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(Credit: RKO Radio Pictures)

Film

Watch Jimmy Stewart read a touching poem about his dog

@TomTaylorFO

They don’t make many of them like Jimmy Stewart. He was what is often referred to as a cinematic giant, but given his humble grace, that seems somewhat of a misnomer when it comes to Stewart. After all, a giant implies a domineering force, but Stewart was the sort of the presence who could command a room with a gesture as subtle as a spider simply creeping into view. Only the attention he held thereafter was far more comforting than our eight-legged foes. 

Thus, it seems beauteously fitting that when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson back in 1981, he casually declared that he would like to recite a poem about our four-legged friends and not even a pithy line in response could hold him back. Thereafter, he coaxes joviality, heart and tear-jerking moments with gentle grace and stunning articulation in the touching tale of his dog. 

It is the sort of poem and performance that pulls the listener into their own world, arresting attention from distractions, and then, almost paradoxically, it coaxes personal corroborations that linger beyond the words that Stewart has written. This, in short, is how he viewed his craft. As he once said himself: “Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.” There is a real sense of that as he walks you along with him. 

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And there is a real sense of sincerity too. As Stewart once said of his beloved animals: “Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I’ve finished ‘shooting’, my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy. I have developed a deep respect for animals. I consider them fellow living creatures with certain rights that should not be violated any more than those of humans.”

The one animal he loved more than any other, it would seem, was his dog Beau. Beginning with a dousing of humour, Stewart wanders you through the life of his furry friend and, in the process, offers up trials and tribulations of pets. Delving into deeper meanings and magical moments, the poem stretches beyond his own singular friendship and pursues a semblance of spiritual equanimity. 

In short, beyond the beautiful plainspoken prose and wistful whimsy is a deeper sense of profundity. As he uttered in The Shop Around the Corner: “You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.” With his poem Beau, he does that with the sort of effortless grace that reduces the usually unflappable Carson to tears. 

You can check out Stewart’s recital of Beau below. 

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