Mr Stewart.

Today I would like to talk about one of my favourite actors/people/men, Mr James Stewart.

They just don’t make men like Jimmy anymore. They haven’t done for years.
Not only is he a superb actor, who demonstrates the utmost versatility, but he is a true gentleman and the definition of charisma. With an acting career spanning almost forty years, for me, Stewart was always at the top of his game. I will now take a look at three of his most famous roles and analyse what it is that makes Mr Jimmy Stewart the definition of masculinity within his art form.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Undoubtedly, one of my favourite films of all time and I am always sickened by people who only watch it at Christmas. It is not a Christmas film. It is a film that glorifies the tenderness of the human spirit and a film suitable to watch in any season. Our protagonist, George Bailey, is an upbeat, kind-hearted soul whom we watch fight against injustice, extreme capitalism and his claustrophobic home town. James Stewart’s comical timing and varied facial expressions form the charismatic and comical elements of the main character and his complexity of vocal expression and pitch display the character’s frustration and angst. The plot is a perfect mix of realism and fantasy, the script is witty and the film is directed beautifully by the glorious Frank Capra. However, without James Stewart as the loveable George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life would not have been the perfect masterpiece it is.
James Stewart as George Bailey:
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Rope (1948)
Here we see James Stewart in his most stage-like role. This Alfred Hitchcock thriller focuses on a dinner party that takes place only minutes after a murder has been committed. With the guests taking food from the chest containing the dead body, suspense fills every moment of this wonderful drama. Hitchcock attempted to give the illusion that this movie was filmed in one take. In fact, it was filmed in ten minute sections and cuts are cleverly disguised with zooming and panning camera shots. Here James Stewart plays a smaller role, the character who discovers the murder. His intensity on screen causes attention to be drawn to him whenever he is in a shot. This is a much more serious role than we are used to seeing James Stewart in and his dramatic emphasis is carried off with the swiftest execution.
James Stewart as Rupert Cadell:
Rope (1948)
Rear Window (1954)
Here we see James Stewart exploring an even darker role. He plays the frustrated photographer, Jefferies, whose leg injury causes him to become housebound for a substantial amount of time. His fascination with watching his neighbours causes him to sink into a deep state of paranoia and obsession after becoming convinced he has watched a neighbour commit and cover-up a murder. His chemistry with the stunning Grace Kelly really helps to mould the film, adding a sub-plot to the film. Stewart’s character is constricted to a wheelchair and therefore all of his acting is seen through his face and voice, with many uses of close-up shots. His simplicity and subtlety in this role adds to the realism of the film and makes his character and the scenario all the more believable.
James Stewart as L.B. Jefferies:
Rear Window (1954)
Sadly, James Stewart’s absence from cinema has spanned over twenty years. He died in 1997 and featured in his last film in 1991, as the voice of Wylie in An American Tale: Fievel Goes West. Although Stewart will always be missed in cinema and his ability as a Hollywood star will possibly never be beaten, I have high hopes for the future actors of Hollywood. I occasionally see glimmers of Stewart in charming and talented actors such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mr Zac Efron. Don’t laugh, it’s true.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.
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