Jimmy Stewart

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Today most of us Americans look to actors like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washinton, & Meg Ryan as our “American” iconic actors.  These actors are able to reach WIDE audiences all over the world.  Back in the ’40s and ’50s, the quintessential American actor was (no doubt) Jimmy Stewart.  He was tall, thin, plain-spoken, w/ a noticeable Midwestern accent.  Could’ve been the guy next door… but the camera LOVED him!

When ppl asked him about his great success, he said:

I don’t act. I react.  [Listening is one of the KEY factors in acting!]

I couldn’t mess around with the characterizations. I play variations on myself.  [Many of today’s stars succeed b/c of their likeability.]

I’m the inarticulate man who tries. I don’t really have all the answers, but for some reason, somehow, I make it.  [He was known as a shy, humble guy.]

My mom esp. liked Vertigo & Rear Window, BUT I like The Philadelphia Story above those films.  Stewart got to have the typical leading man role, even though he was NOT the “typical” romantic hero.  Mike (the reporter he plays) is prejudiced against, and v. cynical towards, the aristocracy until he begins to learn more about Tracy (Katherine Hepburn) while covering her wedding.  They ALMOST get too close…

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In the pic above, Stewart looks glamorous (unusual for his films).  The dialogue in The Philadelphia Story is fun, fast, and v. clever.  It’s not just a classic rom com, it delves into rels. btwn social classes (Tracy’s marriage would unite her old family name w/ a nouveax riche man; Mike published a book of short stories, but that didn’t pay the bills), fairness (Mike’s boss wants to publish a revealing story about Tracy’s father), and women’s place (Tracy says she doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal, but loved.)  It’s one of my ALL-TIME faves!

 

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