The Five Best James Stewart Performances

Guest blogger Rick29 writes:

The problem with listing the five best James Stewart films is that there are many more than five. But this month’s theme at my website is the “5  Best” and I’ll stick to it. I don’t like it, though. One of my all-time favorite movies, Anatomy of a Murder (which features a superb Stewart performance), wound up as an honorable mention. And I am ready to incur the wrath of fans of The Philadelphia Story.

1. Vertigo – Stewart did his best work in the 1950s, often playing down his natural charm to portray obsessive, driven characters. His finest acting came in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, where we watch a typical Stewart “nice guy” evolve into a man obsessed with an illusion. Contrast Scotty’s (Stewart) playful banter early on with Midge with his climactic confrontation with Judy—his eyes ablaze with confusion, hate, and something akin to love. It’s a brilliant and chilling transition.

2. Rear Window – As injured photographer “Jeff” Jeffries, Stewart played a character that seems like a the start of natural progression to Vertigo’s Scotty. Jeff is charming and likable, but his “hobby” of spying on his neighbors masks a subtle obsession with voyeurism. Stewart explores the shadows of Jeff’s personality, but never goes too far. We may question Jeff’s motives, but we always root for him.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life – Its frequent showings may have diluted its impact and Stewart’s brilliant acting job as George Bailey. However, Stewart’s post-World War II performance revealed a new maturity and depth that enable him to capture George’s desperation and passion. Those elements were present in earlier Stewart films, in particular Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but not to the extent that the actor channels them here.

4. Winchester ’73 – Any of the five Anthony Mann-James Stewart Westerns could fall into this slot, but I opted for Winchester ’73 simply because it was the pair’s first collaboration. In all of his Mann films, Stewart plays a loner with a dark past who is redeemed by love, friendship, and/or community acceptance. These grim, hard men are a stark contrast to the easygoing Tom Destry from Destry Rides Again and proof again of Stewart’s acting versatility.

5.Harvey – Playing a much older character, Stewart shines as the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is a 6’ 3.5” invisible rabbit (well, technically a pooka). As evidence of Stewart’s mastery of the role, I ask if you imagine anyone else saying this line: “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’—she always called me Elwood—‘in this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

Honorable mentions: Anatomy of a Murder, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Destry Rides Again, and The Shop Around the Corner.

What’s your favorite James Stewart performances? Sound off in the comments!

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café (http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/ on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Classic-Film-and-TV-Cafe/136423960949 and Twitter @classic_film ). He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!

 

James Stewart Articles:

James Stewart: It’s a Wonderful Career

James Stewart: His Five Best Performances

The Man From Laramie

Suspicion: First Viewing Experiences

 

  • Joe Glaeser

    I’ve narrowed it down to two, Destry Rides Again and Winchester ’73.In both films we see caring and passion. You, Rick29, make some very good points, but even in Destry he has the bitterness of what happened to his Father deep inside him.
    In Winchester ’73 you don’t have to look far to see the hate he feels for his brother for killing their Father. But you also see the kindness and warmth he feels for Shelley Winters. Two very fine films I watch over again and enjoy them as if it was the first AND the tenth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whatever41 Cynthia LaRochelle

    Who could forget Bell, Book and Candle,,,, what a cast! Harvey a top fave of mine.

  • Ed Schenker

    I happen to like the reluctant hero in THe Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. Even though he didn’t actually shoot him, he worked up the nerve to face him.

  • Justin Ray

    I would have to replace Winchester with Mr. Smith.. in fact, Stewart should have won the Oscar for this role, and the Academy should have given his “Philadelphia” Oscar to Henry Fonda or Charlie Chaplin… still, the list above does a great job of selecting a diverse, albeit short, list of Stewart’s vast cinematic talents.

  • Blair Kramer.

    Nope. Can’t argue with anything on your list. You got right.

  • Susan H

    Good listl and what you didn’t get, others did. I also like “Bell, Book and Candle”, though it is a little corney.
    HOWEVER, I do think “Mr. Smith” is one of the best performances ever.
    I also like the little part he has in “HOW THE WEST WAS WON”, and how George Peppard mimmicks him re: “the bear in the way” story.
    Great actor!

  • Allen Hefner

    Well, Rick, I don’t envy you, having to pick just five! But they are very good choices. Thanks for including Winchester ’73, which is one of my favorites.

    I would have liked to see Mr. Smith in there, but you, again, are correct with It’s a Wonderful Life. I try to watch it every other year, so it doesn’t get too familiar, but the ending always brings a tear to my eye.

  • Bernard Seto

    James Stewart is one American actor all can remember as being able to excelled in all film genres: Dramas, Comedies, Westerns, War movies,
    thrillers, even two bits in musicals. He is far more worthy to be called KING of Hollywood movies
    than the other more “feted and praised” actors
    like Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando. The best work of these great
    actors dimmed beside Stewart’s entire output.
    Disagree ? Take some time and think about it.

  • Blair Kramer.

    It’s very interesting to note that, for the most part, the best films in which our greatest film stars appeared tend to be comedies. Mind you, I’m not necessarily saying that the comedies offer the best performances. I’m just saying that the comedies are generally their best films. Think about it. We revere their comedies much more so than their dramas.

  • Steve Rothstein

    I would also include The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Mortal Storm. Loved Harvey

  • SAL RIGGIO

    I have to go with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Great film to watch every Christmas.

  • CJ

    My FAVORITE actor of all time! I love every film he ever made, and your list is nearly complete…for me, though, I loved him in “Cheyenne Social Club” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as much as those listed. And, lest I forget – “Bandolero” a thoroughly entertaining western with Dean Martin and Raquel Welch.

  • Kathy

    You missed Jimmy Stewart’s personal favorite role in the movie “Come Live With Me” with Hedy Lamarr. I also vote for “Who Shot Liberty Valance”, one of his best.

    But I agree with the selection of “Rear Window”. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not on my list of his greatest performances, there are far too many to choose in its place.

  • Marilyn

    Cheyanne country Club!!!!!! Every movie he did was a 5 star movie!!!!

  • Martin Stumacher

    You’re right. Five nearly narrows it down to few great films. My favorite is It’s A Wonderul Life. The Monty Stratton Story and Friendly Persuasion were two others that I recall that portrayed an ordinary man with exceptional courage.

    • Walt Bales

      Was Jimmie in Friendly? I know Gary Cooper was the lead; don’t remember Stewart in that film.

  • Sue

    Good list! He was also good in The Philadelphia Story, not so good in The Spirit of St. Louis, but that was due to a poor script and miscasting. He also didn’t have the range that many other actors of his era had, but that doesn’t take away from his great performances.

  • LF Keenan

    My 5 would be….The Philadelphia Story, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, You Can’t Take it With You, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Rear Window. I don’t think he ever gave a bad performance so it is difficult to narrow it down to just five. With all of his wonderful performances, it is hard to believe that he only won one best actor Academy Award…for The Philadelphia Story.

  • Jack Barrie

    Don’t forget “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH” where James played a clown and was never seen without his clowns make-up for the entire film.

  • Wayne F.

    Shenandoah and Harvey capture Stewart at both ends of the acting spectrum. The man could do it all. Throw in Anatomy of a Murder, and it’s like three differnt people.

  • Ron Ryan

    The man who knew too much taks my prize watch the end !!!

  • Billy C

    Why not make it a top 10m list instead?

    In no paricular order

    Philadelphia Story
    Rear Window
    Anatomy of a Murder
    Harvey
    Mr Smith…
    Its a Wonderful Life
    Vertigo
    Call Northside 777
    You Can’t Take it With You
    Destry Rides Again

    Tough Choices and some more that are just as deserving as these.

    • Harry

      Here a cow, there a cow, every where a cow cow. It does not rllaey matter who is the voice of John Cow. It is all about quality content and you deliver.

  • Chuck Millstein

    I can’t believe nobody listed “The Man from Laramie”- one of my all time favorite westerns, as well as one of my favorite Jimmy movies.

  • Raif D’Amico

    Rick29….You nailed it for me!!!

  • Ann

    Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Rear Window
    Call Northside 777
    Destry Rides Again

  • Anita Guin

    I really liked Jimmy and his movies. One of my favorites is “Flight of the Phoenix”..

  • Neil Hirsch

    I liked him best as darker characters, where he played against his nice guy image. These necessarily includes “Rear Window” (as a Peeping Tom) and “Vertigo” (as a potential necrophiliac). Of all the Anthony Mann westerns, his bleakest and meanest character was in “The Naked Spur.” And [SPOILER ALERT] don’t forget “After The Thin Man.”

  • Joseph Imhoff

    ‘Rope’ and ‘Anatomy of a murder’ always stick in my mind.

  • Joe

    Jimmy stewart was great in all the films listed above. However I am sorry not to see THE MAN THAT SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Stewart, Wayne and Ford, now that’s a trifecta!

  • Alvaro Pelayo

    We have to have in mind that nobody could ever should considered James Stewart at the same level of John Wayne, or Clark Gable, or Bing Crosby, or Robert Taylor, or Alan Ladd, or Jeff Chandler, or Burt Lancaster, or Robert Mitchum, or Audie Murphy, or Tony Curtis, or James Cagney, or Gary Cooper, just to name a few better actors than him. To me his worst performances among the best ones of his career are the Hitchcock ones. The best are, undoubtedly, 1) It’s A Wonderful Life, 2) You Can’t Take It With You, 3) Night Passage, 4) Destry Rides Again, 5) Winchester’73, 6) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 7) Harvey, 8) The Greatest Show On Earth, 9) The Cheyenne Social Club, 10) The Man Who Knew Too Much. Thank you all the great stars.

  • john pulliam

    As I am a western junky,I’d have to list in no particular order:BEND OF THE RIVER,SHENANDOAH,THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE,HOW THE WEST WAS WON,and WINCHESTER 73.

  • Richard Dicks

    My top five would be Harvey first, then followed by You Can’t Take it with you, Philadelphia Story, Winchester 73 and Destry Rides Again in no particular order. He was too old for the parts he played in The Spirit of St. Louis and Liberty Valance, but he did a good job anyway. He always came to play, no matter what the part. My second favorites was Winchester 73; he was great in it, but he was Harvey. He was a terrific actor and an even great American.

