Seeing *Destry Rides Again * in a classic movie palace was the first time I really “got” why people loved Jimmy Stewart. Growing up, I’d seen him on TV, reading his kind-of-lame poetry to Johnny Carson, and I thought he was just some old guy. When I was in college our local 1920s theatre ran a series of old movies and I went to see Destry. It was a terrible print and it broke several times, but that just did it for me. I was a goner.
My husband took me to see *It’s a Wonderful Life * at the same theatre on our first date. One week from today is our 13th anniversary.
Elwood P. Dowd:I’d just put Ed Hickey into a taxi. Ed had been mixing his rye with his gin, and I just felt that he needed conveying. Well, anyway, I was walking down along the street and I heard this voice saying, “Good evening, Mr. Dowd.” Well, I turned around and here was this big six-foot rabbit leaning up against a lamp-post. Well, I thought nothing of that because when you’ve lived in a town as long as I’ve lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name.
I think the first time I became aware of Stewart as an actor was in Spirit of St. Louis (1957), although I’d probably seen him in a western or two prior to that. He was such an engaging character on screen, and I seem to recall him coming to Anchorage and giving a talk at a school assembly, dressed in his uniform.
The ‘Groundfloor’ scene in It’s a Wonderful Life - looking at Mary and talking on the phone - then saying ‘I dont want any’groundfloor’ and I dont want any ‘plastics’…oh Mary’ They kiss the kissingest kisss in kissdom.
Definitely Harvey. It’s the only movie of his I have on tape. Yep, tape.
Elwood P. Dowd: Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.
Elwood P. Dowd: *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. *
He was an outspoken and staunch Republican, but was so well-liked in Hollywood because of his stellar personality and character that very few people held this against him. The closest anyone came was probably Henry Fonda - the two came to blows over some sort of political discussion, and then maintained their lifetime friendship by never discussing politics again.
I really liked when he surprised Carol Burnett on her show. She was a HUGE fan, and completely out of the blue during her opening monologue the curtain opened to Jimmy Stewart playing “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” at the piano. She was speechless.