James Stewart and Henry Fonda in The Cheyenne Social Club
Henry Fonda has, along with James Stewart, been my favorite actor for as long as I can remember. I must have seen It’s a Wonderful Life and Spencer’s Mountain around the same time as a little girl, because they ascended to the top of the list at the same time and neither has ever slipped. In fact, the more films of theirs I saw, the better foothold they established!
Henry Fonda was born on this day in Nebraska in 1905. His first film was The Farmer Takes a Wife in 1935, followed by Way Down East and I Dream too Much (also 1935).
Whenever someone asks for recommendations when tackling an individual star’s’ filmography, Henry Fonda is always one of the first names out of my mouth or off of my fingertips. He made some extraordinary movies and his filmography is simply a great deal of fun. He never failed to give a wonderful performance and almost always walked away as the biggest standout and star of the movie he was in. Some stars, of course, hung with him and maintained an equal footing (Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Ann Dvorak, Vincent Price, Victor Mature, Bette Davis, Maureen O’Hara..) but none ever outshined him.
In all fairness, Barbara Bed Geddes came darn close in The Long Night!
Henry Fonda, simply put, was one of the most talented actors to ever step in front of a camera. If it weren’t for his friend and partner at the top of my personal favorite’s list, James Stewart, I would say he was the absolute best male actor to ever live. As it is, he has company in this regard – and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind one bit.
Henry Fonda, Behind the Scenes of The Grapes of Wrath