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Top 10 Favourite James Stewart Films of the 1940s

A few days after I posted my «Top 10 Favorite James Stewart Films of the 1930s» last year, I finished watching all the films that James Stewart made in the 1940s. At the time, I immediately thought of doing a «Top 10 Favorite James Stewart Films of the 1940s», but I never really got around to do it — until now. I'm still not very good at ranking things, but here are my choices.

10. On Our Merry Way (1948)
Directed by King Vidor and Leslie Fenton | Co-starring Henry Fonda and Paulette Goddard

On Our Merry Way is an anthology film made up of several comedy vignettes linked by a single theme. Jimmy and his old pal Henry Fonda, in their first joint screen appearance, play a pair of jazz musicians called Slim and Lank. Can you think of two better names for them? Whoever thought of it deserves an award. The film as a whole is not spectacular, but it is still worth a watch because of Slim and Lank, I mean, Jimmy and Hank.
9. Malaya (1949) 
Directed by Richard Thorpe | Co-starring Spencer Tracy and Sydney Greenstreet
Malaya is set in Japanese-occupied Malaya during World War II. Jimmy plays a reporter (again) who sees himself involved in a rubber-smuggling affair, along with his old former convict friend, played by Spencer Tracy. Fun fact: Jimmy's first film, The Murder Man (1935), also starred Tracy. By the way, am I the only one who thinks that Jimmy looks absolutely fabulous in a white linen suit and fedora hat? That's pretty much the reason why this film is in this list.
8. Call Northside 777 (1948)
Directed by Henry Hathaway | Co-starring Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb and Helen Walker

Call Northside 777 is a film noir inspired by the true story of a Chicago reporter named James McGuire, who proved that Joseph Majczek was wrongly convicted of the murder of a policeman in 1932, the height of Prohibition. Jimmy's character is based on the reporter, while Richard Conte plays the convict he helps exonerate. I am not a massive fan of noir films, but this one I actually really liked (maybe because Jimmy is in it).

7. You Gotta Stay Happy (1948)
Directed by H. C. Potter | Co-starring Joan Fontaine, Eddie Albert and Roland Young

In You Gotta Stay Happy, Jimmy appears as a World War II veteran (which he actually was) and aspiring air-freight businessman, who becomes enmeshed in the world of a wealthy and carefree socialite, played by Joan Fontaine. Throw a monkey into the mixture and you get a film almost as zany and kookie as one of those great screwball comedies of the 1930s.

6. Magic Town (1947)
Directed by William A. Wellman | Co-starring Jane Wyman, Kent Smith and Ned Sparks

Magic Town has Jimmy play a war veteran (again) who runs a company that performs polls and consumer surveys. To find the «magic formula» to conduct the perfect survey, he travels to a small town in the middle of nowhere, where he ends up falling in love with a strong-minded reporter, played by Jane Wyman. It doesn't sound like much, but it's a quite good film.
Directed by Sam Wood | Co-starring June Allyson, Frank Morgan and Agnes Moorehead

The Stratton Story tells the true story of Monty Stratton (played by Jimmy), a Major League baseball player who pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1934 until 1938. After having his right leg amputated due to a hunting accident, he was fitted with a wooden leg and made a successful minor league comeback in 1946. The scene where he puts on his wooden leg for the first time and takes his young son out for a walk is one of my favourite movie scenes of all time.

4. Come Live With Me (1941)
Directed by Clarence Brown | Co-starring Hedy Lamarr, Ian Hunter and Verree Teasdale

Come Live With Me is about a young Viennese refugee (portrayed by Hedy Lamarr) who convinces a struggling writer (played by Jimmy) to marry her so that she can get American citizenship. To be perfectly honest with you, there is nothing new or particularly spectacular about this film, but I love it so much. It's just a cute little romantic comedy.

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch | Co-starring Margaret Sullavan and Frank Morgan

The Shop Around the Corner is the story of two employees (played by Jimmy and his old friend Margaret Sullavan) at a leathergoods shop in Budapest who cannot stand each other, not realizing that they are falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their letters. This is one of the loveliest films I have ever seen. Jimmy and Margaret are perfect together.

Directed by Frank Capra | Co-starring Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers

It's a Wonderful Life stars Jimmy as George Bailey, a man who has given up on his dreams to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel (played by Henry Travers). He shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his town would be if he had never been born. In the end, George realizes how important he is to his family and his friends. This is the absolute perfect film to watch on Christmas Day — or any other day of the year, to be honest. 

1. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Directed by George Cukor | Co-starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Ruth Hussey

The Philadelphia Story tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband (played by Cary Grant) and a tabloid magazine reporter (played by Jimmy). The drunk scene between Jimmy and Cary Grant is another one of my favourite movie scenes of all time, and the scene that made me fall in love with Jimmy. Fun fact: This was the first James Stewart film I ever saw and it remais my personal favorite of his.

And there you have it. These are my top 10 favourite James Stewart films of the 1940s. How many of these films have you seen? Did I mentioned any of your favourites?


  1. So glad that Magic Town is on here! His drunk scene in Philadelphia Story is my favorite scene oh his too :) I’ve never heard of 10, 7, and 4 but they all look interesting!

  2. I just watched It's a Wonderful life for the first time-- my heart has officially exploded, tysm for inspiring me to finally watch it.


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