James Stewart and Tom Hanks

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James Stewart and Tom Hanks

Post by Haydnseek » Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:50 pm

I thought this was an interesting comparison of two actors I admire:

Despite similarities, Hanks falling short of Jimmy Stewart

By Michael Sragow
Sun Movie Critic

June 2, 2006

Tom Hanks' latest movie, The Da Vinci Code, opened May 19, a day before Jimmy Stewart's birthday. (Stewart was born in Indiana, Pa., on May 20, 1908.) Entertainment writers have often called Hanks today's Jimmy Stewart. That comparison has never looked shakier than it does right now.

Stewart's most famous suspense films were obsessive and erotic fables for Alfred Hitchcock, leagues away from Ron Howard's stodgy, cautious The Da Vinci Code. Indeed, throughout his career, Stewart drew inspiration from a score of strong, diverse directors, from Ernst Lubitsch to Otto Preminger.

Hanks has repeatedly fallen back on a handful of A-list moviemakers - Steven Spielberg, Bob Zemeckis, Nora Ephron - with ever-sorrier results, including Spielberg's The Terminal (2004), which buried Hanks' Chaplin-esque sentiment and humor in a ton of bathos. Hanks worked wonderfully with Howard 22 years ago on Splash, but Da Vinci Code marks the first time Hanks hasn't even seemed present in a movie: He registers as more of a Tom Hanks clone than the multiple digitally animated figures he played in Zemeckis' The Polar Express (2004).

Both Stewart and Hanks started out as all-American farceurs and leading men who combined casualness and emotional transparency with impeccable comic timing. They shared a knack for mingling improvisational wit and loosey-goosey physicality.

Like Stewart, Hanks could get laughs while letting audiences cut through to his essential feelings. He delivered his most genuine anguished performance in the otherwise-lamentable Punchline (1988) as a comedian with unfunny real-life problems. And Hanks brought soft-shoe perfection to the romantic comedy Splash (1984) and the humorous fantasy Big (1988), just as Stewart did to the romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and the humorous fantasy Harvey (1950).

But Stewart won his first Oscar for a hilarious and touching satiric turn as a socially conscious reporter who falls for a high-society gal in The Philadelphia Story (1940). Hanks won his first Oscar for jerking tears and raising consciousness as an AIDS-afflicted lawyer in Philadelphia (1993). (Stewart later won an honorary Oscar; Hanks scored back-to-back best actor wins when he followed Philadelphia with Forrest Gump.)

And Stewart gave his gnarliest and most trenchant performances in Westerns and thrillers that didn't require him to drastically alter his gait or weight. Hanks' biggest swings for the fences have verged on being stunt performances, whether as the mentally challenged Everyman in Zemeckis' Forrest Gump (1994) or, in Zemeckis' Cast Away (2000), as the FedEx executive stuck on a desert island with a Wilson volleyball. Even when he was good in these movies (as he was in Cast Away), they suggested that his idea of serious risk-taking rested on confronting obvious obstacles - or, in the case of Philadelphia, preaching good behavior.

Hanks has said he's grateful for starring in the light and fizzy man-and-dog comedy Turner & Hooch (1989) because it opened him up to new possibilities. He needs another Turner & Hooch right now.

In the meantime, he and the rest of us should savor the career of Jimmy Stewart, who stayed fresh and limber no matter the circumstances. Here's my own list of top Stewart performances. All but one are out on DVD (and you can still find The Naked Spur on VHS):

• Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Stewart plays a rural-Michigan lawyer who's so homey that he fashions bullfrog-bait to settle his mind. He uses his rustic charm as a weapon - which allows Stewart to spoof his own hemming and hawing persona.

• Bell Book and Candle (1958). Stewart's Manhattan publisher succumbs to Kim Novak's sensitive sorceress; she's part of a witch-and-warlock underground with a crazy club scene. Stewart responds to his screwball-comic co-stars (including Jack Lemmon) with a masterly array of quizzical expressions. He's a great straight man - especially in the Zodiac Club, which comes off as a gay bar in disguise.

• Broken Arrow (1950). Stewart's distinctive, warm-yet-reedy voice pulls the audience into this Western set in 1870 Arizona. As the narrator, a former Union soldier who befriends the fearsome chief Cochise (Jeff Chandler) and marries an Apache (Debra Paget), Stewart sustains a humane, never wishy-washy tone.

• Destry Rides Again (1939). The best cowboy comedy ever made features a Western hero who is not a strong, silent type. Stewart's Destry is a strong, talkative type - a lawman who won't use a gun until he's pushed to extremes and a tale-spinner who rarely trips over his own lengthy yarns.

