The Very Best Of James Stewart (UK-import) (DVD)
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Collection of 14 classic dramas starring James Stewart. In 'Rear Window' (1954), after breaking his leg during a shoot, photojournalist L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies (Stewart) is forced to spend a humid summer recuperating in his Greenwich Village apartment, but soon finds a himself a hobby in watching his neighbours with a set of binoculars. After witnessing a strange set of events, Jeff becomes obsessed with the notion that Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), who lives in the apartment opposite, has murdered his wife. In 'Vertigo' (1958), when his fear of heights indirectly causes the death of a colleague, San Francisco cop Scottie (Stewart) retires. He is subsequently hired by magnate Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), as Elster says he fears for her life. Scottie becomes bewitched by Madeleine, falling in love with her after saving her from a suicide attempt. However, when Scottie's vertigo prevents him saving Madeleine from a second attempt to kill herself, he becomes obsessed with recreating the dead woman's image. In 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946), Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who has spent his entire life in the small town of Bedford Falls. Despite his yearning to see the world, George has always sacrificed his personal ambitions for the sake of his family and the local community, settling down to marry his childhood sweetheart, Mary (Donna Reed), and raise a family. However, when a huge amount of money goes missing from his savings and loans company he panics and finds himself preparing to commit suicide. He is shown the error of this idea by Clarence (Henry Travers), an angel who has been sent to Earth in order to earn his wings. To this end, Clarence shows George just how badly Bedford Falls and its residents would have turned out had he never been born. In 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' (1962), big-city lawyer Ransom (Stewart) heads into the Wild West outpost of Shinbone to bring local outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) to justice. En route, he is met by a posse led by Valance, who beat him within an inch of his life. Passing cowboy Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) rescues Ransom, gets him set up in Shinbone and supports his efforts to be elected sheriff. Meanwhile, he also attempts to teach his clumsy protegé the fundamentals of gunslinging, so that Valance may at last be brought to book. In 'The Glenn Miller Story' (1953), Stewart stars as American bandleader Glenn Miller. A talented young trombonist, Miller falls for Helen Burger (June Allyson) while studying at the University of Colorado. He gets his first big break after leaving college performing his own arrangement of 'Everybody Loves My Baby' at an audition, and builds himself a reputation working for bandleader Ben Pollack (Ben Pollack). Marriage to Helen follows and Miller finds success with his own style after a trumpet player splits his lip, forcing him to substitute a clarinet solo on 'Moonlight Serenade'. He goes on to become the leading jazz bandleader of his day, but tragedy looms with the outbreak of World War Two. In 'Bend of the River' (1952), Stewart stars as Glyn McLyntock, a man with a past. As he attempts to help a group of Missouri settlers cross the Oregon Trail to the Columbia River Basin, he is double-crossed by Emerson Cole (Arthur Kennedy), the man he thought of as a friend. However, he finds assistance in the form of farmer's daughter Laura Baile (Julie Adams) and San Francisco gambler Trey Wilson (Rock Hudson). In 'The Shootist' (1976), ageing gunfighter John Bernard Brooks (Wayne) rides into Carson City in 1901. His old friend Dr Hostleter (Stewart) confirms that he is dying of cancer and Brooks takes refuge in a boarding house, fending off people who either want to kill him or write his life story. In 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1956), Dr Ben McKenna (Stewart) is on holiday in Morocco with his wife, former singer Jo (Doris Day), and son Hank (Christoper Olsen) when he meets friendly but mysterious Frenchman Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin). The McKennas are also befriended by the Draytons, an English couple who take them to the local bazaar. There, Ben is confronted by an Arab who, after being shot in the back, whispers a dying message to him. It transpires that the Arab is in fact a disguised Bernard, and that he has entrusted Hank with the identity of a British politician who is due to be assassinated. After being questioned by the police Ben and Jo return to their hotel, only to discover that the Draytons have checked out and taken Hank with them in order to ensure Ben's silence. In 'The Greatest Show On Earth' (1952), circus owner Brad Braden (Charlton Heston) hires stunt daredevil The Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde) as his star attraction, even though this demotes his trapeze artist girlfriend Holly (Betty Hutton) to second billing. The two performers try to outdo each other in the ring, whilst Sebastian tries to sweep her off her feet behind the scenes. Meanwhile, gangsters attempt to take a slice of the circus' action, and Buttons the Clown (Stewart) proves to have a shadowy past. In 'Rope' (1948), believing themselves to be intellectually superior to their contemporaries, flatmates Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger) murder their friend David Kentley (Dick Hogan) purely to see if they can get away with it. They then throw a cocktail party, serving food from the top of the trunk where they have hidden David's body. Their guests include both David's father and fiancée, as well as college lecturer Rupert Cadell (Stewart), who becomes increasingly suspicious as the evening wears on. In 'Shenandoah' (1965), Stewart stars as Charlie Anderson, a wealthy farmer in Virginia who has steadfastly refused to take any part in the war that is raging around him. But the war inevitably ensnares him through a series of family tragedies that includes his youngest son (Philip Alford) being taken prisoner by the Unionists and charged with spying, his son James (Patrick Wayne) and daughter-in-law Ann (Katharine Ross) being murdered by a gang of looters, and the death of his eldest son Jacob (Glenn Corbett). Meanwhile his daughter, Jannie (Rosemary Forsyth) falls in love with a Confederate soldier, Sam (Doug McClure). In 'Night Passage' (1957) Stewart stars as Grant McLaine, a former railroad employee now scraping a living as a travelling musician, entertaining workers in the construction camps along the frontier. Fired from his job on the railroads after helping his gun-slinging outlaw brother - known as the Utica Kid (Audie Murphy) - escape the law, he is given one last chance to prove his worth by being asked to deliver $10,000 for the railroad workers' wages. The railroad bosses have had to resort to this drastic measure since the Utica Kid and his gang, led by the fast-shooting Whitey (Dan Duryea), have been holding the train up at gunpoint every time it attempts to deliver the payroll. When the Utica Kid finds out that Grant has been recruited to get the payroll through, he senses an opportunity - but for McLaine his livelihood as well as his sense of moral justice are hanging in the balance. In 'The Far Country' (1954), set in the wild gold rush days of the Yukon Territory, this 1950s Western stars Stewart and Walter Brennan as loner Jeff Webster and his sidekick Ben Tatum. When the pair attempt to get rich quick by selling a herd of cattle at a conflated price, they soon find themselves caught up in a conflict with the self-appointed corrupt local sheriff Gannon (John McIntire) and his henchmen. Finally, in 'Harvey' (1950), Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart) and his best friend Harvey are inseparable. They go everywhere together, spreading warmth and kindness throughout all the bars in town. The only trouble is that Harvey is a 'Pooka' - a six foot-plus rabbit that only Elwood can see. When Elwood and Harvey embarrass the former's social-climbing sister Veta Louise (Josephine Hull) once too often, she finally opts to get Elwood the treatment she thinks he needs, and arranges to have him installed in the local mental hospital. However, Harvey's unseen but ever-felt presence ensures that all does not go according to plan.
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