The Bangor Daily News from Bangor, Maine on July 3, 1997 · 4
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The Bangor Daily News from Bangor, Maine · 4

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Thursday, July 3, 1997
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A4 BANGOR DAILY NEWS THURSDAY. JULY 3. 1997 From Page One 6 t ' County tamt on foir 6 dangerous5 man Manhunt, from A1 who was on patrol in an unmarked cruiser, saw the vehicle about noon and thought it looked suspicious. He ran a routine check on the vehicle and found that it was wanted in Michigan in connection with a missing juvenile. The trooper called upon Harris, who was in a marked state police cruiser, to stop the white 1988 Grand Am near the Whitney Brook bridge in Bridgewater. As Harris approached the vehicle, a shot rang out from the Grand Am. Both McPherson and Harris returned fire, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety. The Bridgewater Grammar School, where pupils were attending summer tutorial classes, was directly across the Actor Jimmy Stewart hailed for life, work Stewart, from A1 performances in cinema history. In more than 75 films, a distinguished military career and exemplary private life, he emerged as a symbol of old-fashioned American principles. America lost a national treasure today, President Clinton said. Jimmy Stewart was a great actor, a gentleman and a patriot. We will always remember his rich career of great performances that spanned several decades and entertained generations of Americans. Like all Americans, Hillary and I will miss him greatly, but his works live on, and for that we can all be grateful. In his most memorable roles, Stewart played earnest, sometimes bashful heroes, slow to anger but possessed with bottomless reserves of perseverance. He rarely played the bad guy. In an age of elegant, drop-dead handsome matinee idols, the lanky Stewart was more the average-looking guy next door. He was best known for his role as a suicidal businessman who finds redemption in the 1946 movie Its a Wonderful Life, one of the most beloved films ever and Stewarts personal favorite. In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939, he was an idealistic young senator who challenges the backroom deals and opportunism on Capitol Hill. In one of Stewarts most famous lines, he says: I wouldnt give you two cents for all your fancy rules if behind them they didnt have a little bit of plain, ordinary kindness and a little lookin out for the other fella. Stewart won a best actor Academy Award for The Philadelphia Wonderful The Associated Press LOS ANGELES During his first and only meeting with his idol, Frank Capra, 20 years ago, Steven Spielberg remarked that he always took a copy of Its a Wonderful Life on his film locations. I show it to the cast and crew, the young director said, and I tell them, This is the kind of picture I hope we can make. Spielberg and a new generation of filmmakers revere Capra and consider Its a Wonderful Life their favorite movie. So do millions of Americans. Probably no other film has appeared on television more often partly because the copyright was inadvertently allowed to lapse into public domain for many years, partly because people enjoy seeing street from the shooting. After the exchange of fire, the car carrying the pair took off north on Route 1 through Blaine and Mars Hill and continued onto Route 1A, where it ran over a spiked mat placed by police. The car' went into a potato field, and the pair ran off into the woods on ' foot, police said. Police on the scene confirmed, that at least one shot was fired, possibly by one of the teen-agers, in the woods after the pair fled from their car. The man is described as about 6 feet tall with brown hair, wearing jeans and no shirt. He is white, but has a dark complexion. The teen-age girl is white, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and wearing a checked flannel shirt and jeans. Police said the man is armed with a .38-caliber handgun and a large Bowie-type survival knife. 1116 teen-age girls mother, who owns the car, said the pair were to have been heading to Georgia, police said. John DeLong, a janitor at the Bridgewater Grammar School, said he saw one of the troopers stop the car. The trooper walked up and said something, DeLong told a reporter. I couldnt hear what he said. Then I looked up and saw., the trooper run towards his car. They the man and girl must have fired 10 shots. DeLong said he saw the car take off as the trooper was pulling out his gun. Chad Bradbury from Bridge-water was driving by when the incident occurred. I saw the cop dodge like this, Bradbury said as he leaned to the left imitating the state trooper, just before the witness heard shots. The officer then turned around, Bradbury said. All at once he the trooper started back to his car, and then I Story, 1940, and was nominated four other times. He was just a great human being. I think Jimmy on the screen was what he was off the screen, said Betty Hutton, who starred with Stewart in The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952. Thats him. He doesnt act. He doesnt have to. Stewarts life reflected a smalltown, religious upbringing and sense of responsibility. He was politically conservative. He married only once, for 45 years. In World War II, he was sent to Europe as a bomber squadron commander, flew 20 combat missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. A dutiful son, he often returned to help the family hardware store in Indiana, Pa., where his best actor Oscar was displayed in the window for 20 years. This is where I made up my mind