Tag: james stewart

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #9. Vertigo (1958)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
Vertigo 1
“Here I was born, and there I died. It was only a moment for you; you took no notice.”

Vertigo was a bit of a financial and critical flop when it was released 1958. These days, it’s swung so far in esteem that it overtook Citizen Cane as the greatest film ever made, according to the prestigious Sight & Sound poll. I’ve seen it a couple of times before, and this most recent viewing left me with the same opinion… It’s pretty good, but not the greatest film ever made. It’s not even the greatest Alfred Hitchcock film ever made. It’s not even the greatest Hitchcock film ever made starring Jimmy Stewart.


After his own fear of heights leads to a fellow officer falling to his death from a building’s roof, Scottie (James Stewart) quits the police force and falls into a life of leisure, mainly just lounging around the apartment of best friend and former fiancé, Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). But when news of Scottie’s roof top incident makes the papers, it’s seen by an old college buddy, and current shipping magnate, Gavin (Tom Helmore). Figuring he’s at a loss professionally, Gavin hires Scottie to work as a PI and follow his wife. Gavin isn’t worried she’s cheating, he’s worried she’s going insane. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Shop 1

“There might be a lot we don’t know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.”

Was James Stewart the most charming dude to ever act in the movies? His stammering, everyman works in almost every situation. From an undercover tabloid journalist in The Philadelphia Story, to a paranoid forced shut in Rear Window, to heroic politician with a non-traditional heroic past in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, to dozens of other roles in dozens of other movies. There’s a reason why when they remade The Shop Around the Corner, they cast the present king of charming everymen, Tom Hanks. For some reason. I’ve seen the Hanks remake (You’ve Got Mail) and not the original. Which just doesn’t seem right. So, I fixed that today.


Alfred Kralik (Stewart) works in a small department store for the cantankerous Mr Matsuschek (Frank Morgan). One day, Klara Novak (Margaret Sullivan) walks into the store looking for work. When she manages to sell a cigar box Alfred previously descirbes us unsellable, Mr Matsuschek hires her on the spot. Almost as immediately, Alfred and Klara are clashing and on each other’s nerves. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #26. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

Mr-Smith-Goes-To-Washington-poster
“You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked. And I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause.

There’s over the top sentimentality that verges on sickening.  There’s over the top patriotism that becomes jingoism.  There’s melodramatic acting that can take the most compelling story and make it seem over the top and corny.  Then there’s sentimentality that strikes just the right note of hopefulness, patriotism that makes you feel like the world can be a better place, melodramatic acting that heightens everything just enough to make it feel that little bit more emotional.  That’s what you get in Mr Smith Goes to Washington.


After the death of a senator, a fellow senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) and newspaper mogul need his replacement to be someone who will play ball.  You see, they’ve bought up a heap of land to sell back to the government after a dam building bill passes through the senate.  They pressure the local governor into naming someone who they will be able to boss around.  The governor chooses the fresh faced Jefferson Smith (James Stewart).  Head of the local boy scout type organisation and a local hero after single handedly putting out a forest fire, the general public think he’s the perfect choice. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
 philadelphia story

“You’ll never be a first class human being or a first class woman until you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty.”

I’d say that for as long as I’ve been a serious movie fan, I’ve appreciated the work of Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn.  But I’d also say that it’s only since writing this blog and forcing myself to actively seek out the classics, that I’ve finally started to appreciate why these three, amongst many others, are so revered all these years later.


I know this level of appreciation must be a relatively new thing, because I’ve seen The Philadelphia Story before, about five years ago.  And somehow, I didn’t remember that these three icons are all in it together.  And seriously, how could I forget these three together, even if the result was somehow terrible?  So the fact that The Philadelphia Story is up there with the best any of them ever did, makes me wonder how dumb was I, or how little attention did I pay, when I watched it five years ago? (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #48. Rear Window (1954)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Rear Window

“You didn’t see the killing or the body. How do you know there was a murder?”

Before I started writing about the movies I watched, I never thought I was a big Alfred Hitchcock fan.  I mean, I’d seen his really famous movies and appreciated them, but I never loved any of them.  Now, without even trying, I’ve managed to watch eight Hitchcock joints.  And with the exception of Family Plot, I think I’ve loved them all.  I’m finally starting to understand why he’s so revered. And it’s not because of his knack for twists and turns.  It turns out, Alfred Hitchcock was just a phenomenal technical film maker and flawless story teller.  Exhibit A, Rear Window.


An action photographer for a magazine, the globetrotting LB ‘Jeff’ Jefferies (James Stewart) has been stuck in his small apartment with a broken leg for six weeks after he got too close to a speeding car while on assignment.  Bored, restless, wheelchair bound and suffering cabin fever, he has nothing to do all day but look outside his window, at a courtyard surrounded by other apartments.  Starring through windows, he’s come to know his neigbours and their habits in a way that’s not healthy for a man who’s so bored.  Something that becomes all too obvious once his over active mind starts to see things that might not be there. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | You Can’t Take it With You (1938)

You Can't
“You may be a high mogul to yourself, Mr. Kirby, but to me you’re a failure. Failure as a man, failure as a human being, even a failure as a father. When your time comes, I doubt if a single tear will be shed over you”.

Frank Capra behind the camera. Jimmy Stewart in front of it. A movie made in 1938. You’d better be ready from some saccharine sweet sentimentality. Actually, that’s unfair. Because while the cheap imitations of this kind of story telling over the last 80 odd years usually succumb to gag inducing saccharine sweet sentimentality, Capra and Stewart knew how to do it right. They did it while tackling depression and suicide in It’s a Wonderful Life. They did it with politics and corruption in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. And, they did it with general optimism and human nature, in You Can’t Take it With You.


Edward Arnold is Anthony P Kirby, banking fat cat, surrounded by his banking fat cat cronies. They’re on the verge of creating the largest monopoly America has ever known. Soon there won’t be a gun, canon or bullet made in America that doesn’t come out of one of their factories. All they need to do is buy one last house in a little neighbourhood of no real importance, and their conglomerate of death will be complete. So of course, the house purchase goes off without a hitch, and their fortunes are secure. (more…)