• It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Until an angel shows George Bailey that the village of Bedford Falls would be a moral cesspool if he'd never been born, Stewart punches home the point that Bailey is a reluctant rube. He streaks his down-home enthusiasm with smoldering ambition and frustration.

• The Naked Spur (1953). Stewart's at his orneriest as a bounty hunter who captures a grinning sociopath (Robert Ryan). The hero needs the $5,000 reward to buy back a ranch his ex-fiancee sold out from under him. Stewart plays him harrowingly, as a fellow at odds with his better nature.

• The Philadelphia Story (1940). Stewart stole large portions of the picture as a scandal-mag reporter who catalyzes the reconciliation of a forbiddingly virtuous rich girl (Katharine Hepburn) and her alcoholic first husband (Cary Grant). Whether he's getting Hepburn to say, "Golly," (after he kisses her) or Grant to say, "Excuse me," (after he drunkenly hiccups), he nurtures the mildest germ of a comic idea - and it becomes uproarious.

• Rear Window (1954). Alfred Hitchcock toyed with Stewart's neighborly image in this tale of a photographer who indulges in nonstop voyeurism when he's laid up with a broken leg - and witnesses a murder in the apartment house across his Greenwich Village courtyard. The director tapped his star's capacities for prurience, self-disgust and queasiness; Stewart responded with what amounts to a virtuoso silent performance.

• The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Stewart is the top employee at a Budapest leather-goods shop; Margaret Sullavan is a salesgirl hired over his objections. What we know, and they don't, is that they're also pen-pals, conducting a wild romance in an anonymous correspondence. The proud Stewart and the passionate Sullavan embody enchantment. (It was remade poorly by Ephron, with Hanks and Meg Ryan, as You've Got Mail in 1998.)

• Vertigo (1958). Stewart's at his peak as a retired police officer afflicted with fear of heights and determined to crack what appears to be a case of demonic possession. Has a striking senorita from San Francisco's outlaw days taken over the spirit of a high-society gal (Kim Novak)? The smitten private eye thinks it may be so. Stewart is amazing at expressing the mingling of chivalry and desire in the man's white-knight fantasies. In reality, he's off-white.

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Post by Ralph » Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:57 pm

I like Hanks but Stewart was in a class of his own.
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Post by Richard » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:02 pm

I thought Tom Hanks was very good in "Forrest Gump".

The listing did not include three of my all-time favorite Jimmy Stewart films:

* Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

* Winchester 73

* The Spirit of St. Louis

Fugu

Post by Fugu » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:09 am

These two are my two favorite actors--bar none.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:45 am

I like Hanks a lot - always expect, if sometimes don't get, a solid performance - but Stewart was definitely a class act from start to finish. I'm surprised the list didn't include several of Hanks' most natural roles:

1. the drunk Jimmy Dugan, manager of the girls baseball team in A League of Their Own.

2. Jim Lovell in Apollo 13

3. Captain Miller in Saving Pvt. Ryan

Stewart's iconic performances for me are:

1. Philadephia Story

2. Naked Spur (which can be obtained on DVD cuz I have it)

3. The Man from Laramie

4. Winchester 73

5. The incomparable Anatomy of a Murder

6. The Far Country

7. Bend of the River

8. Greatest Show on Earth

9. Destry Rides Again

10. You Can't Take It With You

I never cared for Stewart in the haplessly and anxiously befuddled roles Hitchcock put him in (everything except Rope). The qualities I liked most about Stewart's characters were their driveness, decisiveness, ruthlessness, and cunning. When he was playing comic roles, I preferred the comfortable-in-his-skin drollery, rather like Sheriff Andy Taylor projected.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jun 04, 2006 4:39 am

Hitchcock never worked with Jimmy Stewart again after Vertigo because he blamed his (Stewart's) age on the movie's box-office failure. (I have a lot of problems with that movie and one is not Stewart's age--he is supposed to be a retired police officer--but his wealth.) He was also superannuated for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (except in his scenes set in the present). Just an observation, not intended to detract from a distinguished career. He was also famous in his other role as an Air Force Reserve General, and my father once met him when he was doing one of those freezing winter parades that were so sadistically scheduled in those days. Stewart ordered that the bandsmen be allowed out of the cold and given a drink before they had to march, an unheard of thing.

