CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Series: From The Past To Now - Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks

Tom HanksJames Stewart

Here is the new series I mentioned last month I would be doing comparing an actor/actress from yesteryear to one of today. The first choice is Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks. And that these two men would be comparable is no surprise. Hanks quickly became a heir apparent to Jimmy thanks to his same everyday appeal. Both men had similar starts in their careers. Stewart would have bit parts in films such as Wife vs Secretary with top billed Clark Cable, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow and Rose Marie with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy before scoring leading roles in Vivacious Lady, You Can't Take It With You, and Made For Each Other. Hanks meanwhile got his start on TV in small roles on such series as Happy Days, Taxi and The Love Boat. He then moved on to lead on the comedy series Bosom Buddies. Humble beginnings for both men. Stewart would soon become a huge star thanks to such big films like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Philadelphia Story (his only Oscar came here), Destry Rides Again, and The Shop Around The Corner. All coming while in his early 30's. A few years later would come the all time holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life. Hanks would have similar success at the same age with comedy hits such as Bachelor Party, Splash, The Money Pit, Dragnet and Big.
James Stewart in The Philadelphia StoryJames StewartHarveyJames Stewart

After playing such stalwart good guys, Stewart would soon turn over a new leaf during the 1950's by appearing in complicated westerns done by Anthony Mann and top notch thrillers by Hitchcock such as Vertigo and Rear Window. Stewart was at his best when working with these two highly respected directors. Hanks would get similar chances to shine with different types of films other than comedies. He would appear in such sterling dramas like Philadelphia (for which he won a Best Actor Oscar), Apollo 13, Forrest Gump (another Best  Actor Oscar) and Saving Private Ryan. Hanks would also appear in the hugely family animated series of films Toy Story. Hanks best films came under the direction of Ron Howard (yes Opie from The Andy Griffith Show) and Steven Spielberg. The only difference between the two men would be that Stewart appeared in about twenty westerns. So far Hanks has made not one single western. But Hanks did remake one of Jimmy's older films. He remade the sentimental classic The Shop Around The Corner into the likeable You've Got Mail.

jim lovellCaptain John H. MillerForrest GumpTom Hanks
Hanks would be constantly compared to Stewart thanks to his good guy, aw shucks demeanor and most film goers enjoyed both men's films. True there are a lot of non Hanks fans more so than non Stewart fans but you still can't help but see the connection between the two stars. And for the record I am a fan of both. So this is the start of a wonderful new series that I hope to being doing at least once a month. Everyone let me know what you think.


Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

This is a fun idea for a series, Monty, and you do a fine job of comparing the careers of Mr. Stewart and Mr. Hanks. Personally, I consider James Stewart the far more versatile of the two. Clearly, Tom Hanks can shine in serious roles, but I still can't imagine him playing driven characters like the ones personified by Stewarts to films like THE NAKED SPUR and VERTIGO. Hanks probaby came closest in THE ROAD TO PERDITION, but even then he possessed a softer edge (having a son probably helped). But, I digress...I think I'll enjoy this series!

Frl. Irene Palfy said...

I am with Classic Film and TV Cafe - this is an awesome idea! Can't wait for the first actresses you'll compare. :")

Dawn said...

Monty, Awesome job!! Like everyone I can not wait to see your future posts.


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