Jimmy Stewart was one of Hollywood's nice guys, who enjoyed one of the longest screen careers in history, from "Murder Man" in 1935 to a "Lassie" film in 1981. His films were also remarkably wide-ranging, from heartwarming Frank Capra classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" through George Cukor's "The Philadelphia ...
Jimmy Stewart was one of Hollywood's nice guys, who enjoyed one of the longest screen careers in history, from "Murder Man" in 1935 to a "Lassie" film in 1981. His films were also remarkably wide-ranging, from heartwarming Frank Capra classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" through George Cukor's "The Philadelphia Story" to creepy Hitchcock masterworks like "Vertigo". His role in the comic film "Harvey", about a man pursued by a giant invisible rabbit, he reprised on the London stage towards the end of his life. Marc Eliot's new biography is a superbly readable and comprehensively detailed account of Stewart's life and career, including notably a lengthy and fascinating account of his war service flying bombers for the US Air Force. He has obtained rare interviews from one of Stewart's daughters, from his "Vertigo" co-star Kim Novak, and from Frank Capra's son. Eliot's previous biography for "Aurum", of Cary Grant, was serialised at length in the "Daily Mail" and reprinted in hardback. Of it the "Daily Telegraph" said that Eliot 'is as good on the movies as he is on the man'.
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The only thing slightly negative about this book was my own fault. I missed a detail in the description when buying it and it came in LARGE print. Not a real problem. I read Marc Eliot?s CARY GRANT biography and thought it was a very good read. His approach to Stewart was slightly different. Beyond the usual timeline of a biography, Eliot also includes Stewart?s movies as an important part of the timeline and influence on Stewart?s life. If you are a movie buff and stay to watch the credits, you will really like this book. There is an excellent filmography as an appendix, but these are also weaved into the story. Stewart was the guy next door, represented Americana and was one few solid marriages of Hollywood. There are many anecdotes regarding co-stars, directors, military experience and political involvement craftily weaved into the story. If made into an E-Book, there should be scenes included from his films to visually add to the author?s well written story. In fact, the American Film Institute should make the effort to preserve all of Stewart?s film and make them available to the public as DVD?s, downloads and Netflix. Even though Stewart was a very private man regarding his personal life, he did take a few public stands and what you see on the screen is very much Jimmy Stewart
Jan 6, 2008
The biography of an actor serves up both person and questions. And the questions you live with are maybe the most valuable part of the read. You come away from this life story convinced that Jimmy Stewart was a good man, and a man of depth. You also come away wondering what his roles were tapping in his damaged heart. For damaged he was, however nice he also was. His family background, his relationship with his father, above all, his shattering war service, even the dark roles in which his craftsmanship found a home--this man had an interior world to which even he was probably a stranger. Some professions depend on youth--athletes, dancers, singers...But very definitely, actors. You keep hearing throughout the book about the negative effects of Jimmy's advancing age--from the time he was thirty-five, God help us. So one of the advantages of the story is a meditation on aging and death, emphasized of course, by the noir roles in which he performed so incomparably. Jimmy Stewart was a very great actor, and by the end of the book, you are betting that he was also a very great man.
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