Fonda and Stewart have appeared together in a number of films during their contemporary careers, including “On Our Merry Way”, “How The West Was Won” and “The Cheyenne Social Club”. Still, it’s interesting to compare their careers, even if they don’t work together.
Through Fonda’s collaborations with John Ford and Stewart’s with Frank Capra, they’ve become a similar model: the simple, decent All-American man that it’s impossible not to like. Stewart’s career-defining roles as Senators Jefferson Smith and George Bailey came to mind. Meanwhile, about two decades before Fonda played the representative of a good citizen in “12 Angry Men,” he played the historical ideal of a good citizen, Abraham Lincoln, in “The Young Mr. “.
Audiences associate both of them so strongly as good boys that some of their later roles are built on subverting that. In Stewart’s collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, especially “Vertigo”, he plays less holy characters. In “Once Upon A Time In The West”, Fonda played the outlaw killer Frank; an arc was even built around revealing his face like it was a curve. Fonda explains, “Sergio Leone picked me because at this point he can imagine the audience going, ‘God, that’s Henry Fonda!'”
While Fonda’s revelation in “Once Upon A Time In The West” feels like a slap in the face, in “Vertigo”, Stewart’s Stewart is slower and more cunning. Watching Scottie become abusive towards Judy (Kim Novak) is shocking because you wouldn’t expect a Jimmy Stewart character to behave like that.
Despite their differences, the similarities Stewart and Fonda share are the reasons why they were able to play such overlapping characters and why their friendship ultimately lasted for 50 years. .
https://www.slashfilm.com/955343/how-broadway-made-james-stewart-and-henry-fonda-lifelong-friends/ How Broadway Made James Stewart and Henry Fonda’s lifelong friends