  • Bob

    Winchester ’73 all the way! Watching that movie impressed me with the versatility of Stewart’s acting when his seemingly mild mannered Lin McAdam turns on Dan Duryea’s Waco Johnnie Dean and slams his head into the bar in an act of lightning-fast and startling savagery. As fine as those other 4 roles were, you don’t see him do that in those movies.

  • Nora

    My favorite Stewart movie of all time is Rear Window. Not only did I enjoy it for its suspense (I am a die-hard Hitchcock fan), but for personal reasons as well. I watched it on video when I was bedridden with a broken leg — actually quite a few times — and was greatly encouraged. A movie that could easily have become claustrophobic showed that a person’s mind, imagination, emotions, and resourcefulness did not have to be confined to the wheelchair as one’s body may be. (And, by the way, I have had a full recovery.)

  • JohnCougar’sMelonCamp

    Anatomy of a Murder
    Winchester’73
    The Glenn Miller Story
    Harvey
    The Man From Laramie

  • Mary

    You did get it right. What a gem of an actor.

  • Charly Hulswitt

    “Harvey” is in a class by itself. Note to Martin Stumacher– I think”Friendly Persuasion” was a Gary Cooper flick.

  • James B.

    Jimmy Stewart was the type of actor whose name
    alone brought audiences to the movies.
    He was a fine actor als,and some of his movies
    were not even mentioned. My favorite was The Man Who Knew too Much,Vertigo,Rear Window,and It,s a Wonderful Life.He also starred with leading ladies
    that were stars in their own right.
    Can you list his leading ladies & stars that appeared in his movies. He was a wonderful actor,
    and played his parts flawlessly.

  • Mario Brescio

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    Vertigo
    You Can’t Take It With You
    Flight of The Phoenix
    Anatomy of a Murder

    Honorable Mention:
    Right of Way(1893) with Bette Davis

  • Mario Brescio

    oops, should be (1982).

  • Charles Trotter

    1.Flight of the Phoenix
    2.Anatomy of a Murder
    3.Cheyenne Social Club
    4.It’s a Wonderful Life
    5.Winchester 73

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1310635021 Scott Wannberg

    Flight of The Phoenix
    No Highway In The Sky
    The Naked Spur
    Rope
    Man From Laramie
    (5 more to add to yours)

  • Bob

    Martin Schumacher, are you thinking of Shenandoah?

    Another great Stewart Western–though not the equal of the others mentioned here–is 1968’s Firecreek, largely due to the interplay between Stewart’s reluctant part-time sheriff, and Henry Fonda’s wounded outlaw/gang leader on the run. And Flight of the Phoenix is another great one, I agree, again due to the interplay between Stewart and co-star Hardy Kruger.

  • Joanne Shipley

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the short List? I’m appalled.Leaving out Philadelphia Story all together just breaks my heart.There’s my wrath. Couldn’ help it.

  • Marvin Plevinsky

    James Stewart was also star of a ground-breaking
    western – Broken Arrow. It was the first movie to
    show Native Americans as intelligent human beings
    as opposed to the previous stereotypes of past
    westerns.
    It’s a shame that Mr. Stewart was not great in his
    personal life in that he spied on fellow actors
    for J. Edgar Hoover and the McCarthy witch hunts.

  • Matt Gaffney

    I love “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” but I’m surprised Charles Lindbergh one wasn’t mentioned. I can’t remember the name of the movie.

  • John

    “The Shop Around The Corner” is arguably the best romantic comedy ever and demands more of its leads in terms of emotional range than the average romcoms of today. That being said,the anger and desperation that Stewart displays in “It’s a Wonderful Life”- alongside the lighter moments-makes this his best performance ever.

  • marilyn

    I fail to see why Vertigo comes up so often. I think it is a poor movie. As for me I choose The Man from Laramie, Mr. Smith, Bend of the River, and Wonderful Life; not necessarily in that order. Mortal Storm is great, too.

  • WT

    It is really impossible to narrow James Stewart’s best performances because they are ALL GREAT!! Even though I thoroughly dislike Harvey, Mr. Stewart still gave a noteworthy performance. Some of my personal favorites include (not in any order): Come Live with Me, Winchester 73, Shenandoah, ALL of the Hitchcock films including Rope, the Philadelphia Story, the FBI Story, Made for Each Other, Broken Arrow, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. Let’s not forget his comedic knack in the Cheyenne Social Club. His body of work was one of the most comprehensive in the business. He was equally adept at playing mean and cantankerous as he was at portraying the humble and soft hearted George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

  • Mike Oldfield

    Sorry folks, but I think that THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS was one of his best films. Jimmy Stewart IS that entire movie! He has to carry a two-hour film almost singlehandedly and he gives a great performance. I’ve seen this film many times and it never bores me. THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX is another classic Jimmy Stewart film. For most of the film, he has to take orders from the whiz kid aircraft designer Hardy Kruger. Then,near the end, when the plane has been built, he once again takes command as the only guy who can fly it and it is a great moment on film.

  • Chuck Neumann

    I agree picking five is hard. I would go, by year, “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “The Stratton Story” (1949), “Harvey” (1950), “Rear Window” (1954), “Vertigo” (1958), “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959), “How the West was Won” (1963) and “Flight of the Phoenix” (1966). Oh Oh, that is nine. Take your pick. On TV, he did “Harvey” again in 1970 with Helen Hayes. He was even better in that than the 1950 film. A great actor with much greater range than most believe.

  • BILLYBOY

    THOUGH HE WAS MAGNIFICENT IN “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE”, UNQUESTIONABLY JIMMY STEWART’S GREATEST PERFORMANCE WAS IN “MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON”. OF COURSE HE HAD THE GREAT GOOD FORTUNE TO CO-STAR WITH JEAN ARTHUR AND THOMAS MITCHELL, AND A HOST OF GREAT CHARACTER ACTORS. I NOTE NOBODY IS VOTING FOR “THE PHILADELPHIA STORY”, FOR WHICH I THINK HE WON THE OSCAR. I DON’T LIKE THAT PICTURE OR THE PERFORMANCES IN IT. THE CHARACTERS ARE COMPLETELY PHONY, AND THE FILM TOO “ARCH” FOR WORDS. NO, IT’S “MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON”.

  • Steve in Sacramento

    Wow, what a career Stewart had! So many truly great movies, in large part no doubt because of him. I sometimes find Stewart just a little fussy/affected as an actor, but he did a lot of very fine work.

  • Steve in Sacramento

    Oh yeah, I second “The Mortal Storm,” one of the great early anti-Nazi films.

  • Tammi

    Harvey is one of my favorite Jummy Stewart movies. I don’t get why everyone loves Vertigo though. I love Stewart and Hitchcock but I hat that film.

  • BRIAN

    1Winchester 73
    2 The Mortal Storm
    3Harvey
    3Malaya
    4Bend Of The River
    5The Man From Laramie

  • roger lynn

    Its a Wonderful Life==he should of won the Oscar for this and best friend Henry Fonda should of won for The Grapes of Wrath…Bandalero is prob my favorite Stewart film

  • GAYLE

    What about “The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance”? I liked that one because it proves the Old West had
    SOME folks who were just plain folks w/o guns who came to settle our great country with good principles. And Mr. Stewart did good portrayal in “The Glenn Miller Story” as well.

  • mona

    i didnt see shanandoadoh on the list but its not just the best western ever made but the best movie james stward ever made

  • BDavisFan

    The Glenn Miller Story, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (shows his comedic range), Anatomy of a Murder, Rear Window, Broken Arrow.

  • GAYLE

    PS:: I forgot to include “Shenandoah”, “How the West Was Won” and “Stratigic Air Command” As has been said, he never made a “bad” one, really.

  • DONALD

    No Highway in the sky. Great perf.

  • Rita

    You picked 5 great movies. I would have picked Anatomy of a Murder and Shop Around the Corner instead of Rear Window and Vertigo, but that’ just me. James Stewart was such a great actor and made so many wonderful films, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just 5.

  • Barry

    It might be easier to list the five worst James Stewart performances. No, wait a minute, that doesn’t work at all!

  • Alfred Dreher

    He was great in everything. Certainly agree that Mr Smith Goes to Washington must be included in his top 5. And I cannot resist pointing out the he was not in Friendly Persuasion, that was Gary Cooper.

  • BStanley

    Kudos to WT as the only respondent who even dropped the title of Hitchcock’s ROPE (1948, an early non-“event” movie made in color). In addition to another seminal performance by Stewart (in an arguably supporting role, but I have to say he was the protagonist), the movie is quite possibly Hitchcock’s most underrated. I can think of no other “experimental” (done in eight flawless, uncut takes with a moving life-size puzzle of a set) film that also manages to be a riveting, thoroughly satisfying suspense chessmatch. The cast, to a person, all deserved Oscar attention, as did the movie itself!

  • Barry

    BTW, to illustrate what a real gentleman he was, in 1952 he appeared in a live play in Coconut Grove, Florida. My wife was only 8 years old and wanted to get an interview for her elementary school newsletter. She and her mother went backstage after a matinee performance to that end. They were allowed to meet him in his dressing room, but he said he needed to get a bite to eat up the street before he had to get ready for the evening performance. So, he graciously invited her to do the interview over dinner (with her mother’s permission and watching from a distance). He gave the interview to a very nervous and exited 8 year-old and also bought her dinner. Quite a guy, and in keeping with his public persona.

  • Cullen

    He had so many great performances, it is hard to narrow down to five. One of my favorites, which has only been mentioned once in the comments section, is FIRECREEK. I just got the DVD, so I’m looking forward to watching it again.

  • Luis Montero

    Mr Smith goes to Washington!!!!!…the story still holds the test of time.

  • William Patterson

    I think James Stewart’s acting in The Rope was his worst. He was just terrible. I believe James Stewart said he was miscast in The Rope and Vertigo. He could just not handle The Rope. James Stewart needed a movie in which he could play the James Stewart screen persona, and you know what that was. That persona did not fit into The Rope.

