Yesterday was a long one in our house with all the last minute cleaning and decorating and shopping so while I didn't have turkey in any form I did relax with a Yeungling once it was all over and sat down to watch It's A Wonderful Life. I lovelovelove Jimmy Stewart movies whether they're award winners or not. I just plain love him. The college I attended, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was in his hometown and to say he looms large there is an understatement. I used to walk past the huge statue of Elwood Dowd that was in front of town hall (it's since been moved to the Jimmy Stewart Museum). Some friends and I made a couple of trips there to watch It's A Wonderful Life on the big screen many Christmases ago and it's worth noting that this now beloved movie was at one time pretty heavily panned by critics who were disturbed by its darkness. I managed to get the whole way to the "Attaboy, Clarence!" and I'm not even entirely certain I fell asleep but suddenly I was aware of a tall, good looking man in a well-cut three piece suit with a fedora and a trench coat slung over one arm standing in my living room. I was really really hoping it wasn't Elwood.
"Mr. Dowd?" I asked nervously.
He smiled gently at me.
"No, he's just a part I played a couple of times. Pretty well as I remember."
Then that means -- oh, wow.
"Um, so you're -- "
"You know who I am. You want to talk to me."
I think the pea started mushing up all on it's own at this point. I was lucky I remembered to be polite. "Won't you sit down, sir?"
He sat on the other end of the couch and looked over the room. He picked up my open laptop which was scrolling pictures that I've saved and used here on the blog and he seemed especially fascinated with the photos of Richard Armitage.
"You're a fan of his, aren't you?"
"Kind of hard not to be I'd imagine. Seems like a nice man, talented actor, handsome -- huh."
"You flinched when I said handsome. Something wrong with that?"
"Not for me. I don't think so, at least."
"So what's the problem?"
I thought about it for a second, about all the stuff I've seen online recently about Armitage's having a stylist, the marketing push behind The Hobbit, the fan hand-wringing about his being in a blockbuster in the first place. Suddenly I couldn't imagine anyone else I'd rather be having this conversation with.
"Mr. Stewart, can I ask you something?" He waited patiently. "Was there anything the studio made you do that made you really uncomfortable?"
He shrugged. "Uncomfortable? Like sitting under hot lights in a heavy sweater or like damaging to the delicate flower of my artistic soul?"
"How could they do that? That was mine."
"But did they make you do things you didn't especially want to do?"
"Well sure. You're an adult, don't you do things you don't especially want to do?"
"I don't think that's the same thing, though."
He laughed softly. "Of course it is. Who has a life that's totally comfortable? And would you want it?"
I shook my head. "There's fear of his being typecast."
"Is it his fear?"
"I don't know."
"Exactly. You don't know. You have no idea what's up his sleeve. Boy's got some long arms, though. Trust him, trust his agent. They know what they're doing."
The dog chose that moment to sneeze and I reflexively turned my head. I fully expected my guest to be gone when I turned back but he was still there. "Anything else?" he asked.
"I don't think so."
"Good. Now let's find a picture to watch. Are you a Denzel Washington fan? He's another one I like to keep my eye on."
So that's how I wound up watching The Preacher's Wife with the spirit of Jimmy Stewart. There must be something about angelic visitations. Or maybe there was something in my beer. Whatever it was he was long gone when I woke up about 3AM. It was definitely a wonderful hallucination.