One of the best things about being a classic cinema fan in New York City is the killer retro programming at our beloved Film Forum, and their current program is an all-timer: “Hank and Jim,” a celebration of the parallel careers and personal friendship of Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, tied to the new duo-biography of the same name by the great Scott Eyman. So in commemoration of that series, we’re looking back on a few of our favorite BFFs of the movies’ golden age – movie stars who clearly entertained each other as much as they did the rest of us.
James Stewart and Henry Fonda
The title of the Eyman book and the Film Forum series is particularly appropriate since, when they met, these two men weren’t yet the bold-faced names they would become – they were two struggling young actors, hustling for jobs in New York City like so many of their peers. But they would remain close as their stars rose, as their careers were interrupted by WWII, and as they struggled with the tricky task of growing old and remaining relevant in an industry that was changing rapidly. (And they maintained that closeness in spite of their opposing political views; Stewart was a conservative, while Fonda was one of the industry’s most noted liberals.) They only shared the screen four times – three really, since they appeared in different segments in the omnibus How the West Was Won – but when they did, their affection for, and comfort with, each other was evident and charming.