  • Irwin

    I can’t believe no one here mentioned his portrayal of David Graham in After The Thin Man (1936). He starts out as the sweet, loving, long suffering former beau of Nora’s cousin Selma; in other words the Jimmy Stewart persona with which we grew up. It is only in the final scene that he is exposed as a cunning, ruthless and vengeful murderer. His ability to turn his persona around in the flash of eye is absolutely marvelous and, for once, he is no hero.

    • Sani

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  • Pat

    Many of Stewart’s greatest performances were directed by Hitchcock and Anthony Mann, who brought out the affable actors darker side. Stewart also did comedy very vell in early films like “Vivacious Lady” with Ginger Rogers and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

  • Bob VanDerClock

    Can’t remember much of the movie but I believe Jimmy is a tough reporter in “Call Northside 777″…and I loved this flick as a kid.

  • Cal

    Your honorable mentions says: “The Shop Around the Corner” – but that movie had Tom Hanks as the owner of a discount book store which put his rival out of business.
    Perhaps you meant: “Little Shop Around the Corner” which is a delightful Christmas Holiday Movie (circa 1940) starring a young Jimmy Stewart.

  • JUanita Curtis

    Very difficult to choose just five films from his prolific body of work but I feel that he gave his best performances under the direction of Hitchcock. Definitely The Philadelphia Story and The Greatest Show on earth deserve honourable mentions. I am also not a great fan of Harvey – too whimsical for my tastes but I would never accuse him of bad acting.

  • Bean

    1. It’s a Wonderful life
    2. Vertigo
    3. Rear Window
    4. Mr Smith Goes to Washington
    5. The Shop Around the Corner

  • JANICE

    I FIND IT VERY DIFFICULT TO SINGLE ‘THE BEST’…. I LOVE JIMMY STEWART. (HE LIVES ON IN HIS TERRIFIC TREASURES HE LEFT BEHIND FOR US TO ENJOY OVER AND OVER AGAIN… I PERSONALLY THINK ” THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE” WAS SURELY UP THERE WITH HIS ‘BEST’ I LOVED THAT MOVIE; THE WHOLE CAST WAS SUPERB, AND THE STORY WAS GREAT! I ALSO THOUGHT HE WAS WONDERFUL IN “FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX” VERY GOOD ! “THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH” WAS A NAIL BITER…AND I LOVED “MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION” HIS SUPPORTING CASTS WERE ALWAYS SUPERB.IN THIS PARTICULAR MOVIE JIMMY SHOWED US A DIFFERENT SIDE , WITH HIS NARRATIVE, AND DEALING WITH HIS WILD CHILD TEENAGE GIRL! VERY FUNNY! I JUST LOVE HIS WORK AND NEVER MISS A CHANCE TO WATCH HIM…GOD LOVE AND BLESS YOU JIMMY STEWWART!!!

  • michael j.

    My 5 favorites are: 1) Anatomy of a Murder; 2)A Man From Laramie; 3)It’s A Wonderful Life; 4) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; & 5) Call Northside 777. Of course, seeing that Stewart was so good,next week, I just might change my mind.

  • Jim

    Great List! Like several others, I’ve got to include Broken Arrow and The Glenn Miller Story somewhere in the Top Five.

  • jw

    I believe Stewart received an Academy Award for his performance in The Philadelphia Story, but that apparently isn’t good enough to rank this film among his best. Also, if you’re going to list and of Stewart’s westerns, Broken Arrow should top the list.

  • RogerZ

    I agree with Gayle. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was played perfectly by Stewart.
    As was his performance in The Glenn Miller Story.

  • RogerZ

    Oh, and let’s not forget The Spirit of St. Louis and The Stratton Story.

  • Gerald Farr

    I think that Jimmy Stewart was probably over all one of the best American actors, ever. He’s on equal footing with Henry Fonda, John Wayne etc. I basicly agree with your top five and Honorable mentions with one exception. I’d take out Winchester’73 and include Destry Rides Again. Also, I haven’t seen The Far Country mentioned. He did an excellent job in that movie.

  • Lila Johnson

    Does anyone else remember a little gem called “No Highway in the Sky?” I think that’s the title. He played an absent minded scientist who predicts a dangerous failure in a particular commercial aircraft model and tries to convince people. Also stars Glynnis Johns and Marlene Dietrich. I haven’t seen it in years but always enjoyed it. I agree about Broken Arrow.

  • Joel Powers

    Can’t imagine VERTIGO with anyone else as Scottie. And LIBERTY VALANCE and WONDERFUL LIFE are positive treasures. But MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION is more than a light comic throw-away; James Stewart brings sensitivity as well as hilarity to this film, which is a perennial and oft-quoted favorite in my household.

  • Suze

    You Can’t Take It With You. The scream scene in teh restaurant with Jean Arthur is priceless. But as you say, five is impossibly few!

  • S.M.Sundaram

    I would appreciate the role of Jimmy in `Rear Window` and `The Man who Shot Liberty Valance`. In rear window as a sports photographer his concious was active in spite of the accident. In the film the Man who shot liberty valance,he lived the character of a senator who came down to the village to offer his homage to his old buddy who raised on an occasion years back as a mark of gratitude. Typical American Actor.

  • tony

    It is safe to say that Jimmy Stewart never made a bad movie here are few more like The Far Country, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur

  • hiram grant

    Yes, listing only five ia an impossibility. But doing a quick scan of all of the posters so far, I don’t notice NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY. It’s not ANATOMY OF A MURDER or VERTIGO or MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, but it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

  • Dave Manning

    This sort of choice is a fool’s errand, because there are so many to choose from, it becomes a personal preference. Jimmy Stewart was so dependable that he was often taken for granted, even with a bad script and less than stellar direction. For a few examples, check out “Broken Arrow” and “Shenandoah”, also “Anatomy of a Murder”
    See what I mean?

  • huge movie fan

    Liberty Valance, and yes he did have the nerve to shoot him, he just missed.

  • Steve in Sacramento

    @ Cal & William Patterson: You’ve Got Mail! Are you sure you don’t mean The Little Shop of Horrors Around the Corner?! Or It’s a Wonderful Little Life?! Broken Window? Mr. Smith Takes a Vacation to Philadelphia? How about The Rope from Laramie?!… Sorry, couldn’t resist! Methinks your movie titles aren’t QUITE right!

  • Cam Thompson

    Never saw a Jimmy Stewart film I didn’t like. When my daughter was around 10 we went to “Shenandoah”. She became hystrical at the end and it took me hours to get her calmed down. She still remembers it. Then “Broken Arrow” I was the same! Loved tht film but so sad.

  • Pat

    LILA——“No Highway in the Sky” has been shown on The Fox Movie Channel many times, if your cable company carries that station

  • Judy

    Yes, Jimmy Stewart was a great actor and a great American. He allowed his father to display his only Oscar in the front window of the family hardware store back in Pennsylvania. He and his only wife, Gloria, (he married rather later than most Hollywood male stars, most men in general) had lost their only son in Vietnam. I believe they also had twin girls, one of whom was named Judy. Stewart was a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserves, and that’s why he made Strategic Air Command. I believe he also made a movie about the FBI. As for that constant cry of “McCarthy witch hunts,” I believe a statue should be put up to the memory of what Joe McCarthy was trying to do — root out the fifth column from the propaganda machine of old Hollywood. There were many in the colony who were card-carrying Communists, just as there are fifth columnists/useful idiots now in the entire entertainment industry. Is anyone fonda of what Jane did during the Vietnam War? And she still doesn’t see anything wrong with her behavior back then…yeesh. Back to Stewart films: he was delightful at the end of his movie career in “Dear Brigitte” that had cameo appearance with Bardot.

  • Joy

    Shenendoah and The Flight of the Phoenix are probably top of my list….no definately! Then The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and I have always loved Night Passage. And for sheer fun because I am a child of the era…Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation. It is just as hard to make people laugh as it is to make them cry…possible harder????

  • Lila Johnson

    Pat…thanks. I saw No Highway on YouTube last night. Not just a clip but the entire film.

  • Teri

    I don’t think you could really narrow anything JS did to 5 best films. He was great in everything I’ve ever seen him in. His dramatic performances made you forget that he was acting, and not really experiencing, what was going on. But then he was just as good in more of a comedic role. I loved him just as much in The Cheyenne Social Club as I did in Rear Window. And yes, you can categorize him in the same leaque as John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Alan Ladd, and all the other actors that someone said were better actors than him. That’s a load of crap. Jimmy was one of the best!

  • Gil

    Jimmy played his last romantic lead in 1958’s Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak. Earlier that year, he first teamed up with Kim in Vertigo. It just so happens that these are two of my favorite Jimmy Stewart films. The on screen chemistry between Jimmy and Kim is smoldering hot. It is impossible to just choose 5 of his best films. He’s always been my favorite leading man because he was so passionate, real and believable. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rowena.lincolnpettus Rowena Lincoln-Pettus

    Rear Window, Vertigo and It’s A Wonderful Life; my all-time favorites. However, I watched him in “After the Thin Man, 1936″ as David Graham. He was all of 28 yrs old and you could see the potential for the great actor he was to become. He was great in that movie even though it turned out badly for him.

  • mags

    Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks are the same guy in different generations. They both do comedy and they both do drama but a lot of the movies could stand on their own two feet without them. (The best version of the shop around the corner story was “In the Good Old Summertime” with Van Johnson trumping the pair of them).

    JS’s comedies (even Harvey & TPS) were good but the performances in them were by no means unmatchable. I have two words for you… “Cary Grant.” So his comedies are out of the running for me.

    Other movies were so good and so chock full of talent that, while Jimmy was good… Was it him or was it everything and everyone else about the movie? For me this rules out It’s a wonderful Life, most of the Hitchcock’s, etc…

    I haven’t seen every movie the man’s made but it would seem that his best opportunities to set the bar were in his westerns and other more dramatic roles.

