The films I am talking about in the title are “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” and “Stagecoach”. Are there any characteristic features of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” that rocketed him to permanent stardom? Are there any characteristic features of John Wayne in “Stagecoach” that rocketed him to permanent stardom? These two people were famous actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. They were both gifted actors, but that is not the only reason why they became so famous stars. they each also had different characteristics which made them stand out on the screen.

Jimmy Stewart was born in a small town town in Pennsylvania. This town is also where he grew up. When he was older, he wanted to attend the United States Naval Academy. However, his father insisted him to attend Princeton University instead, which he did. It was there that he majored in architecture. It was while he was in Princeton, however, that he became involved in Princeton’s drama and music clubs. He eventually decided to pursue acting rather than architecture. After graduating from Princeton, Stewart joined the University Players. This was a summer stock company for college students. It was here that he met his lifelong friend and fellow actor, James Fonda. After that summer, the two of them moved to New York City to further pursue their careers. Stewart found a few small Broadway roles between 1932 and 1934, before Fonda found success in film and moved to Hollywood. Stewart eventually stared the leading role in romantic comedy “Next Time We Love”. HE then partnered up for the first time with director Frank Capra in “You Can’t Take It With You” in 1938. They also partnered for other classics, including “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Stewart excelled in the roles where he played honest men in times of trial and hardships because he was an honest, good-hearted man who lived a mostly clean lifestyle. Because of this, he could convey a bit of relatability to the audience, as his characters struggled with life, but eventually decide to do the right thing, which any person would do or want to do in a similar situation.

John Wayne was born in 1907 in Iowa. However, was raised mainly in California. He was rejected from the United States Naval Academy. He also attended USC on a football scholarship, however, he lost the scholarship due to a bodysurfing accident. He was forced to find employment after that. Wayne found work acting for Fox Films in small parts. This lead to his first leading role in “The Big Trail” in 1930. This film was a huge flop, but it did raise Wayne’s profile, nevertheless. He appeared in several B movies, which mainly included westerns. He appeared in so many B movies that he eventually lost count himself! In 1939, Wayne’s career took a major turn when he was cast as the second billed star in “Stagecoach”, directed by John Ford. Wayne’s acting ability allowed him to play ultimately good men that many other men in the audience could connect with. Being able to connect with the audience while being a “giant” while he was onscreen was rare, and it allowed him to become an American legend.

Would You rather watch a movie alone in a theater or online if they cost the same? There are pros and cons to both. Let me explain:

First, watching a movie in a theater:

Pros: You get to watch a movie on a huge screen with surround sound. That is a big one. Plus, you get to enjoy the movie in comfortable seats. You get to enjoy the full force of the movie while enjoying yourself. And there are no annoying distractions to deal with. No phones, no children, no nothing. You also get to eat popcorn, which is a classic movie theater snack (or so I think).

Cons: The title of the essay says ‘alone in a theater’. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to watch a movie with other people I love. I like to share enjoyable moments with friends and family. Also, I will assume that ‘if they cost the same’ does not count for gas. You need gas for a car to drive to the theater, unless you live close to one so that you can walk. Also, you have to dress up for a movie theater, but some people like to dress up. And I do not mean dress up like a tuxedo or dress, just normal clothes. You wouldn’t go to a theater in PJ’s, would you?

Second, watching a movie online:

Pros: You can dress in whatever you want for it. You are not going anywhere. You’re just at home, enjoying yourself. You also get to chose what you eat and drink while you watch it. You can make noise, laugh, whatever you want. It’s your house. No one tells you what to do. And you do not have to go anywhere to see the movie. You get to stay home and watch it.

Cons: It is a small screen you have to watch it on, with no surround sound. And there can be many distractions. Children, calls, door bell, you have to pause the movie for all of these things, or at least I do. These things are annoying, but I think you know this already. And once again, the title says ‘alone… online’. You are, once again, alone. I like to enjoy a good movie with people I love, wherever that movie may be.

Assessment: Depending on all of these pros and cons (I do not think that I covered it all, you may have thought of things that I have not thought of), I think that I would like to see a movie in a theater rather than online. It mainly has to do with the giant screen and surround sound though. However, I would still like to watch a movie in a theater, but if there were people involved, and I had to chose between online with them or in a theater by myself, I would rather watch it with them online. But I would like to watch a movie in a theater with my friends. I would like to do that most.

