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With his lanky good looks, his earnest, genial demeanor, the recently deceased Stewart often played the prototypical American. His naturalistic style of acting, with its frequently parodied starts and stammers, seemed effortless, but as Stewart once remarked, "If I give a natural appearance on the screen, you can be damn well sure I'm working at it." He had no intention of becoming an actor, but a few amateur theatrical productions at Princeton soon had him hooked. He was quickly discovered by MGM, and by 1941 he was a top star with a clearly identifiable and beloved screen persona. After harrowing service during WW II as a bomber pilot, he returned to Hollywood and proceeded to make a series of notable films with Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann in which he deliberately subverted his prewar image to telling effect. But despite a few flashes here and there, this biography does not rise to the level of its subject. Preferring catalog to character, the author leapfrogs relentlessly from film to film, as if that was all that made up a life. Throughout, Fishgall (Against Type: The Biography of Burt Lancaster, 1995) reduces Stewart to little more than filmography leavened with a few familiar anecdotes, while psychological insight, analysis, and dissection of craft are mostly relegated to the sidelines. Fishgall has done an impressive amount of work, watching all of Stewart's scores of films, interviewing anyone with the slightest connection, reading all the requisite memoirs, but given the shallows in which he operates, he could have gotten by with half the effort.
It may have been a wonderful life, but this isn't a wonderful biography.
Posted September 12, 2009
I have always been very fond of Jimmy Stewart yet had never read a biography on him. This was extremely well written, thorough and enlightening. Great job by author, Gary Fishgall. A must read for Jimmy Stewart fans!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2009
As someone who has really enjoyed Jimmy Stewart's movies, I enjoyed learning more of the facts about him and his life. He comes across as the person I imagined he was, but the book is written as basically a compilation of just that: facts. There isn't much human interest involved in the reiteration of his life. I would have liked a more personal picture of the man and his life. Worth reading if yuou're a fan, but the book itself won't make you one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2009
A well-written biography, and Jimmy's war record is admirable. But he was a virtuous, conservative man, and though his films are usually enjoyable, this biography is kind of boring. Not the fault of the writer by any means. Jimmy got up, went to the studio, made movies, went home to wife and kids, was in bed by nine. Not the stuff to make a razzle-dazzle book. But I will always love Jimmy Stewart, and his fans will probably like his story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2000
Gary Fishgall does an incredible job telling the story about James Stewart. It's good to know we had an upstanding citizen in this country at one time (not that we don't now). He was and is one of the best actors that has ever graced the screen of the american cinema. If you want to learn about Jimmy Stewart and are a big fan of his work, read this book! Jimmy Stewart was and still remains to be a hero in this country for many different reasons.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.