Not too late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life

My husband, John Tebeau, made this parody of the It’s a Wonderful Life poster as our Christmas card last year.

If you’re like me, you grew up thinking of It’s a Wonderful Life as the black and white background noise to the holiday season, a sort of sweet, bland Christmas movie to mostly ignore while eating cookies and decorating the tree.

If you’ve never sat down and watched it beginning to end, please make it a 2010 priority. Yes, Christmas plays a part in the movie but it won’t be like watching It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas after the fact.

You might be surprised by how dark this movie is. I don’t want to wreck it for you, but if you’ve seen the movie, tell me — were you not sort of dumbfounded by the scene with young George Bailey and his boss, the pharmacist Mr. Gower?

Even though It’s a Wonderful Life was made in 1946, Jimmy Stewart’s first movie after coming home from the war, it feels amazingly timely. It holds up the virtue of doing business with civic-minded local companies while warning about what the greed of banks focused solely on profits can do to tear apart a community.

It also tells the timeless story of sibling relationships, of the tension between family responsibility and pursuing your own dreams, and balancing hometown connections with dreams of the great big world out there.

If you’re expecting Miracle on 34th Street, this ain’t it. But if you want a movie that will get you thinking about what the world might be like without you and about the alternative paths you might’ve chosen, it’s not to late to pop in this holiday classic.

Don’t read this Wikipedia summary until after you’ve seen the movie — major spoilers abound.

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Categories: home and family, lifestyle

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3 replies

  1. The Mr. Gower scene is truly a great moment. A few other favorites:

    1) The scenes of George going crazy in the house with all of the piano practicing, broken bannisters and noisy chaos of a merry family life.

    2) When his brother’s wife tells him that his kid brother is taking a job somewhere else, leaving George no choice but to run the bank and loan.

    3) The woman who only takes as much money as she needs during the run on the banks scene – not to mention the ensuing scene where they put the dollars in the safe to see if they multiply.

    There are just so many great, seemingly small moments in this film that have such huge ramifications for George’s life. I could list my favorite moments for days. I watch it every year and each time I learn something new about myself.

  2. John and I went to see it at a theater in the Village last year and got a surprise bonus — Donna Reed’s daughter was there to talk about her mom and to raise money for her mom’s foundation.

    Now we own it on DVD because we agree with you. It’s a must see at the holidays. So many good themes and just fantastic to watch.

  3. This is a must see movie for us at the holidays – the emotional impact of ‘genuine’ small town lives being played out against the backdrop of intense world events – and the remarkably hopeful and positive conclusion is always compelling and never fails to bring tears. Jimmy Stewart is so good in this, and the supporting cast (Ernie and Bert – where do you think Jim Henson got that from?) is outstanding.

    Sorry for the triva, but Bedford Falls is supposed to be set somewhere north of NYC – Westchester County has a town called Bedford but some have said the director had in mind Glens Falls (way up state) – I’ve seen stills of George running in the snow with a sign with Westchester town names on it, so I tend to believe he had in mind Northern Westchester.

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