James Stewart Quotes

1. If I had my career over again? Maybe I'd say to myself, speed it up a little.

2. Frank called me one day and said: "I have an idea for a movie, why don't you come over and I'll tell you?" So I went over and we sat down and he said: "This picture starts in heaven". That shook me.

3. I sort of got into Westerns... It was a sort of desperation move, really. I had several pictures that didn't go very well, and I just realized that I would have to try something else.

4. I always told Hitch that it would have been better to put seats around the set and sell tickets.

5. Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show.

6. One time they traded me for seven horses. Seven stunt horses.

7. It was amazing that a play that seems dated in this world... A man whose best friend is a six-foot white rabbit... But it caught on, especially with young people - they surprised me most of all.

8. I'd like to do Harvey again. I did it two years ago with Helen Hayes in New York. It was a joy. I was so glad to do it again because I never thought I did it right the first time.

9. We had an apartment on west side of Central Park. The rent was very reasonable. We found out later that it belonged to a gangster called Legs Diamond and it was a front to his headquarters. It was fine.

10. I always stayed for the first curtain call and people always said: "Who's that?" But this got me started in acting.

11. I lasted one night. They said my playing spoiled people's appetites.

12. I was going to be an architect. I graduated with a degree in architecture and I had a scholarship to go back to Princeton and get my Masters in architecture. I'd done theatricals in college, but I'd done them because it was fun.

13. When it came to kissing, Harlow was the best.

14. I always watch Dean Martin's show... just to see if he falls down.

15. Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.

16. I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, and I'm happy, Doctor, I finally won out over it.

17. After the awards, I didn't win, my father called me up and told me that the man from Johnstown had put all kinds of signs in the theatre saying: "This year's Academy Award winner... " because my father had said I was going to win. And I didn't. But this guy asked if it would be alright if he took the Oscar and put it in the lobby and put a sign saying: "This is what it would look like if he had won".

18. My mother approved, my father just didn't accept the idea of my being an actor. I think that's the reason he kept the hardware store in operation, because I think he was pretty sure that I was going to be found out sooner or later, and he wanted to have a job for me to come back to.

19. It's well done if you can do a part and not have the acting show.

20. William Wyler has always been famous for taking a lot of takes. There is this story that he did this scene with a bunch of very competent people, a very important scene in the movie, and he'd already done it thirty times. One of them came to Willie and said: "I want to know what we're doing wrong. What do you want us to do?" And Willie said: "No, you're doing it fine. I'm just waiting for something to happen".

21. He called me up saying: "What's all this I hear about you making a dirty picture?"

22. All the senators were there, and Frank Capra was in a box with his wife with the vice president and his wife, and several other senators. They, as the picture started going, became very quiet. After the picture had been going for three quarters of an hour, the film broke. Frank didn't know where the projection room was exactly, and he found himself outside the building, crawling up a ladder.

23. This was the time of training, when you were learning your craft, and I don't think that you can work too hard at that particular time.

24. It's much easier, for example, to play a heroin addict and you're withdrawing - you tear the ceiling off - that's much easier than it is to come in and say: "Hello." Or: "I love you". When you judge it in that way, the heavy isn't as difficult.

25. Film itself is very technical and I think you need this period when things are a little out of control for it to work right.

26. Not all of us were working at the same time, but enough of us... Hank Fonda knew how to cook rice. We lived pretty much on a rice diet.

27. I don't necessarily support the war.

28. Just to look at it, most people, even other law enforcement agencies, would not have noticed that particular patch had been expired.

29. She didn't know who told anybody to do any of that.

30. I think we will see a rebound in the economy partly because of this substantial easing that we've seen from the Fed, but I think it will be delayed. I think we are likely to see clear evidence of this emerging towards the end of the fourth quarter this year and a rebound well under way in the first quarter next year.

31. There was nobody like him, and he'll be hard to replace. I've lost a wonderful friend. The world has lost a tremendous contribution to the art of film and to millions and millions of people.

32. It's not just the election.

33. What you are seeing is an improved equity market, a deteriorating bond market and the currency under control. The government is very aware that it mustn't loose this advantageous combination.

34. Maybe we are already seeing strong sterling impacting on the sector.

35. The U.S. is going to take a long time to turn around - but Europe will take a lot longer.

36. As far as industrial output is concerned it is quite clear from the orders data, that new orders in Germany are likely to see further falls.