    I like the staples best, but evaluating his performance for its own sake I have to go with the following:

    Liberty Valance
    Shenandoah
    Destry
    Flight of the Phoenix
    How The West Was Won

  • Clay Robinson

    Just a few comments rather than trying to pick out my five favorites: First James Stewart was an actor and not a movie star as evidenced by his lifestyle and private life, which he kept private. Secondly, one reason it is difficult if not impossible to pick out five best for Stewart is that he was careful to choose roles which suited his talents and most probably his interests; I do think his best work was done after World War II. It is worth noting that a man who flew over 25 combat missions in B-17s never gave in to the pressure to do a war movie in the post war period. I do not count Strategic Air Command as a war movie; maybe, a cold war movie; but that’s another issue. During the Vietnam War, Mr. Stewart did not publicly engage in the debate which raged in this country. He did not “wear his patriotism on his sleeve”. I prefer to think that this was because he was a thoughtful, first hand observer of war.

  • NAT COHEN

    FOR A WESTERN FILM….THE NAKED SPUR AND DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.
    FOR HIS BEST… MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

  • Patrick

    Have to agree with Irwin re: After the Thin Man. Jimmy’s mad scene at the end was priceless. Even though he was quite a young actor then, you could see that he was itching to subvert his already-in-place bumbling, aw-shucks nice-guy image.

  • Roger Phillips

    Favorites but not in order: It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rear Window, Philadelphia Story, Destry Rides Again

    By so many responses it is clear than most people loved Jimmy Stewart. Imagine a Hollywood actor who left his fame and fortune to serve in World War II and was a living hero. Also, once he married Gloria they stayed so until her death. Not many stars seemed to have his morals in their personal life. Who could criticize Jimmy Stewart?

  • Mark H.

    Flight of The Phoenix.

    As a side note I’m curious as to how many of you
    went to see the re-make? Although not as good as
    original(are they ever?)I still thought it was a
    decent movie. As Dennis Miller would say,”That’s
    just my opinion and I could be wrong”.:>)

  • J. BRENNAN

    Harvey, easily. A difficult role in an underrated movie.

  • Todd

    Lets not forget The cowboys, Carbine Williams, and the Man that shot Liberty Valance.

    • isabella

      Thanks for sirhang your 5 things LaLa. TEAM ANTHONYS! But I hope you change your mind about a little girl one day I pray you will?

  • sonny lachner

    TAKE 2….JIMMY STEWART WAS ONE OF MY IDOLS THERE WAS HARDLY A MOVIE THAT HE MADE THAT I DIDN’T LIKE, MY LIST OF FAVORITES HE MADE…THE SPIRIT OF ST.LOUIS…WINCHESTER 73…THE MAN FROM LARAMIE..THE F.B.I. STORY…NIGHT PASSAGE….THE GLENN MILLER STORY….THE LIST IS ENDLESS…IN 1965 I ALMOST MET HIM IN YUMA, ARIZONA WHERE HE WAS SHOOTING “THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX ” I WAS PICKING SOMETHING UP FOR MY C.O. AND WAS KILLING SOME TIME BY WALKING AROUND THE MOTEL WHERE THE CAST AND CREW WERE STAYING…THE HOLIDAY INN…I WENT IN BACK OF THE MOTEL AND LO AND BEHOLD WHO WAS DOING HIS LAUNDRY BUT “WACO JOHNNY DEAN” DAN DURYEA….WHAT A GREAT CHAT I HAD WITH HIM…NEVER KNEW HE HAD SO MANY FRECKELS….HE HAD TO LEAVE TO RE SHOOT A SCENE AND I HAD TO FINISH MY JOB FOR MY C.O.GOT IN TO THE MILITARY TRUCK AND AS WE PULLED AWAY OUT OF HIS ROOM CAME JIMMY STEWART ….I HOLLERED AT HIM AND HE WAVED BACK AT ME….AS I SAID THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER JAMES STEWART…THIS WAS A TRUE STORY -30-

  • Christopher Anne Samson

    Thanks for mentioning Shop Around the Corner. That is a gem. A delightful script, good direction, fine cast, beautifuly performed by all. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not seen it.

    Choosing only five ‘best’ performances by Stewart — ouch!

  • Katie

    I couldn’t disagree with those 5…although I’ve never liked VERTIGO much.
    One that I totally adore, maybe not an ‘exceptional’ performance,as far as Jimmy is concerned, is SHENANDOAH.
    Being a Southerner, and a sucker for tear jerkers, this is one of my all time favorites.
    I can see just one or two minutes of it and I’m crying like a fool. His Charlie Anderson is just pure Jimmy Stewart-becoming the man he portrays.

  • lizmovie fan

    I adore Jimmy Stewart and have for years! I have all of the top 10 listed, but you left out “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” Love that movie! And, a guilty pleasure of mine –
    “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” – I loved it as a kid and still love to see it!

  • Mike Hricik

    You totally forgot Mountain Road–China during World War II. It was superb!

  • Carol

    I also think JImmy Stewart gave a very good performance in “The Mortal Storm” with Margaret Sullivan about the beginmning of Nazism.

  • Carol

    JImmy Stewart made movies with some of the greatest female stars! A partial list.
    Jean Harlow – Wife v. Secretary
    Myrna Loy – After the Thin Man
    Kim Novak – Vertigo and Bell, Book and Candle
    June Allison – The Glenn Miller Story
    Lauren Bacall – The Shootist
    Jean Arthur – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Margaret Sullivan – The Shop Around the Corner
    Donna Reed – It’s a Wonderful Lfe
    Marlene Dietrich – Destry Rides Again
    Shelly Winters – Winchester
    Janet Leigh – The Naked Spur
    Doris Day – The Man Who Knew Too Much
    Grace Kelly – Rear Window
    Hedy Lamarr – Come Live with Me
    Lee Remick – Anatomy of a Murder
    Katharine Hepburn – The Philadelphia Story
    The list goes on and on!

    BTW, I LOVE VERTIGO AND BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE, AND THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER.

    • Diamond

      Well, not eervyone is the exact same are they? Think about it, do you look exactly like your ancestors? I think I personally kinda like the new Zelda design.

  • Carol

    P.S. Forgot Ginger Rogers, Vivacious lady
    Brigitte Bardot, Dear Brigitte
    Maureen O’Hara, etc., etc.

  • Gord Jackson

    James Stewart has always been a personal favourite of mine, and choosing his so-called five best performances is really an exercise in choosing five favourite movies in which Stewart performed – admirably. So here goes:

    1. “The Spirit of St. Louis” – he had me convinced that I was in the cockpit flying that plane. My absolute favourite Jimmy Stewart movie, regretably a 1957 boxoffice bust.

    2. “The Stratton Story” – I just recently re-watched it and you have Stewart personable and snarky in this one.

    3. “Anatomy of a Murder” – He was no cornpone even if George C. Scott’s character thought otherwise. Aw shucks and all business as circumstances dictated.

    4. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” – It’s tough keeping your dignity front and centre when The Duke wants to fight your battles for you.

    5. “Winchester 73″ – The first of the great Anthony Mann noir westerns. Dark, even psychotic, and he pulls it off brilliantly in any one of those fine five films.

    Honourable mentions:

    “Harvey”, “Broken Arrow”, the other four Mann westerns and Call Northside 777.”

  • Richard

    Of all the great westerns James Stewart made with
    Anthony Mann my favorite is The Naked Spur. I was
    glad to see that some readers mentioned Call Northside 777. It’s a powerful film with another
    stellar performance by Stewart. I agree with the
    selection of Vertigo, Rear Window and Mr. Smith
    Goes to Washington.

  • Adler

    Stewart’s maturity as an actor took hold after the war through the early part of 1960’s. Stewart at the bar in ” It’s a Wonderful Life” praying to God from help rivals his own words to Kim Novak in ” Vertigo” …” I loved you so much.”. The pain, pathos, and humility in those scenes came from a man who experienced and understood the human condition.

    • cindy

       Adler,I loved that line from Vertigo,and felt his pain.Vertigo is my personal favorite.

  • Debbie

    I really like The Glenn Miller Story and I also
    adore all the Hitchcock movies he made. I don’t know why some people don’t care for Vertigo it was Alfred Hithcock’s masterpiece.
    Thanks everyone for sharing.

  • CJ

    I just watched “The Man from Laramie”…and I have to add this to the list of “best” for Mr. Stewart – my favorite actor of all time – the subtlety of emotions on his face during several scenes had me slack-jawed.

  • J.Gallagher

    12 ANGRY MEN No special anything just great acting

    • hypatiab7

       Stewart wasn’t in 12 Angry Men. His buddy Henry Fonda was.

  • Vann Morrison

    Don’t forget:
    The Rare Breed
    The Far Country
    Bend of the River
    The Man from Laramie

  • Vann Morrison

    Oh yeah, don’t forget: Strategic Air Command and The Glen Miller Story

  • Vann Morrison

    Dear Bridgett with Jimmy Stewart,Billy Mumy and Bridgett Bardot

  • Melanie

    IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE will always be my favorite. I don’t think the 19 years it was in public domain and shown so much on TV hurt it in the least. It is now licensed to NBC and has not been shown more than once or twice a year on TV since around 1993. The mistake people make is viewing it as a “Christmas movie.” It is NOT a Christmas movie. A little segment of it takes place at that time. The movie itself is a study in dreams seemingly deferred. James Stewart brought a quality to the role that few could have…and I believe it was his war experiences that enabled him to draw on the pain. It showed in his very being when he is in the bar. This is a dark movie, not the light family fare people who do not actually WATCH it believe it to be.

  • chris mattson

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH IS A CLASSIC STEWART/HITCHCOCK MOVIE THAT I COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER. I ENJOYED ALL HIS MOVIES AND CONTINUE TO. FROM MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, MORTAL STORM AND FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX– I TRULY ENJOY THE ENTIRE STEWART FILM LIBRARY. THEY DON’T MAKE THEM LIKE MR. STEWART ANYMORE. HE IS MISSED.

  • Laura B.

    I have to agree that I love pretty much everything with Jimmy Stewart. My top ten are:

    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Destry Rides Again
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    The Philadelphia Story
    Of Human Hearts
    You Can’t Take it With you
    The Shop Around the Corner
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    The Shopworn Angel
    The Stratton Story

    And my guilty pleasures are: Bell, Book and Candle, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Take Her, She’s Mine and his early brief role in Rose-Marie.

