If we had to pick a single film from Alfred Hitchcock’s individually unique and brilliant filmography to stand as his cinematic signature, it would undoubtedly be Rear Window. It is the most literal expression of his fondness for our ‘peeping tom’ nature and a great example of his expert coalescence of suspense and humor. Disguising what is primarily a love story, the murder mystery in Rear Window is a classic Hitchcockian tale seen completely from the point of view of the protagonist.
Tag: James Stewart
Ernst Lubitsch is the master of elegance. His direction is so seamless, his characters so witty and his plots so finely tuned. Under the veneer of sophisticated glamor, Lubitsch was able to smuggle in risqué, progressive characters under the nose of the formidable Hays Production Code. TROUBLE IN PARADISE, NINOTCHKA, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, DESIGN FOR LIVING and THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (among others) feel so modern and not just because they feature some clever sex comedy. His comedies are precise, sharply written and cast to perfection. THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is probably the most accessible and enduring, because its story is one that transcends generations.
Winchester ’73 – 1953 – dir. Anthony Mann
It has been said that this film has every western cliché in the repertoire: dance hall floozy who’s a good girl at heart, trusty sidekick, shooting contest with incredible demonstrations of marksmanship, heroic stand by the Calvary, noble but inevitably defeated Indians, climactic shootout for two… even Wyatt Earp. Yet, Casablanca-like, the film gets away with a bevy of stock situations and even stock characters because every performance is so strong. The subtleties of the most subsidiary characters come across in a believable and refreshing way.
The Man From Laramie – 1955 – dir. Anthony Mann
Prominent among the James Stewart films most often shown on television in the 1960s and ’70s were the five westerns that he made with director Anthony Mann. Despite this exposure, Mann, though something of a successor to John Ford in the genre of more psychologically complex westerns, is arguably not as well known today. Perhaps this is because he was considered more of a craftsman than an actor’s director, but in the western films Stewart made with him, the actor emerged as more understated, and showed audiences a whole new facet of his personality.
By Peggy Nelson
It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946 – dir. Frank Capra
Recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, It’s a Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra, 1946) has been variously described as a heartwarming celebration of family values, an historical appreciation of vanished small-town life, “sentimental hogwash,” an indictment of centralized banking, and a communist manifesto. It is all of these things. And yet, it is also something more.
Written by Jeremy Quist
US, 1956. 120 min. Cast: James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie, Bernard Miles, Ralph Truman; Music: Bernard Herrmann, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston; Cinematography: Robert Burks; Written by John Michael Hayes; Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
One of the most curious aspects of Alfred Hitchcockâ€™s The Man Who Knew Too Much is that the man the title refers to spends most of the film not knowing much at all. What he does know is that a statesman is soon to be assassinated in London. But the reasons for this are not important; this is merely the MacGuffin – Hitchcockâ€™s famously irrelevant plot device that serves simply to get the story going. All that really matters is getting the boy back.