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Jimmy Stewart: A Wonderful Life Paperback – October 2, 1995

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With his leisurely, naturalistic delivery, his oddly graceful awkwardness and his ability to convey incorruptible virtue, Jimmy Stewart (b. 1908) has done more than any American, argues the author, "to embody the often contradictory spirit of his country and give it convincing expression on the screen." Coe, a British journalist, traces the actor's journey from a small Pennsylvania town to his earliest theatrical experience in Princeton's Triangle Club, his rise through the ranks of Hollywood's studio system and his breakthrough to stardom in Frank Capra movies. After a wartime stint as a bomber pilot and squadron leader, Stewart suffered a run of bad luck in his choice of roles; but then Winchester '73 (the "Casablanca of Westerns") marked the emergence of a rougher screen persona for him and turned him into one of the top box-office draws of the 1950s. His role in that movie also foreshadowed the tormented characterizations he displayed in movies he made under the direction of Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock. In Vertigo , according to Coe, Stewart "brought to the screen--without recourse to histrionics--emotional states more extreme than any that had previously been portrayed in mainstream cinema." Coe is a perceptive critic; his comments on Stewart and his 77-film career are worth reading. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Coe's photo-biography is filled with color and black-and-white scenes from Stewart's life and films. Coe takes umbrage at Stewart's popular image as the "cinematic equivalent of Mom's apple pie" and points out how often his film roles contradict this image. Interlaced with the descriptive, critical, and amusing perspectives on each film and major role are the major events of Stewart's life off-camera. A tribute that reaches to Stewart's last role as the voice of Wylie Burp in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1990). Denise Perry Donavin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (October 2, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559703253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559703253
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,460,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suzanne H. Schrems on January 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for an objective analysis of Jimmy Stewart's life and career, this is not the book to buy and read. Jonathan Coe, a journalist who writes for the Guardian and London Review of Books, seems not to know what it means to be a conservative. Throughout this book, Coe refers to the inconsistencies in Stewart's life because of the actor's politics, conservative, were in conflict with the different rolls he played on the screen. For example, in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Coe thought it odd that Stewart played a part that championed the little guy (fighting for a boy scout camp against the developer) and not take the side of the developer, which Coe believed Stewart's conservative politics would mandate. Coe also claimed that Stewart must have had a difficult time playing the part of a pacifist in Shenandoah, which again did not mesh very well Stewart's politics. In all, Coe paints a less than attractive portrait of Jimmy Stewart and one has to ask, " Why did the author spend time researching and writing this biography?" It is also clear that Coe has little understanding of what it means to be a political conservative in the United States.
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Format: Hardcover
I was extremely disappointed by this book- it could have been a great tribute to a great actor, but it turned out to be a blatant opinion piece by a liberal European. Author Jonathan Coe chooses not to focus on Jimmy Stewart and his "wonderful life," but instead on the political themes behind his films. Coe repeatedly slams Stewart's conservative tendencies, even going so far as to say that he did
"lasting harm in the political arena...because Ronald Reagan was so mortified when Stewart landed the starring part(in THE STRATTON STORY), snatching it from under his nose, that he decided to give up acting altogether and devote himself full-time to the Republican cause."
Way to slip in your political agenda, Mr. Coe!
I was also surprised at the way Mr. Coe repeatedly made fun of Stewart's American patriotism- until I realized that the author is from Great Britain.
He then proceeds to deride Stewart's greatest achievement, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, calling it "a hollow embarrassment" and criticizing it for not having black actors in it!
If that was not enough, Mr. Coe seems to be devoid of any moral bearing, ridiculing MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON as "a naive fable about a Christ-like innocent wandering through the modern world spreading sweetness and light wherever he goes." The author doesn't seem to realize that there ARE Christ-like people in this world who try to do good, it's not a "naive fable". At another point he calls morality an "American myth".
A disgruntled Euro taking potshots at America and one of America's beloved actors is not my idea of an intelligent biography. The only redeeming value in this whole book is the many rare photographs it contains.
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Format: Hardcover
A beautiful pictorial biography of Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart plus insightful background is what you will find in Jimmy Stewart: A Wonderful Life by Jonathan Coe.
In this coffee table book the reader gets a sense of the evolution of a young budding artist. With over 70 movies to Stewart's credit, Stewart personified the American spirit.
Tracing his humble beginnings from Pennsylvania, Stewart range of an actor was far and wide. by Dr. Wilson Trivino
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