about certain things about the importance of hard work and community spirit, the value of family, church and God, Stewart said at his 75th birthday party in the small town. Stewarts acting seemed effortless and natural. Frank Capra, who directed Mr. Smith and Its a Wonderful Life, once said that Stewart was one of the few actors to achieve that level of performance at which there is no acting at all, when the actor disappears and a real live person appears on the screen, a person the audience cares about immediately. Self-effacing in life just as he was on screen, Stewart was more likely to credit his directors. I wont let it get me, but too much Life5 failed it again and again for the lift it gives their lives. Both director Capra and star James Stewart credited Its a Wonderful Life for saving their careers. Both had been serving in World War II for five years, an eternity to be absent from the screen. Back from the war, Capra, George Stevens and William Wyler had formed Liberty Pictures to escape from studio control. All three had trouble finding projects for the new firm. Finally the head of RKO Studios showed Capra a story that Phillip Van Doren Stem had written as a Christmas card. It was called "The Greatest Gift. Capra read the few typewritten pages. It was the story I had been looking for all my life! he wrote in Aroostook County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Robertson directs motorists to an alternate route at a roadblock at the intersection of Route 1 and East Ridge Road while police search for two Michigan teen-agers who shot at two state troopers earlier Wednesday. (NEWS Photo by Wayne Brown) heard the shots, Bradbury said. Cindy Peterson, a teacher at the grammar school, said, I thought it was firecrackers at first, referring to the gunshots. She said there were some boys down by the brook who may have had some small fireworks. With Mars Hill Mountain looming to the east, police began going door to door in the vicinity of Route 1A and the East Ridge, Smith and Kearney roads, advising residents that they should either leave or stay inside. Jimmy Stewart (center) is shown in the film Its A Wonderful Life. (AP Photo) praise can turn a fellows head if he doesnt watch his step, he once said. He worked with some of Hollywoods most distinguished directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, who put him in such stylish thrillers as Rope, Vertigo . and Rear Window, and John Ford (Two Rode Together, How the West Was Won). Born in 1908, James Maitland Stewart was a spindly, bespectacled youngster who staged plays in the family basement and first acted in a Boy Scout production. He studied architecture at Princeton University. He played accordion with the university drama group, dabbled in magic and, after graduation, got a job in summer theater with the University Players in Massachusetts, working with Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan. Stewart made his feature film debut in 1935 in The Murder Man as a newspaper reporter opposite Spencer Tracy. I was all hands and feet, and didnt. at the box office in 1946 his 1971 biography, The Name Above the Title. A good man, ambitious. But so busy helping others, life seems to ' pass him by. Despondent. He wishes he had never been bom. He gets his wish. Through the eyes of a guardian angel he sees the world as it would have been had he not been bom. Wow! What an idea. Stewart had returned to his MGM contract, but the studio had found no projects for him. He leaped at the chance to work with Capra again (they had paired on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and You Cant Take It with You). After the script had passed through many hands, filming began on April 15, 1946. Free of studio control, Capra spent lavishly. The budget came to $2,362,427, The area where the pair ran off is about 500 feet behind the greenhouse of Lawrence Mountain Nurseries Inc. The area is described as a dense forest, infested with mosquitoes and black flies, said Bob Lawrence of the East Ridge Road in Mars Hill. There is standing water 5 to 6 feet deep from beaver dams, and one can se$ only about 100 feet ahead, Lawrence said. Lawrence said he and his family declined to leave their work last scene in Frank Capras 1946 know what to do with either, he once said. But in his first five years in Hol-' ly wood he made 24 films, including You Cant Take it With You and Destry Rides Again with Marlene Dietrich. In his Oscar-winning performance in The Philadelphia Story, he played a reporter entranced by a spoiled heiress Katharine Hepburn. He received Oscar nominations as the senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life; the eccentric whose best pal is an imaginary 6-foot rabbit in Harvey in 1950; and the defense lawyer for an Army officer in Anatomy of a Murder in 1959. He made a string of biographical films, playing the big band leader of The Glenn Miller Story and Charles Lindbergh in Spirit of St. Louis. In his last film role, he lent his voice to Sheriff Wylie Burp in the 1991 animated film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. t reported Joseph McBride in his 1992 biography, Frank Capra, but costs mounted to $3.18 million. With RKOs distribution fee, the total was $3.78 million, a huge amount in those postwar days. RKO hurried the film into December release to qualify for the Academy Awards. Unfortunately for Capra, his partner (and rival) Wyler had made The Best Years of Our Lives, which was released at the same time. Best Years captured the reviews, the business and the Oscars. Wonderful Life collected only $3.3 million at the box office, compared