What was The Birth of a Nation? According to Wikipedia, this movie was “…a 1915 American silent epic drama film directed by D. W. Griffith…” What was the goal for this movie? According to, “The film is considered the greatest blockbuster of the silent film era. Thomas Dixon, who wrote the book The Clansman, on which The Birth of a Nation was based, reveled in its success. “The real purpose of my film was to revolutionize Northern audiences that would transform every man into a Southern partisan for life.”

Why was this movie, “The Birth of a Nation”, the first blockbuster? First I need to answer this question: what is a blockbuster in terms of movies? According to Oxford Reference, “A film with an extremely high *production and *marketing budget that attains considerable commercial success. The term ‘blockbuster’ derives from the word used to describe large-scale bombs used in World War II.” And this movie was considered the greatest blockbuster of the silent film era. That means people really liked it. According to The Guardian, “Most of all, the audiences of 1915 were dazzled by feature-length movies that could legitimately be called blockbusters, notably the record-breaking, notorious The Birth of a Nation, DW Griffith’s racist romance of America’s Reconstruction era following the civil war.” People really like movies, especially The Birth of a Nation.

Why did people like The Birth of a Nation? This movie portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as the saviors of the South from the freedpeople, who were showed as being vicious and brutal beings. Apparently, Woodrow Wilson praised the movie. He made it the first movie to ever be showed at the White House. This movie was an incredible success. However, some people challenged the portrayal of African Americans and tried to have the movie banned and censored, but they were unsuccessful in their attempt. According to Facing History & Ourselves, “African American writer James Weldon Johnson wrote in 1915 that The Birth of a Nation did “incalculable harm” to Black Americans by creating a justification for prejudice, racism, and discrimination for decades to follow.”

Why was this movie so popular? According to Wikipedia, “Popular among white audiences nationwide upon its release, the film’s success was both a consequence of and a contributor to racial segregation throughout the U.S. In response to the film’s depictions of black people and Civil War history, African Americans across the U.S. organized and protested.” The author of the book The Clansman (the book the movie is based on), Thomas Dixon, wrote: “My object is to teach the North, the young North, what it has never known—the awful suffering of the white man during the dreadful Reconstruction period. I believe that Almighty God anointed the white men of the South by their suffering during that time . . . to demonstrate to the world that the white man must and shall be supreme.”

This movie was popular nationwide and has captivated the minds of white audiences, but angered the blacks. This movie was a great blockbuster, but that does not mean that is was a good movie.

What is “Philip Dru”? “Philip Dru” is a book written anonymously by Edward M. House. According to Wikipedia, “Edward Mandell House was an American diplomat, and an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson. He was known as Colonel House, although his title was honorary and he had performed no military service.” “Philip Dru” was a political novel published in 1912. According to Goodreads, “The story is about a man, Philip Dru, who leads a revolt against the United States government because it had become too corrupt. After the revolution, he scraps the Constitution and makes himself “Administrator.” He then changes every concept of national and state governments to reflect his view of governance.” Here is a very quick summary: Philip Dru was a man who joined the military. He was a military genius, but he lost his sight while in a desert. He won a military competition against other military generals, soldiers, etc., held every five years, in his mid twenties. He was a military genius. He was asked to rejoin the military, but refused. He then went into politics. He discussed several issues in the book. In the end, he leads a revolt against the government because it had become too corrupt. In the end of the book, he eventually becomes the dictator of America.

Is the novel, “Philip Dru”, a defense of liberty? What is liberty? According to the Dictionary, “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” Liberty is the state of being free from the oppressiveness of people in government or in authority or power over you. Meaning that these people cannot stop you from doing what you want to do. They cannot stop you from freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. Our three God-given rights are life, property, and liberty. That is the purpose of the government. To protect our rights. However, the government can over-reach its power. Like imposing taxes. The government makes us pay our hard earned money to them. That is a complete violation of our God-given right to property. Plus, the government just waste the tax money they ‘steal’ from us. They just give it to other government funded businesses, or they just waste it on useless things. And when the government slacks, crimes are not dealt with, the country falls into chaos. Laws are necessary for a nation to run smoothly, I think you can relate to that. However, when one person is making decisions for an entire country based on their own judgement and worldviews, the nation will fall into chaos. One man can become corrupt. Philip Dru was a dictator and made decisions based on his judgement in the book. One man cannot possibly make decisions that work for the whole nation. That is why America has different forms of government (legislative, judicial, executive), to make sure that not one person is running a country, but a group of people, making decisions for the people based on the best interests of the people. The government was made not by the people, but for the people.

That is why I think that the novel “Philip Dru” is not a defense of liberty. Having one man in charge of everything is a terrible idea.

