I’m starting a new series here. I feel that as I hit the back half of this Jimmy Stewart Project, the more movies might start ending up on this list.
It’s not because of his talent. Jimmy was a fantastic actor, period. He won one Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story, and had four other nominations throughout his storied career. One of the other solid films in his early career was a western called Destry Rides Again, directed by George Marshall. Yes, the same guy who’s name is attached to this little project. So after watching about half of the films in Jimmy’s career, I feel like I can say that I haven’t seen a bad performance out of him, but there are varying qualities to the films he was in. The great ones are the ones you hear about everyday, the Capra, Mann and Hitchcock films for example. The ones I need to watch to complete this project include a lot of titles no one ever hears about anymore, so that’s a warning flag…
Well, this one is awful, and while not an horrible acting job, you can tell Stewart is just getting by on his trademark personality. I guess you would categorize this film as a musical, but the music is so bad I literally thought, “I could write better lyrics than this.” (I’m a trained musician, but have no songwriting gifts whatsoever) I have read quotes from Jimmy where he stated that this was one of his worst movies in his opinion, and I would have to agree with him.
The plot follows Stewart’s character, Jimmy Haskell, a broke music store owner, as he falls for the lovely Molly McCorkel, a member of the eccentric and musical McCorkel family. The McCorkel’s are the bane of Jimmy’s rich uncle because of their daily band jam sessions. Well, of course we have conflict as Jimmy tries to get the McCorkels gigs and win over Molly while trying to keep his family ties to his uncle somewhat intact as well.
So put together slightly dumb, formulaic plot with horrible music and so-so acting performances, and you have a dud on your hands. This was one of the last films Stewart made before leaving to join the war effort as a pilot, which would keep him out of Hollywood until 1946 when he made It’s A Wonderful Life. The two other films he made in 1941 were Come Live With Me (much more charming, and reviewed earlier), and Ziegfeld Girl (which I have not seen yet).
Anyways, I was actually surprised I made it through the entire thing. I was talking to someone else the other day, and when I brought up this movie, they laughed and said they had never gotten through it because it was so awful. So take my word for it, I sat through it so you don’t have to.