THE GLENN MILLER STORY
1954, Universal, 115 min, Dir: Anthony Mann

James Stewart stars in this involving biopic of the influential swing band leader, who rose to fame with such hits as “Moonlight Serenade” before joining the Army Air Force Band and perishing in a plane crash during WWII. An Oscar winner for Best Sound (and a nominee for Best Screenplay and Score), the film features June Allyson as Miller’s supportive wife, with cameos from such musical luminaries as Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa.


ANATOMY OF A MURDER
1959, Sony Repertory, 160 min, USA, Dir: Otto Preminger

The finest courtroom drama ever made, a masterpiece of ambiguity in which the audience is the ultimate juror. James Stewart (in what is arguably his richest, certainly his most ambivalent performance) is a small-town lawyer who defends an arrogant soldier (Ben Gazzara) for the murder of his sexy wife’s supposed rapist. The characters often seem to behave inappropriately, in the process blurring the dividing line between guilt and innocence. Filmed on location in upper Michigan, in the actual locations where the real-life murder and trial took place. Superb performances from Eve Arden as Stewart’s rock-solid gal Friday, Arthur O’Connell as an alcoholic attorney, George C. Scott as a prosecutor who seems as aware as Stewart that the courtroom is a stage and that victory belongs to the best actor, and McCarthy silencer, real-life lawyer and non-actor Joseph N. Welch as a droll judge. Enhanced by a jazz score from Duke Ellington, who makes a surprise cameo appearance performing at the neighborhood juke joint.


THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
1940, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: George Cukor

Katherine Hepburn had been declared “box office poison” before this delightful romantic comedy, adapted from the Broadway play in which she’d starred, revived her career. She plays Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord, who is just about to get married when her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (James Stewart) enter the picture. Stewart and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart both earned Oscars for this almost unimprovable screwball gem, later remade as the musical HIGH SOCIETY.


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