with $11.3 million for Best Years. Capra, Stewart and the picture were nominated for Oscars. They lost to Wyler, Fredric March and Best Years. at the greenhouse. Weve got too many things to do around here to worry about things of that nature, Lawrence said. Lifes got to go on. With temperatures near 90 degrees, one would expect children to be in backyard pools or getting a breeze by swinging. But the pools were empty, and the swing sets were still as many people in the area chose to take the police advice. One elderly East Ridge Road couple decided to continue life as An actor who was completely natural , The Washington Post What we will remember about him always is the recoiling modesty, that winning stammer, but most of all his sense of utter naturalness. How many movie stars in history can that be said of? Watching him, and he was so compulsively watchable, you never got the idea he was playing a role. You never felt he was in a movie. The actor in him just disappeared. Wednesday, a man bom 89 years ago in a small Pennsylvania town, son of a hardware merchant, just disappeared. His name was James Stewart. He was probably the most important American film actor since John Wayne. He died of cardiac arrest in a big Tudor house in Beverly Hills, Calif. The day before, Robert Mitchurft, another Hollywood redwood, died a little farther up the coast, in Santa Barbara. Whether it is exactly true or not, the feeling this morning is that now they are all gone. The true postwar American movie legends, that is. American movie legend it sounds so highfalutin. Was there ever an actor more lovingly impersonated? It was only a measure of how much he endeared himself to us. Jimmy Stewart is of a different order of magnitude. Something beyond acting, something beyond cinema. Something that got into the core of our being. How did he ever manage that trick of inspired averageness, even when he was playing uncommon men like Lindbergh and Glenn Miller? He was about enduring American values. He was about decency. But we stereotype him at our peril. Hitchcock, for one, sensed the hidden other depths. He put them brilliantly to use in three classic 50s films: Rear Window (where you saw a morbid Stewart curiosity bordering on voyeurism); The Man Who Knew Too Much (where you saw a very convincing vindictiveness); and Vertigo (where you got the not-quite-clear compulsions and eerie sexual obsession). And yet that sense of everyday goodness overshadows it all. Here is a story about him: In 1982, on the 50th anniversary of his Princeton graduation class, he sent in his contribution to the big book that told what all the class meihbers were doing. He gave his California phone number. You know, just in case anybody passing through town wanted to get in touch. The death of his wife, Gloria j normal. Alfred Bell, 86, said he was not scared a bit about the possibility of dangerous people on the loose. Bell was sitting in his lawn chair under the shade of a maple tree in front of his mobile home. Where would I go? Bell said-If I go some place, Id be just as worried. I know its serious. I think Im just as safe here as any place. Laughing, Bell said that he could go hide in the woods, but the flies would eat me up. Hatrick McLean, in early 1994, apparently hit him very hard. He seldom left home after that. He won the Academy Award in 1940 opposite Katharine Hepburn for The Philadelphia Story. But it seems unarguable that the black-and-white masterpiece we will always link his name with first is Its a Wonderful Life. Its the tale of George Bailey, small-town dreamer and good egg with a dark side. Its such a tired Christmas movie, but who can get enough of it? Somewhere in Heaven this morning, Clarence and Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart are whistling Buffalo Gals, Wontcha Come Out Tonight. Okay, okay, thats being sentimental. Once, my children gave me my own copy of the movie. For weeks afterward, wed sit in the den with the remote control and compulsively replay that scene in the first few minutes of the film when George rescues his kid brother, Harry, who fell through a hole in the ice at the town skating pond. In 1991, when I told my sons I was going out to California to interview the real George Bailey for Life magazine, my then 3-year-old, John, told me to be sure and ask George if he was over his earache yet. Because, as everybody knows, when' George jumped in to save Harry from drowning that afternoon, he caught a bad cold that messed up his hearing for life. The maid let me in the front door. Probably I was still a little undone at how easy it was to get in no hedges or electronic gates or people coming out of sentry boxes. The maid said, Theyre on the patio," and I, in my anxiety and clunkiness, walked straight toward them, smack into the fine-mesh screen of a sliding glass door that led to a walled-off back yard where there was a lap pool. I knocked the thing right off its hinges. Great entrance, his wife had said, coming over to pat my shoulder like a mom comforting a geeky son. Dont worry, Ive done it a couple of times myself. Hed said nothing at first. Hed walked straight past me and picked up the kicked-out screen and began replacing it in the roller track. His bony arms were stretched to either side. In that low, seriocomic voice, drawing out the words, he said, Youre ... not ... the . first. They were his opening words. A couple minutes later, trying to break the ice, I asked him if he was over his earache yet. And he laughed. And we got along fine. He said that George Bailey was his favorite role. .

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