I do wonder just looking at the previews (the movie won't get here for some weeks) whether Tom Hanks is not also a little older than, well, he should be. Maybe it's because I remember him in "Splash," but he strikes me as an actor who would not age well. Just a personal point of view. I'm sure any good actor will turn me around.

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Post by Ralph » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:15 am

By the way there's a new book about Stewart's WWII service. He was a fine pilot and commander, a movie star who flew the full mission assignment and led a squadron.

He eventually rose to major general in the Air Force reserve.
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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jun 04, 2006 8:08 am

Some outstanding Stewart performances that haven't been mentioned:

No Highway - Stewart plays an engineer who knows the airplane he is on will crash from material fatigue and must find a way to convince the crew and authorities on the ground. He is very compelling and forceful as a widowed father who has bottled up his feelings and hidden himself in his work.

Call Northside 777 - Stewart plays a cynical reporter who very reluctantly becomes convinced that an innocent man is in prison and works for his release.

Two Rode Together - This is a minor John Ford western but Stewart obviously relishes the chance to give a character performance as a crusty U.S. Marshal helping the Cavalry recover prisoners of the Comanches.

Cheyenne Autumn - Stewart's cameo turn as Wyatt Earp is the best scene in the movie.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation - Stewart plays an overworked business man who brings his family to the seashore for a vacation only to have numerous conflicts break out among them. It's more than a "family film," it's a smart film comedy with good chemistry between Stewart and Maureen O'Hara.
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Post by RebLem » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:01 pm

Well, Corlyss, don't be surprised. Mention of those films of Hanks would have undermined what the writer was trying to do, which was to slap Hanks in the face with a velvet gloove. To do that, of course, the author had to ignore some of Hanks major roles; he had to load the dice, in other words, if I may mix metaphors.

Hollywood has greater actors, even today, than Tom Hanks. For that matter, the same could be said of Jimmy Stewart all throughout his career. But both set a very high and formidable standard on the screen, and there is one thing at which Tom Hanks has no peer, let alone superiors, in the movie business today: promotion.

Tom Hanks is a master of the talk show circuit. He is an absolutely tireless, charming, funny, and effective promoter. Anytime he goes on a talk show, he has about 6 funny stories ready to tell about the making of the movie. The only peer he ever had in recent memory was the late Richard Harris. Now that he is gone, Hanks stands at the pinnacle alone in this area, at least.

You don't get that from Deniro.
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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:17 pm

Many people know that Stewart and Henry Fonda, opposites politically, were best friends going back to before they were in the movies. There is a great "in" joke in the 1970 western comedy "The Cheyenne Social Club" in which the two play a couple of old cowboys named John and Harley:

Stewart: How much money do you want, Harley?

Fonda: Fifteen or twenty dollars ought to do me.

Stewart: What do you need it for?

Fonda: Things.

Stewart: Well, what kind of things?

Fonda: Just-just things. You know, like a drink of whiskey if I wanted it, or a new shirt or something.

Stewart: You already have two shirts. You don't want to wear but one of them at a time unless it's winter.

Fonda: There you go thinking like a Republican again.

Stewart: Well, you don't bring up politics while you're borrowing money, Harley. It ain't seemly!
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 04, 2006 2:03 pm

jbuck919 wrote: I do wonder just looking at the previews (the movie won't get here for some weeks) whether Tom Hanks is not also a little older than, well, he should be. * * * he strikes me as an actor who would not age well.
He's no Kevin Klein. I agree that he don't age well. I remarked to a friend the other day that with his money, he could get cosmetic surgery and lose weight. It could be that he's so comfortable in his skin that he doesn't mind aging. In which case, he's going to have to give up romantic leads, which he did so well in shows like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. (Speaking of Jimmy Stewart, You've Got Mail was occasionally referred to as a remake of Stewart's 1940's gem, The Little Shop Around the Corner.) And I hope 30 years hence when someone suggests a remake of Terminal someone else will put us out of his misery, as they should have when some idiot suggested an updated remake of The Lady Killers. It's time for Hanks to start directing and/or playing the flummoxed dad in supporting roles.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 04, 2006 2:12 pm

Ralph wrote:By the way there's a new book about Stewart's WWII service. He was a fine pilot and commander, a movie star who flew the full mission assignment and led a squadron.

He eventually rose to major general in the Air Force reserve.
I read a bio of him a long time ago. As with many men, the war changed Stewart considerably. His colleagues remarked on the dangerously violent almost obsessive edge that entered his characterizations, especially in the westerns, after the war that would have been unavailable to the affable courtly classy actor of his pre-war performances.

