Today is Jimmy Stewart day on Turner Classic Movies--an entire day of his smooth voice, everyman face, and inspiring talent.
Remember the scene in "It's A Wonderful Life" when George has had more than he can take--just too many disappointments in life? He goes to Mr. Martini's, sits at the bar, and prays. He's not a praying man, he says, but he declares that he is at the end of his rope. "Show me the way, God." In the background is the din of a bar on Christmas eve--music, talking--going on around him despite his desperation.
Stewart was so in character in that scene that he became George Bailey--he was at a crisis point, he actually prayed to a God he doubted, and he cried unexpectedly. Frank Capra had intended for the scene to be shot at large, but when he went back to view the footage and saw Stewart's real and raw emotion, he cropped in as close as he could get to capture the man's expression and tears. That's why that one scene is not quite as crisp as the rest of the film.
How would we be different, I wonder, if we were all able to be as transparent.