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James Stewart: A Biography Hardcover – July 21, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After a brief stint on Broadway, Jimmy Stewart went to Hollywood and soon made such classics as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "The Philadelphia Story." He symbolized the patriotism of the time, and even joined the army in World War II, winning a Distinguished Flying Cross. Up to that point, his characters had espoused the same values that Stewart himself, a devout Presbyterian, lived by. But after the war, his youthful exuberance faded, and he settled into darker roles, including his classic performances in Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and "Vertigo." Biographer Donald Dewey suggests that while the boyish charm of his early characters reflected pre-war hopefulness, his disturbed, nearly psychotic later characters mirrored the introspection and suspicion of the 1950s.

From Library Journal

Some fans may be reluctant to read this book for fear of revelations besmirching Stewart's all-American persona. There are a few surprises about him, but basically, you will find that he is the pleasant, reclusive, conservative guy we have heard about and that is at the heart of his small-town-boy-becomes-movie-star legend. A history of Indiana, Pennsylvania, where Stewart grew up, sets the foundation for his family life. Following chapters on his childhood and military school, the Princeton years portray him as the embodiment of the all-American boy we know from movies. The Hollywood years are, of course, the core of the book. Dewey (Marcello Mastroianni, Carol Pub. Group, 1993) quite successfully mingles yearly synopses of Stewart's movies with information about what was going on in his personal life while making each. The author also includes some great inside information on actors, directors, and others involved with Stewart's movies. The comments about Stewart's performances come from interviews with those who worked with him and from Stewart himself. Highly recommended for biography and film collections.?Judy Hauser, Oakland Schs. Lib. Svcs., Waterford, Mich.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing; 1st edition (July 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570362270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570362279
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I was extremely disappointed with this book.
Arlene M. Pellegrino
It is rather unremarkable except as the birthplace of Stewart & Mr. Dewey spends too much time on it & the townsfolk.
JOHN GODFREY
It should be that this book would be like the man himself, but I was wrong.
perryhaymes678

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By FRNDLYFYRE@aol.com on December 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I have read many books about the life of Jimmy Stewart and found that this one is the most thorough and balanced. Mr. Dewey details Jimmy Stewart's life from all angles but never resorts to smarmy or tabloid-like tactics. While he does not sugar coat Stewart, he doesn't blast him either; he leaves the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. This is the book I would recommend to anyone who wished to find out as much as possible about one of the greatest actors and intriguing personalities of the 20th century.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By perryhaymes678 on December 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
James Stewart was a giant in the film world, beloved by audiences and peers alike. It should be that this book would be like the man himself, but I was wrong.

Instead what we get a mess of a book that contains some very useful information along with some very glaring errors. One of the good parts of the book is that we do get a good look at Stewart's professionalism as well as a summary of every film performance he ever gave. However this does not prepare for those other parts.

1. The book is so unbelievably boring. The writing is dry, humorless and slow. Dewey spends a lot of time on trivial issues and uses a roundabout way of expressing his ideas. In short, he hints at things, but never actually says them.

2. There are some inaccuracies involving Henry Fonda. Stewart and Fonda were life long friends and political opposites, and at one time had a fist fight over the issue. The fight led to an agreement that they would never discuss politics again. Dewey does not accept this, and seems to think that in 1947, Stewart and Fonda did have another, bitter fight over Fonda's involvement in the trip to Washington D.C. to protest against HUAC along with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye and Paul Henreid etc. Well, how come no one knows about this political argument? Fonda never spoke about it in his book, and according to Dewey, they never spoke about it to other people. Oh and one more thing, Fonda did not travel to Washington to protest against HUAC. Photographs do not show him there, nor do the commentaries of those present ever mention Fonda.

3. Dewey claims that Stewart and Bette Davis did not get along while filming RIGHT OF WAY. Every account other than this book tells a completely different story.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The memory of Jimmy Stewart suffers not at all in this well-researched biography. A nice touch is the brief summary and review of each movie in which Stewart appeared over the course of his lifetime, and the impact, for better or worse, that each had on his career. However, the author's prose style is dry as toast and lacking in any humor whatsoever. What could have been an outstanding work is, in the end, only a competent treatment of his subject.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was supposed to be a biography about Jimmy Stewart. I learned so little about him that I quit reading the book. The author, Donald Dewey, spent a vast amount of time on the town of Indiana, PA's quarrel over a museum. Mr. Dewey also spent more time writing about other people. I forgot who the book was about. I am so glad there are other biographies about Jimmy Stewart. His movies are such great entertainment, it would be a shame if this were the only biography to read.
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Format: Hardcover
I just loved James Stewart. I was extremely disappointed with this book. It gives a plot description of every movie, which most of us already know. I wanted more "meat" about the making of the movies, how the actors got along, more about the man than the plots. It was not a page turner as the Cary Grant bio I read. Didn't like the writing style ether. I enjoyed the pictures the most. There was not even one word about the acting relationship of James and Donna Reed! Save your money.
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