Slight segue, some years ago the Western Channel on cable did a tribute to Stewart and his westerns. They mentioned that he always used the same horse, which the studio rented from a local horse farm run by a friend, and the same hat, which was appropriately decrepit and sweat-stained around the crown. In this day and age, he probably would have bought the horse. I understand that Vigo Mortensen bought his favorite of the 5 horses they used in filming Hidalgo.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jun 04, 2006 3:00 pm

I think we might remember that George H.W. Bush was the youngest US pilot in WW II (he was 19) and pretty much qualifies as a war hero. He was also on paper the most qualified man to be president in the latter part of the 20th century, having been Vice President, a member of Congress, Director of Central Intelligence, and an ambassador in a couple of flavors. To go with the famous remark of Tacitus, "Capax imperare, nisi imperasset" ("He would have been a great ruler if only he had never ruled").

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Post by Richard » Sun Jun 04, 2006 4:01 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:By the way there's a new book about Stewart's WWII service. He was a fine pilot and commander, a movie star who flew the full mission assignment and led a squadron.

He eventually rose to major general in the Air Force reserve.
I read a bio of him a long time ago. As with many men, the war changed Stewart considerably. His colleagues remarked on the dangerously violent almost obsessive edge that entered his characterizations, especially in the westerns, after the war that would have been unavailable to the affable courtly classy actor of his pre-war performances.

Slight segue, some years ago the Western Channel on cable did a tribute to Stewart and his westerns.
*************
I also get the Western Channel, Corlyss, and I think I remember the tribue to Jimmy Stewart....very enjoyable. Late at night, the Western Channel shows a lot of old, "B" westerns which are very entertaining..such as 1930's John Wayne westerns and old Hopalong Cassidy movies, which are so ridiculous and campy they're entertaining. They show many of the old John Ford westerns..with John Wayne. I just got through seeing "Red River"..which is one of my favorites.

The only Jimmy Stewart western that I really didn't like was "Two Rode Together", with Richard Widmark. I thought Stewart was out of his "mode" and the entire plot of the movie seemed ludicrous.

I have seen, on the Western Chanell, some old westerns with Jimmy Stewart and Walter Brennan, which are not well-known but were very good. Can you recall one movie, with Walter Brennan, where Jimmy Stewart was persued by either his brother or cousin? I can't remember the title..but I think the ending involed a hunt-down and shootout on the side of a mountain. The one movie, with Walter Brennan and Jimmy Stewart, which I recently saw was the "Far Country". Very enjoyable. I believe it was filmed in the Canadian Rockies and the cinematography was excellent.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:12 pm

Richard wrote: I also get the Western Channel, Corlyss, and I think I remember the tribue to Jimmy Stewart....very enjoyable. Late at night, the Western Channel shows a lot of old, "B" westerns which are very entertaining..such as 1930's John Wayne westerns and old Hopalong Cassidy movies, which are so ridiculous and campy they're entertaining. They show many of the old John Ford westerns..with John Wayne. I just got through seeing "Red River"..which is one of my favorites.
Some good stuff there. I'm not looking for Sophocles here. I enjoy most of them because I like the pre-spaghetti-western western. I'm not ashamed of it or enjoying it. Ate up the Randolph Scott festival they had back in March. He was funny guy, very droll. Have seen quite a few westerns with Wayne in the last few months. I love Tombstone to pieces - terrific old style characterizations by Kurt Russell, Sam Elliot, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Stephen Lang. A very conscious tribute to Ford, with Pedro Armendarez, Jr. and Harry Carey, Jr. in the cast.
The only Jimmy Stewart western that I really didn't like was "Two Rode Together", with Richard Widmark. I thought Stewart was out of his "mode" and the entire plot of the movie seemed ludicrous.
True. It was pretty awful, beneath everyone involved, even with Ken Curtis and Harry Carey, Jr., doing their camp clowns schtick.
Can you recall one movie, with Walter Brennan, where Jimmy Stewart was persued by either his brother or cousin? I can't remember the title..but I think the ending involed a hunt-down and shootout on the side of a mountain.
You must be thinking of Night Train with Audie Murphy. But Brennan wasn't in it.
The one movie, with Walter Brennan and Jimmy Stewart, which I recently saw was the "Far Country". Very enjoyable. I believe it was filmed in the Canadian Rockies and the cinematography was excellent.
You know, I think more than anything else, those couple of movies that Stewart made in such mountainous settings were the reason Cache Valley looked familiar enough to me to be home.

