Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 29

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. We have finally arrived at the penultimate Christmas feature. What will it be?

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

           This may be the most stereotypical Christmas classic on this list. It airs as an event on NBC every year, with a near 4 hour run time with commercials. Beyond this, numerous shows have riffed on it, borrowing the idea of showing characters and events as they would be without one of the primary character’s involvements. My own personal confession is that I have never really cared all that much for this film. It could be the length, two hours and ten minutes seems exorbitant for this type of feature. Though I do like other Capra films and I think it is impossible to hate Jimmy Stewart so I really don’t know why this has never completely clicked for me. It has been a number of years since I last gave it a try so maybe this year will be different. At the very least, it has to be better than Nestor.


           It’s a Wonderful Life opens with multiple people praying for someone named George Bailey. From here the scope switches to the heavens and we see flashing galaxies representing angels debating what to do regarding George. They settle on sending a junior wingless angel, Clarence, to help him but first he must learn all that he can about George Bailey’s life. We view along as the movie moves us through an abbreviated version of George’s life in the small town of Bedford Falls. He always wanted to get out of there and travel the world and do great things but something always ends up conspiring against him and thwarted his plans every time that he got close. He has ended up spending his whole life in Bedford Falls. We see him meet his wife, Mary, and watch them build a family together. 

I dare you to look at this picture without hearing Jimmy Stewart's voice in your head.
           After viewing all of this, the movie catches up to the events that lead to the prayers that kicked it off. George’s absent minded uncle, Billy, has misplaced the bank deposit for the Building and Loan that George and he run. The bank examiner has been auditing them and without that $8,000, the Building and Loan is doomed and George would be personally liable. George is panicked and after being brought to the point where he begged for and was refused money from Mr. Potter, the evil, old miser who at one point, before George’s Building and Loan started helping the community, had most of Bedford Falls under his thumb he is brought to contemplate suicide. Clarence intervenes but George still sees no point in going on. Clarence grants George’s wish that he had never been born. This allows George to see all the good his existence has wrought despite never leaving Bedford Falls. George wants to exist again and Clarence returns things to the way there were. George’s friends rally to his aid, the $8,000 is raised and Clarence gets his wings.

A classic Christmas movie celebration ending if ever there was one.

Final Thoughts

           I’m actually amazed. Things have indeed changed. I still feel that this film may be a bit longer than it needs to be and spends more time on certain scenes than may be necessary. That being said I did enjoy this film. I don’t know if it is the fact that being older myself I can better relate to the thwarted dreams of George Bailey or if it is simply the fact that I have more patience for longer films than I once did. Regardless, I think that I am beginning to understand what everybody else sees in this one. I can’t say for certain if it will become a yearly watch. After all, two free hours can be hard to come by in the rushed holiday season. However, I am sure that I will watch it again and gladly.
We will be wrapping up this project tomorrow. If you’ve stuck with it this long, I ask you to join me for one more. Then we can get around to the business of retro video games and non-Christmas themed nostalgia. See you then.

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