Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Movie Makes Me Smile, Just So You know

For many people, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" (IAWL) each year is one of the high points of their Christmas experience. Missing it feels criminal, and if you're a movie buff (NERD) like me, you delight in parroting lines along with the movie in your best Jimmy Stewart / Donna Reed imitation.

There's just something about this little gem... Some critics say that it smacks of Frank Capra's typical sappy storyline devices ("Capra-corn"), while others say its too somber and dark-- bordering on Hitchcockian / noir in certain scenes, with the combination of stark set decoration, lighting & cinematography. Me? I agree with both perspectives, but I confess that my favorite reason for loving this movie was the countless times I ended up watching it with my Father, during the holiday season of 1992, which was his last. The copyrights for the movie had expired, which caused an airing orgy the likes of which we had never seen before. Nearly every channel on the dial (to use an old skool term) seemed like they were taking advantage of the unrestricted air-ability of the movie & opted to show it AT LEAST once-- many airing it more than once-- often more than once in the same 24 hour period! And to my Dad and I-- both movie buffs (NERDS), the opportunity to endlesslyy view a beloved classic as many times as possible delighted our nerdy hearts & gave us no end of pleasure. At nearly any moment, we could spin through the channels & find George Bailey-- saving his little brother, confronting Mr. Gower, dancing with Mary Hatch at the prom, or muddling through the joys of suburban fatherhood. During a time when Dad's health allowed for little more than the energy to watch tv, it was a blessing to have an old favorite handy nearly 24/7. The closer we got to Christmas that year, the better we both also began to memorize the dialogue. Soon, we were able to spin whole scenes back & forth between us, and to the disgust of the rest of the family, would interject lines into almost any conversation-- whether it related to the topic or not. IAWL was like the Magic 8-Ball for comic relief-- need a line? Then give IAWL a shake & an appropriate line would pop up and be your "answer".

Its been fifteen years since Dad passed away, but I remember our IAWL mania fondly. I own two different copies of the movie on tape, and have thought about buying it on DVD for better clarity. The casting, costuming & sets are classic-- the dialogue CAN wax cheesy, but that's part of the charm as far as I'm concerned. The final analysis is, I love this film. I love the many messages it promotes, and the way they play out...

The roots for this post were planted in a really nice conversation last night which got me thinking back on the subject. The fruit of the discussion was the knowledge that more happy blogging is ahead of me. The idea shouldn't have surprised me, but after all of the months of mental fugue state that have plagued me during the last year, it felt good to know that my mind, my life & thought processes are rounding a bend of sorts. "Hot DOG!!!"


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Barb said...

Fifteen years. Astounding. I was still kind of getting to know you then, and I recall one of the first times I inwardly hollered, "Comrade!" was when you smirked at me (in response to I don't know what) and said, "It's Zuzu's petals!"

I loved you then, and I still love you and your nerd-ability so dearly my friend. Hell, I'd sit through 8 years of plain oatmeal all over again just for you - you are so worth it.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Carlos said...

this is my favorite Christmas movie. my favorite part is when they're both on the phone to Sam and he gets all pissed and says I don't want any plastics or ground floors etc and then kisses her with abandon. Movie Magic... Thanks for taking me back to Bedford Falls

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

I do catch this now and again at christmas it's a good film nothing says christmas more that that film well that and the home alone 2 :P

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Sara said...

Seriously, if this one doesn't post correctly I'm going to take a hostage!

I clicked to tell you about my all time favorite scene in IAWL (and among my favorite in any movie, for that matter) only to find that Carlos had claimed it as his own. Very, very rude.

I do wonder how it is that I haven't been a regular reader of your blog--what after all these years and my not-so-secret girl-crush/hero worship thing I've got going on with you. I have so much reading to catch up on!

What a wonderful memory to have of that time with your father.


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