Jimmy Stewart would have been 110 years old today if nature hadn’t intervened. There were some tweets celebrating this fact, and it left me with two questions: (a) Which Stewart films are known by Millenials and Gen Z types, if any? and (b) What was Stewart’s greatest or most popular signature role?
I’m inclined to say his finest might not have been George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life or Scotty Ferguson in Vertigo — the two defaults that everyone always mentions.
My top two are actually Senator Ransom Stoddard in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, even though Stewart was obviously too old (53 or 54) to play a greenhorn in John Ford‘s 1962 western classic, and the dogged Chicago newspaper reporter in Call Northside 777.
I’m also a big fan of his Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis. And then comes his chilly-loner performance in Anthony Mann‘s Bend of the River.
My least favorite Stewart performances? Rupert Caddell, the snooty college professor in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope. and Chip Hardesty in Mervyn LeRoy’s The FBI Story.