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Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks, very alike ?


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There are some actors and actresses, that you go to see not because of the movies they are in, but because of them. I think James and Tom not only fall into that category, but seem to stand for the same thing in a lot of movies. Even If I have seen a move a 100 times with either of these actors I would see it again and again. They just seem to have that everyday person that you could just go up and talk to. Its hard for me to explain exactly, but since I am talking  to people here who watch movies all the time I think you know what I mean.

Just one example;I recently saw  A beautiful Day in the Neighborhood where he portrays Mr Rogers. I watched that show as a child and he WAS Mr Rogers, something he just seems to be able to do with every role. And yes bring a few kleenex you'll need them.

Please let us know why you think both of these actors, and what they share as well. BTW I can't wait to see Greyhound !

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I was just thinking about it and I thinks its the vulnerability that both actors portray, which makes them so likable.

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I don't ever buy Jimmy Stewart's vulnerability. It seems a bit calculated. I see the "actor tricks" in his performances where he manipulates the audience to feel a sympathy for the characters he plays. It's too contrived and unnatural for me. It's not something I enjoy from him.

Jimmy Stewart was also too conservative for my tastes, so he'd never have done something like PHILADELPHIA (1993).

As Tom Hanks gets older, I think he's become more conservative and he is no longer choosing material that challenges mainstream moviegoers. 

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They have both played the ordinary guy you can relate to, but there are also big differences. I don't see James Stewart playing in a rough war movie like Saving Private Ryan. Tom Hanks wasn't often the accidental hero in a thriller, like James Stewart in his Hitchcock appearances. Stewart also did several westerns.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I don't ever buy Jimmy Stewart's vulnerability. It seems a bit calculated. I see the "actor tricks" in his performances where he manipulates the audience to feel a sympathy for the characters he plays. It's too contrived and unnatural for me. It's not something I enjoy from him.

Jimmy Stewart was also too conservative for my tastes, so he'd never have done something like PHILADELPHIA (1993).

As Tom Hanks gets older, I think he's become more conservative and he is no longer choosing material that challenges mainstream moviegoers. 

Well said about Stewart's so called vulnerability (or the inverse when he tries to be like Bogie or Mitchum with the 'I don't stick my neck out for nobody' angle.

Take The Far Country;     The entire film,  Mann and Stewart try to convince the audience he's like Rick in Casablanca but it isn't very convincing.    

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Just now, jamesjazzguitar said:

Well said about Stewart's so called vulnerability (or the inverse when he tries to be like Bogie or Mitchum with the 'I don't stick my neck out for nobody' angle.

Take The Far Country;     The entire film,  Mann and Stewart try to convince the audience he's like Rick in Casablanca but it isn't very convincing.  

Interesting you mention THE FAR COUNTRY, because that film crossed my mind when I wrote my earlier comment. Also, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON where he really overdoes the "vulnerability." He didn't know how to play his roles with any subtlety. And if you compare him to Spencer Tracy, you can see which one was the much more naturalistic performer (Tracy).

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Stewart actually had refused to do a war film, but did manage a very slow moving one in The Mountain Road made in 1960. I don't think I've actually seen this one and will have to find it. As far as his acting you just have to take him like he is. He may not have done Philadelphia, but he did do a good job in The Philadelphia Story .

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11 minutes ago, Bsmooth said:

Stewart actually had refused to do a war film, but did manage a very slow moving one in The Mountain Road made in 1960. I don't think I've actually seen this one and will have to find it. As far as his acting you just have to take him like he is. He may not have done Philadelphia, but he did do a good job in The Philadelphia Story .

Maureen O'Hara made two films with him. A genial family comedy-- MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION (1962) and THE RARE BREED (1966). In her autobiography she said that he wasn't very giving as an actor, he was sort of in fear of being upstaged by others and made sure that the director and cinematographer kept the focus on him. I think he might have been paranoid that he would lose his star status in the 60s, which is what did finally happen in the 70s, forcing him to turn to starring roles in television series.

THE MOUNTAIN ROAD is a Columbia Picture and I've seen it on TCM. It's not very good, rather dull, but it does have some good supporting work by Harry Morgan who appeared in several films with Stewart over the years. One of the main issues I had with Stewart in THE MOUNTAIN ROAD is that he was over 50 at the time he made it and was supposed to be playing a young major in the war in 1944. He was miscast.

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I like James Stewart, but  I am, through and through, a much bigger Tom Hanks fan.

I could see Stewart in maybe a watered down SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (one without showing the blood and guts), but it is impossible to see him in Tom's role in PHILADELPHIA (and not just because of the sexuality of the character).

Stewart is capable of taking on roles in dark-toned films (like Hitchcock's VERTIGO) but would he have been believable as a family-orientated hitman in ROAD TO PERDITION like Hanks was? Maybe, maybe not.

I suppose Stewart could have pulled off FORREST GUMP, but then I am not that much of a fan of that film, even with Tom in it.

I don't know if Hanks could have pulled off any of Stewart's roles either, even Mr. Smith, even though Smith does capture a lot of everyday man qualities that Hanks portray in most of his roles.

Hanks and Stewart. while it may appear on the surface have similar acting styles, are actually worlds apart in what roles they were suitable for.