Have you seen Brennan's tour de force with Gary Cooper, The Westerner. It's one of the funniest westerns I've ever seen.
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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:29 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
The only Jimmy Stewart western that I really didn't like was "Two Rode Together", with Richard Widmark. I thought Stewart was out of his "mode" and the entire plot of the movie seemed ludicrous.
True. It was pretty awful, beneath everyone involved, even with Ken Curtis and Harry Carey, Jr., doing their camp clowns schtick.
I agree that it was a weak movie but I liked Stewart's characterization as I noted in an earlier post. It worked for me.
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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:34 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Have you seen Brennan's tour de force with Gary Cooper, The Westerner. It's one of the funniest westerns I've ever seen.
That is brilliant acting! Brennan was great as the menacing Ike Clanton in "My Darling Clementine" and he gave a comic twist to the same character in "Support Your Local Sheriff."
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jun 04, 2006 8:57 pm

Anyone remember "Strategic Air Command?"

Oh for the good old Cold War days.
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Post by Richard » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:13 pm

I have seen both "Tombstone" with Kurt Russell and "Wyatt Earp", with Kevin Cosnter, at least 3 times. My sister would agree with you, Corlyss, she liked Tombstone better than Wyatt Earp. To be truthful, I liked Wyatt Earp a little better than Tombstone, even though I know many critics did not like Costner's performance in that film. Not sure why...maybe the characters in Wyatt Earp seemed a little more human-like, to me. One thing that impressed me with both pictures, I think they were both historically on target. For example, the scene showing Wyatt's future wife, Josie, in the production of "HMS Pinafore" could have been a Hollywood embellishment, but it was true to historical fact. After reading a little bit of history, with regard to the Earp brothers, I did not realize there were 5 Earp brothers..something both films accurately depicted (or implied). I also thought that the actors who portrayed Doc Holliday, in both films, did a splendid job.

I don't think the movie I'm trying to recall, with Jimmy Stewart and Walter Brennan, was Night Train with Audie Murphy. It may not have been the one with the shootout, on the mountain, but I do recall it was about Jimmy Stewart being persued by either his brother or cousin, and it did have Walter Brennan in it. If I can track it down, I'll report back..it was a good movie.

I can't remember if I have seen "The Westerner" with Gary Cooper. I will be sure to try and see it, on your recommendation.

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Post by Brendan » Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:43 pm

"Tombstone" at least strayed historically rather dramatically, portraying Billy Breckenridge as a wimp, Doc Holiday as more than a match for Johnny Ringo (who in history was shot in the back) - but most laughably in the "Gunfighht at the OK Corral" (in reality it was a massacre, with half the cowboys completely unarmed and the Earps armed with shotguns) sequence.

Wyatt Earp was one of the great self-aggrandizers and self-promoters of the myth of the West, and most of movie material is based on a fawning biography/interview Earp released late in life. But I simply could not watch Costner in that awful movie.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:17 am

Richard wrote:I have seen * * * "Wyatt Earp", with Kevin Cosnter, at least 3 times.


I salute your endurance. I tried to watch it, but it just didn't grab me. Early Costner was fast paced and exciting (like Bull Durham and No Way Out). Late Costner is self-indulgent and turgid.
One thing that impressed me with both pictures, I think they were both historically on target.
Cosmatos was very conscious of the fact that these were historical characters and went some distance to protray them accurately to the maximum extent without sacrificing the essential drama of the encounter. And you know the lightening strikes that backed up the two seens where the town sheriff is killed by Curly Bill and Morgan is killed? Those were real cloud to ground strokes filmed on location by one courageous fool of a cameraman who couldn't resist getting the electrical displays on film.
For example, the scene showing Wyatt's future wife, Josie, in the production of "HMS Pinafore" could have been a Hollywood embellishment, but it was true to historical fact.
You know, I gotta tell you I about fell over laughing when Wyatt so earnestly bares his poverty to Josie in that last scene, and she just dismisses it with a big grin and "It doesn't matter. My family is rich!"
I also thought that the actors who portrayed Doc Holliday, in both films, did a splendid job.
Loved Val Kilmer's portrayal. His little asides are priceless, and that cup twirling exhibition was hilarious.
If I can track it down, I'll report back..it was a good movie.
Please do. I checked the IMDB lists for both actors and couldn't find such a pairing. The movie with Audie Murphy was about two brothers, Stewart a railroad detective and Murphy an outlaw.
I can't remember if I have seen "The Westerner" with Gary Cooper. I will be sure to try and see it, on your recommendation.
Oh, please do. You will be infinitely rewarded. As Haydn says, it was brilliant acting, especially on Brennan's part. I can't recall ever seeing a film in which the perenniel supporting actor shown so. And Cooper was no slouch. He didn't let Brennan completely steal the show. I'll try to give Costner's movie another chance.
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Post by BWV 1080 » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:38 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Richard wrote:I have seen * * * "Wyatt Earp", with Kevin Cosnter, at least 3 times.


