30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 21: movie with your favourite actor

4 07 2011

I can’t remember which movie made me fall in love with this man, but James Stewart… well, what can I say about him?  I’ve seen him as the innocent and charming regular Joe in Harvey; the paranoid neighbour in Rear Window; running around trying to dodge a plane shooting at him in North by Northwest; questioning life and death in the pseudo-Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life; as a determined lawyer in Anatomy of a Murder; the observant, patient impromptu detective in the underrated Hitchcock classic Rope; and James flexing his romantic comedy muscles with Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.

I think the last Stewart movie I saw was the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which is arguably one of the best performances in his career.  Sure, he was still young when he made the film and would have a long career ahead of him, many more years to improve his acting through experience, but he is the reason this film is heralded the way it is today.  Stewart has that dopey, boy next door charm that works perfectly here in the film, as a naive man from a small town in the US who gets recruited to be a senator.  Believing in the true democratic idea that he thought the country was all about, he is slowly shaken by corruption, lies, and betrayal, especially when it comes from a fellow senator and mentor of his.  Eventually, he takes to a filibuster and here in the clip below, Jefferson Smith has one of many speeches he gives to the Senate, allowing Stewart to really take command of the role.  It’s basically an Oscar-nominated role just with those speeches alone.