Jimmy Stewart: Probing the Depths

Thursdays, April 4 — May 9
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Instructor: Kaj Wilson

Thursdays at 10am

April 4 - May 9, 2019 (6 classes)

Cost: $144/members, $180/public



Jimmy Stewart is one of the most beloved American movie stars of all time. With his aw-shucks persona, signature drawl, and real-life wartime heroism, he was the ideal everyman, a personification of American values at their finest lived out in small towns across America. The word most often used to described Jimmy Stewart was “sincere.”

Jimmy Stewart is also one of Hollywood’s most underestimated actors. Many people assumed he was a “natural,” that he was just playing himself. But James Maitland Stewart was a craftsman whose work exhibits remarkable versatility and depth. He shone in comic roles, fell in love with a heartbreaking tenderness, and fearlessly portrayed men possessed and obsessed.  Actor-director Clint Eastwood observed that Stewart, “had a great way with violence. . . . when he showed anger, it was much more intense than in most actors.”   

Jimmy Stewart developed close working relationships with auteur film directors who found in him an actor who could express their visions. He was Frank Capra’s favorite actor. He made eight films with Anthony Mann in the late 40s and 50s, reviving the Western in the process. Two of his three films with Alfred Hitchcock are universally considered masterpieces. The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Films of All Time include 5 of the films he made over his 62-year career.  

The course offers a selection of six of Jimmy Stewart’s finest films by six different directors. Some films may be familiar; others, revelations. We’ll explore the films in the context of Stewart’s and the directors’ careers, how the films reflect the times in which they were made, the values they espouse, and their relevance today.

About the Instructor

Kaj Wilson served as Artistic Director of The Boston Jewish Film Festival for twelve years. For her work she was honored with a Special Commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics and with the Image Award for Vision and Excellence by Women in Film and Video/New England. Prior to joining the BJFF, she was Film Editor of The Improper Bostonian. She studied film at Boston University’s graduate College of Communications. Kaj has sat on panels, grant committees, and international film festival juries. A popular speaker, she introduces films, hosts film series, and leads film discussions at movie venues and non-profit organizations throughout the Boston area. This is her ninth Coolidge course offering