I salute your endurance. I tried to watch it, but it just didn't grab me. Early Costner was fast paced and exciting (like Bull Durham and No Way Out). Late Costner is self-indulgent and turgid.
While I generally agree, Open Range was an exception and IMO the best Western since Unforgiven

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:10 am

My favorite Wyatt Earp movie is the one with James Garner, Bruce Willis, and Malcom MacDowell (I did not make that combo up; there really is such a movie). It is complete fiction of course, but in its own way plausible (if you've ever read about the life of Wyatt Earp he might qualify as having had one of the ten most interesting in US history, or at least most complicated), but more to the point it's a great and very fun movie.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:41 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:While I generally agree, Open Range was an exception and IMO the best Western since Unforgiven
I didn't like either one.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:42 pm

jbuck919 wrote:My favorite Wyatt Earp movie is the one with James Garner, Bruce Willis, and Malcom MacDowell (I did not make that combo up; there really is such a movie). It is complete fiction of course, but in its own way plausible (if you've ever read about the life of Wyatt Earp he might qualify as having had one of the ten most interesting in US history, or at least most complicated), but more to the point it's a great and very fun movie.
I enjoyed that one too. It qualified as a romp. And they all looked like they had so much fun doing it too.
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Post by Richard » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:15 pm

In regard to Brendan's comments on Wyatt Earp: yes, he was self-aggrandizing and self-promoting. From what I have read, the Earp brothers, especially Wyatt, tended to be in a gray area between on the side of and against the law. Wyatt was known to pistol-whip potential enemies and "ask questions later". A couple of anecdotes on Wyatt Earp:

*In the Kevin Cosnter movie, near the end, he was on a boat either to or from the Alaska. He journeyd up to Alaska, in the 1890's during the gold rush. Most of his life, Wyatt either ran gambling establishments or worked as miner or had mining interests, aside from being a peace officer. In Alaska, he ran a gambling parlor and worked mines. He became friends with Jack London. On his return to the states in 1901, he had accumulated $ 80,000..quite a bit of money back in those days, needless to say.

*Toward the end of his life, he got a job, in Hollywood, as an advisor for western movies (silent). He met silent-movie actors such as William S Hart. It is said he also met a young actor names Marion Morrison, later known as John Wayne. There has been no confirmation of this..one has to go on the word of Wayne.

I have never seen the Wyatt Earp movie with James Garner.

One of my all-time favorite westerns was the move called "The Grey Fox", with Richard Farnsworth (1982). I recently saw the movie "The Straight Line", also with Richad Farnsworth, which was also very good. "The Straight Line" is based on a true story about a man who travelled a long distance on a tractor lawn mower to visit his estranged brother, who was ill and dying.

I think Farnsworth's greatest role, however, was in the "Grey Fox". It's about a "gentleman bandit" by the name of Bill Miner, who was involved with the first train robbery, in Canada, in 1904 near Mission City, BC. The movie is hard to come by. I could not find it at Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. I finally found it at an independent movie rental store. I have not seen it on any cable channel. Hopefully they will show it..I would like to copy it onto DVD.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085622/

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Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:40 pm

From The New York Times:

I Married Wyatt Earp
1983-USA-Biography [feature]/Modern Western

PLOT DESCRIPTION
Made for television, I Married Wyatt Earp was based on the autobiography of Josephine Marcus "Josie" Earp, second wife of the fabled lawman. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in San Francisco, Josephine (played by Marie Osmond) headed to the Wide Open Spaces in hopes of becoming an opera star. Along the way, she crossed paths with Marshall Wyatt Earp (Bruce Boxleitner), to whom she was married for 27 years. Befitting its legendary subject, the teleplay stretches the truth a mite, depicting Josephine as a witness to the Gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881. In truth, she did not become Mrs. Earp until 1908. Also expanded upon for dramatic purposes is a reported romantic triangle between Josie, Wyatt, and corrupt sheriff John Behan (John Bennett Perry) -- not to mention a wholly fabricated episode depicting the heroine as being a "fast gun" in her own right. Ross Martin makes his final movie appearance in the role of Jacob Speigler. Filmed in 1981, I Married Wyatt Earp was eventually aired by NBC on January 10, 1983. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:58 pm

Brendan's movie is called Sunset and has Garner's Earp and Willis' Tom Mix fighting the mob in Hollywood in the 20s.

