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Book Review: “Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe” by Robert Matzen


George Bailey (so easily and flawlessly performed by James Stewart) is one of the kindest persons one can dream of to meet. He helps troubled souls, provides loans, money and even forgives people’s debt to his bank if it’s necessary. But who will help him when he is in desperate need? Who will provide him a hand to pull him out of under the bridge when he was about to jump off?

An angel from Heaven is sent to help George to face life like if he had never been a part of. He shows him what would have happened to those if he would not have help them. What would have happened with the life itself, if he would not have lived? Yes, the life with George was more wonderful, charming and splendid. He had his own mark to leave in people’s heart who relied on him the same way the as in Robert Matzen’s book “Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the fight for the Europe” will do the same to you.

Matzen’s book highlights the most prominent time of Jimmy Stewart’s life you could easily compare with George Bailey’s character, while Jimmy was fighting for Europe, George did the same for his people, more than anyone could have done in their entire life. From the book you will get a chance to learn that those powerful, sometimes stressed out and intense characters portrayed by Jimmy Stewart came from his own experience while he was in WWII.

Ingrid Bergman in one of her letters her friend said: “the reason Humphrey Bogart was casted in Casablanca was because there were no other lead man left in Hollywood due to war”. Yes, Jimmy Stewart was one of those men who felt responsible to stand for his country at any cost. However, there is another fact you will learn from Matzen’s book, is why and how Jimmy Stewart loved the airplanes. And why he wanted to serve in the war as a pilot, to participate in many combat missions, had witnessed his friend’s fulling on the battlefield, while he was smartly navigating in his airplane to target the enemy.

There is another interesting and intriguing part of Jimmy Stewart’s life is covered in Mission, and that, I must say will certainly trigger an interest in you: how a very shy with a very soft-voice young man becomes an actor. How he with his best friend Henry Fonda moved to Hollywood in 1934 where they both gained the reputation of being playboys. Despite their reputation, both men remained professional to their craft, belief and goal-oriented, that eventually helped them, thanks to their incredible acting talent, to become Hollywood’s most interesting actors to watch.

While Matzen’s book highlights Jimmy Stewart’s piloting skills and his love for his country, it’s the aftermath of the war which shapes Stewart’s personality in such a wonderful and profound way that could have melt any icy heart. After the war, the book highlights Jimmy Stewart suffering PTSD throughout filming Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which, by the way, was his first picture after the WWII. And just to know that simple fact will make you change your perspective towards Frank Capra’s film, as I am sure you will start noticing something new in Jimmy Stewart you had not noticed before.

In conclusion, Mission is the book that should be read not only by Jimmy Stewart’s fans or movie lovers, and by those who are interested in WWII. In its compelling and grabbing narrative, it gives you an exclusive and refreshing look into Jimmy Stewart’s youth, family life, movie career and his friendship with notable people, whose names will always be part of the most fascinating part of the Golden Era of Hollywood. Yes, the book certainly manages to bring you everything you need to know about James Stewart, moreover, you will even compare him with the title of the book, as Stewart himself was on a special mission since the day he was born. The mission, to show us mortals how wonderful life is  when you had someone like him living long enough to be remembered even by many generations after. Almost like an example how to become immortal. Because he is!

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