Tuesday, December 22, 2020

#2020PopCultureResolution - It's A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life 

Director: Frank Capra

  131 minutes

Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

Release Date: January 7, 1946

Synopsis: After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there.


The last movie selected for my #2020PopCultureResolution has been watched. The event is over (for this year at least). It was a holiday classic that I was very against watching as a kid but turned out to really enjoy.

I am, of course, talking about It's A Wonderful Life. It was nominated for multiple Oscars the year it was eligible and has landed a spot on many people's must watch list for the holiday season. 

The story is a surprisingly bleak one for a Christmas movie. George Bailey (played by James Stewart) has had his life spiral to the point he is contemplating suicide and is given the opportunity to see what his town (and the people in it) would be like if he had never been born. It is a movie that my younger self could never have appreciated and it explains why I had never seen it up until now.

James Stewart, who has become a favourite of mine thanks to this whole thing, shines in this. He elevates the material in places and makes the role of George not just sympathetic but relatable. He really was one of the best actors of his time and I am looking forward to watching more of his movies.

The chemistry between his character and that of Donna Reed's Mary is sweet and especially stands out in the scene where he walks her home after a dance. You believe that they are each smitten with the other and their teasing banter is perfect.

Another cast stand out is Henry Travers as Clarence, the guardian angel sent to help George by showing him what his life really added to those around him.  He is both humourous and kind. It is exactly what that role needs.

The alternate version of George's town is a bleak and unhappy one. It might be a bit too dark for those not in the right headspace even though it ends on an uplifting and positive note.

Even if you have never seen the movie you will be familiar with the infamous scene about angels getting their wings and bells. That scene, from the perspective of a new watcher, does not disappoint. It is famous for a reason and it nails the tone of the movie perfectly. If, by some chance, there are others who have yet to see this holiday classic I highly recommend it. It may have its sickenly sweet and cheesy moments but they are balanced by its heart and more serious beats in the story arc. It was exactly the holiday movie I needed this year.

This may be the last movie for 2020 but stay tuned for my post announcing what movies and books I'll be reading and watching for #2020PopCultureResolution.

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