The other one I saw back in March and is called Hour of the Gun, and has one of Garner's most trenchant and Stewart-like performances, with none of his trademark ironic humor. Jason Robard's Doc Holliday almost steals the show, acting as comic relief, conscience, and chorus. Example: when the killers of Wyatt's brother are acquitted, Earp notes the "what did you expect?" look on Holliday's face and tells him not to comment. Holliday studies his cigarette and observes "I'm just educating myself. I've never been on the right side of the law; I wanted to see how much good it does you when you are."

Both are highly enjoyable.
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Fugu

Post by Fugu » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:22 pm

One of the best Costner was in was Silverado. That is a great Western.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:49 am

For fans of the genre, I commend to your attention the most excellent volume The Encyclopedia of Westerns by Herb Fagen. It really means "encyclopedia." Entries for each movie are extensive where warranted or limited to cast and production staff with brief plot synopsis. The really nice thing is the author respects the genre itself and the actors who appeared in it. So many more comprehensive compendiums like Maltin and Videohound that include Westerns along with everything else dismiss the genre unless discussing a towering monument like Red River or The Searchers or The Wild Bunch. In Fagen's book, such films might command a page in the 10X13 oversized quarto volume. And, thankfully, it contains a 70 page index, enabling you to find films and actors readily.
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Re: James Stewart and Tom Hanks

Post by Madame » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:57 pm

Haydnseek wrote:I thought this was an interesting comparison of two actors I admire:

Despite similarities, Hanks falling short of Jimmy Stewart
Absolutely no comparison, and though I like them both, Jimmy Stewart is heads above Tom Hanks -- so far. Hanks is still relatively young -- and I think the fact he receive the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at age 30 is an indicator of what is to come.

If Hanks is going to step up to the next plateau of his acting career, somebody's going to have to write something worthy of his talent, and he's going to have to be pickier about his films (I really liked DaVinci Code as a book, think it makes a lousy movie). The first movie I remember seeing him in, and which hasn't been mentioned here, is "Volunteers". He nailed that role, and I recall thinking that we would be be seeing a lot of this guy. Of course I loved him in "Big", "Forrest Gump", romances with Meg Ryan, "Philadelphia", and his other classics; but he is aging now, and I think he needs to stop and take inventory of where he is and where he would like to go. He has the talent, and by now he should have enough money to back off a bit and look for meatier material.

He reminds me of Jimmy Stewart because of his rather low profile demeanor. He protects his privacy and family fiercely and he doesn't pull Brangelina type publicity stunts (we're over heeere, but just try and find us!) He doesn't need to -- he has talent :) <and I just can't fathom his ever exploiting a new baby by selling his/her pictures for fund raising, that makes me just a little bit ill> but I digress.

I always loved Jimmy Stewart, he had his share of not so hot films, but he stayed with it. I am so impressed that the referenced article mentioned his performance in "Anatomy of a Murder", one of the most brilliant books AND films ever (right, Contessa?). Along with many of the others mentioned so far, I have to add "The Glenn Miller Story" to the top of my list, what a sweet film, my favorite big band music, and the ending, which always leaves me in tears no matter how many times I watch it. When I was a child, we sang "Little Brown Jug" a lot, but it took on a special meaning after seeing the film. Jimmy aged well as his career moved along, he remained a classy man. I often wonder how he would have dealt with today's fickle cut-throat business.

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Post by Haydnseek » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:46 pm

One of my favorite Tom Hanks movies is That Thing You Do! which he wrote, directed and played a supporting role in. It's nothing heavy, just a little gem of a comedy about a one-hit-wonder pop band in the 1960's.
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Post by miranda » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:18 pm

I prefer Jimmy Stewart to Tom Hanks, based on the mere 3 movies I've seen Stewart in--Rear Window, Vertigo, and The Philadelphia Story.

