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Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas season

(Above: autographed photo from Ms. Karolyn Grimes "Zuzu" , who
appeared in person at a screening and
Q&A on 12/19/10 in a Chicagoland theater)

Saturday Night Live spoofs "It's A Wonderful Life" again

This past weekend Saturday Night Live had another funny spoof of It's A Wonderful Life that featured Jewish characters and set at Hanukkah.  

You can watch the entire program here from Hulu.
The spoof comes in close to the end. Set the marker to 36:25 and play from there.
(you have to sit through some commercials)

Jason Sudeikis as Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey

Paul Brittan, Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig
Guest Star Jeff Bridges as the Rabbi
Abby Elliot, Jason Sudeikis, Nasim Pedrad

Jimmy Stewart on Larry King in 1996

Well, the other day, Larry King's last program aired on CNN. His talk-show had been on CNN for 25 years. He had on many world leaders, news makers, and entertainment celebrities.

I remember Jimmy Stewart was on in the summer of 1996. I don't remember the date or month. But I know it was in 1996. This may have been Jimmy's final interview, and Larry King took some calls. I never saw the episode, but I heard clips of it on a local Chicago radio program the next day.

I'm not sure if it was a full hour interview or just a half hour. I didn't have cable or CNN so I would not have seen it anyway.

This was in the days before You Tube and digital recording, so it has been hard to find this episode on You Tube.

The local Chicago radio host was playing clips of the program because a prank caller called in at least two times during Jimmy's appearance, which really made me mad (and still does).

Larry King took some callers and a young prankster (probably a college frat boy 19 years old) was let on the air and asked, "Jimmy, you're so old, do you think you will ever die?". Then Larry King said, "I didn't hear that" and quickly moved on to the next caller. It was a really sick thing to do to a legend.

To make matters worse, the radio host was even laughing hysterically at the prank, too. I didn't like him for doing that because I love Jimmy Stewart so much.

That's my memory of Jimmy when he was on Larry King in 1996. Does anyone else remember this??

Jimmy reads a poem about his dog

The blog A Life in Equinox posted a Jimmy Stewart video today - it's one from the Tonight Show from the early 80s where Jimmy reads his tribute poem to his dog Beau, who had recently died.

Bandolero! behind the scenes with Dean Martin, James Stewart, Raquel Welch and George Kennedy 1968

Here's a good video with a focus on Raquel Welch in Bandolero!

Thanks to the Memories are Made of This blog for bringing this video to my attention.

Radio interview with Julie Adams from "Bend of the River"

Last night, legendary actress Julie Adams, 83, taked with Sonny Starr on the Star Talk radio show. She sounded really good and energetic.

One of the films that they talked about was Bend of the River, the great western she appeared in with Jimmy Stewart. She said that she sees it ever so often on Turner Classics, and said how well it holds up.

The other stars of the film, Rock Hudson and Arthur Kennedy, were her co-stars in several other films, so she talked more about them than Jimmy. She said that she and Rock Hudson were good friends, and had a similar sense of humor.

She remembered Bend of the River director Anthony Mann as a great pleasure to work with, and she has fond memories of filming on location in Oregon, around Mount Hood. (The film premiered in Portland, Oregon)

She remembered Bright Victory (starring Arthur Kennedy) as one of her favorite films that she made. Arthur Kennedy was nominated for an Oscar playing a blinded veteran's return to his hometown.

She also talked about working with Elvis in Tickle Me, and said that he was always polite and was a Southern gentlemen, never was full of himself on the set. He would tell stories about his time in the military and his experiences on other films.

She also talked about the film that she will always be remembered for: Creature of the Black Lagoon, and she always has fun talking about it whenever she is interviewed or attends conventions, and takes delight in knowing this is her signature film.

"Vivacious Lady" (1938)

Jimmy Stewart plays a college professor who quickly marries a sassy nightclub singer (Ginger Rogers) after they both fall in love at first sight. When they travel to his hometown, Jimmy can't bring himself to introduce his parents -- ailing mom (Beulah Bondi) and curmudgeonly father (Charles Coburn) -- to his new vivacious wife. Waiting for the right time to make their announcement, Jimmy & Ginger put on act that backfires into numerous hilarious results. With Jack Carson, Franklin Pangborn, Hattie McDaniel, and Willie Best.