37. A half (percentage) point cut will offer some comfort to the European markets... A quarter is not helpful.

38. I was saying to myself: "Down goes Frazier!"

39. And in my opinion we had a true coalition of forces.

40. And for close-range projectors and domestic use, brightness is not so much of a problem.

41. We size our summer class to anticipate our needs, hoping all of them get offers and all of them accept.

42. I think one day you'll find that you're the hero you've been looking for.

43. If we don't try we don't do. And if we don't do, what are we on this earth for?

44. There's not much I can tell you about this war. It's like all wars, I guess. The undertakers are winning.

45. The best way to make a man talk is to make him feel comfortable.

46. Don’t believe everything you hear and only half of what you see.

47. Not knowing, I cannot say.

48. An element of conflict in any discussion is a very good thing. It shows everybody’s taking part and nobody’s left out. I like that.

49. In this world you must be oh-so-smart or oh-so-pleasant. Well for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant and you may quote me.

50. I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whoever I’m with.

51. Nobody ever brings anything small into a bar.

52. There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us and that’s too bad.

53. Mr. Cracker, may I intercede for my friend’s youth and high spirits?  Time will take care of that.

54. Liberty is too precious to be buried in books.  Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: "I’m free".

55. He used to say to me: "Have you ever noticed how grateful you are to see daylight again after coming through a long dark tunnel?"…Always try to see life around you as if you’d just come out of a tunnel.

56. I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if behind them they didn’t have a little bit of plain ordinary everyday kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too.

57. Don’t miss the wonders that surround you because every tree, every rock, every anthill, every star is filled with the wonders of nature.

58. One good thing about a postage stamp - it always sticks to one thing until it gets there.  I’m sort of like that, too.

59. Well, I think he would top my list of directors. I think it's much more than enjoying working. I think Frank Capra, to quite an extent, is responsible for me as an actor. I think my work with him and just my association with him, I think a lot of it - he's responsible for the style, if it should be called such, that I've sort of developed. I think it's pretty much through working with him that I developed that style.

60. To tell the truth, I've always been a little uncomfortable watching finished movies that I've been in, except the Hitchcock pictures, for some reason. Rear Window was like that, I was very relaxed and able to enjoy it ten or fifteen years after I'd done it. And Vertigo was the same thing, the last time I saw it I found it very interesting and really so truly Hitchcock.

61. I've always been suspicious of these people that say, we shot this picture in such a short time because we planned it completely and we rehearsed it for five weeks and we knew exactly what we were doing, and we came in and everyone knew what they were doing, so we breezed through this picture and it was no problem, and it's so simple. It's not that simple. John Ford always said that the best things that have ever happened in film, in American film, have happened by accident. He's rather an outspoken fellow. I'm sort of inclined to agree with him.

62. Hollywood dishes out too much praise for small things. I won't let it get me, but too much praise can turn a fellow's head if he doesn't watch his step.

63. I've always been skeptical of people who say they lose themselves in a part. Someone once came up to Spencer Tracy and asked: "Aren't you tired of always playing Tracy?" Tracy replied: "What am I supposed to do, play Bogart?" 

64. My father just didn't accept the idea of my being an actor. I think that's the reason he kept the hardware store in operation, because I think he was pretty sure that I was going to be found out sooner or later, and he wanted to have a job for me to come back to.

65. You hear so much about the old movie moguls and the impersonal factories where there is no freedom. MGM was a wonderful place where decisions were made on my behalf by my superiors. What's wrong with that?

66. I hate them! I absolutely hate them! Whether right or wrong, their country was at war and their country asked them to serve, and they refused and ran away. Cowards, that's what they were. (On teenagers who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War)

67. I have my own rules and adhere to them. The rule is simple but inflexible. A James Stewart picture must have two vital ingredients: it will be clean and it will involve the triumph of the underdog over the bully.

68. The big studios were an ideal way to make films - because they were a home base for people. When you were under contract, you had no chance to relax.

