It’s a Wonderful Life – ‘Tis the Season Cinema

It’s a Wonderful Life is another classic movie that I had never seen before watching it now. As someone who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, that actually took some doing, since for awhile there, one could practically watch the movie nonstop on television from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And… It is a classic. It’s a wonderful movie and at least as relevant today as it was when it was made. I’m glad to be tagging along with Lisa at Boondock Ramblings and Erin at Cracker Crumb Life for this little project – ‘Tis the Season Cinema – and I will link to their reviews below.

Movie still/promo shot – (not my work)

Coming in to watching the movie, all I basically knew was that there was an angel who showed a man what life would be like had he never existed, and that it wasn’t a pretty picture. If I were pressed for more detail, I might be able to come up with “Pottersville” and if you asked me whether the quote “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings”, on a good day, I might be able to tell you yes. That being said, a couple of the stills from the movie are iconic, and one would have to be completely disconnected from American culture for them not to be recognizable as coming from It’s A Wonderful Life.

Still from the movie – “It’s a Wonderful Life” (not my work)

It’s a Wonderful Life begins as the main character, George Bailey (played by James Stewart) is having the worst day of his life. The thing is, Mr. Bailey is a good and decent man – not perfect, mind you – but he has spent his life doing the “right” thing even if that has meant putting off his big dreams indefinitely. However, he hasn’t done poorly for himself, he has a wife who loves him, beautiful children, and a business that is quietly bringing prosperity to the town and its residents, even if that means that he’s not raking in the dough.

However, on this day, he’s on the brink of despair, and the thought that, because of an insurance policy, he might be “worth more dead than alive”, this man of virtue is at a point where he is contemplating suicide.

Here, we get into things that just wouldn’t be allowed into a big-budget Hollywood release these days… There’s a “celestial conversation” between three voices, one named Joseph, one named Clarence, and the other whom we are to assume is God. When he and his family call out in prayer, Clarence – who is an “angel in training” is sent to help George. This is how we get to the visions of what the town would be like without George, but there’s an hour of the film leading up to that part where we are led through important points of George’s life, allowing the viewer to understand how George became the man he did.

I loved the movie. I really enjoyed a movie where the man wasn’t somehow fatally flawed. No, George isn’t perfect, but he’s a skilled and talented man with a good heard who thinks of others – and the “big picture” – before himself. He’s self-sacrificing. It is a shining example of the Christian life.

I liked the way Mary (Donna Reed) was portrayed. She was the good woman behind the good man.

Even with the funny clothes, the scene with the floor coming apart at the dance was hilarious, because I could still see kids today doing pretty much the same thing were it to happen.

The small town/big city divide is at least as relevant now as it was then. Unfortunately, nowadays, besides alcohol and gambling, there’s any number of drugs and access to all sorts of evil on the internet to try to numb the hopelessness – if one takes the attitude that small towns are traps that one can’t escape.

I love that it’s a strongly positive film without being corny. It handles the topic of despair well, and it’s another thing that is at least as important today as it was then.

It’s interesting that the end isn’t necessarily “resolved”. I can imagine that the bad deed will be discovered, and that finally, George and family have the opportunity to fulfill a couple of those “big” dreams. (A primitive GoFundMe, if you will) but that’s left for the viewer to imagine. It works, because the film is about George, not about the deed that was done, or even this one night of despair.

Now I am excited to read the Lisa and Erin’s reviews! Lisa’s review is here: https://lisahoweler.com/2022/12/15/tis-the-season-cinema-its-a-wonderful-life/ and I will post the link to Erin once I see it. 🙂

(I watched this movie through Plex, which has this movie available for free with ads. We’ve had Plex installed on various devices for quite awhile, but this is the first time I’ve watched a movie through the Plex offerings. I kept getting ads for local law firms in English and Spanish, and the one guy just struck me as so funny with his perfect but *strongly* American accented Spanish.)


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9 thoughts on “It’s a Wonderful Life – ‘Tis the Season Cinema

    1. It’s sad that a lot the “worldly” attitude toward someone like George is that he’s boring and “uninteresting”, as though trying to live a good life is somehow not worth living because it’s not “exciting” or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love your view of the movie! Yes! I agree that so much of this would never be made today – including the conversations with the angels and God, etc. It truly is a classic. It brings out so much of what you pointed out about the small town and big city divide. That desire to numb the hopelessness can be found in a city or in a small town, sadly, and you are right that there are so many more ways to do it now than back then even. Thank you for hoping in on this with us. you have such awesome insights that I miss. I love it. I’m not just saying this to be “bloggy friendly” either. I really do love the perspective you give.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot – I’m honored! I’ve been really enjoying this too, not just watching the movies and writing about them, but getting to “meet” you and Erin as well. I think Erin mentioned something similarly, but I think this is a movie that means more watching as an adult – had I watched it as a kid, I probably would have liked it well enough, but to really appreciate that point in life when one is older and one has responsibilities and to be at a point where nothing seems to be going right… When George yells at the kid for practicing the song on the piano, for instance – a parent “gets” that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. So many movies and books just hit differently when you are older. When I first read To Kill A Mockingbird in sixth grade and eighth grade, I was touched, angry and moved, but when I read it again the year before last I downright sobbed.

        Liked by 1 person

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