Rank ’em: James Stewart

It is no question that James Stewart, known endearingly to much of the American public as Jimmy, is one of the American acting giants. Charming, aloof, yet carrying so much presence on the screen, he became the epitome of the Hollywood everyman from the late thirties throughout the sixties, starring in classic after classic.

Despite his praise though, many are only familiar with him due to Christmas viewings of It’s a Wonderful Life and a Hitchcock film or two of his. His filmography, of course, is so much more rich than that – so much so that I not only had trouble making a “top ten” favorites, but would have had trouble narrowing it down to twenty. Below though are my ten favorite James Stewart films, with some of my favorite moments attached as clips.

After checking out mine, share your own list and favorite James Stewart moments in the comments!

10. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)

9. Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939)

8. Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)

7. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

6. The Man from Laramie (Anthony Mann, 1955)

5.The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)

4. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

2. Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)

1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)

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Jandy Hardesty

I love Jimmy Stewart so much – a trait I inherited from my mom. We don’t always go for the same things in film (very rarely, actually), but we do share Jimmy Stewart!

All those Anthony Mann westerns are so good. I need to rewatch them all – other than Winchester ’73 and The Man from Laramie, they kind of run together in my head. But he’s so good at playing all these different kinds of roles and still being Jimmy Stewart.

My top ten would include most of the same movies as yours, just in a different order. 🙂 Rear Window and Vertigo on top, because they’re also my favorite Hitchcock films. The Philadelphia Story and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington because Jimmy does earnest so damn well. It’s a Wonderful Life because, well, it’s It’s a Wonderful Life (which is a whole lot darker than most people give it credit for). And the aforementioned Anthony Mann westerns plus The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are great. I’d probably trade out Harvey, which is not one of my favorites, for Anatomy of a Murder.

Nat Almirall

Can’t really argue with those choices, however my number one would be Anatomy of a Murder — I may be slightly biased being a Michigander, but it’s my personal favorite film; and I could listen to Stewart and Scott try to out-law each other until the end of time. It’s a stellar performance for a number of reasons, among them Stewart simultaneously playing for and against type. There’s a Youtube clip of some highlights here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plgucPBotKg

And for some bonus trivia, Stewart’s own favorite film of his in his vast filmography was in Billy Wilder’s The Spirit of St. Louis.

His wife, Gloria, was also a very talented comic actress, and both gave first-rate performances whenever they were on The Jack Benny Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdyH4IydQGs

Dan Heaton

Nice list. It’s great to see a few of the Mann westerns on there. I haven’t seen all his classics, but here’s my Top 10:

1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
2. Rear Window
3. Harvey
4. The Naked Spur
5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
6. Vertigo
7. Winchester ’73
8. Rope
9. The Man From Laramie
10. Rope