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1 minute ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I like James Stewart, but  I am, through and through, a much bigger Tom Hanks fan.

I could see Stewart in maybe a watered down SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (one without showing the blood and guts), but it is impossible to see him in Tom's role in PHILADELPHIA (and not just because of the sexuality of the character).

Stewart is capable of taking on roles in dark-toned films (like Hitchcock's VERTIGO) but would he have been believable as a family-orientated hitman in ROAD TO PERDITION like Hanks was? Maybe, maybe not.

I suppose Stewart could have pulled off FORREST GUMP, but then I am not that much of a fan of that film, even with Tom in it.

I don't know if Hanks could have pulled off any of Stewart's roles either, even Mr. Smith, even though Smith does capture a lot of everyday man qualities that Hanks portray in most of his roles.

Hanks and Stewart. while it may appear on the surface have similar acting styles, are actually worlds apart in what roles they were suitable for.

Great post Beth. One has to wonder if different eras/decades and different audience sensibilities create what sort of roles are suitable for actors with similar qualities.

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On 6/9/2020 at 11:28 AM, TopBilled said:

I don't ever buy Jimmy Stewart's vulnerability. It seems a bit calculated. I see the "actor tricks" in his performances where he manipulates the audience to feel a sympathy for the characters he plays. It's too contrived and unnatural for me. It's not something I enjoy from him.

Jimmy Stewart was also too conservative for my tastes, so he'd never have done something like PHILADELPHIA (1993).

As Tom Hanks gets older, I think he's become more conservative and he is no longer choosing material that challenges mainstream moviegoers. 

he's ultra smart for his career overall and doesn't get political and wrote this before, penny marshall and hanks for yrs wwere gonna remake HARVEY

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I always said that Tom Hanks reminded me of Jack Lemmom and Jimmy Stewart who could find a niche with every genre.    Jimmy started in the 30's  and acted until his death basically  Same for Jack who started in the 50's and Tom made his movie debut in the 70'ss or 80's an dis still going strong.  He and his wife Rita Wilson beat the Corona virus.  But all 3 versatile actors.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not easy to compare these two when one considers the vastly different eras in which they worked (or work, as in Tom's case).

Each made their initial fame as affable "normal guy" comedic types. As time went along, each would stretch out into dramatic roles as well.

But, for my money, Stewart - for all his popularity - was never as enjoyable or watchable as a screen personality when he was being dramatic. I'm not nit-picking his performances, other than to say that I generally was unconvinced by his dramatic acting. Always looked like acting to me; never looked really real. Liked his comedic roles much more.

Tom Hanks, on the other hand, became a very good dramatic actor over the years. He can be very believable in such parts. But, then again, movies themselves have become far more real in feel during Hanks' era than they were in Stewart's time. For that reason alone it's, as I said to open the post, not easy to compare these two. Or maybe it's more a case of not being fair to try to compare the two.

Just my opinion, though. I intend no offense to anyone who's a huge fan of Jimmy, and I've known many. We each see things from our own heads.

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11 hours ago, SadPanda said:

Not easy to compare these two when one considers the vastly different eras in which they worked (or work, as in Tom's case).

Each made their initial fame as affable "normal guy" comedic types. As time went along, each would stretch out into dramatic roles as well.

But, for my money, Stewart - for all his popularity - was never as enjoyable or watchable as a screen personality when he was being dramatic. I'm not nit-picking his performances, other than to say that I generally was unconvinced by his dramatic acting. Always looked like acting to me; never looked really real. Liked his comedic roles much more.

Tom Hanks, on the other hand, became a very good dramatic actor over the years. He can be very believable in such parts. But, then again, movies themselves have become far more real in feel during Hanks' era than they were in Stewart's time. For that reason alone it's, as I said to open the post, not easy to compare these two. Or maybe it's more a case of not being fair to try to compare the two.

Just my opinion, though. I intend no offense to anyone who's a huge fan of Jimmy, and I've known many. We each see things from our own heads.

Good post. Yes, I agree that Stewart is not convincing in dramatic parts. I think he's even less convincing in westerns. Despite the fact he made a bunch of them and some were very successful (usually due to the writing and direction rather than his performance).

As you say, he fares better in comedy.

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Did anyone mention The Shop Around the Corner (Stewart) and You've Got Mail (Tom Hanks in Stewart's role).

I believe critics years ago compared Hanks to Stewart.  I'm among those who didn't care for Forest Gump (for personal reasons) and I don't see Tom Hanks in a Western or Hitchcock movie or The Philadelphia Story (but then again, you have to consider all the actors in the movie).

I can't see Stewart in either The Road to Perdition (so Hanks was wrong when he claimed he didn't play the bad guy) or Big (and agree about Philadelphia).

Don't know if Stewart could have played Sully, but Hanks made me believe he was Sully; however, I didn't buy him as Mr. Rogers.

Like both actors but agree with some of comments about Jimmy Stewart.  I also disagreed with the intro to Harvey the other night.  I prefer some of his other films and we never had pizza and a movie night.  Don't know if Stewart ever did drag (Tom and Bosom Buddies - it was cute)!

Interesting to read discussion and various opinions.  Like the comment about Jim Hutton.  Did anyone see when he played Ellery Queen (David Wayne as his dad)?

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