Ted

Post by Ted » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:26 pm

I’m not sure I understand the comparison of the two.
Stewart is a legend which is not to say that Hanks won’t become one.
Will “Forest Gump” ever achieve “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington/Wonderful Life Status?” I have my doubts.
Will Hanks ever have the wealth of material Stewart had? I have my doubts.
Check out Stewart’s performance in “How The West Was Won” (Directed by John Ford, George Marshall & Henry Hathaway)
And The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
While he almost always played the hero, his portrayal of Capt Towns, a somewhat flawed and unsympathetic character was one of his greatest achievements IMO.
I truly appreciate Hanks, but he has a long way to go before he can walk in Stewart Country

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:38 am

miranda wrote:I prefer Jimmy Stewart to Tom Hanks, based on the mere 3 movies I've seen Stewart in--Rear Window, Vertigo, and The Philadelphia Story.
Please, please, please, Miranda. Rent Anatomy of a Murder and/or Rope.
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Re: James Stewart and Tom Hanks

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:41 am

Madame wrote:I am so impressed that the referenced article mentioned his performance in "Anatomy of a Murder", one of the most brilliant books AND films ever (right, Contessa?).
Absolutely. A most excellent film for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Joseph Welch, the real lawyer for the Army in the real Army-McCarthy hearings, plays the judge.
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Dies Irae

Post by Dies Irae » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:31 am

I think it would been interesting to imagine the job that they may have done if they exchanged roles.

I think that Tom Hanks could have easily handled the roles that Jimmy Stewart starred in, but I don't think that Stewart had the acting range to handle the roles that Hanks starred in. Imagine Stewart as the star of "Big" or "Forrest Gump". No way Jose!!

But Hanks could certainly have credibly handled such roles as in "The Man who knew too Much", Vertigo, Rear Window, Destry Rides Again and just about any other Stewart role that you can think of.
Last edited by Dies Irae on Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:38 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:32 am

Dies Irae wrote:I think it would ben interesting to imagine the job that they may have done if they exchanged roles.

I
Interesting idea. Which ones did you think of when you suggested it?
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Dies Irae

Post by Dies Irae » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:40 am

Corlyss_D wrote:]

Interesting idea. Which ones did you think of when you suggested it?
See my amended post just preceding your last one.

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Post by miranda » Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:14 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Please, please, please, Miranda. Rent Anatomy of a Murder and/or Rope.
Will do, Corlyss. I own Duke Ellington's wonderful soundtrack to Anatomy of a Murder, but have yet to see it. I will remedy that soon.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:07 pm

Dies Irae wrote:I think it would been interesting to imagine the job that they may have done if they exchanged roles.

I think that Tom Hanks could have easily handled the roles that Jimmy Stewart starred in, but I don't think that Stewart had the acting range to handle the roles that Hanks starred in. Imagine Stewart as the star of "Big" or "Forrest Gump". No way Jose!!
I take your point. But Stewart did do Henry.
But Hanks could certainly have credibly handled such roles as in "The Man who knew too Much", Vertigo, Rear Window, Destry Rides Again and just about any other Stewart role that you can think of.
I can see Hanks in a comic western like Destry or The Cheyenne Social Club or the quasi-farce Two Rode Together, but fageddaboud serious westerns like The Man from Laramie, Winchester 73, Naked Spur, and The Far Country. He just ain't the type. Nor do I think Hanks could to the driven intensity of Stewart's Cadell in Rope. If Tom Hanks ever plays Iago (Shakespeare's, not GMG's) convincingly, maybe I'll change my mind, but who would cast Forrest Gump or Captain Martin as Iago?
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:53 pm

The discussion does raise the issue of what constitutes a fine actor. Stewart never changed his natural (and when you think about it rather peculiar lispy ) accent in a single film. He sounded exactly the same in his last film as he did in his first and every one in between. He was in some senses a classic case of playing himself throughout his career. That does not mean he was not a great actor, but Tom Hanks was able to adopt a completely different persona for Forrest Gump and arguably other roles. Many other actors, to take an extreme Laurence Olivier, could be brought into the comparison.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:03 pm

jbuck919 wrote: He sounded exactly the same in his last film as he did in his first and every one in between. He was in some senses a classic case of playing himself throughout his career.[That does not mean he was not a great actor/quote]

How one sounds is not the whole kit an actor brings to a role. His personas in Rope or The Man from Laramie were not the same as his Oscar winning Macauly Conner or his George Bailey. He wouldn't be a great if they were all the same, like Jack Nicholson's characters or Eddie Murphy's have become.
Tom Hanks was able to adopt a completely different persona for Forrest Gump and arguably other roles. Many other actors, to take an extreme Laurence Olivier, could be brought into the comparison.
I have yet to see a credible, dramatic, unlikeable villian role from him. He's a light romantic guy except for his 2 excursions into military roles.
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