What is “Philip Dru”? “Philip Dru” is a book written anonymously by Edward M. House. According to Wikipedia, “Edward Mandell House was an American diplomat, and an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson. He was known as Colonel House, although his title was honorary and he had performed no military service.” “Philip Dru” was a political novel published in 1912. According to Goodreads, “The story is about a man, Philip Dru, who leads a revolt against the United States government because it had become too corrupt. After the revolution, he scraps the Constitution and makes himself “Administrator.” He then changes every concept of national and state governments to reflect his view of governance.” Here is a very quick summary: Philip Dru was a man who joined the military. He was a military genius, but he lost his sight while in a desert. He won a military competition against other military generals, soldiers, etc., held every five years, in his mid twenties. He was a military genius. He was asked to rejoin the military, but refused. He then went into politics. He discussed several issues in the book. In the end, he leads a revolt against the government because it had become too corrupt.

What was the income tax amendment of 1912? Amendment sixteen to the Constitution was ratified on February 3, 1913. It grants Congress the authority to issue an income tax, but they did not have to issue it based on the population.

Would I have voted for the income tax amendment in 1912, based on the arguments in “Philip Dru”? Well, if you read the book, you will see that the message of the book is progressivism (according to Wikipedia, “Progressivism is a political philosophy and movement that seeks to advance the human condition through social reform – primarily based on purported advancements in social organization, science, and technology.”). The reason for progressivism alone would make me not want to vote for the income tax amendment. Plus the fact that taxes are literally people controls.

But I would also not vote for it because of the implausible plot line. It would just never happen. Like a man in his mid twenties winning a military game in which other sergeants and generals enter who have had years of military experience? And near the end of the book, Dru tries to raise funding for his massive army, which is completely taken care of by one young lady in just a few weeks. Also, Dru’s army of 500,000 who have had no military training fight against America’s army of 600,000 who have had years of military training, and Dru’s army win. That is just impossible. There is no way anyone reading this would believe this was real, even if you wanted to. Also in the end of the book, Dru goes on to control the whole country as a dictator. The plot line is just completely implausible. This never happened, and it would never happen.

It is for these reasons that I would not have voted for the income tax amendment of 1912.

William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was a well known American writer. He lived from September 11, 1862 through June 5, 1910. He was mainly known for his short stories, although he also wrote poems and non-fiction. His most well known works consist of The Gift of the Maji, The Duplicity of Hargraves, and The Ransom of Red Chief, and several other short stories. His short stories were his greatest works. His greatest  and most popular short story was his classic The Gift of the Maji. His writing style in his short stories can include surprise endings, humorous language, and tearful smile, among others.

Jack Griffith Chaney, better known as Jack London, was an American novelist, journalist, and activist. He was also one of the first American authors to become an international celebrity and earn a large fortune just from writing. By 1913, he was making more than ten thousand dollars a month. Ten thousand dollars in 1913 is about a quarter of a million dollars in today’s money. He lived from January 12, 1876 through November 22, 1916. Jack London was most famous for his books (and you might recognize these because they are still famous today), White Fang (1906), Call of the Wild (1903), The Sea Wolf (1904), among other well known literary and journalistic accomplishments and works.

According to Wikipedia, “Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and American Civil War veteran. His book The Devil’s Dictionary was named one of “The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature” by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.” He lived from June 24, 1842 through 1914. His most well known work was “The Devil’s Dictionary”. It was published in 1906 as The Cynic’s Word Book, after originally being an occasional newspaper item. According to Wikipedia, “Described as “howlingly funny”, it consists of satirical definitions of English words which lampoon cant and political double-talk.” According to the, “All his life, Bierce savagely skewered organized religion, which he defined in his book The Devils Dictionary as “a daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the Unknowable.” Likewise, he considered faith “belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.”

Which of these three authors, O. Henry, Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, would you prefer to read on your own time? Let’s see… O. Henry wrote well known humorous short stories. Jack London wrote famous books, some of which are the famous White Fang (1906) and Call of the Wild (1903). Ambrose Bierce wrote “The Devil’s Dictionary”, which is a dictionary, but the definitions to the words he puts in it are preposterous and very funny. I have read some of it and I can attest to it being funny. Honestly, I would rather read O. Henry’s short stories. I love short stories and his are amazing. I have read some of them, and I think that they are really good short stories. I would also like to read Bierce’s Dictionary, because it is hilarious. I also like London’s books too. They are very interesting to read. I like all of these works that each of these people wrote. They are all amazing.

