Friday, December 16, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

For me, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the ultimate Christmas movie.   

But when I was very young, I happened to watch part of it on TV and had no idea what it was or what it was about, and it freaked me out.  From my five-year-old point of view, it seemed to be a scary domestic drama that featured a husband yelling at his wife, the wife crying, the kids weeping ("What's wrong with daddy?"), the mother encouraging them to pray for him, followed by a bar fight, the husband considering suicide, and the mother turning dowdy, apparently losing her mind and being unable to even recognize her increasingly-desperate husband -- Yikes!  A total nightmare!    

So, whenever I got scared by something in the movie, I ran out of the TV room and hid, just like I did when Lou Costello unwittingly sat on the monster's lap in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."  I ran out of the TV room a bunch of times during "It's A Wonderful Life."  No doubt I missed many crucial plot points during my frequent absences.  Finally, too spooked by the increasingly-bizarre story ("You were never born."  What?!?),  I ran out of the TV room and stayed out.  I could watch no longer. 


Years later, I sat down and watched "It's a Wonderful Life" from start to finish.  The opening is pretty crucial to understanding the plot, and I had missed that starry set-up when I was young.  I was  happy to learn that the movie was actually about a man who had lost his way and who found redemption through the love of his family, his friends, and thanks to a little heavenly intervention.    (During my previous viewing, I had not only missed the opening, but I had bolted before the happy ending.)  

Now I watch the film every few years at Christmastime, and have to fight back tears when the townsfolk show up at the end, chip in to pull George's cookies out of the fire, and toast George as "the richest man in town."  Just thinking about it makes me a little misty.  

Just one question:  Why is Uncle Billy ever allowed to handle the Building & Loan's funds?  I mean, really.  The guy is clearly non compos mentis.  He unwittingly handed a huge wad of the Building & Loan's cash to Old Man Potter and then sauntered off as if he didn't have a care in the world.  

I'm thinking that on the first work day after Christmas, at the Bailey Building & Loan, George forces Uncle Billy into an early retirement and a rigorous 12-step program.  

 Now there's an even happier ending! 

 Merry Christmas to all!    


  1. Just one question: Why is Uncle Billy ever allowed to handle the Building & Loan's funds? I mean, really. The guy is clearly non compos mentis. He unwittingly handed a huge wad of the Building & Loan's cash to Old Man Potter and then sauntered off as if he didn't have a care in the world.

    Answer: Actually, Mr. Potter unknowingly snatched it out his hand when he was trying get his paper back, which results in Uncle Billy forgetting he grabbed the money in the first place.

    I love watching this movie every Christmas too; it's like the ultimate tradition to watch this movie with my family :D

    I actually did a review of It's A Wonderful Life for my college paper which appeared in today's issue. When I get a chance, I'll post it on my blog and give you the link to it. :)

  2. Uncle Billy also sold out Gary Cooper in High Noon.

    He got around.

  3. So true. And Henry Morgan did the same in "High Noon."

  4. Thanks, Tom, for the post on "It's A Wonderful Life". My favorite holiday film is "Miracle on 34th Street" with Ed Gwynn. When I was a child, I totally bought into the whole concept of Santa Claus. This film lets me continue my childhood ad nauseum. The fact that a lawyer can prove in court that Santa Claus truly exists is the ultimate for a Santa fan.

  5. When I was a kid I thought the best part of the film was when George was a kid. When I was middle age I enjoyed the part of the film at the dance and the when Donna Reed was hiding in the bushes. Now as I sit here in the "twilight" of my years, I believe the best part of the film is the end when George sees how much everyone cares for him. Strange how one's view point will change with the years.

    I enjoyed reading your narrative about how you would run out of the TV room and hide when something on the TV would scare you - what a fun and precious memory to have and to share - Thanks

  6. Hey Tom.

    Here's the blogpost where I showcased my review of the movie:

    The weird thing is that the editors cut out the part where I talk about how George cried out for his life back at the climax of the movie.

    Well, at least I have something published. :)

  7. ...and thus, the inspiration for "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" among other homages and/or parodies. A shame WB hasn't released this "Tiny Toon Adventures" special on DVD in time for the Christmas season. They haven't even finished releasing the other episodes of "TTA" as well as the other specials and their first (and unfortunately, only) movie! Here's hoping they will release these on DVD come the summer in addition to the last 24 episodes of "Animaniacs" and "Wakko's Wish".

  8. I should repost what I observed on my own forum last I will.

    Some observations about Mr. Gower:

    He uses child labor;
    He beats the children when they get something wrong (stress over the loss of a loved one is no excuse for that);
    He has a bottle full of poison pills that he keeps next to the regular pills;
    He has a bottle of poison pills, PERIOD. What uses could he have for that?

    Did you ever wonder if the true villain of the picture is Mr. Gower? Add to this, when George Bailey is a kid in the year 1919, Gower looks like he's about ready to fall over and die. Yet he's still alive a full thirty years later. I now have a theory that Gower is a 200-year-old vampire, and that it's Gower that runs the town and Potter is one of his underlings. Who do you think broke his legs? Gower did that! Showed him who's boss.

    Normally something like this would have been said DURING Christmas but this blog has a habit of not updating until the EXACT DAY AFTER I've given up on it again. Blah.