Christmukah: It’s a Wonderful Life
We’ve all seen It’s a Wonderful Life, or some scenes of it. It isn’t a perfect movie because of the narration, a device movies still thought they needed even up to the early 1950′s. Jimmy Stewart’s melodramatic close-up in one of the later scenes doesn’t help neither. But while you write your strongly worded comment, I’ll talk about the few things I very much appreciated from the film.
A contrarian telling the iMDb boards that multiple characters could have done what George Bailey (Stewart) has done in the film. I figured then that George’s guardian angel is his ego showing him a worst-case scenario sans-George. Eventually I kept in mind that he’s a banker in a small town and if he forgets how important that is, the dummy has bigger problems. In Pottersville, the Baileys are missing a son, creating a power shift. If the movie was about another Bedford citizen, little would change.
Wrong. Before showing Pottersville, director Frank Capra is already documenting a town always on the brink of ruin. Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is ruin personified. We’ve also already seen George have a breakdown. But when we see , for exampleViolet (Gloria Gharame) in a sun dress, we imagine the town if she takes it a step further. Or Nick’s face feels mean even in Bedford Falls that his Pottersville persona isn’t surprising. Other links on the chain present danger, showing volatility even in the Arcadian town.
Of course, showing these two towns gives an opportunity for these actors except Stewart to slightly deviate from their type. Donna Reed can both be a librarian or a sexy housewife. Beulah Bondi can both be motherly or scary. Ward Bond? Nice or baton crazy.
Second, the scene where George is looking into the broken down house in Pottersville looks haunting, less Hollywood and more arty-European film that would be made a decade or two later.
Third, Lars von Trier references the angel getting his wings when bells ring.
Fourth, despite his earlier immaturity, the film offers us Sam Wainwright, possibly the most altruistic ex-boyfriend in the history of cinema, giving George thrice the money he has needed. Sam embodies a minor duality of the film, a freed ex-citizen of Bedford Falls who’s still part of the close-knit community.
Fifth, left-leaning Capra summarizes the movie into a Russian expression.
Sixth, we know Potter is going to jail.
I saw this movie in the big screen with half a hipster crowd. Good kids.
There’s also the lore that this film bombed on its original release. This film is independent, possibly accounting for the lower box office receipts. Apparently indie Oscar films existed then.