After the Thin Man

  • Directors: W S Van Dyke
  • Producers: Hunt Stromberg
  • Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Romance
  • Actors: William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Penny Singleton, Elissa Landi

Nick and Nora Charles return from vacation to their home in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, where Nora’s stuffy family expect the couple to join them for a formal dinner. Nick is despised by Nora’s Aunt Katherine, as his immigrant heritage and experience as a “flat foot” are considered below Nora. The true reason for their invitation is that Nora’s cousin Selma’s ne’er-do-well husband Robert has been missing. Nick is coerced into a little quiet detective work for the family.

They easily find Robert at a Chinese nightclub, where he’s been conducting an affair with Polly, the star performer. Robert tries to extort money from Selma’s unrequited love, David Graham (James Stewart): $25,000 and Robert will leave Selma alone permanently. Unknown to Robert, Polly and the nightclub’s owner, Dancer, plan to grift the money and dispose of him. After being paid off, and returning home for some clothes, Robert is shot at the stroke of midnight. David finds Selma standing over Robert and hurriedly disposes of her gun. Despite this, the police determine that she’s the prime suspect, and her fragile mental state only strengthens the case. Selma insists that she never fired her gun, and Nick is now obliged to investigate and determine the true murderer.

As suspects pile up, schemes and double-crosses are found and two more murders occur, including Polly’s brutal brother. Lt. Abrams (Sam Levene, making his series debut) readily accepts Nick’s assistance. Nick follows a trail of clues that lead him to the apartment of a mysterious “Anderson”. As in the previous film, the true murderer is the least likely suspect, betrayed by a trivial slip-up during a final interrogation and denouement featuring all the suspects. The case solved, and once again traveling by train, Nora reveals to Nick something he hasn’t detected yet: they’re going to have a baby.

Rear Window

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Cornell Woolrich, John Michael Hayes
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr

Photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart) is recuperating from a broken leg and confined to a wheelchair in his small Greenwich Village apartment. He passes the time by spying on his neighbors through his apartment’s rear window, including a dancer who exercises in her underwear, a lonely woman who lives by herself, a songwriter working at his piano (Ross Bagdasarian), and several married couples, including a salesman, Lars Thorwald, (Raymond Burr) with a bedridden wife.

Every day Jeff is visited by Stella (Thelma Ritter), a cranky but friendly home care nurse and Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), his much-younger socialite girlfriend. Lisa is madly in love with Jeff, who returns her feelings but also believes that their lifestyles are incompatible. He talks to both Lisa and Stella about his neighbors. After the salesman makes repeated late-night trips carrying a large case, Jeff notices that the bedridden wife is now gone, and sees the salesman cleaning a large knife and handsaw. Later, the salesman ties a large packing crate with heavy rope, and has moving men haul it away. By now, Jeff, Stella, and Lisa have concluded the missing wife has been murdered by the salesman.

An old Army Air Corps buddy of Jeff named Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) is now a police detective. He looks into the situation and finds that Mrs. Thorwald is in the country, has sent a postcard to her husband, and the packing crate they had seen was full of her clothes. Chastised, they all admit to feeling a bit ghoulish at being disappointed to find out there was not a murder. Jeff and Lisa settle down for an evening alone, but a scream soon pierces the courtyard when a dog belonging to a neighbor couple is found dead with its neck broken. The neighbors all rush to their windows to see what has happened, except for Thorwald, who sits unmoving in his dark apartment, the tip of his cigarette glowing.

A few days later the heat has lifted, and Jeff rests peacefully in his wheelchair; now with two broken legs from the fall. Lisa reclines happily beside him, appearing to read a book on Himalayan travel but turning, after Jeff is asleep, to a new issue of Harpers Bazaar, a fashion magazine.

The Shootist

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: M J Frankovich, William Self
  • Writers: Glendon Swarthout, Scott Hale, Miles Hood Swarthout
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Harry Morgan, Ron Howard, James Stewart

The Shootist tells the story of John Bernard (J.B.) Books (John Wayne) (born January, 29, 1843), an aging gunfighter, the most celebrated “shootist” extant, who is struggling with terminal prostate cancer. The movie begins with a clip montage of some of Wayne’s earlier western movies. Although Books is perceived by some of the characters as an amoral opportunist, he expresses his simple creed when he says, “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” Arriving in El Paso, Texas (Carson City, Nevada in the movie) in 1901, Books seeks the second medical opinion of an old friend, Doc E. W. Hostetler (Jimmy Stewart).

