Go to Jimmy Stewart's obituary.


Stewart's Three Most Famous Scenes

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 2, 1997

Stewart's reflections on three famous scenes from his movies, from a 1988 Associated Press interview:

The filibuster scene in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington":
"We were five days on it. Capra was so good at this: He gave so little lecturing or anything. The important thing to him was to be more and more convincing that what you were saying was the right thing, but at the same time you were running out of strength and your voice was failing.

"At the end of four days, he said, 'That's fine, but you're not convincing me that you're losing your voice. You're just whispering.' It worried me. ... I stopped at an eye-ears-nose-and-throat doctor I knew and said, 'Is there any way you can give me a sore throat?' He just looked at me and said, 'I've always heard that you Hollywood people were crazy, but you take the cake."'

The doctor gave him a few drops that almost removed the Stewart voice. He even came to the studio the next day and continued the dosage until the filibuster scene was completed.

The crying scene in Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life":
"Capra had built up such a spirit in the film that we all felt moved. But to get my scene in the first take was important, especially in the scene where I go into the bar just before I go out to the bridge to end my life. I looked up and said, 'Oh, God, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there ...'

"We did it in the first take, but it was an almost over-the-shoulder shot. He said, 'I don't suppose you could do a close-up?' And I said, 'I don't think I could.' So he took that scene and for two nights he took it frame-by-frame to bring me into a close-up."

Crying "is a part of the acting business. It takes work, experience, concentration, plus a complete knowledge of the scene. It's something that a actor should feel responsible for and not consider that the director is doing something unfair."

The drunk scene in "The Philadelphia Story":
"That was one take. I decided not to tell Cary (Grant) what I was going to do. I decided because I had been drinking, I'd have the hiccups. I started after we began rolling, and Cary just looked right in the eye and said, 'Excuse me.' After several hiccups, I added, 'I have the hiccups.' Cary's alertness is what made it work."

© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

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