Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Greatest man in Hollywood

James Stewart. 

Cecily said it best. "There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence". 

Rear Window, ages ago. It was not the tension that stuck in my mind more than anything else. Not even his acting which was hardly a revelation. Rather, it was his presence that eclipsed, quite effortlessly, the great American beauty of Grace Kelly.

This presence was deadly serious in Vertigo and almost comical in Shop Around The Corner, yet you always knew you were looking at the greatest man in Hollywood. Try setting him against the modern world of half-actors trying too hard to impress. 

The thing about them - they come and go. The thing about James Stewart - he was always going to stay.

Remarkably, he didn't even have to try. He could be the foolish idealist in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington or he could be the cynical reporter in The Philadelphia Story. His confidence was always palpable. You could feel its sweat on your forehead the way L.B. Jefferies felt the pressure of the midday heat. 

And then, of course, there was Harvey.

How often do you feel like a kid who's just seen his new favourite film? How often do you stare at a scene that is some kind of an impossible epiphany about a six-foot rabbit leaning against a lamppost? 

And, again, there is no one else there, just him filling your screen from top to bottom, with absolute confidence. 

Ah but do look closely. There is no doctor in that scene. No nurse. No dingy stairs of a dingy back street. Only James Stewart. And, of course, Harvey.