Once Hostetler confirms the presence of the cancer, Books rents a room from the widow ‘Bond’ (“that’s a crackerjack of a name for a woman”) Rogers (Lauren Bacall), and her son Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard). Books’ presence in town is soon known to most, and the news spreads by telegraph throughout the country. This results in the arrival of troublemakers to lure Books back to his past. Not only does he have to deal with his inevitable death, but he has to deal with the vultures who come to profit from his infamy. Having never had trouble facing death in other men, Books now struggles with the fact that death is calling on him. On his 58th birthday, January 29, 1901 he confronts the three men, offering to settle an outstanding score, and they meet in an empty saloon, where he kills Mike Sweeney, Jack Pulford and Jay Cobb. Then the bartender shoots Books and in return Gillom shoots him, throws the gun away and walks out of the saloon and down the street.

Destry Rides Again

  • Directors: George Marshall
  • Producers: Joe Pasternak
  • Writers: Max Brand, Felix Jackson, Henry Myers, Gertrude Purcell
  • Genres: Comedy, Western
  • Actors: Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Mischa Auer

Saloon owner Kent (Brian Donlevy), the unscrupulous boss of the western town of Bottleneck has Sheriff Keogh killed when he asks one too many questions about a rigged poker game. Kent, his henchmen and “Frenchy” (Marlene Dietrich), the dance hall queen now have a stranglehold over the local cattle rangers. The mayor, Hiram J Slade (Samuel S. Hinds), who is in with Kent, appoints the town drunk, Washington Dimsdale (Charles Winninger), as the new sheriff, assuming that he’ll be easy to control. But what the mayor doesn’t know is that Dimsdale was a deputy under famous lawman, Tom Destry and is able to call upon the equally formidable Tom Destry Jr (James Stewart) to be his deputy and make Bottleneck a lawful, respectable area.

Destry confounds the townsfolk by refusing to strap on a gun, but he still carries out the “letter of the law” and wins over the doubters. A final confrontation between Destry and Kent’s gang is inevitable and with “Frenchy” won over, a final gunfight ensues. The rule of law eventually wins out.

Winchester 73

  • Directors: Anthony Mann
  • Producers: Aaron Rosenberg
  • Writers: Borden Chase, Robert L Richards
  • Genres: Western
  • Actors: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Stephen McNally

In 1876, Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and friend ‘High-Spade’ (Millard Mitchell) pursue outlaw ‘Dutch Henry’ Brown (Stephen McNally) into Dodge City. Sheriff Wyatt Earp (Will Geer) enforces the peace without exception however, so Lin can’t do anything. Instead, he enters a shooting competition, contending against Dutch Henry among others. They end up the two finalists for a prized, one-in-a-thousand, perfect Winchester rifle. Lin wins, but Dutch Henry steals the prize and leaves town with Lin in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile, the rifle changes hands several times and adversely affects the lives of those who hold or seek it, usually with fatal consequences. Dutch Henry is forced to barter away his rifle to trader Joe Lamont (John McIntire), who then runs guns to the Indians. Their leader (Rock Hudson) doesn’t like the old, worn-out merchandise Lamont is offering; he wants the Winchester. When Lamont refuses to sell, he pays the ultimate price for his stupidity.

After being chased by the Indians, Lin and ‘High-Spade’ meet up with the U.S. Cavalry which has been cornered by the same Indians. After a fierce, morning battle, the Indian leader is killed. Lin and ‘High-Spade’ return to their search for Dutch Henry and the rifle is found by Doan (Tony Curtis). The rifle next falls into the possession of Steve Miller (Charles Drake). He’s running with Dutch Henry’s gang, much to the disapproval of his girl, Lola Manners (Shelley Winters). Gunfighter ‘Waco’ Johnnie Dean (Dan Duryea) covets it. He keeps insulting Miller in front of Lola, until finally he snaps and draws on him, though he knows he’s no match for the professional. Waco kills him and takes possession, but not for long. Dutch Henry shows up and takes back “his” rifle.

