members of a family who have witnessed the killing.
9 – Anatomy of a Murder– 1959

Semi-retired Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) takes the case of Army Lt. Manion (Ben Gazzara), who murdered a local innkeeper after his wife (Lee Remick) claimed that he raped her. Over the course of an extensive trial, Biegler parries with District Attorney Lodwick (Brooks West) and out-of-town prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) to set his client free, but his case rests on the victim’s mysterious business partner (Kathryn Grant), who’s hiding a dark secret.

Bonus Too

Maybe you were a fan for some of the more well know films of his like … so here they are so you don’t feel cheated.

It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946

Semi-retired Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) takes the case of Army Lt. Manion (Ben Gazzara), who murdered a local innkeeper after his wife (Lee Remick) claimed that he raped her. Over the course of an extensive trial, Biegler parries with District Attorney Lodwick (Brooks West) and out-of-town prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) to set his client free, but his case rests on the victim’s mysterious business partner (Kathryn Grant), who’s hiding a dark secret.
The Flight of the Phoenix – 1965

Tense tale about a group of men who are left stranded in the middle of the Arabian desert after a plane crash. Their only hope of survival is to rebuild the craft so that, phoenix-like, she may fly again and carry them to safety, but can the captain and navigator calm the passengers as tension mounts and time starts to run out?
How the West Was Won – 1962

Three great Western directors, combined forces with an all-star cast to create this magnificent panorama of how the American West was won – and lost.

Were you a fan also of James Stewart and if so, what were your favourite performances or films?

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11 thoughts on “Theme Times – James Stewart

  1. I LOVE Jimmy Stewart. If I could meet one person from recent history, it would be Jimmy Stewart. Not only a wonderful actor, but a real hero and genuinely well-loved human being. Thanks, Rory.

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