I am a big reader. I love to read. But, I can not read every book. Nobody can. Actually, until these lessons where I was required to read Mark Twain, I thought that he just wrote novels, like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (of which he is  best known for). I had no idea he wrote such humorous short stories. I found these stories both entertaining, and funny. Mark Twain “was praised as the “greatest humorist the United States has produced,” with William Faulkner calling him “the father of American literature.””, according to Wikipedia. And I can see why.

According to Poetry Foundation, “Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was born in Florida, Missouri, in 1835. A distinguished novelist, fiction writer, essayist, journalist, and literary critic, he ranks among the great figures of American literature. His novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) is generally considered his masterpiece. His novels A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and The Innocents Abroad (1869), a travelogue and cultural critique, are also highly regarded. Twain’s travelogues Life on the Mississippi (1883) and Roughing It (1872) are prized for their humorous insights into American life in the late 19th century. Many would agree with H.L. Mencken, who wrote of Twain in A Mencken Chrestomathy, “I believe that he was the true father of our national literature.”” I believe, that he was one of the greatest writers in American history. His books and short stories alike, are entertaining and funny. According to Biography, “Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, was the celebrated author of several novels, including two major classics of American literature: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor.”

Would you read more of Mark Twain’s writings even if they were not assigned in a course? Like I said, I was only introduced to Mark Twain’s short stories when I tool these lessons, but I knew about his books. His books are okay. I read a few of them when I was younger, but I did not find them interesting (maybe that was just because I was young). I bet that if I read them now, I would understand them and enjoy it. And also, once I was reintroduced to Mark Twain in this course, I found his short stories I was required to read funny and entertaining. If I found some way to read more of Mark Twain, I would. I would read Mark Twain when it is assigned in a course, and when it is outside of a course. I like the way he makes his stories seem almost real, but at the same time, it is a funny story. It is very entertaining. And I would suggest that you read his books if you also love to read. If you do not like his works, that is okay. But my opinion is that his books and short stories are great.

The Gettysburg Address was a speech given by the President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln. This speech was delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery is now know today as the Gettysburg National Soldier Cemetery in Pennsylvania. What was the main point of the Gettysburg Address? According to, “The main message of the Gettysburg Address is that ideals are worth dying for and that it is up to the living to carry on the work of those who died to protect ideals. The ideals of equality and freedom are the bedrock of the United States as a nation.” Lincoln gave this speech in the wake of the American Civil War’s deadliest battle. This speech was delivered on November 19, 1863. Why was the Gettysburg Address written? According to, “As the Battle of Gettysburg was a Union victory often cited as a turning point in the Civil War, the 17 acres of land was purchased to dedicate to the Union soldiers who lost their lives in the battle. The speech was to memorialize dead Union soldiers and emphasize the importance of maintaining united states.” He gave this speech to the citizens of Gettysburg themselves, as they were the audience because of where Lincoln spoke the speech at and where the Battle of Gettysburg was located.

During the American Civil War, there were two sides, the North and the South. The North was known as the Union, and the South was known as the Confederacy. Lincoln was on the side of the Union, which is why he gave this speech to the Union. Lincoln also had every intention of reuniting the North and South. He strove for unity rather than completely disregard the South.

Did the Gettysburg Address use Christian language and imagery to support the Union cause? It did. For example: Paul in first Corinthians wanted to recognize his fellow Christ-followers’ very important work to try to unite everyone under one God, and that their work was not in vain. In Lincoln’s speech, he mentions that the soldiers who were trying to reunite the North and South under one union, and their work to help reunite the North and South was not in vain.

Lincoln utilized another Christian image in his speech. He stated that the struggle of the Civil War was not only for the Union, but also for human equality. In the Bible, Jesus was always encouraging people that all people were equal in his eyes. So equal, in fact, that He died for everyone, not just a few.

Now, we do not know if Lincoln actually meant what he said in his two minute speech, or if he said it just because he thought the people would like it. But one thing is for certain, he did use Christian language and imagery to portray his support for the Union cause, whether he meant what he said, or he said it just to make the audience happy.

Mark Twain wrote a critique of James Fenimore Cooper. I it, he criticizes Cooper’s writing technique. Twain’s critique was known as a legendary attack. In this critique, Twain was funny, which I think is odd, but cool. He was also scathing towards Cooper’s writing technique. This critique was a rhetorical masterpiece. Twain lists eighteen rules of romantic fiction that Cooper violated. Rule #18 was Twain’s strength, “Employ a simple and straightforward style”. Something that Cooper did not do. He ridiculed Cooper’s techniques. If you read this critique, you would almost feel sorry for Cooper, but if you read Cooper’s book(s), you would understand and be on Twain’s side. I know I was.