  • Vickie

    My all time favorites are:
    REAR WINDOW
    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
    CARBINE WILLIAMS
    ANATOMY OF A MURDER
    ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE
    HARVEY

  • Susan

    I’ve waited and thought about all the James Stewart movies that i’ve enjoyed for months. I hoped that one would finally stand out among the list of wonderful performances he gave in the legacy of his career. While all the films that people here have noted are among my favorites, and the one I’ve chosen might not show his best performance, the role that sticks in my mind is in “Made for Each Other”. Here, he is a young attorney who meets and marries Carole Lombard. Although the 1939 atmosphere is a bit dated, they face the trials of providing companionship for his widowed and critical mother, as well as the pay cutting Boss from Hell, and the opportunistic backstabbing jealousy from a snarky co-worker that still play as true characters today. His frustration over not being able to provide for his wife turns from comedic to dramatic when his baby who sleeps in his tiny apartment’s dining room becomes ill

  • Susan

    (sorry I hit enter). Anyway, Jimmy shows his acting chops as he pleads for financial help from his boss (Charles Coburn) so that a pilot can fly lifesaving serum across a storm ridden US to save Stewart’s baby boy. This movie performance is funny, romantic, sad and nobody can demonstrate stuttering frustration better than Jimmy. I wish that more people could discuss this gem, so if you haven’t seen it, take the time. You won’t be sorry.

  • jimmy

    could anybody tell me the name of the film james stewart had a bell on his spur thank you

  • SONNY LACHNER

    HEY JIMMY, THE WESTERN YOU ARE THINKING OF WHERE HE HAD A BELL ON…WAS NOT ON HIS SPUR, BUT, ON THE SADDLE HORN OF HIS HORSE PIE THAT HE USED IN MANY OF HIS WESTERNS….. THOUGHT I’D CLEAR UP THAT FOR YOU…..-30-

  • tim

    1. mr smith goes to washington 2. it’s a wonderful life 3. the man who shot liberty valance 4. the spirit of st. louis 5. the stratton story.

  • JDC

    Great comments befitting America’s most versatile and (in my view) accomplished actor. Glad to see mention of: The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Glenn Miller Story, Anatomy of a Murder, and The FBI Story – all from the 1950’s and all reflecting, through a broad range of characters, Stewart’s consistantly high quality performances and ability to convincingly anchor an entertainng story.

  • H Lowe

    Right of Way. yes
    Harvey was good, but i likes
    Harry Andersons version better.
    And all the others he made.
    There was only one Jimmy Stewart.

  • Mary Anna

    Kathy,sorry but you’re wrong.James Stewart’s personal favorite wasn’t “Come live with me” It was “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Which is also my favorite of his.Followed closely by: “Shop around the Corner”.”Mr.Smith goes to Washington” and “Anatomy of a murder”

  • Mary Anna

    William Patterson, James Stewart didn’t say he was miscast in “Vertigo”.What he did say was that he was miscast in “Rope” and “Bell,Book and Candle”.I totally agree with him on those two.

  • Mary Anna

    J Gallagher, James Stewart wasn’t in “12 Angry Men”.You’re thinking of a Henry Fonda movie.

  • debbie

    I love The Glenn Miller Story, it was a warm and tender story of one of America’s greatest band leaders. And the resemblence to to Glenn Miller is uncanny. The late Harry Morgan co-starred. Happy New Year everyone.

  • Victor Alvarez-Tapia

    This man also served his country as a pilot in World War II. I mention that because James Stewart was more than a great actor, he was also a great citizan of this nation.

    • Shenandoah

      Couldn’t agree with you more Victor!
      Very unlike most of our liberal hollywood stooges today who only seem able to produce PG-13
      movies and crackpot ideas.

  • Connie

    Love them all – but, particularly:
    1. It’s a Wonderful Life
    2. Harvey
    3. Shenandoah
    4. The Shop Around the Corner
    5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    6. Broken Arrow

  • Kenneth Morgan

    Somewhat off-topic, but Stewart also did a fair amount of work on radio. For one of his best performances in that medium, look for an episode of the series “Suspense” titled “Mission Completed”. He gives a powerful performance as a paralyzed WWII veteran who’s driven to murder when he sees his nemesis from a Japanese POW camp in America. It’s well-worth a listen.

  • gr

    THUNDER BAY AND IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD should be added to the long list , there is no such thing asonly five best when it comes to Jimmy Stewart

  • ed cohen

    I think James Stewart was a very good actor in some great movies. The problem I have with him, and many of you may want to lynch me for this, is I think he was NOT such a versatile actor. He’s always playing the “good samaritan” type of role. For example, in a not so great film such as “Bandolero” in which his career was winding down back in I believe 1968, he’s a bank robber along with brother Dean Martin. Even here, you’re rooting for him because he’s still nevertheless morally decent. If you want to talk about versatility, then include the very underrated Cary Grant(Bring Up Baby through Notorious and North by Northwest), Jack Lemmon(Good Neighbor Sam and Days of Wine and Roses)and my all time favorite, George C. Scott(The Flim-Flam Man to Dr. Strangelove to Patton). I can’t see Mr. Stewart as versatile as the actors I’ve just mentioned.

    • Shenandoah

      Ed,
      Cary Grant is not very underrated!!
      Just take a look at the polls and you’ll see people actually voted him as a better actor then James Stewart AND John Wayn!
      All three are almost tied in my book but James Stewart is still my favorite:)

      • Whatever41

        No one has mentioned “Shenandoah”??? The film about a family swept into the Civil War that they wanted no part of, because their youngest son was arrested for wearing a rebel cap he found. A movie that gets me every time I watch it.

        • hypatiab7

           I enjoyed this movie, but liked the stage musical version with John Cullum more. It told the same story but managed to connect to the anti-Vietnam
          War feeling of the day. And, what a magnificent voice John Cullum had.

          My favorite Jimmy Stewart movies are:

          The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
          Broken Arrow
          Destry Rides Again
          It’s A Wonderful Life
          Harvey
          The Philadelphia Story
          Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
          Spirit of St. Louis (loved the bit with the fly)

  • Jack

    Harvey & Vertigo are my favorites. But every movie he was in was great. It was called ‘acting’ in those days.

  • Doghousereilly1

    True, his most powerful performance may have been in “Vertigo,” but I have a soft spot in my heart for Elwood.

  • Robert0320

    Chronologically: MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE, CALL NORTHSIDE 777, HARVEY and VERTIGO

  • Rick

    Shenandoah
    Cheyenne Social Club
    Harvey
    Rear Window
    After the Thin Man

  • L.D.

    Love ‘The philadelphia Story’ and ‘Harvey’, but ‘Destry Rides Again’ is a hoot!. L.D.

  • Filmax

    WINCHESTER 73, MAN FROM LARAMIE, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE AND HARVEY

  • Chris Mattson

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS, GLENN MILLER STORY, MORTAL STORM,  MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON ETC. ETC. ETC. TOO MANY TO MENTION. I ALSO LOVED FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX

  • Steve in Sacramento

    I sometimes have mixed feelings about Jimmy Stewart; I can be a little too conscious of him acting at times (for instance, the way he uses his hands, etc.), and I’m not a big fan of his Westerns (at least those I’ve seen), since he tends to come across as just too “tortured” for my taste.  All that being said, man, this guy really did do a lot of good work in a LOT of very good movies. I haven’t seen every one of them, but I’ll go ahead and supply my list. Which is (not necessarily in order):

    Rear Window 
    Vertigo
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    The Philadelphia Story 

    And yes, five is too few.  The Shop Around the Corner, Anatomy of a Murder, Harvey, and The Mortal Storm, among others, certainly deserve mention.

  • billyweeds

    Jimmy Stewart is my favorite film actor of them all.  His best performances were for Hitchcock, in “Rear Window” and “Vertigo” (he was not so hot in “Rope”).  “Rear WIndow” happens to be my favorite movie, so that gets the edge.  I also loved him in “Born to Dance,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “After the Thin Man,” and “The Philadelphia Story” as well as many more.  Didn’t love him in Westerns, and a couple of his domestic comedies are unbeliavably lame.  I’m talking “Take Her, She’s Mine” and “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.”

  • BadGnx2

    James Stewart is easily one of the best motion picture actors of all time. He could easily slip into comedic performances or strong dramatic roles. The list that the author gives out is one that I can agree with and for all the same reasons. The only change I would probably make would be “Harvey”. While Stewart’s acting is generally lauded, I find the film a bit too whimsical for my tastes. If I had to choose a comedic role, I would probably go for “Destry…” or “Philadelphia Story”.

    Its almost surprising that “Its A Wonderful Life” is generally shown around Christmas time time, ’cause taken on its own, its REALLY A VERY DARK FILM. I don’t think a movie about a guy that wants to kill himself out of sheer desperation and depression is the right movie to show the kiddies. But leave it to Stewart and Capra to pull it off and have it end on a very optimistic ending. Something only a few truly skilled filmmakers (such as Billy Wilder or John Ford) could pull off.

    • Dana-thompson

      You miss the point my friend, redemption, and the reality that it is darkest before the dawn

    • Sharclon8

      Dana-thompson is right, you miss the point. At the darkest he feels such a failure, it takes a miracle to help him see that success is not what “the world” sees it.  He is a great man because he has helped, has served, has put selfishness aside – that is real success.  As the last twenty minutes of the movie demonstrate.  That is why it is such a beloved movie. [I blieve it is the favorite movie of: Mr. Stewart, the director Frank Capra, and the female lead Donna Reed. Not to mention many, many of the general popultion of movie lovers.

    • Crafty-lady

      I agree with BadGnx2 about “Its A wonderful Life”. It was depressing to me because he never got to travel or do any of the things he wanted to. I watch the movie because I love all his performances. When I was younger, I saw the movie differently then I do now.

    • hypatiab7

       I have to admit that Elwood Dowd in Harvey makes me feel a bit uncomfortable at times,
      but that is the power of Stewart’s performance.

  • http://awesomesauciness.wordpress.com/ awesomesauciness

    I don’t care what movie he’s in, Jimmy Stewart is the coolest cat and my favorite actor of all time.

  • Grampa Mike

    He played a very convincing ne’er do well brother of Jeanette MacDonald in Rose Marie.  I’ve always wondered if that was his first role.

    • hypatiab7

       I’m not sure, but I think his first role was a looney brother in one of the Thin Man Movies.

