It's a wonderful life (1946)


"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary. Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?"

While It's a wonderful Life ranks among the most sugary sweet films ever made (I mean really, at the end of the film everyone stands around singing while an angel gets its wings), it is still an enjoyable film, particularly around the holidays when everyone is feeling a little sappy anyway.

The first half of the film starts out strong. We really get to see George Bailey's character and how he was molded into the person that he is today. Yes, the story is a bit cliche, especially with the big evil banker man, but it is always interesting and relevant. I especially enjoyed the drug store scene where he saved a little boy from being poisoned, it exposes some real human flaws and emotions in some of the stories characters. Of course this entire segment is just wrought with sexual innuendo in a very screwball type way. If the viewer is a little bit on their toes (and for someone of the modern age you don't even have to try too hard) you will catch some funny stuff.

I think that my big complaint with the film is the second half (actually more like the last fourth) of the film. This is the segment that really defined this film. One of the most spoofed concepts in entertainment history, the emotional climax of everything that we have seen so far. To me though, it felt incredibly rushed. George didn't even really see all that much of the town, it's almost like the film-makers suddenly realized that they were running out of time and threw this part in very quickly. I did enjoy however that what got George to change his mind was not the fact that his friends didn't have jobs, or that his town had been bought by Potter, or even that main street had been turned into a row of strip clubs and brothels. No, it was because his wife was an old maid who worked at a library. Now, surely they could have thought if a worse fate than this, and yes I realize that it is 1946 and marriage is kind of a big deal but really? Being a younger middle aged woman who isn't married is the worst they could do?

Anyway, in the end the real message of the film was, "to be happy with what you have." This, of course, is a great idea and I fully endorse that message. I couldn't help but wonder, however, if the subtext was more like "it's ok to not pursue your dreams, we should probably be home making babies anyway." In the end, George never really did get what he wanted. He didn't go to school or travel the world, or build bridges and I think that he had a valid reason for complaint. The film, however, disputes that and does in the end send the message that it's ok to settle.

Overall, this is an incredibly cheesetastic film but it is a classic and I guess that I just happen to like it. And even though that's not at all how tax fraud cases work, at least Potter didn't come in singing Christmas carols and double fisting ringing bells.

7/10

1 comments:

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