Dutch Henry plans a robbery. Waco is stationed in a saloon to provide protection, but is betrayed to Lin by Lola. The theft goes awry; Lin chases Dutch Henry out of town and corners him on a rocky hill. Before he leaves town, High-Spade reveals to Lola that Henry’s real name is Matthew, the no-good brother of Lin. Matthew killed their father when he wouldn’t go along with his crimes. Lin finally kills Dutch Henry and gets Lola and his prize rifle back in the end.

It s a Wonderful Life

  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Producers: Frank Capra
  • Writers: Screenplay, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Frank Capra, Short Story, Philip Van Doren Stern
  • Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • Actors: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

On Christmas Eve 1946, George Bailey (James Stewart) is deeply depressed, even suicidal. Prayers for George Bailey are heard by angels appearing as stars in the night sky. Clarence Odbody, an Angel Second Class, is sent to Earth to save him—and thereby earn his wings. Joseph, the head angel, is told to review George’s life with Clarence.

As a 12-year-old boy in 1919, George (Bobby Anderson) saved the life of his younger brother Harry from falling through ice, though George caught a cold that became an ear infection and left him hearing-impaired in one ear. Returning weeks later to his job as errand boy in a pharmacy, George stopped his boss, local druggist Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), from accidentally filling a child’s prescription with poison while grief-stricken over the death of his son from influenza.

From childhood, George’s greatest ambition has been to see the world and design bridges and skyscrapers. However, George repeatedly has to sacrifice his dreams for the well-being of the people of Bedford Falls. Four years older than Harry, he puts off going to college to help in the family business until Harry graduates from high school and can replace him at the Bailey Building & Loan Association, essential to many of the disadvantaged in town. But on Harry’s graduation night in 1928, as George discusses his future with Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) — who has had a crush on him since she was a little girl — family friends arrive after George and Mary were throwing rocks at an old house to make wishes, and break the news to George that his father has had a stroke. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a vicious slumlord, seizes this opportunity and tries to persuade the Board of Directors to end the “sentimental hogwash” of home loans for the working poor. George persuades the board members to reject Potter’s proposal; they agree, but only on condition that George himself run the Building and Loan. George reluctantly stays in Bedford Falls and gives his school money to his brother.

George returns to the bridge and calls upon Clarence and God to let him live again. His prayer is answered and George is returned to the moment he met Clarence. Small changes that had occurred while he didn’t exist, such as his daughter’s petals in his pocket, his crashed car, and even the weather being windy instead of snowy, are now just as they were, but George runs home filled with a new appreciation of what he has accomplished. There, he finds that his friends and family have collected a huge amount of money to save George and the Building & Loan from scandal and ruin. The newly arrived Harry proposes a toast to his brother, “the richest man in town.” Seeing how many lives he has touched, and the difference he has made to the town (and having helped Clarence earn his wings), George Bailey realizes that despite his problems, he “really has a wonderful life.”

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Willis Goldbeck, John Ford
  • Writers: James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck, Dorothy M Johnson
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef

The film opens on preparations for a funeral. A U.S. Senator and his wife have come back to the small town of Shinbone, in an unnamed Western state. The senator is prevailed upon by a newspaper editor to explain why he has come to bury an apparent nobody. The senator explains and the film unfolds in flashback, to a time before the railroad came to Shinbone, to when the region was a western territory and statehood was the pressing issue.

Ransom “Rance” Stoddard (James Stewart) is an attorney who believes in law and order, but refuses to carry a gun. Robbed and violently attacked on his way to town by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), an outlaw with a silver-handled whip, Stoddard is brought to town by a man named Tom Doniphon, who brings the injured stranger to the care of friends in town.

Doniphon (John Wayne) is a rancher, who believes there is no law and one “needs a gun in these parts.” Doniphon feels that Stoddard is a hopeless tenderfoot who is unable to handle himself in the kind of fights that are common in the West. Stoddard in return cannot understand Doniphon’s thinking, which is exactly like Liberty Valance’s — might makes right. Caught in between is Hallie (Vera Miles), a woman widely regarded to be the love of Doniphon’s life.

