Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Top 10 Favorite 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 am still not very good at ranking things, but I think I am happy with my choices. 

#10: On Our Merry Way (1948) 
Directed by King Vidor and Leslie Fenton | Co-starring Henry Fonda, Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith | United Artists

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? 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: Call Northside 777 (1948) 
Directed by Henry Hathaway | Co-starring Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb and Helen Walker | 20th Century Fox

Call Northside 777 is a film noir inspired by the true story of Chicago reporter 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.

#8: Malaya (1949) 
Directed by Richard Thorpe | Co-starring Spencer Tracy, Sydney Greenstreet and John Hodiak | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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 Jimmy looks fabulous in a white suit and hat?

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

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 | RKO

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 strongminded reporter, played by Jane Wyman. It does not sound like much, but it is a quite good film, I promise.

#5: The Stratton Story (1949) 
Directed by Sam Wood | Co-starring June Allyson, Frank Morgan and Agnes Moorehead | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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. While hunting one day, he accidentally shot himself in his right leg, which then had to be amputated. Still, with a wooden leg, he was able to make 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 favorite movie scenes of all time.

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

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, there is nothing new or particularly spectacular about this film, but I love it so much.

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

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, without a doubt, one of the loveliest films I have ever seen. Jimmy and Margaret are perfect together.

#2: It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 
Directed by Frank Capra | Co-starring Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers | Liberty Films/RKO

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 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 or any other day of the year, really.

Directed by George Cukor | Co-starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Ruth Hussey | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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 favorite movie scenes of all time, and the scene that made me fall madly 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 favorite James Stewart films of the 1940s. How many of these films have you seen? Did I mentioned any of your favorites?

1 comment:

  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!