Here is an example of Cooper’s works. It is called “Deerslayer”. This book has no visible plot and makes no sense. Let me show you what I mean. The book begins with two men lost in the woods. One man, Deerslayer, was an expert hunter. The other man, Hurry Harry (what kind of a name is that?!), was not. Harry also speaks in two different dialects at the same time, making him very hard to translate. Deerslayer finds the place where they were hiking to, but Harry does not recognize it, even though it was Harry who picked out the spot. Later, they were talking about a man called Tom Hutter, who lives on the land they were hunting on, but does not own the land. If Tom does not own the land, why is he living there? There is then an extended dialogue about Indians who can shoot a target the size of a fly at five hundred yards. That is not possible! No man’s eye could pick something like that up! Tom lives on a floating house called the ark. It is a fortress! It is a huge houseboat, and it has bullet proof walls. The lake that the boat is on right now, Deerslayer does not recognize it. Later Tom says the lake has no pale-face name yet, but Deerslayer’s tribe calls it “Glimmerglass”. How can Deerslayer know the name of the lake if he does not even recognize it? Even later in the book, it describes that Deerslayer and Harry are looking for Tom again, so they search downstream in their canoe. They come upon a turn in the river that the canoe could barely get through. Then go a little farther and see Tom on the shore with no sign of the ark. He says it is hidden in the brush, and it is. Two things do not make sense. Number one, if Deerslayer’s canoe could barely fit through the river in some parts, how could the massive ark fit through those places? And also, if it was that big, it would be too big to be hidden in the brush. It was just not possible. And there are many other instances in the book that make no sense to the reader that Cooper wrote either because he did not care, or he was just not thinking.

This week, I learned of two stories written by Washington Irving. They were The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle. I will give a small summary of both books so you know what I am talking about.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is about a school teacher who was new to the small town of Sleepy Hollow. He was a young man, and very superstitious. His name was Ichabod Crane. Ichabod is fascinated with the ghost stories shared with the people of Sleepy Hollow, especially the one about the headless horseman. It is said that a man lost his head during the Revolutionary war, and searches Sleepy Hollow every night in search of his head at the church. No sooner than Ichabod began to play the role of school master in this small town, did he crossed paths with a young woman named Katrina Van Tassel, the only daughter of wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel. Since then, he tried to win her heart. However, Katrina had many suitors, including prankster Brom van Brunt, who is also an expert horseback rider. Brom tries to get rid of Ichabod with pranks and tries to humiliate Ichabod, but fails. Ichabod is then asked to a party by Katrina, and accepts. He dances with her the whole time the night of the party, while Brom looks on with jealousy. Ichabod then returns home disappointed and downhearted. It is not said in the text, but it is assumed that Katrina says to Ichabod that she is interested in Brom. On the way home, Ichabod passes the supposedly haunted church. He sees a rider on a horse and calls out for them to identify themselves. Instead the rider chases Ichabod. In the light Ichabod sees that the rider chasing him is headless, with a sack on the horse which Ichabod supposed had his head. Ichabod aims the horse for the bridge leading outside the town. It is said that the headless horseman cannot cross the bridge. Ichabod makes it across and the headless horseman stops before the bridge, supposing Ichabod made it across and is now safe from the headless horseman. However, the headless horseman precedes to throw his head at Ichabod knocking him off the horse. Ichabod’s horse turns up the next morning at the Van Ripper house, and Ichabod was nowhere to be found.

Rip Van Winkle is a story about a Dutch-American named Rip Van Winkle who went for a walk in the Catskill mountains. He meets a man carrying a large barrel of liquor and decides to follow him. The man leads Winkle to a group of people playing ninepins. The men say nothing. Winkle drinks some of there liquor, and falls asleep. He wakes up and the men are gone. He realizes he is an old man. He travels back to his village and it is entirely different. He does not recognize anyone. He talks with some of the people and nothing explains what happened. He then meets his daughter, who is much older than when he last saw her. Things start to make sense then. He was asleep for twenty years, and he tells the villagers what had happened, and an old villager confirms Winkle’s story.

Were the detailed descriptions of the people around the two main characters equally important in the two stories Washington Irving wrote? I think they were. If you did not have the detailed descriptions of the people surrounding the two main characters, you probably would not understand the story as well as if you did have the descriptions. That goes for all stories as well.