Jimmy Stewart's dark vision.

Deleted scenes, commentary, and more.
Sept. 6 2006 12:13 PM

The Darkness of Jimmy Stewart

His persona still obscures his performances.

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Despite these tortured performances, the idea of "Jimmy Stewart, Everyman" not only persisted but grew—even after, in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), he slyly played a "country lawyer" whose false projection of sincerity acquits a guilty man. His workmanlike biopics, three of which are included in The Signature Collection, may have helped burnish this reputation. But, most likely, that image survived because Stewart was not, for the public, an actor: He was a star. And our image of stars stems not only—perhaps hardly at all—from what we see on-screen, but from what we know or invent of their personal lives. In this respect, Stewart was the anti-Mel Gibson: His upstanding reputation (Princeton graduate from a small town, genuine war hero, and husband of 45 years) made, and continues to make, his on-screen darkness a little hard to see.