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James Stewart and Anthony Mann Conflict (2 Viewers)

haroldS

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The long explained story of the split between James Stewart and Anthony Mann was that there was a conflict between the two during the filming of "Night Passage" and Stewart had Mann discharged as director. While I can speculate what happened, the truth is what I am interested in. Any know what the conflict was over and how serious the split was or would remain?
 

Robin9

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I've always been interested in this and have been sceptical about the usual explanations. The most common explanation is that Anthony Mann didn't like Borden Chase's screenplay for Night Passage, This has never seemed credible to me because Mann went on to make Man Of The West which has a very similar story line but a less polished screenplay.

Borden Chase told Richard Corliss that Mann deserted the Night Passage project because the political tide was turning in Hollywood and people like Chase who had supported right wing causes and the blacklist were themselves blacklisted. I've no idea if Chase's explanation is any more sensible than any other.
 

PatrickDA

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On the "Furies" DVD, Mann is interviewed by the BBC in '67 and said (about
leaving "Night Passage") that sometimes you can't do the same thing over
and over. I'm guessing he had problems with the script and Stewart had
problems with him directing at that point, so they just split. Hitchcock blamed
the failure of "Vertigo" on Stewart, so maybe Jimmy was reaching a point
where people no longer thought of him as God on earth in terms of box
office power (i.e. his decisions and thoughts about a film work in the end).
 

jim_falconer

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I had also read that Mann had an issue with Jimmy playing the accordian too much in Night Passage, whch in effect, took away a lot of the film's dramatic punch.
 

Greg_S_H

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The quote about the accordion was that Mann said Stewart was so blinded by the fact that he was going to get to perform musically that he didn't notice how bad the script was. Other than Duryea's over-the-top performance, though, I really enjoyed the film. The scenery alone makes it worthwhile, with highlights being the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the ore car roundhouse.
 

bcrd5000

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All of these threads have some truth because the disagreement between Stewart and Mann included most of the bits. Only thing I did not see mentioned was Mann did not think Murphy and Stewart would not be believable as brothers because of the height difference (Stewart is 6'3" and Murphy is 5'5". He also thought Murphy was not an A actor which would also drag down the film. Stewart's wife felt if Mann or Stewart would have simply offered an olive branch to the other (like Fonda did to Stewart) the friendship would have resumed but neither did and Mann was dead within 10 years.

Mann did make the comment about Stewart wanting to make the film because an accordion scene was in the screenplay as a dig to Stewart.

Hitchcock blamed the failure of "Vertigo" on Kim Novak not Stewart but Hitchcock did not want Stewart for "North By Northwest" and put Stewart off until Cary Grant was available.

Stewart was afraid his career had peaked and he wanted Mann to direct to bolster his career because of his confidence in Mann from previous films that had "saved" his career in the early 1950s. Stewart was right about his film career and his time on top was over and he never made a really successful and/or great movie again.
 

Robin9

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Hitchcock blamed the failure of "Vertigo" on Kim Novak not Stewart but Hitchcock did not want Stewart for "North By Northwest" and put Stewart off until Cary Grant was available.

Stewart was afraid his career had peaked and he wanted Mann to direct to bolster his career because of his confidence in Mann from previous films that had "saved" his career in the early 1950s. Stewart was right about his film career and his time on top was over and he never made a really successful and/or great movie again.
I think you're going to run into some disagreement with these assertions.

Ernest Lehman makes clear in his commentary for North By Northwest that it was he, not Alfred Hitchcock, who felt that the screenplay was more suited to Cary Grant than James Stewart. and that until then it had been a James Stewart project.

Some of Hitchcock's closest associates have said that Hitchcock believed the commercial failure of Vertigo was due to James Stewart being too old for a romantic lead. (If so, Hitchcock was deluding himself. The reasons the general public did not respond warmly and generate positive word of mouth was a) a man is asked by a friend to help him with his wife and instead falls for her and wants her for himself with no regard for the fact that she's married; b) the plot twist is revealed clumsily; c) Scottie Ferguson behaves utterly selfishly when try to convert Judy into his dream vision and has zero consideration for the fact that Judy does not want to do this; and d) the climax in the bell tower is crudely edited and makes the fall absurdly pat and convenient. I love Vertigo but I think commercially it was misconceived and I think it could have been a lot better)

After 1958 James Stewart made, among others, Anatomy Of A Murder, Two Rode Together, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Flight Of The Phoenix and Shenandoah. You may feel that none of these films was either successful or great, but many will disagree.
 
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B-ROLL

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I think you're going to run into some disagreement with these assertions.

Ernest Lehman makes clear in his commentary for North By Northwest that it was he, not Alfred Hitchcock, who felt that the screenplay was more suited to Cary Grant than James Stewart. and that until then it had been a James Stewart project.

Some of Hitchcock's closest associates have said that Hitchcock believed the commercial failure of Vertigo was due to James Stewart being too old for a romantic lead. (If so, Hitchcock was deluding himself. The reasons the general public did not respond warmly and generate positive word of mouth was a) a man is asked by a friend to help him with his wife and instead falls for her and wants her for himself with no regard for the fact that she's married; b) the plot twist is revealed clumsily; c) Scottie Ferguson behaves utterly selfishly when try to convert Judy into his dream vision and has zero consideration for the fact that Judy does not want to do this; and d) the climax in the bell tower is crudely edited and makes the fall absurdly pat and convenient. I love Vertigo but I think commercially it was misconceived and I think it could have been a lot better)

After 1958 James Stewart made, among others, Anatomy Of A Murder, Two Rode Together, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Flight Of The Phoenix and Shenandoah. You may feel that none of these films was either successful or great, but many will disagree.
... and How the West Was Won, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Cheyenne Autumn, The Cheyenne Social Club, and The Shootist ... just to name a few ...
 

