They were my kinfolk, my people - many of whom I'm still friends with today, though we've scattered across the country, spilling out in different directions as fast as we could once we'd tossed our graduation caps in the air.

Aimee Nezhukumatathail - World of Wonders

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It's In the Past

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Stewart (Person)

"It's a Wonderful Life" - 12/24/08

I am something of a Jimmy Stewart fanatic.  I have seen many of his movies.  It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite film of all time.  Mr.  Smith goes to Washington is also in my top 10. He was in so many great films.  So when I decided to watch 12 movies  this year that I had never seen before it didn't surprise me that a Stewart film would make the list.  What did surprise me is that it would be a Stewart film I had never heard of before.

Magic Town (1947) is just that. I had a month free trial of  Amazon prime and was looking for a Jimmy Stewart film I had not seen before and when I found Greatest Show on Earth,  which I had heard of previously but never seen,  When I found it was not available I went with Magic Town.
I did a little researching and found that It's A wonderful life (1946 pictured above) and Magic Town  were back to back box office failures for Stewart.

The main difference between the two is that Magic Town is well deserving of it's failure.  It's A Frank Capra like film , which is  not surprising as it was written and directed by long time Capra collaborator Robert Riskin.  The end result of the reteaming of Riskin and Stewart without Capra is expressed quite well in an IMDB review by Mario Gauci ...

"... while the plot is typically original and engaging, somehow it lacks Capra's cinematic expertise in putting over Riskin's ideas: the tone is too often syrupy and sentimental while the  hero isn't made to face formidable villains such as one finds in Capra's work."
Stewart is not at his best in the movie.  His portrayal of a pollster trying to put a magic formula to work, lacks the multilayered nuanced performances he so often achieved. Jimmy Stewart was in many great movies prior to 1947. If you are looking for better Stewart movies from the 40's, you might want to try The Shop Around the Corner or Rope instead of this slightly above average comedy drama.


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