The opinions presented in this blog are mine and mine alone. I realize that it should be obvious, but some things must be stated, because these opinions are neither going to be popular, nor are they going to be liked.
I don’t like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” My friends know this about me, and overlook it or forgive it. Many things bother me about this “classic movie.” But before I begin the tirade, let’s agree on one thing — the people who colorized this movie should have been kneecapped (that is, shot in the knee giving them a permanent limp, so that when we see them coming, we can spit in their general direction). And not just for this movie, but for any black and white movie that was colorized later on — someone should have passed a law to make it illegal. It is definitely immoral, a sin that should be right up there with other deadly ones: anger, envy, laziness, greed, lust, etc. OK, that’s enough of this rant. Back to my rant about the movie.
I don’t remember the first time I saw “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It seems like it was just always there, around this time of the year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Today, because I have avoided the movie for such a long time, I got reacquainted both with the plot and the story behind it.
The movie was made after the war, in 1946, when Jimmy Stewart was fresh out of uniform. He met with Frank Capra and wanted to do the film. It wound up being Stewart’s and Capra’s favorite movie, but it wasn’t a huge hit in the theaters. Actually, it wasn’t that popular of a movie for a long time, not until the copyright on it expired, and then it became a staple on TV. Ironically, the colorized version cost money to play, while the black and white one is free, and the colorized version was unwatchable for Stewart. “I started watching it, but it made me sick, so I turned it off,” he once said.
Here is a basic summary of the movie: George Bailey is a nice boy who saves his brother’s life and for that suffers an ear infection that will cost him hearing loss. He grows up to be a nice man who marries his childhood sweetheart (a lovely Donna Reed) and has four children (the oldest child almost never makes it into posters and advertising pictures for this movie — but for the purpose of this blog, I have included him. You are welcome, world.). Bailey runs a savings and loan and gives money to people so they don’t lose their homes. And the townspeople would lose their money and their homes if the greedy banker who wanted a banking monopoly in town had his way. Bailey’s scatterbrained uncle loses the money for a lot of folks, so Bailey gets despondent, and thinks about killing himself. But instead, ironically, he saves his guardian angel who shows him what life would have been like without him in it, and George Bailey is given another chance. He is shown that he makes a huge difference in people’s lives, that his life matters. Life is, indeed wonderful, and the angel gets his wings.
Except for one major problem — all his life, all George Bailey really wanted to do was travel and see the world. This was his biggest dream. However, he couldn’t even join the army, because of his hearing loss. He fell in love and then he and his lovely wife started having children. So, being a decent man, he couldn’t just up and leave her. He then went into his kind-hearted father’s business, not to let down the people of Bedford Falls. Yet when the townspeople’s money is lost, he is so worried about being blamed, he is suicidal.
But the poor schmuck can’t even kill himself properly. Now I can hear your boos and hisses. You have every right. Suicide is nothing to joke about. I am not joking. I am angry. Where was Clarence the Angel when Anthony Bourdain really needed him? That one still hurts, it hurts a lot. OK, back on track.
This is a movie about a man who never achieves his dream. It’s not like he ever trades his dream, either, you know, wakes up one day and says, “Hey, it’s much better now. I’m living THE dream! I’m living in a dilapidated house I used to break windows in, but can’t really afford now. I have four children I didn’t want in the first place, but now love beyond reason. I still haven’t traveled beyond the bridge I kinda want to throw myself off, but at least everyone loves me! And the worst fate that could possibly befall a woman, spinsterhood of a librarian — well, I saved my wife from that, so you’re welcome, little lady. That’s OK, I didn’t achieve my dream in a real world, so I’ll just shut up now and we’ll all get happy that at least that stupid angel got his wings because of me.”
I don’t get it. And because I am the only one who doesn’t get it, I am fairly certain that it’s just me. That’s all right. No one forces me to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” when it comes on. One of these days, I’m going to re-write the script, and in the end, after the family gathers around the Christmas tree, and everyone is cheery and happy, everyone hugs, exchanges Christmas gifts, and George opens up his gift and it’s plane tickets. Around the world. A vacation to far-off destinations! That’s right — the whole town got together and got him this present- the gift of travel. That would be the ending I would write. Fuck Clarence, as long as George Bailey gets his wings.