  • Psychoajr

    Right on the money!  My top 5 would have been the same and in the exact order!

  • Ppasq

    I would definitely put Bell, Book and Candle on the top five Jimmy Stewart movie list. It is a terrific movie with a top top cast and a great comedy.

  • Dawn

    James Stewart is my favorite actor of all time. I love the list but I would put Harvey first and Rear window second. Harvey is whimsical but not childish. We could all stand to be a little more like Elwood P. Dowd and Rear Window was just awsome all the way around. I love Hitchcock.

  • 1Noel45

    The Man from Laramie
    Vertigo
    Anatomy of a Murder
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Rear Window.

    He’s never given anything less than an honest performance although his consistently best work was done for Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock. 

  • Dana-thompson

    I love everything that Jimmy Stewart has done, he was great in Rope as well as all other mentioned films, I love, love, love Rear Window and Harvey and It’s a Wonderful Life

  • Sandy clarke

    its;s a wonderful life, veritigo,rare breed,bell book and candle,rear window

  • Crafty-lady

    Bell, Book and candle! I love that movie!

  • Fishman29

    You guys left out the best picture he ever was in. Anybody remember the Glenn Miller Story with June Allyson or North by Northwest, Bell,Book and Candle, Its a wonderfull life, Harvey the rabbit, Vertigo, Rear Window these are the one’s I enjoyed the most.

    • Crafty-lady

      Oh, I love all those movies! My favorites are North by Northwest and Bell, Book and Candle!

  • Marry431

    It’s a Wonderful Life is my favourite James Stewart film as it reflects real life, in that everyone has a purpose in life. I think James Stewart was a versatile actor, and I can honestly say there isn’t a film he has been in that I disliked.

  • Marry431

    I remember The Glenn Miller story, in fact it is in my collection of what I describe as a Classic, my daughter liked Winchester 73. I thought North by NorthWest was Cary Grant? another excellent actor capable of being serious or comical.

  • Boyington

    I love Jimmy Stewart in practically all of his movies, and it goes without saying that he was great in his “Classics” (Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith,  Philadelphia Story, etc.) but my favorite performances are in some of his lesser known movies like SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, THE MORTAL STORM, COME LIVE WITH ME, OF HUMAN HEARTS and THE SHOPWORN ANGEL

  • Jbruno

    Spirit of St Louis, Mr. Hobbs takes a vacation, The man who shot Liberty Valance, Winchester 73….

  • Joe USMC

    Vertigo and Bell book and Candle with the lovely Kim Novak.
    Winchester 73,Who shot Liberty Valance,The Man From Laramie plus other westerns.
     By the way North By Northwest starred Cary Grant, not Jimmy.

  • Msidd

    It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Glenn Miller Story.

  • Marvwaddy

    Glen Miller Story, Monty Stratton Story, Strategic Air Command, Harvey, Man who SHot Liberty Valence, A wonderful LIfe

  • D Petersen

    Harvey, Harvey, Glenn Miller Story, Harvey and I have to say, Harvey is probably my favorite.

  • Sass985

    Amazing that no one has mentioned ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. While not a starring role for him, who do you think was under the clown’s make-up?

    • Whatever41

      His name was “Buttons the Clown” and he gave little dog to a small girl in the audience. Wonderful performance.

      • Cara

        Probably the best performance in the film. DeMille wasn’t known for getting great performances from his actors. Stewart had the acting chops to pull off a quiet, poignant performance on his own.

  • Joe

    The Man That Shot Liberty Valance should be on the list.  It is a classic Western, directed by the great John Ford.  There are great scenes with Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne.

  • Lolly828

    Rear Window, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Man who knew too much, Shenandoah, and The Shop around the Corner!  And yes, Joe, the man to shot Liberty Valance SHOULD be on the list, and it gets honorable mention.

  • Phyllis

    Harvey; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; It’s A Wonderful Life; Bell, Book and Candle; and The Glenn Miller Story are my five favorites.

  • B.Shields

    The five I like most are, Rear Window, The Glenn Miller Story, North by Northwest, and Stratigic Air Command
    and for laughs pure and simple   Father Goose

    • Raadsel

      Father Goose was Cary Grant, also.  Interesting that it’s easy to mix those two up.

  • B.Shields

    Correction North by Northwest was Cary Grant, sorry.
    My fifth pic would be Vertigo

  • Misaligne Dave

    How about Shenandoah?

  • Normangillen

    No Highway in the Sky, Two Rode Together, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Winchester ’73, and Destry Rides Again.

  • Mustang921

    Just saw Spirit of St. Louis recently on AMC and loved every minute of it. Especially a funny part was in the beginning when they were frying the fish the Sand Dabs, which are a west coast fish. and he’s using a torch to heat the fish and cook it. Great scene!!!  Stewart was the “big wig from St. Louis”. LOL

    Other favs include Harvey, Flight of the Phoenix, Rear Window, and Glenn Miller story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    “The Spirit of St. Louis” is my hands-down favourite Jimmy Stewart movie.  I was 17 when it was released and I remember sitting there feeling like I too was flying that plane, an impression that will always stay with me.

    Other Stewart films I very much like include “Anatomy of a Murder”, “Winchester 73″, “The Man From Laramie”, “Harvey” and a real fav, “The Stratton Story.”

  • Kathy

    Vertigo and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Nothing can top Vertigo in my opinion.

  • Carolyn E Naclerio

    Vertigo, Rear Window, It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, Liberty Valance

  • Brian Lawton

    “The Man from Laramaine” when he gets shot in his hand
    “The Naked spur” when he breaks down in front of Janet Leigh 
    You can’t help but feel emotional for his character in both and
    Anthony Mann brought that out in him.

  • Mweiner579

    It’s a Wonderful Life
    The Man Who Knew Too Much
    Flight of the Phoenix
    Shenandoah
    Spirit of St. Louis

  • Madgrunt_crazy

    Vertigo and Rear Window, the best double feature I ever saw.

  • Sullivanedward

    I agree with all of your choices but I will always have a very special place in my heart for Mr Smith Goes to Washington

  • Cyfairbob

    In no certain order, Vertigo, Harvey, Rear Window, Flight of the Phoenix, and in a total change of pace, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

  • Cyfairbob

    Whoops, I forgot IAWL, and Anatomy of a Murder.

  • Tropshirt69

    winchester 73…vertigo…mr. smith goes to washington…the scranton story….the glen miller story

  • http://twitter.com/LarryCox6 Larry Cox

    The Cheyenne Social Club.

  • Archie Leach

    Shenandoah (for which he should have received the Oscar), Rear Window, It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, Philadelphia Story  
    If you haven’t seen his performance in the second Thin Man movie as a supporting character you should, it might surprise

  • Pkmeans

    Shenandoah, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rear Window (odd, never cared too much for Vertigo), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

  • Carolyn

    Shannandoah, hands down.

  • Filmax

    Man from Laramie, Winchester 73, Anatomy of a Murder, Rear Window, and Harvey. Honorable mention to Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life. Just saw Vertigo yesterday and
    liked Kim more than Jim. His other Hitchcock films were better.

  • Dudeswife

    I think he is too, absolutely, not only was he the best ever actor, but he was also a very good man.  Never ever heard anything bad about him…  I am a fan, and my maiden name is Bailey lol

  • Dudeswife

    I love all his movies but my favorites are Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life and Take her She’s Mine, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Cheyenne Social Club, Rear Window and Dear Bridgitte

  • Dudeswife

    Oh yea me too on Shennadoah but so sad and loved his horse he rode for 22 years, Pie,, and research I have seen also says he did most all his own stunts..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AEI5KB6BJ65OCHYTWZMAH75O3I Jeffrey

    Not necessarily in this order: Harvey; You Can’t Take It With You; Rear Window;The Man Who Knew Too Much; Anatomy of A Murder. I was lucky enough to see JS in the Broadway revival of Harvey w/ Helen Hayes as a 16th birthday gift from my father. Rear Window finihes just a bit ahead of the other Hitchcock collaborations, while Anatomy of A Murder is one of my favorite courtroom dramas of all time.

  • Rick A

    REAR WINDOW, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, THE GLENN MILLER STORY, ANATOMY OF A MURDER, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE,

  • Dawn N.

    Harvey is my absolute favorite! James Stewart is such an awsome actor and he is trrific in Harvey It has innocence and whimsey without being childish. I also love It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Rear Window.

  • Pamhandle

    The first movie that comes to my mind when I hear Jimmy Stewart is Shannadoah, then Rear Window, The Man Who Knew to Much, Vertigo and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I notice that three of the movies are by Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred does great movies!

    • Isis

      I totally forgot my vote for:  THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Thanks for listing it!

  • BurnetteL235

    Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Harvey, Anatomy of a Murder, It’s a Wonderful Life.

  • Linda

    I forgot Dear Bridget.

  • cindy

    Vertigo,It’s A Wonderful Life,Bell, Book,and Candle,Liberty Valance,Harvey,Glen Miller Story,Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Rear Window.Not in that order,although,Vertigo is # 1.

  • El Vato

    Grapes of Wrath

    • Wayne P.

      That was Henry Fonda who was the lead actor in Grapes of Wrath, not Jimmy Stewart.

    • Rick A

       Unfortunately, Jimmy Stewart was not in the ‘GRAPES of WRATH’
      The actor was HENRY FONDA

      Rick

  • cindy

    I love the quote in this article from Elwood P Down In Harvey ,”You must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant”,I recommend pleasant.

  • Sandyclarke47

    harvey,bell book and candle,it’s a wonderful life, and vertigo and the rare breed and rear window

  • Isis

    Rear Window

  • Isis

    And I just remembered another favorite movie, THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX.

  • KP1_22031

    Mr Smith goes to Washington, Harvey, Glenn Miller story, A wonderful life, Rear window

  • Brighttyger

    The Philadelphia Story. Absolutely top 5.  Love all of the above, especially the Mann westerns and the brilliant Vertigo performance.  I like Jimmy less in Ford movies, where Ford gets all hokey.  I do love Jimmy in Destry Rides again, and would probably oust Harvey and put it there.  And Bell Book and Candle, while not as good a film as some of the others, is lots of fun and he’s a hoot in it. 

