Friday, December 14, 2007

It's a Wonderful Movie

Ah, I love this movie! It's dark and haunting, yet hopeful. I like to think of George Bailey as a fellow Capricorn based on his father's assessment that he was "born old," his sense of duty and work ethic.

Despite being one of the best movies ever, it won none of the four Academy Awards it was nominated for. Not the Best Actor for Jimmy Stewart's superb performance, no Best Director for Frank Capra, not even Best Picture. Best Picture went to Best Years of Our Lives in 1947. How often do you see that one rerun on TV?

Fun Factoids:

The characters of Ernie Bishop, the cab driver and Bert, the police officer inspired the names of the famous Sesame Street muppet duo.

The spurned young man who opens the dance floor causing George and Mary to fall into the pool was played by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, best known for playing "Alfalfa" in the Little Rascals/Our Gang series. He was sort of a homely kid back then. He grew into an even homelier young man...

Miss Davis, the Building and Loan customer that George kisses when she asks for only $17.50, was played by Ellen Corby who went on to play Grandma Walton on The Waltons.

Charles Lane played Mr. Potter's rent collector. I remember him as Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction. Actually Mr. Lane has quite a long list of acting credits. He died just this past July (on the 9th--my brother James' birthday) in Santa Monica.

It always boggles my mind that a house cost $5k back then. George Bailey was making a whopping $45 a week running the Bailey Building and Loan. That $8k that Uncle Billy accidentally handed over to the evil Mr. Potter was a helluva lotta money in those days. I love George's speeches--especially where he passionately argues for the Building and Loan:

Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be.
Or when he tells Potter off later in the movie:
You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider.
I'm always captivated by the lovely wedding night scene with George and Mary in the old house where she tells him, "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for. "

But my favorite moment--like everyone who loves this movie--is the line spoken by George's brother Harry at the end of the film, "A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town. "

It's magic. It's Christmas. It's a Wonderful Life.

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