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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Jimmy Stewart: Thunder Bay (1953)

In 1953 Jimmy Stewart made two films with Anthony Mann, The Naked Spur and Thunder Bay. Universal-International Studios made Thunder Bay as their first widescreen movie with a 1.85 to 1 aspect ratio. Another first for the studio was the use of stereophonic sound. The cast included Joanne Dru, Gilbert Roland, Harry Morgan, and Dan Duryea. The director wasn’t the only long-time partnership Stewart had in this film. Harry Morgan had already starred in Bend of the River with Stewart and would later appear with him in The Glenn Miller Story, The Far Country, and Strategic Air Command. Dan Duryea had already been in Winchester ’73 alongside Stewart and would go on to appear with him in Night Passage and Flight of the Phoenix. 

Steve Martin (Stewart) and Johnny Gambi (Duryea) are on the coast of Louisiana with their dreams at stake. After they get the support of an oil tycoon they head to the gulf to build their offshore rig. Meanwhile, the town in which they’re based begins to doubt their motives. Further trouble comes when Gambi falls for the daughter of a local fisherman and leaves the townspeople in a rage. Steve also finds himself in an uneasy friendship with the other daughter of the same fisherman. As they struggle to meet their deadlines Steve and Gambi are faced with a loss of funding and the increasingly dangerous town in which they live. Their wills and their friendship will be tested in this high stakes gamble. Will they strike it rich, or will they run out of time?

This is an interesting movie and a far cry from the Anthony Mann movies before this. There is a dark nature in the character of Steve Martin that creeps to the surface at times, only to be pushed back down again. Stewart expertly captures the desperation and drive of  man trying to make it with his last hope. This is possibly the best performance of Dan Duryea’s career as well, the opposition and friendship between his character and Steve is powerful.

Visually, this is a great movie for the time. The filming was done largely on location. This included filming on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the story isn’t as strong or as interesting as some of the previous films Stewart made, this is still a good movie. Moving in to 1954 he would make Rear Window and establish a friendship with Alfred Hitchcock that would lead to several classic Hollywood gems.


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12 Comments on “Jimmy Stewart: Thunder Bay (1953)

  1. DAD January 29, 2012 at 10:51 PM #

    Nice job Jeff:)


    • jeffro517 January 29, 2012 at 11:49 PM #

      Thanks! It’s been fun to see all these great movies!


  2. Tommy D February 9, 2012 at 1:52 PM #

    At some point when I’ve exhausted the rest of my queue, I’ll have to go on a Jimmy Stewart binge. I haven’t seen these films but at least that gives me something to look forward to.

    And BTW, maybe you should change the title of your classic films section to “Jimmy Stewart Films.” Haha, good stuff man.


    • jeffro517 February 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

      I initially considered making this a Jimmy Stewart page, but I love so many movies.



  1. Jimmy Stewart: The Glenn Miller Story (1954) | Did You See That One? - March 28, 2012

    […] collaboration started with Winchester ’73 and continued with films like The Naked Spur and Thunder Bay. Each of those films carried a story of adventure and risks of a physical nature. This time the two […]


  2. High Noon | Did You See That One? - September 8, 2012

    […] High Noon was filled with big names to go along with their talented director. This includes Oscar winners Gary Cooper (Sergeant York) and Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder). The cast also featured a young Lloyd Bridges (Airplane) and familiar face, Harry Morgan (Thunder Bay). […]


  3. Jimmy Stewart: Strategic Air Command (1955) | Did You See That One? - September 11, 2012

    […] Harry Morgan, another familiar face in movies with Stewart. Stewart and Morgan shared the screen in Thunder Bay and The Far Country, just to name a few of their movies. Morgan was popular throughout his […]


  4. Jimmy Stewart: Winchester ’73 (1950) | Did You See That One? - March 21, 2015

    […] and only time that Winters and Stewart would share the screen. Dan Duryea would later appear in Thunder Bay and The Flight of the Phoenix with Stewart. This was also the first of eight films that would bring […]


  5. Jimmy Stewart: Bend of the River | Did You See That One? - March 21, 2015

    […] collaborators are also featured, including Arthur Kennedy (The Man From Laramie) and Harry Morgan (Thunder Bay). Howard Petrie (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) also has a nice role in this […]


  6. Jimmy Stewart: Carbine Williams | Did You See That One? - July 23, 2015

    […] following year Stewart would find success with two Anthony Mann films, The Naked Spur and Thunder Bay. These would be the third and fourth films that the two would collaborate on. His next biographical […]


  7. Jimmy Stewart: Rear Window | Did You See That One? - August 2, 2015

    […] and completed by Oscar nominee and frequent Hitchcock and Stewart collaborator, John Michael Hayes (Thunder Bay). He would earn an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The writing quickly establishes […]


  8. Jimmy Stewart: Night Passage (1957) | Did You See That One? - September 2, 2015

    […] De Wilde (Shane), and Hugh Beaumont (Railroaded!). This film also paired Stewart with Dan Duryea (Thunder Bay). The pair shared the screen on four films over the course of their […]


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