OliverK

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It should be noted that Mann pulled out of Night Passage before shooting started.

He went on to direct a very gritty and powerful western with Man of the West, unfortunately from a less than perfect script. Night Passage by comparison was pretty to look at (not so much on the mediocre Blu-ray) but it is a much weaker movie imo.
 

Robert Crawford

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It should be noted that Mann pulled out of Night Passage before shooting started.

He went on to direct a very gritty and powerful western with Man of the West, unfortunately from a less than perfect script. Night Passage by comparison was pretty to look at (not so much on the mediocre Blu-ray) but it is a much weaker movie imo.
Night Passage is a personal favorite western of mine and gives me a more enjoyable experience than Man of the West. The latter film might be more powerful, but, it's kind of a downer type of western.
 

OliverK

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Night Passage is a personal favorite western of mine and gives me a more enjoyable experience than Man of the West. The latter film might be more powerful, but, it's kind of a downer type of western.

Yes, Man of the West is not exactly a feel good movie. I only watched Night Passage once and will hopefully be able to revisit it later and in better quality,
The Blu-ray is not good enough for the beautiful Technirama cinematography, it would be great if Universal could revisit it some day:
 

Robert Crawford

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Yes, Man of the West is not exactly a feel good movie. I only watched Night Passage once and will hopefully be able to revisit it later and in better quality,
The Blu-ray is not good enough for the beautiful Technirama cinematography, it would be great if Universal could revisit it some day:
Well, since it's a favorite western from my childhood, it's good enough for me as I'm no spring chicken and I can't wait around forever in hope for a better release.
 

OliverK

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Well, since it's a favorite western from my childhood, it's good enough for me as I'm no spring chicken and I can't wait around forever in hope for a better release.
I have that Blu-ray disc, too but I just don't feel like rewatching it at the moment.
 

john a hunter

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It's odd to me that you all seem to prefer Night Passage to Man of the west.
The script of Passage has no where the depth of Man of the West.
It may be a downer but the characters are far more interesting.
Jeanine Basinger in her biography of Mann rates Man of as his finest Western.
While I have seen all of them recently, I'm happy to go with her!
 

OliverK

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It's odd to me that you all seem to prefer Night Passage to Man of the west.
The script of Passage has no where the depth of Man of the West.
It may be a downer but the characters are far more interesting.
Jeanine Basinger in her biography of Mann rates Man of as his finest Western.
While I have seen all of them recently, I'm happy to go with her!

I certainly do not rate Night Passage higher except that I will freely admit that it looks very nice.

Man of the West is a fantastic western and I like it a lot and it might be my favorite Mann western except that it looks rather dull and drab most of the time but I guess it fits the story.
If MGM ever revisits it we may get it looking a lot better, they probably left a lot on the table with that old master.
 

Robert Crawford

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It's odd to me that you all seem to prefer Night Passage to Man of the west.
The script of Passage has no where the depth of Man of the West.
It may be a downer but the characters are far more interesting.
Jeanine Basinger in her biography of Mann rates Man of as his finest Western.
While I have seen all of them recently, I'm happy to go with her!
I wouldn't say all of us prefer Night Passage over Man of the West. It's my preference as I find Night Passage a more entertaining western, but have acknowledged that Man of the West is a better and more powerful film. In short, I can watch Night Passage at the drop of the hat, but I have to be in a serious/different mood to watch Man of the West.

As to Man of the West being the best of Mann's westerns, it's up there, but I think Winchester '73 is his best western. The interesting plot point makes it so for me.
 

Robert Crawford

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I moved this thread to Movies since it's more a discussion about Mann and Stewart and not any particular DVD.
 

Bert Greene

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Even though "Man of the West" (1958) is a vibrant, bristling affair (memorable stuff like Royal Dano's demise, and the fight with Jack Lord akin to skinning an animal), and I was duly impressed upon first viewing many eons ago, I felt it hasn't really held up over the long haul for me. I think one of the problems is that it's ultimately hard to really look into the stoic, already-aged face of Gary Cooper, reeking of a certain masculine reserve and integrity, and actually 'buy into' the notion that he could have once rode with as thoroughly loathsome and cutthroat a gang as led by Lee J. Cobb. The latter isn't just a group of traditional train-robbing owlhoots, but a pretty downright depraved bunch. Psychologically sick, for all practical purposes. Can't really square the circle of Cooper ever being a part of that, even in youthful naivete.
 

Josh Steinberg

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In terms of better or not better, all I can say is that in life, I generally like things with Jimmy Stewart more than things without him. That doesn’t necessarily make them better, but just more enjoyable for me to watch, so they end up getting watched more.
 

OliverK

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In terms of better or not better, all I can say is that in life, I generally like things with Jimmy Stewart more than things without him. That doesn’t necessarily make them better, but just more enjoyable for me to watch, so they end up getting watched more.

I do not think that I would have an easy time choosing between Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart in general but I consider Night Passage lesser Stewart and Man of the West one of the best westerns by Gary Cooper.

And yes, fully agreed on Jimmy Stewart making movies more enjoyable. I can't think of one really bad movie that I have watched with him.
 

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