The other night one of my sisters-in-law admitted that she has never seen "It's A Wonderful Life." I was aghast.
This movie is an American institution. This movie is a Christmas tradition. This movie is not just my favorite Christmas movie, but actually my favorite movie EVER.
What do I love about this movie? Well, in no particular order:
OK, Jimmy Stewart is just adorable. This quote in his 1997 New York Time obit sums up his appeal:
The lanky actor with unruly hair and an ungainly stride had a boyish grin and an engaging manner. The Stewart way of speaking -- laconic, with a hesitant, nasal drawl -- is instantly recognizable by virtually every American. His early screen image, like his personal life, epitomized a Middle American ideal in a confusing, sophisticated world.
And, he's cute. And I love the integrity and basic goodness of his character. He's just...adorable.
As the longsuffering Mary, who loves Stewart's George Bailey from afar and then graciously endures the trials of being his wife, Donna Reed is wonderful. Early on, it's obvious she wants George and she's going to get him...but she does it in such a subtle way, he doesn't even know he's caught until the awesome moment they kiss while sharing a telephone receiver.
You don't get the idea Mary is a doormat. She's just a woman who is admirably full of the grace that is so essential in being a spouse.
There's a luminous glow and wholesome sweetness about Donna Reed as Mary. She's lovely.
--The special effects. No, I'm just kidding!!!
OK, the special effects are really quite awful. That star thing where the angels are apparently talking to each other? So incredibly primitive. But hey, this is 1946! Roll with it. They're so bad they're strangely sweet.
And I don't care...it still touches my heart to hear the prayers of all of George's friends.
The idea of exploring how the world would be a different place if one single person hadn't been born is one definitely worth pondering, and it definitely fits in with a Christian worldview.
As this blogger wrote:
"Perhaps the biggest lesson we learn from this film is that we all have an impact on those around us. As Clarence the guardian angel said, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
We all live a life of significance and it’s important we remember that even the little things we do have a tremendous impact on others."
What kind of an impact am I making on the lives of those around me? How would their lives be different if I wasn't around?
Like most really good movies, "It's A Wonderful Life" has a wonderful emotional pay-off.
The moment after George realizes he wants to live, and the snow starts falling and Zuzu's petals are in his pocket...well, it doesn't get much better than that when it comes to cinematic pay-offs.
You want to run through the streets with George, screaming and hollering for joy.
Life may be tough. Life is often tragic and sad and inexplicable. But as Clarence says, "Remember no man is a failure who has friends."