I apologize for the lack of posts. Between the grad school and internship applications I’m pretty swamped as far as writing time goes. There’s actually been less time for watching movies as well, but I keep recording them, leading the other members of the household to threaten to cut off use of the DVR. But anyways…
We have hit number 50 in the Jimmy Stewart Project! That means only 30 or so movies left, depending on what list you go by. It’s kind of crazy to think I’ve actually sat through that many Jimmy Stewart films, and in the time span of about a year and a half. Even though I chose an actor that has so many “classics” or “must-sees” in his filmography, it’s been an interesting look into the entire arc of an actor’s career, and in some ways, the ways that movies changed in the long period that he was working.
Henry Koster’s 1951 thriller No Highway In the Sky gets the distinction of being Number 50 on my viewing list. It’s kind of your basic disaster movie, or I guess disaster-by- mechanical-failure movie. Stewart plays Theodore Honey, an eccentric (more like awkward) scientist working on a theory that the tailpiece of the Reindeer line of aircraft will break off from the plane at a certain number of flight hours. Honey, who is widowed with a young daughter, decides to take a flight to Labrador to investigate a plane crash site for more evidence to support his theory. Once he’s on the flight, Honey realizes the aircraft they’re in is about to hit the critical hour in his experiments, which would leave the plane without a tail above the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, the captain of the plane thinks Honey is crazy, and ignores his pleas to turn the plane around.
Honey is joined on this flight by movie star Monica Teasdale (Marlene Dietrich), and sympathetic flight attendant Majorie Corder (Glynis Johns). Honey gives advice to both on how to best survive the coming crash. Both women are touched that he cares enough about them to do that, and stand by him once the fallout comes from the plane not crashing.
Overall, it was an ok film, not super exciting, but not boring. This character was very shy and awkward, so it was fun to see Stewart play up his physical and speaking clumsiness for this role. It was also neat to see Stewart and Dietrich together again, years after Destry Rides Again.
As this project starts to reach it’s end, I hope to start looking at Jimmy’s career in these larger, “big-picture” arcs. Here is an actor who worked with some of our greatest directors, often more than once. I’ll be looking at the Hitchcock, Mann and Capra collaborations, and Stewart’s transition from pre-WWII idealist, to post-war anti-hero, to the older actor that helped cement Stewart’s image as the all-American Everyman.
On another note, Jill over at Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence is running a Halloween giveaway! She’ll be giving away either a DVD or Blu-Ray (your choice) of the Criterion release of The Night of The Hunter (Laughton, 1955). Details for entering are here.
I promise I will try and be on here more often. In the meantime, happy movie watching!