It must be obvious by now I love movies and amongst my favorites is It's A Wonderful Life. This 1946 Frank Capra film is a post-World War II classic that gives us a glimpse into the Depression-era life of a small upstate New York town, its citizens, and one man in particular, George Bailey, played by James Stewart. From childhood dreams and dramas we watch George as he keeps thinking about all the faraway places he's going to visit – and somehow never does.
As big as this...........!
The Bailey Building & Loan is his Father's business until Dad dies and George inherits it. Not exactly what he was planning for his future. No. He's going to see the world. Look at the size of that suitcase he just bought. He dreams what we all dream. Reality does intrude, sooner rather than later.
This is not necessarily the American Everyman story but it has its roots in the
iconic American Dream story we all know so well. We all want the good things in life while we work diligently to earn money and provide for our families. With differences of geography and time it's what everyone wants who comes to the United States. George Bailey, like all of us, is affected by forces outside of his world that sooner or later visit Bedford Falls, his friends, his family, himself.
There is no George Bailey
This movie could easily be remade today because America is once again affected by those large forces at work outside and inside our country. Everyone of us is acting and thinking differently, our dreams are on hold, our plans delayed. George Bailey thinks the world would have been better off without him: He's a failure, everything he's tried and dreamed of is gone. He has disappointed his wife and children, and his friends.
Clarence, the Angel-In-Training, gives him a dark, brooding, cinema-noir view of Bedford Falls as Pottersville; old man Potter owns everything, everyone; Ma Bailey, suddenly a nasty widow with a scary boardinghouse; no one, absolutely no one, knows George Bailey; Mary never married, now a lonely librarian-spinster. Capra turns a seemingly predictable tale into a scary Halloween story that can scare adults. As George descends into darkness we must follow him. Maybe we've all had these moments occasionally ourselves. Everything we've worked for apparently gone in an instant: Lose your job, lose your house, lose your self-confidence. The American Dream turns nightmarishly real. Sometimes we forget that American coins have two sides.
But we all are valuable even when we cannot see beyond the present. George Bailey never stopped to look at what he'd
really done for friends and strangers because he was too busy helping them when they were in trouble. Is that an American trait reflected so well in this movie? Think and help others first before we help ourselves? Is 2010 very different from 1930? Look around and see how many people you've influenced in your life; how many positive things you've done without thinking about consequences or benefits to yourself. How long you've known your friends.
No one's alone who has friends.
Frank Capra created a microcosm of a troubled country on film. But it did have a happy ending. One man, surrounded by friends and family, realizes how much he's given and how much he's received. As I've said before all of us can use some everyday heroes today. All of us, in our own unique way, are everyday heroes – even if we don't know it. My advice: don't wait for the holidays to watch this movie.
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Aug 12, 2010 4:57 PM
|This film has been "re-done" many, many times, or has been a theme for a larger story. |
My comment is, as you can read on my column, is that re-makes have historically been either a watered-down or a sensationalized re-imagining of the original story, devoid of the "heart" of the story.
LIFE was one of the first movies that "got" to me, so it is listed as one of my favorites. It's also been said that this movie used to be shown to Death Row inmates, to show that even their lives might have had a positive impact to someone in their universe.
Good column, man!
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My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).|
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