I spent my youth underestimating James Stewart, and I blame Saturday Night Live. It's not that I ever doubted he was a good actor, but the imitations of his stuttering shyness were a lot more prevalent, especially since Stewart liked emphasizing that impression. (Remember his famous line about when he proposed marriage to Gloria McLean? "I, I, I pitched the big question to her last night and to my surprise she, she, she said yes!")

But there's a thousand reasons why Stewart is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, and while many of them begin with Alfred Hitchcock, there's quite a few that don't. One of them is in Shenandoah where Stewart plays one hell of a badass Southern farmer -- and "badass" and "Jimmy Stewart" aren't two things I ever thought went together. But his cigar-chomping Charlie Anderson could rival Josey Wales for hardness, and The Patriot's Benjamin Martin (a film that owes a gigantic debt to this Civil War tearjerker) for familial devotion ... and then possibly beat them both.

I can't seem to find the scene I really wanted, where (Spoiler Alert!) Anderson bitterly berates the young soldier who just shot his son, but this one is just as good. The whole movie is wonderful, and you should check it out sometime. Bring the Kleenex, though.

Watch the scene after the jump

categories Cinematical