69. Through the years Indiana has been something of tremendous importance in my life. It's true there is something special about the place where you were raised-your hometown. I have found through the years during the times when I've been here in Indiana that almost every direction I look, and so many faces I see, immediately cause a picture to be formed of an event, a happening in my life that I remember well. I think the main thing that has kept Indiana so close to my heart is the fact that Indiana has been, and still is, the headquarters of Mr. Alex Stewart and his family ... My father has been almost fanatical in his determination to keep our family together-and he has done it. Time and distance haven't seemed to have affected this headquarters in Indiana. I've settled down three thousand miles from Indiana. I've traveled to points in the world three times that distance. At times I've stayed away several years at a stretch, but I somehow have never felt that I was very far from here ... somehow I don't feel that I have ever been away. (His speech at a Boy Scout Testimonial Dinner celebrating his fiftieth birthday on 20 May 1958)

70. Jean was the finest actress I ever worked with. No one had her humor, her timing. (On Jean Arthur)

71. My first impression of Joan Crawford was of glamor. (On Joan Crawford)

72. Mr. Hitchcock did not say actors are cattle. He said they should be treated like cattle.

73. I'd like people to remember me as someone who was good at his job and seemed to mean what he said. (1983)

74. John Wayne was probably the biggest star in the world, yet he retained the qualities of a small boy. He had the enthusiasm for life that would make a high school football star envious. And through it all, Duke never changed. As a man he was exactly the boy he started out. And as a friend ... well, you just wouldn't want a better one. In his lifetime, Duke stamped AMERICA across the face of the motion picture industry. Few other men, living or dead, have ever portrayed the fine, decent, and generous American qualities as Duke did. He portrayed on screen the values he lived off screen. Gentle - so much so, it would have surprised his critics. Loyal - once your friend, always your friend. Courageous - if you doubt it, remember his fight against cancer, or the way he faced heart surgery. And decent. Above all, Duke was a decent man. He was also far from perfect. He made his mistakes as I have made mine and you have made yours. All in all, I would say they were unintentional. Mistakes of the heart, I would say. Let me say this about the John Wayne I knew. He was an original. He was the statue of his times. All in all, I think it was the man's integrity that speaks most of him. His principles never varied. Nor did his ideals. Nor did his faith in mankind.

75. I don't think there's any question that the Communists are behind a great deal of unrest in the United States. In addition, I feel they are still a potential danger in show business. (1970)

76. If a western is a good western, it gives you a sense of that world and some of the qualities those men had - their comradeship, loyalty, and physical courage. The vogue for the new kind of western seems pretty unimportant to me. They try to destroy something that has been vital to people for so long.

77. I am James Stewart playing James Stewart. I couldn't mess around with the characterizations. I play variations on myself.

78. Asked how he wanted to be remembered: As someone who believed in hard work and love of country, love of family and love of community.

79. I can't imagine there's anyone in the country who doesn't know who he is. Kids will be talking about him long after the rest of us are gone. John will make the history books, as Will Rogers did, because he as lived his life to reflect the ideals of his country. (On John Wayne)

80. I suppose people can relate to being me, while they dream about being John Wayne.

81. Indiana means home to me. It is a town for me to cling to, because my mother and father are here. I was born and reared here. I have a great love and pride for Indiana. I love every bit of it. (Upon being named a Pennsylvania Ambassador by Governor James Duff, 1 October 1948)

82. She could do maybe a look, or a line or two, but they would hit like flashes or earthquakes. (on Margaret Sullavan)

83. I'm going to be with Gloria now. (His last words)

84. John Wayne was the greatest cowboy. Henry Fonda was the better actor but John Wayne, well, he was a champ.

85. I don't act. I react.

86. I'm the inarticulate man who tries. I don't really have all the answers, but for some reason, somehow, I make it.

87. There ought to be a law against any man who doesn't want to marry Myrna Loy.

88. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing a Jimmy Stewart imitation myself.

89. When I got back from the war in 1946 people didn't want the Mr. Smith kind of movie any more, and I refused to make war pictures.

90. I've sort of gotten into the habit of looking for the vulnerable guy, the guy who makes mistakes, the guy who can't figure things out all the time but keeps at it. 

91. Having friends around for a pleasant evening is one of life's most cherished joys as far as I am concerned. But when those with me are fellow believers, how much greater that joy is, for we know that it's rekindled, one day in eternity.

What do you think of James Stewart's quotes?

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