BEND OF THE RIVER
1952, Universal, 91 min, USA, Dir: Anthony Mann

James Stewart stars as a former border raider who narrowly escapes the hangman's noose (he still smarts from the rope) and is trying to start over again in the wide-open Oregon country. Instead, he winds up involved with the wily and charming Arthur Kennedy in a wagon train that includes the eligible Laurie Baile (Julie Adams) and a load of supplies worth their weight in gold. One of director Anthony Mann's finest films, combining action, character and landscape in a seamless and wildly satisfying package.


MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
1939, Sony Repertory, 129 min, USA, Dir: Frank Capra

Naive, straight-shooting idealist Mr. Smith (James Stewart) is elected to Congress, then used and eventually framed by his corrupt mentor Claude Rains and fat cat Edward Arnold. Still an incredibly topical slice of Americana with unflinching insights into how easily a free-enterprise system can be debased and exploited by ruthless profiteers. Smith pleading his case before a cold-hearted, unbelieving Congress sends chills down the spine and remains one of the most moving sequences in the history of cinema. Jean Arthur is the worldly cynic who has her heart melted when she realizes Smith is the real thing. With Thomas Mitchell.


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