  • W.D.(Bill) Southworth

    It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, Bell, Book & Candle, Strategic Air Command, & Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

  • chrijeff

    Winchester ’73; Shenandoah; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Harvey; and The Cheyenne Social Club.

  • John

    I can’t argue with any of these. I love Jimmy Stewart films. 

  • Pitamom

    I don’t think I can list just five!! (You know he actually fought in WWII and his only son died in Vietnam?) 
    Let’s see…The Glenn Miller Story with June Allyson; Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn; Shenandoah with Doug McClure; Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation with Maureen O’Hara and Fabian; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Jean Arthur and Claude Raines; Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon,  How the West was Won with all-star cast; It’s a Wonderful Life with Donna Reed; and of course Hitchcock movies–Rear Window, Anatomy of a Murder…

    • T L Miller

      I was wondering why the Glenn Miller Story wasn’t on this list, that goes on and on and on … He was really good in that. He killed me in The Cheyenne Social Club, too! ;-p Of course, this IS James Stewart, so finding a bad performance is a pretty formidable task: he didn’t give any!

    • Antone

      Anatomy of a Murder is a Preminger film, not Hitchcock. Stewart was in other Hitch movies e.g. Vertigo, the 2nd version of The Man Who Knew Too Much & Rope. There may be others which don’t spring into my mind.

  • Margie

    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Flight of the Phoenix

  • Swizzlestick45

    it has to be grapes of wrapth and rear window

    • Ric0153

      Stewart wasn’t in “The Grapes of Wrath”.  That was Henry Fonda.

  • Ric0153

    Just 5!!!  That’s rather difficult with Stewart.  In no particular order, I’d say:

    Anatomy of a Murder
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Rear Window
    Winchester ’73
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

  • Oracle52

    Harvey
    The Philadelphia Story
    Winchester ’73
    Mr Smith Goes to Washingtom
    Bell, Book and Candle

  • rogerscorpion

    Any of the Anthony Mann films. 

  • Doublnot

    Anatomy of A Murder, Naked Spur

  • Drday1

    Vertigo hands down the best and most challenging. Each time I watch the film I see something new in James Stewart’s performance. Rear Window is my other favorite, actually the best Grace Kelly ever was in any movie as well. They seemed tailor made for each other. The Man Who Knew Too Much was another great. After Love Me or Leave Me it was Doris Day’s best film. To be totally honest James Stewart has never been anything but brilliant in his films, some of his Westerns are among the best made.

  • Randallhorn000

    I think most fans know that, basically, James Steart ALWAYS gave his best in every film he made.
    See if you can lay your hands, stream, whatever, the AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony for Jimmy.The clips & the accolades from his fellow actors & film-makers, during that ceremony, will clearly show you what a giant he was as an actor, if not EVERY film he appeared in.  Did he ever just ‘phone it in?’ I don’t think so.  He always stood out. Right to the end.  (His doctor role in “The Shootist,” is outstanding, heart-felt.)
    But I agree with those who chose Vertigo as his best performance. He’s the whole show.  Watch his tranformation. Exceptional. Mesmerizing. Compelling.  You feel his pain!
    Then there are his more “sentimental” roles in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (can you ever forget his climatic breakdown?) and Shenandoah, etc.
    (Dustin Hoffman, in his comments at the AFI show, tells us about how Stewart’s WWII experiences deepended (and hardened) him, as an actor, which is why his Anthony Mann westerns have such a strong impact. Yep, James Stewart is an iconic American actor.  You can’t go wrong in choosing one of his movies to watch & enjoy.

  • Move Buff

    It’s a Wonderful Life – It just doesn’t get any better than that!

  • Tgw51

    Another honorable mention should be: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  The movie had an amazing all-star cast, a great story to tell, and inspired a hit song written by Bert Bacharach.  Too bad it was B&W.  It would be shown more on TV if it had been in Technicolor. 

  • Rblenheim

    Vertigo
    Rear Window
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    Shenandoah

  • Rblenheim

    I FORGOT “ANATOMY OF A MURDER”!!!!

  • vlbptt

    Harvey
    Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
    Destry Rides Again
    The Man From Laramie
    Born To Dance

  • Dog888k

    Jimmy held his own as Buttons the on the run clown in Greatest Show on Earth, especially in the scene where he straightens out Betty Hutton who is sulking over getting kicked out of center ring.  Interesting scene with just 2 people talking out their problems.  DeMille may have been better at these small scenes with no giant spectacle going on than he would admit. 

  • susanc

    Shanandoah for serious subject and the Cheyenne Social Club for comedy  SusanC

  • MikeFromIndianaPA

    I grew up in Jimmy’s hometown. Indiana PA. His dad was still alive then and owned a hardware store ‘Stewart’s Hardware’ on Philadelphia Street. In the window was Jimmy’s Oscar from the “Philadelphia Story” In the 1950’s, I used to walk by there sometimes on my way home from school. If you asked him, Alex would take the statue out of the window and let you hold it. I was around 15 when it dawned on me that not every small town harware store in America had an Oscar in the front window.

    My Favorite Jimmy Stewart movie: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” co-starring John Wayne. It was John Ford’s best Western morality pay and was perfect in black and white.

    • dog888k

      Years ago I saw Jimmie one afternoon on TV with either Merv or Mike, and he was talking about signing to do Liberty Valence.  A friend told him “John Ford always picks someone in the cast to pick on all thru the shooting of the flick.”  Jimmie said, “Guess who it was this time.”  So, if Jimmie was browbeaten all through filming LV for whatever reasons, John Ford got what he wanted.

  • Pat

    harvey no one pat

  • Ohkennyo

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • UncleTuck

    Best James Stewart Western movie unavailable in the USA on DVD, “Two Rode Together”. It is available in England in region 2, PAL, but not the good ‘ole USA where it was made and portrays! C’on already, dust it off to give it a shine and release it on DVD and Blu-Ray! Columbia Pictures (Read Sony) owns the rights to this classic, John Ford directed western also starring Richard Widmark and Shirley Jones! There are many other classic westerns Sony is still sitting on. They have the golden nuggets in their vaults they are not mining!

  • raja999

    My 3 favorite Stewart performances didn’t even make the list!  I’d have to go with:

    1) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    2) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    3) Anatomy of a Murder
    4) It’s a Wonderful Life
    5) The Flight of the Phoenix

  • https://www.facebook.com/Scarify11 Alec Wildey

    I’m really surprised Seventh Heaven wasn’t even mentioned by anyone, I realize it’s rarely ever shown and hasn’t had an official DVD release… but i’m a huge Jimmy fan, seen almost everything the man has done… and Seventh Heaven is probably the most unrated film hes made…. a real must see if your fan… for me five doesn’t even remotely do him justice… maybe 20 if i’m lucky but still… best actor of all time^^ 

  • Brumbolt

    the man who knew too much

  • Mcleigh66

    I never got into Stewart’s work with Hitchcock.  It always felt over the top and “wow, look at how hard he’s acting!” to me.  After reading the comments, I see I need to get ahold of a copy of “Seventh Heaven….”

  • Cinziajuly

    vertigo, rear window, harvey, philadelphia story and the man who knew too much. he is just so excellent in everything he does.

  • dog888k

    I found 2 Stewart movies I had never seen, on vhs at a thrift store; The FBI Story, and Strategic Air Command.  Neither flick is really very good, but they are interesting as to their subjects, and Jimmy holds his own doing his stolid American schtick.  But my favorite Jimmy characters are Elwood and Buttons. 

  • dog888k

    I found 2 Stewart movies I had never seen, on vhs at a thrift store; The FBI Story, and Strategic Air Command.  Neither flick is really very good, but they are interesting as to their subjects, and Jimmy holds his own doing his stolid American schtick.  But my favorite Jimmy characters are Elwood and Buttons. 

  • Karen

    The Flight of the Phoenix,  Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Shenandoah, and Harvey to name a few.  I agree, any movie with him in it is worth watching over and over. 

  • Barbaramoss1

    IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO PICK FROM AN ENORMOUS BODY OF MASTERFUL ACTING.  I DON’T REMEMBER A JAMES STEWART MOVIE THAT DIDN’T DRAW ME IN.  HIS ABILITY TO CAPTURE THE INTENSITY OF HITCHCOCK, OR THE FLUKES OF THE 1940’S, AND THE AUTHENTIC PLACE IN WESTERN CINEMA MAKES IT JUST TOO HARD.

    BUT THE ONES THAT STAND OUT…IF I BLINK.. ARE THE PASSION OF ‘IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” ‘THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER..(GREAT CAST) AND THE DAM HARD WORK OF “MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON.”  HOKEY, NOT ALWAYS SOPHISTICATED WRITING, BUT HIS SCENES BROUGHT RELEVANCE TO THE WORDS. AND OF COURSE “ANATOMY OF A MURDER”…..GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHY….

    HIS UNDERSTATED “HARVEY” WAS QUIET, AND BRILLIANT.

  • Ed Tully

    1) The Philadelphia Story
    2) It’s A Wonderful Life
    3) Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
    4) You Can’t Take It With You

    Obviously, I’m a Capra fan but my favorite movies in general tend to be late ’30s and ’40s.  “The Philadelphia Story” is one of my all-time favorites.  It really takes me to another world, a different time and I become immersed in that little world they create.  There are such great actors and witty, clever and inventive writing in the film.  It feels to me like what I imagine prewar America was like, if you were in high society.  Even that term is dated. 

  • http://twitter.com/YvesFey Yves Fey

    I adore Jimmy Stewart. My favorites are Vertigo, Winchester ’73, and Philadelphia Story.

  • Linda M

    I love James Stewart! And like many, I cannot possibly give you only five of his best performances. So here are my favorites, in chronological order because I do not know which is my favorite.

    Made for Each Other
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Rope
    Harvey
    The Greatest Show on Earth
    The FBI Story
    Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation
    Take Her, She’s MIne
    Dear Brigitte
    Shenandoah
    Firecreek

    But, I can assure you that James Stewart was great in each movie he was ever in, whether or not one of his movies did not make it into anyone’s list of favorites.

  • nivlac

    My favourite Stewart performance was as Alfred Kralik in the 1940 original version of “Shop Around the Corner”

  • George P.

