The careers of these two men seemed to collide at just the right time. Jimmy Stewart already had an Oscar to his name and had returned home a war hero having served with the air force. Like many stars who went to war, Jimmy had been off the screen for close to five years. The drawing room comedies wouldn’t play the same anymore both personally and professionally. Even his first role after returning to the screen of George Bailey had a dark side to it. He’d make his first film with Hitchcock in 1948 before appearing in his first serious western for director Anthony Mann in 1950. Like many of his contemporaries including Robert Taylor, Stewart’s aging looks were a perfect fit for riding the cinematic range.
Anthony Mann had a run of great low budget Noirs to his name as the 1940’s came to a close. Tough, hard pictures like T-Men, Raw Deal and Border Incident. With Stewart getting to be of leading man age that lent itself to westerns, he joined forces with Mann who moved his Noir subjects to the west and they embarked upon a memorable eight film run together. The first of which, Winchester ’73 is thought to be the first during the studio era where a star had a cut of the profits. It’s one of those moments that would change the playing field of how movie stars were paid.
On top of their teamings, they also had top casts joining them in their collaborations. Leading ladies like Janet Leigh, June Allyson, Julie Adams and alas even Shelley Winters.
Gilbert Roland, John McIntire, Arthur Kennedy and how about Dan Duryea to help fill out the casting choices.
Can you hear Jimmy’s drawl as you read through these quotes?
“Awful lot of law for a little cowtown”
“You’ll be seeing me. You’ll be seeing me. Everytime you bed down for the night, you’ll look back to the darkness and wonder if I’m there. And some night, I will be. You’ll be seeing me! ”
“You sat up with me? Why?”
“I can imitate a movie star. ”
The duo went in a different direction on their next outing. “Alright, alright, let’s have the five saxes right in there… ”
“I don’t need other people. I don’t need help. I can take care of me.”
“No, ma’am. No, I can’t rightly say anyplace is my home. ”
Once again changing it up for their final pairing……
Most of these films are required viewings for and serve as a window into one of those great actor-director pairings.