Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Good Guy

Author(s): Tony
Location: Pittsburgh

"The Good Guy"

Directed by Richard Attenborough
Written by Grant Heslov
Produced by Cathy Konrad
Music by Randy Newman
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood
Cinematography by Gordon Willis
Makeup by Keith VanderLaan

Main Cast

Cillian Murphy as Jimmy Stewart
Eion Bailey as Henry Fonda
Linda Cardellini as Gloria Stewart
Timothy Spall as Alfred Hitchcock
Josh Brolin as Frank Capra
Brent Spiner as Anthony Mann
Jennifer Morrison as Kim Novak
Keri Russell as Grace Kelly
Noah Taylor as Hoagy Carmichael
John Patrick Amedori as Ronald Stewart
Steve Coogan as Tom Slick
Adam Nelson as Don Loomis

Tagline: "Aww shucks, t-t-they made a movie about me"

Synopsis: In the town of Indiana, Pennsylvaia, on May 20th, 1908, a baby was born. Once his eyes were capable of opening he glanced at the world in front of him with a look that would capture the smile of all his peers around him, not knowing that one day this special person would become one of films most recognizable icons ever to grace it. James Maitland Stewart was born on this day.

His legacy started at Princeton where he got into Broadway. His first major Broadway show was the comedy Goodbye Again, where he played a chauffeur that said two lines. He shared an apartment with another rising actor, Henry Fonda. Although the two were best friends, their political views were vastly different, Jimmy being a supporter of the Republican Party. Their political differences even led to a fist fight between the two, afterwards politics were never mentioned again. Stewart then continued to land bigger roles, having a friendship with director Frank Capra, the notable work being Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. After winning his Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story, a change was needed. He decided to take on screwball comedy, which seemed unfitting for him, being the shy and humble man he was.

His comedy led to the next best thing, war, actual war. After 300 hours of flying time Stewart was in line to become a military flyer. He and other celebrity Hoady Carmichael teamed up to become war pilots and created a flying school in Arizona. They trained over 200,000 pilots during the war. Though in 1940 he was rejected into the Army Air Corps due to weight issues. He was five pounds under the limit but thanks to help from Don Loomis, a muscle specialist, he earned his spot. A movie star in a military uniform, Jimmy felt he could do anything.

1945 marked the return back to the screen, his first film in five years Stewart appeared in the heart stealing masterpiece, "It's a Wonderful Life". He wanted a change from comedy though, so he seeked a friendship with suspense master Alfred Hitchcock and western veteran Anthony Mann. Around this time he met the love of his life, Gloria, and he adopted her sons, Michael and Ronald. Along his journey Jimmy got to work with incredible talent, such as Kim Novak in Vertigo and Grace Kelly in Rear Window, earning the trust and hearts of each and every one of his crew. A risk taker he was as well, while coming back from his trip to India Stewart smuggled the remains of a yeti as a favor for his friend Tom Slick. While Stewart lived on Cloud 9, he was brought back down after the death of his son Ronald who died in Vietnam.

The film concludes with his several health problems throughout the 80's which includes heart disease, skin cancer, deafness, and senile dementia. However, Jimmy was able to grace us with one more performance, a voice performance as Wylie Burp in "Feivel Goes West", which would fulfill his legacy. A drug and alcohol free life he led, having the good life, ultimately becoming the good guy.

What the Press would say:

You know the feeling you get when you hear your favorite song? You have these sensational vibes running through your body, your heart sounds to the beat, a smile is created and it doesn't go away until the last second of that song. When you watch "The Good Guy" the feeling overwhelms that. Hardly do you see an Oscar worthy film like this anymore. You see films of violent nature, continuous vulgarity, drugs, sex, profanity, all of which are well and good, but it's nice to escape it every now and then. Very few films have had the distinct ability to move and inspire someone to the point where the effect is almost life-altering, this is one of them, a first rate biopic on James Stewart. Richard Attenborough has made another crowning achievement in his career, assembling the perfect crew and cast for this overall wonderful piece of film making. Credit the superb makeup artist Keith VanderLaan for giving our characters a unique aging look as the film progresses. Although much can be said about this cast, it all starts at the top, the cherry, Mr. Cillian Murphy. This is by far Cillians most challenging role to date. I mean if your agent gave you a call and said there's a role opened for you, you are going to play Jimmy Stewart, how would you react? Murphy acted like a professional and took it, there was no turning back. He captures it all, the motions and gestures, the expressions that leave you dazzled, and the voice that triggers all the reflexes in your body. Nothing but kindness and warmth came from Jimmys talk, Cillian does us proud. Eion Bailey plays the ever tenacious Henry Fonda. Bailey tackles the role to perfection, creating a comic atmosphere between him and Jimmy, each scene with Bailey can be accounted for as the show stealer. The fist fight between the two is actually one of the more humorous scenes in the film, that's because of the dead on chemistry between Bailey and our leading man. Of course there has to be discussion on Linda Cardellini who plays Jimmys wife, when shes on screen you'll have just as much trouble whiping the smile from your face as she does in this film. She has the look and dedication to become a wife of the 50's, and the personality that begs for an Academy nod. Last in line, Timothy Spall, who plays the Hitch. We all know that while Hitch was the king of suspense he was also known for his comedy, while he had your nerves tense he was able to relieve you with laughter, Spall doesn't forget this. His impression is untouchable.

In the end this is a film that's like one big happy dream. We all dream of films like this, a film that makes you have no worries in the world, with a few gripping and emotional scenes due to the death of his son, this film is generally a reminder on why we loved Jimmy Stewart so much. It couldn't have been done without a single person involved in making this film. A film like this will test other films out there and make them step it up a notch, because when it comes to complete and admirable film making it's hard to beat.


Best Picture - Grant Heslov, Richard Attenborough
Best Director - Richard Attenborough
Best Actor - Cillian Murphy
Best Supporting Actor - Eion Bailey
Best Supporting Actor - Timothy Spall
Best Supporting Actress - Linda Cardellini
Best Original Screenplay - Grant Heslov
Best Costume Design - Colleen Atwood
Best Cinematography - Gordon Willis
Best Makeup - Keith VanderLaan

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