Movie History - It's A Wonderful Life
"The appeal of James Stewart, the shy, inarticulate movie actor, is that he reminds every girl in the audience of the date before the last. He's not a glamorized Gable, a remote Robert Taylor. He's 'Jim', the lackadaisical, easy-going boy from just around the corner."
The above line was pulled from the attached article which was one of the first widely read profiles of Jimmy Stewart (James Maitland Stewart 1908 – 1997). Written four years after his arrival in the California dream factory and printed during the same year as his first encounter with the director Frank Capra in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", this article reveals that Stewart had a small town upbringing and was essentially the same character he played in It's a Wonderful Life
"Booth Tarkington might have created Jim Stewart. He's 'Little Orvie and Billie Baxter' grown up 'Penrod' with a Princeton diploma."
Suggested reading -
It's a Wonderful Life: Favorite Scenes from the Classic Film
James Agee, the film reviewer for THE NATION (1942 - 1948), was charmed by the warmth of It's a Wonderful Life
and believed that it was an admirable and well-crafted piece of film making; he nonetheless came away feeling like he'd been sold a bill of goods and rejected the movie primarily because he believed that films created in the Atomic Age should reflect the pessimism that created the era:
"Yet at its best, which is usually inextricable with its worst, I feel that this movie is a very taking sermon about the feasibility of a kind of Christian semi-socialism, a society founded on affection, kindliness, and trust, and that its chief mistake or sin --an enormous one--is its refusal to face the fact that evil is intrinsic in each individual, and that no man may deliver his brother, or make agreement unto God for him."
This article appears on this site by way of a special agreement with The Nation.
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