The movie ends with Senator Stoddard and Hallie returning to Washington by train, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. Stoddard asks a conductor how long it will take to get to Washington. The conductor tells them that the train is traveling at high speed and that at an upcoming junction they are holding the express train for him. “Nothing’s too good,” he says, “for the man who shot Liberty Valance.”

The Philadelphia Story

  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Play, Philip Barry, Screenplay, Donald Ogden Stewart, Waldo Salt
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart

Tracy Samantha Lord Haven (Hepburn) is a wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite who had divorced C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and is about to marry nouveau riche “Man of the People” George Kittredge (John Howard). The situation is complicated when she is blackmailed by publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) into granting exclusive coverage of the wedding to tabloid reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). In exchange, Spy magazine agrees to refrain from exposing the antics of Tracy’s philandering father, Seth (John Halliday). As the wedding nears, Tracy finds herself torn between her fiancГ©, her ex-husband, and the reporter. The challenging personalities of Mike and Dexter force the stolid Kittredge into the background.

The night before the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life and takes an seemingly innocent swim with Mike, though they hint at something more. When George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterwards (both of them wearing only bathrobes), he thinks the worst, that his bride-to-be has disgraced herself. The next day, he tells her that he was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy takes exception to his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Liz’s distress), but Tracy graciously declines. At this point, Dexter makes his successful bid for her hand.

Rope

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein
  • Writers: Play, Patrick Hamilton, Adaptation, Hume Cronyn, Screenplay, Arthur Laurents, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier

On a late afternoon, two brilliant young aesthetes, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) murder a former classmate, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), in their apartment.

After hiding the body in a large antique wooden chest, Brandon and Phillip host a dinner party at the apartment which has a beautiful panoramic view of the city skyline (in what appears to be Manhattan). The guests, unaware of what has happened, include the victim’s father (Cedric Hardwicke) and aunt (Constance Collier) (his mother is not able to attend), as well as his fiancee, Janet Walker (Joan Chandler) and her former lover Kenneth Lawrence (Douglas Dick), who was once a close friend of David’s. In a subtle move, Brandon uses the chest containing the body as a buffet for the food, just before their maid, Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson) arrives to help with the party. “Now the fun begins,” Brandon says when the first of the guests arrives.

Brandon’s and Phillip’s idea for the murder was inspired years earlier by conversations with their erstwhile prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). While at school, Rupert had discussed with them, in an apparently approving way, the intellectual concepts of the Гњbermensch and the art of murder, a means of showing one’s superiority over others. He too is among the guests at the party since Brandon in particular feels that he would very likely approve of their so-called work of art.

As the sky outside the apartment darkens into night, the sirens of police cars can be heard heading their way.

Anatomy of a Murder

  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Producers: Otto Preminger
  • Writers: Story, John D Voelker, Screenplay, Wendell Mayes
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Actors: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O Connell, George C Scott

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, small-town lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a prosecuting attorney who lost his re-election bid, takes the case of loutish Army Lieutenant Frederic Manion (Ben Gazzara), charged with first degree murder for shooting a barkeeper who allegedly raped Manion’s flirtatious wife, Laura (Lee Remick). Matched against a high-powered big city prosecutor (George C. Scott) sent by the Governor to help out the local D.A. (Brooks West), Biegler and his alcoholic colleague Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O’Connell) and sardonic secretary Maida Rutledge (Eve Arden) try to win Manion’s freedom with a defense of irresistible impulse — a claimed part of an insanity defense. Biegler’s folksy speech and laid-back demeanor hide a sharp legal mind and a propensity for courtroom theatrics that have the visiting judge (real life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, of Army-McCarthy hearings fame, in his only film role — he took it only after Preminger agreed to let Welch’s wife be on the jury)[4] busy keeping things under control.

The original murder that inspired this occurred at Big Bay Point Light at a time when it was being used to house Army personnel; but in the book and screenplay takes place in a ‘Yooper’ bar.