    I believe in “Winchester” he showed a side of himself that took a lot of courage to disclose.

  • hypatiab7

    The Philadelphia Story
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Broken Arrow
    Destry Rides Again
    It’s A Wonderful Life
    Anatomy of A Murder
    I love the scene in “Spirit of St Louis” where Stewart tells the fly sharing the cockpit of the plane with him that they will soon be passing over Nova Scotia, the last place the fly can get any food.
    Once they’re over the ocean, no food. The fly immediately flies out the window, Stewart
    had a lovely smile.

    • Gord Jackson

      “The Spirit of St. Louis” is my personal favourite from Stewart’s galaxy of fine performances. I was seventeen when I saw the film first-run, knew nothing about Lindbergh but was so caught up in it – well in what we now call virtual reality – I flew that plane. I just sat there and experienced every single thought and emotion that was unfolding before me. Glad I woke up before we ditched in the North Atlantic and am equally happy I was able to pull myself together to land safely at Le Bourget, lol.

      Absolutely, there is a lot of great Stewart work on-screen with “Anatomy of a Murder”, “Vertigo” and anything from any of the Mann westerns in the top five, but for me Stewart’s Lindbergh in “The Spirit of St. Louis” will always be numero uno.

      • Jaime R. (yes,I havean account

        I agree that “The Spirit of St.Louis” is surely one of James Stewart`s finest:riveting,engrossing,fascinating, thanks also to Billy Wilder`s masterful direction. However,”Rear Window”,”Vertigo”,”Destry Rides Again” and about ten more are top list ones,in my opinion.

  • william m.

    I enjoyed Shenandoah, Bandalero, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, to name a few.

  • williamsommerwerck

    I watched “The Far Country” last night, and was reminded of how Stewart was willing to play conflicted and even unlikeable characters. This shows his seriousness as an actor.

  • david hartzog

    I can’t disagree with these choices. I might sub. Anatomy of a Murder for Harvey.

  • steve

    There are ONLY good performances by James Stewart and what made him so good was that his characters were completely believable as he played them He was an every day guy caught up in something unusual and he did it each role with quiet dignity.
    One performance that I will always remember although not a movie role was his guest appearance in the Tonight Show with Johnnie Carson. He read a poem from Readers Digest about a dog and at the end there was not a dry eye in the house. Johnnie was visibly choked up and had tears in his eyes. You just knew that he was the type of person who had a personal subscription to Readers Digest and probably read each issue from front to end.

  • Johnny Sherman

    Vertigo, Cheyenne Social Club, Flight of the Phoenix, Shenandoah, Rear Window—–the scenes (both in a bar) where Stewart loses his cool in It’s a Wonderful Life and Winchester ’73 are scary-brilliant. I thought Dan Duryea would lose his head, or at least an ear. In those two films Stewart plays a character driven by his past and a character driven away from his future.

    Ask a movie buff if he/she could own the films of only one actor not presently working. Jimmy Stewart will be a frequent answer. Unsurpassable body of work.

    I could only make it through the first third of The Philadelphia Story, despite Stewart and Cary Grant. Too glib and full of itself–and then there’s Hepburn Playing Hepburn……..

  • kccharles

    1. Rear Window.

    2-5 (in no particular order). Harvey. It’s a Wonderful Life, Winchester 73, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
    High honorable mention: The FBI Story (awful movie, great Stewart)

  • JB

    Fool’s Parade, with George Kennedy and Strother Martin.

  • Debbie

    There is one movie that sticks with me where he plays the ultimate nerd: “No Highway in the Sky”.
    Shenandoah is another. Rope.

  • dawn nichols

    I loved your list. I’m a major James Stewart fan. He brought a certain quiet presence to every role that he played. The movies you chose are all good but Harvey is my favorite movie of all time. I agree with you about the lines in the movie and cannot imagine anyone else playing that role and saying those lines. In a way I wish that we could all have a little bit of Elwood P. Dowd in our personality. The world would be a better place.

  • John Adams

    Fool’s Parade, indeed, one of his best performances, and why no DVD or blu-ray?

  • John Adams

    And, also, Guthrie McCabe in Two Rode Together, another film long overdue for DVD/blu-ray– and if someone does release these films let’s hope they’re in the proper aspect ratio. In this day and age there’s no excuse for cropping and/or pan-and-scanning new releases.

  • Virginia

    Rear Window is my favorite. Then I think It’s a Wonderful Life, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Harvey was also a great performance too. By the end of the movie, I’m beginning to see that rabbit.

  • johnfburton

    When you have an actor who had the long career that reached the heights that Stewart’s did, working with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, it would be impossible to select just one; even to pair it down to five is a tough assignment. I must say those listed are all top notch performances. But I would like to add another, in Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder.” Jimmy Stewart’s work as the cynical and cagey defense attorney is so good, assured and nuanced that he can hold his own against such formidable scene-stealers as George C. Scott, as the prosecutor. It was a racy picture for its time (1959), a story about the trial of an Army officer (Ben Gazzara) accused of killing the man who raped the officer’s wife, played by Lee Remick, in full young sex kitten mode. It contained dialogue about women’s undergarments and about the assault that supposedly conservative Stewart wasn’t really comfortable with. (There was a story that Stewart’s father took out newspaper ads calling the movie filth.) But Stewart was enough of a trouper and Hollywood veteran to appreciate a meaty part when he saw it and delivered the goods. The titillation factor, now more than 50 years out, is less than you would find on any night of primetime network programing (or even daytime in soaps and talk shows); but if you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, give it another go for the performances given by Stewart, Scott and such pros as Even Arden and Arthur O’Connell, who give solid support. Also notice how good non-professional actor Joseph Welsh is in his role as the judge. Welsh was a real attorney who won a few moments of fame standing up to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the Army hearings (“Senator, have you no shame?…).

  • artemis

    I just have to smile because you quoted my all time favourite line from Harvey as spoken by Ellwood P. Dowd. I too was smart for a long time, but find you feel better about yourself by being pleasant…
    Jimmy Stewart gave a great performance in every movie he made, and he made it look so natural and easy. Just look at his face in It’s A Wonderful Life when he’s on the telphone with his friend and Donna Reed is beside him. He’s trying to deny his love for her, but his face says it all. One of the most romantic moments on film in my humble opinion. I also liked him in comedies like Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon. Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation with Maureen O’Hara – very funny scene when he goes bird watching.
    So many choices to enjoy!

  • Movie Joe

    My personal favorite, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Jimmy Stewart and the Duke on screen toghter.

  • Capoman

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. A star studded John Ford Classic.

  • Carolyn Johnson

    I always loved Jimmy Stewart in the movies, I think the first movie I watched him in was “It’s A Wonderful Life” and I still think that is a great movie today. I really must say though I really liked his westerns, especially his roles in the 2 John Wayne movies I saw him in–“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and “The Shootist.” I think he was also in a movie with Audie Murphy called “Night Passage.” “Rear Window” was also great. He really covered a lot of different genres of movies very skillfully. His early western “Destry Rides Again” is still also a favorite.

  • Antone

    I liked him best playing characters with a dark or flaky edge. Five of the best [in alphabetical order] are Anatomy of a Murder; Harvey; The Naked Spur; The Philadelphia Story; Rear Window. My one criticism of Stewart is that he tended to go overboard on the melodrama in biopics, tear-jerker dramas and Capra films.

  • CJ

    Billed as “James Stewart”, he was compelling and believable in an early screen performance in “Another Thin Man”. He is, without a doubt, my favorite actor of all time.

  • percy

    Mr. Hobbs and Harvey. I saw him in the play Harvey once when I was in London with my wife.
    It make you feel good to watch movies like these two (and plays) as someone quoted Elwood P. Dowd “i was smart for a long time, but you feel better about yourself by being pleasant”.
    A good line for one’s life and I think that is just what Mr. Stewart did in his real life.

  • jumbybird

    Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? With today’s “stars” you can’t even name one movie that was “good”

  • Mac

    The older you get the movies of yester year become your favorites…keep digging them out of the archives so we can appreciate good acting and directing. Like the above mentioned Jimmy Stewart movies which are some of my all time favorites on my dvd shelf. Especially The Shop Around the Corner

  • Nicolas

    Vertigo is definitely for me his greatest performance. I have read that Hitchcock blamed Stewart for the film not being a financial success at the time. It is of course his most darkest role, even more so than the one time where he played a bad guy in his earlier career. I think that accept for a Western with Henry Fonda, and I think another with Dean Martin, he never played characters with such depth again. Those films of course where not as good as his other film of the 60’s Flight Of the Phoenix. Unfortunately the films he did after Vertigo, seemed to be of lighter fare, as if he did not want to return to the darker tone of Vertigo.

  • Michele A. Gordon

    Many of those listed are good but aside from Rear Window and It’s a Wonderful Life, I like Made For Each Other with co-star Carole Lombard. Classic

  • Ken

    They are all great, but I always enjoy “BELL, BOOK, and CANDLE”. Great from start to finish. Just to see the sexy Kim Novak is worth the price of admission!!

  • dfjr

    Spot on Rick! Go to head of class!

  • Judy

    Will they ever release Stewart’s “Strategic Air Command” ? Would like to get a copy.

  • Mark Malak

    Jimmy Stewart was one of those rare actors where every performance was outstanding,so for me it’s hard to pick one over another.And there was something so likeable about him.Even in the role of an unlikeable guy,you can’t help but like him.Truly one of the greatest.

  • John Patterson

    Definitely”Anatomy of a Murder”.Followed by”Winchester’73″;”Bell Book and Candle”;”The FBI Story”;”Rear Window”;”The Glenn Miller Story”and”Harvey”.
    Now I know after I print this,I’ll probably be about as welcome as a skunk at an outdoor wedding in June,but I’ve never liked”It’s a Wonderful Life”!!!

  • Vann Morrison

    I’d have to say my favorite five would be Winchester ’73, The Rare Breed, The Far Country,
    Harvey and It’s a Wonderful Life. The only movie of his that I’m luke warm about is The Mountain Road.

  • Maria

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, Philadelphia Story, Vertigo, Call Northside 777, if I have to come up with only five.