Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Richest Man in Town

While searching for a film today, I came across 2 that would be perfect for my whole "December Saturdays Christmas Extravaganza" (yes, I gave it a name...Not a very good name, but it gets the point across). My final decision on which one to post came down to practicality: next weekend, I'm probably going to be too busy to post anything, and if I'm not too busy to post, I will definitely be too busy to say much about the film, so I'd rather wait and post something that I don't have much to say in regards to. I'm not too happy about doing it this way, because the film I'm posting today is more closely associated with Christmas, and I'd rather wait and post it ON Xmas day, or at least only a few days before. But I can't.

This movie...

I have a distinct memory of the first time I actually saw this movie, even remember the exact date: December 24, 1991. At age 15, I had already become the strange hybrid of film snob and celluloid trash connisseur that I am today. In the wee hours of that Christmas eve morning, my trashy side had just finished watching Popcorn, a silly, late-80s horror flick. After it was over, at around 2am, I was still wide awake and looking for something else to watch. I was flipping through the channels, and upon seeing an ad for It's A Wonderful Life, which was about to start, I paused and a bizarre inner debate commenced.

Until that time, I had managed to avoid seeing IaWL, which was rather difficult, because at that time, you had to ACTIVELY evade it since they showed it like 10 times a day around Christmas. Everything I had heard about this movie suggested it was nothing more than treacly smaltz, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Still, I had a need to cleanse my mental pallete of the grungy aftertaste of Popcorn, and I figured this would do the trick. Besides, even at 15 I knew that no sane person can fairly judge anything without familiarizing themselves with it first, so until I actually watched it, I was exempt from criticizing it. So, I threw up my hands and said "Fuck it" (even at 15, I had a potty mouth) and prepared myself for unapologetic sappiness.

Cut to me a little over 2 hours later, laying on my bed and sobbing into a pillow. I already knew what was going to happen even before I started watching it, I had already seen the ending long before then, and I thought I had prepared myself for the uber-happiness I was witnessing. What I HADN'T done was take everything that happened prior to the ending, into account: that damn Jimmy Stewart made me give a rat's ass about George Bailey and his effect on the people around him, the events of his life, and his eventual reward, led to me become an emotional, incoherrent, blood-shot wreck. In other words, I liked it.

If you haven't ever seen it, and have avoided it because you think it's uncool and corny, you need to be more open minded. It is corny, very much so, but as for uncool, there's a few thing you should take into consideration before you judge too harshly.

Dalton Trumbo, Dorothy Parker, and Clifford Odets all did uncredited work on the script. That's cool.

The film was labeled "subversive" by the FBI, due to it's political statements about post-WWII society and was also deemed communist propaganda because of the film's stance in reference to the common man up against big business, and Frank Capra's association with left-wing organizations. That's also cool.

The scene at the dance, when George and Mary are doing the Charleston: that guy that opens up the pool? That's the guy who played Alfalfa on the Little Rascals, and by definition, any movie that features someone who was brutally murdered is very cool...You know, if you're twisted like I am.

I realize that no one actually watches the full length films that I post: it's takes up too much time, not to mention it's a bit of a strain to watch something that's about 5x5 inches in size. I post them because it's fun, not because I expect anyone to watch them. That being said, I still don't expect anyone to watch this on the computer, but I DO recommend that if you've never seen this, that you catch it when it's on tv, or go out and rent it: Occasionally, even the most jaded among us need something to warm our hearts, and what better time is there to do that, than during the holidays?