Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Classic Actors Film Class: First Up......

James Stewart 

"Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show."

Was there ever, or will there ever be, a more likable actor?  James Stewart had one of the longest careers ever seen in Hollywood.  It lasted for 38 years, starting with films like "The Shopworn Angel" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and ending with his amazing turn in "The Shootist" at the age of 68.  James Stewart is probably best known for his roles as an every day man in films like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Philadelphia Story" but he could also play very dark characters such as his roles in the Hitchcock films "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo."  James Stewart captured the essence of his characters and showed us how the average man would deal with situations of all kinds.  He could be carefree and loving, hard and conniving, confused and at his wit's end, or cold and downright evil.  Stewart was believable in every role he handled and he truly lived what he said above - his acting did not show - just his unfailing talent.  Oh, and he was also a highly decorated Air Force Officer who commanded bombardier squadrons during WWII, eventually receiving the rank of Brigadier General.  

His body of work is extensive but here is a list of the clips we watched:

"The Shopworn Angel" directed by H.C. Potter, starring Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.  Released in 1938.
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" directed by Frank Capra, starring Stewart, Claude Rains and Jean Arthur.  Released in 1939.
"Destry Rides Again" directed by George Marshall, starring Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Winninger and Brian Donlevy.  Released in 1939.
"The Philadelphia Story" directed by George Cukor, starring Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  Released in 1940.
"It's A Wonderful Life" directed by Frank Capra, starring Stewart and Donna Reed.  Released in 1947.
"Winchester '73" directed by Anthony Mann.  Released in 1950.
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stewart and Doris Day.  Released in 1956.
"Vertigo" directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stewart and Kim Novak.  Released in 1958.
"Anatomy of a Murder" directed by Otto Preminger, starring Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra and Arthur O'Connell.  Released in 1959.
"The Shootist" directed by Don Siegel, starring Stewart and John Wayne.  Released in 1976.  

Other recommended films are:  "You Can't Take It With You" "Shop Around The Corner" "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" "The Man From Laramie" "Rear Window" and Stewart's favorite role, "Harvey."  

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