Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you got everything you asked for and more. We hope you made plenty of memories, too! All good feelings and big smiles. Just remember, it’s one of the few times a year you actually have to spend time with your in-laws. So, life isn’t all terrible. In fact, it’s a wonderful life. Wink wink.
Take a breather from baking the ham or rolling the croissants. Still cleaning up wrapping paper? Is there a pile of toys and presents sitting on your coffee table? Forget about it for awhile! Sit down, put your feet up, and let’s finish this holiday season with one more Christmas movie review.
We’ve saved the best for last.
It’s A Wonderful Life
I wish I had a million bucks! Hot dog.
It’s A Wonderful Life shows us a lifetime. Starring Jimmy Stewart, this movie introduces us to George Bailey as a young boy, right at the the accident that took the hearing in one of his ears. We also see his inherently good nature. His tendency to put others before him. A propensity to make the world a better place, though he never leaves Bedford Falls to see it.
We follow George as he grows older and older, sinking deeper into a life he couldn’t possibly have imagined for himself. His instinctive altruism threatens his dreams of seeing the world and gaining new experiences. Instead, he takes over his father’s Savings and Loans and settles down with a hometown girl, Mary (Donna Reed), who’s loved George her whole life. They have children. And every day, George fights the villain, Mr. Potter, tooth and nail, to protect the innocent people of Bedford Falls.
But come Christmas Eve, trouble finds George Bailey, and this time he doesn’t have an answer. He sees how his world will crumble should he not get a certain payment in. Serious fines, jail time, a tarnished reputation. George is in serious trouble. He finally snaps and takes it out on his family, his friends and he storms off, giving up on the world.
George Bailey just lost faith in his own life. He goes to a bar and gets drunk, trying to forget his problems for a little while. Only a foe beats him up and when he drives away, he crashes his car into a tree. Stumbling in a drunken, depressed stupor, he finds his way to a bridge and looks down at the rushing water with eyes wide. George Bailey finally sees a solution: jump.
Only someone beats him to it. An awkward silly old man that George believes simply just fell over the railing. George dives in and saves the man who reveals himself to be Clarence (Henry Travers), George’s guardian angel. And he didn’t fall. He jumped to rescue George.
George feels no better knowing he saved another person from harm. He fixates on his own failing life and wishes he’d never been born. Clarence fights him on that, but has an idea: give George a glimpse of a world without George Bailey. George accepts, thinking it’ll justify his unbirth. Only he sees death, not just in the world, but in his own family. A boy is poisoned. His kid brother drowns. Hundreds of men die in war because Harry Bailey wasn’t there to save them, because George didn’t save Harry. And without George to fight Potter, the crooked businessman takes over Bedford Falls, donning a new name, Pottersville: a tacky slot machine of a town, full of sin and misdeeds.
George finally understands and wishes to have his life back. Wish granted. He jumps for joy and forgets the hardships he faced. He’s just happy to exist. And when he returns to his family, embracing and kissing them, he realizes he never was a failure, and that he truly had a wonderful life.
Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life has its place in the imaginary Christmas movie ‘hall of fame’ and has been considered one of the greatest movies ever made. You may hear about this movie a ton. Maybe you’ve heard the references to angels getting wings at the sound of a bell or wishing you’d never been born.
Most surprisingly, It’s A Wonderful Life wasn’t always the classic it is today. In fact, it was a commercial flop upon its release, a box office failure. Despite being nominated for five academy awards (winning none), box office revenue was less than what was spent making the movie. And critical responses were mixed, at best. The reason? Two years returned from World War II, America desperately needed some positivity. Often times cinemas were the perfect escape from the horrible memory of war.
Many years have passed since 1947, and we now can’t talk about Christmas without talking about It’s A Wonderful Life and for good reason. While a long Christmas movie, it deserves the attention and praise it gets. Much like the Godfather or Wizard of Oz, It’s A Wonderful Life is just one of those movies you have to see.
The lesson to be learned from this film is enduring. The older I get the more I find to sympathize with George Bailey about. I see a piece of him in me. Something like a reminder. And each year I pop it in the DVD player, I come away with a new mindset, a reaffirmation that life isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be wonderful.
Keep It Alive
Unfortunately, It’s A Wonderful Life is fading away with younger generations. Because it’s in black and white and moves at a slower pace than most films today, It’s A Wonderful Life becomes overlooked. That really is a shame. There’s too much to be learned from it.
It’s A Wonderful Life is one of the most important movies. Up there with Citizen Kane and Casablanca. A world without it may just be like a world without George Bailey. And a world without George Bailey is a shell of its former self.
That does it for our countdown to Christmas! We hope you enjoyed the holiday season and our Christmas movie reviews. They were a joy to write and we The Honey Pop can’t wait for next Christmas to do it again! Have a happy New Year and be safe everyone!
What’s you favorite Christmas memory? Let us know in the comments! And tweet us @thehoneypop!
Check out the rest of our 12 Days of Christmas Movies here
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