According to Gary Fishgall's Jimmy bio "Pieces of Time: The Life of James Stewart", this film took almost one year to make; there were numerous rewrites and production delays, including Stewart's illness and subsequent hospitalization (for unknown reasons)

Critic Rose Pelswick of the New York Journal wrote of the film was "...not only elegant entertainment, but also a welcome departure from the crack-brained concoctions that have been passing for comedy of late. For this one, instead of depending upon wild-eyed gags, gets its laughs from genuinely funny situations that arise from the action and become part of it....Mr. Stewart checks in with a grand performance."

Directed by George Stevens. Note: This film is not yet available on DVD (unfortunately)

Jimmy Stewart and Jennifer Jones

Below: Jimmy, Jennifer and Burt Reynolds (?). Apparently this picture (from Feb '83) was originally published in LIFE magazine, but I couldn't find a caption for it. What were they all doing together, I wonder?? Perhaps discussing a new movie project? I think that would have been pretty cool, because Jimmy and Jennifer were never in a movie together. :(

"Airport '77" (1977)

Why they made these films, I'll never know. In "Airport '77" (I love how they cut out the "19" in "1977" from the title) Jack Lemmon saves the day, and features cameos by Jimmy Stewart and Olivia DeHavilland. Fortunately, Jim is only in one or two scenes of this.

"The Shootist" (1976)

John Wayne's last film, he plays aging gunfighter JB Brooks who travels to a small town to get an exam from an old doctor friend played by my man Jimmy. Good old Jim lays some bad news on the Duke: he's got cancer, and only has a few months to live. Brooks decides to stay in the town to live out his last days. He rents a room from Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) who has a whipper-snapper, gun-slinging son (Ron Howard). Turns out Wayne still has some enemies, who find out he's camping out in the town and decide to offer him one last challenge. The movie is filled with some pretty cool shootout scenes, and gets rather bloody at times. This also is one of Jimmy Stewart's last major motion pictures as well. Neat to see a Happy-Days-era Ron Howard act alongside - and shoot alongside! - the Duke.

Also starring Hugh O'Brian, Scatman Carothers, and Gene Barry, who passed away on Dec 9 2009. Read a blog post tribute to Gene Barry.

"Come Live With Me" (1941)

Hedy plays a illegal immigrant from Vienna (whose father was "liquidated" for his convictions, as a character says - though it's not specified, one can assume she's either Jewish or a political dissenter). She has become a showgirl in a big US city (none is specified, but I guess NY?) and has an affiar with a married man. One day a deportation officer comes to summons her, but is overcome by her allure. He suggests she get married so she can become an American citizen. He gives her only a week to do so.

Hedy: Get married? In only a week?!
Deportation officer: Miss, if you can't get married in a week, the boys here must be slippin!

While strolling through the park that night, she bumps into down-on-his luck writer Jimmy, then meets him again later. He invites her up into his shack of an aparment, and we realize how poor he is. "I'm no capitalist", he declares. And his hosting abilities are challenged: "Would you like to have something to drink?" he asks; "Some nice warm beer?"....Some music? I can open the window and we can get the radio from across the street."
And my favorite: "If you'd to browse among my books, the pawn shop is just around the corner."

There is a funny parkbench scene with Jimmy and a beggar, who tries to talk him into becoming a bum, and even tests his will by offering him a dollar.

The subplot involving Hedy's married boyfriend isn't interesting. Overall, I'd say this is a pretty average comedy. It's so much more enjoyable whenever the two stars are together onscreen. Hedy is so pretty and sweet and Jimmy is in his aw-shucks persona again.

A line Jimmy says in this film (after they are married) sums up the movie pretty good: "It's one thing for two strangers to get married, but you've gotta get to know each other before you get a divorce!"

The best part of the film is toward the end when Jimmy brings Hedy to his family home on the farm where his wise grandmother (Adeline De Walt Reynolds) lives.

Fans of either star will enjoy it I'm sure, but it's not one of either of their best. Perhaps this is why this film was never available commercially on VHS nor DVD.

Co-starring Frank Faylen (Ernie from "It's a Wonderful Life")
Donald Meek (Stagecoach, Poppins from "You Can't Take It With You"). Directed by Clarence Brown.

Read the original (Feb 1941) New York Times review here.

Happy New Year!

Above: (left to right) Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and James Stewart at a 1957 New Year’s party held at the Crown Room in Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills.

Photographer: Slim Aarons
Published in Smithsonian Magazine, 1958

Sources: Smithsonian Magazine online, Iconic Photos,