Christmas Classics: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
With Christmas only four days away, we’ll only be covering one more classic Christmas film for this blog series. In light of that, it only seems appropriate to cover Frank Capra’s holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Of course, the film was directed by Frank Capra, and it was written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Capra. It was based on the short story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. James Stewart played an adult George Bailey, and Donna Reid starred as Mary. Some of the other cast members included Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, and Frank Faylen. While the film only won the Academy Award for Technical Achievement, it has gone on to become a Christmas classic and a favorite for many flashback showings in theaters during the week of Christmas.
So, what makes It’s a Wonderful Life stand out as a Christmas classic?
1) Good Will Toward Men
I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of this film is the lead character, George Bailey. There are many things you can say about him, but his spirit of good will toward men is pretty unparalleled in the movie. He sacrifices his own well-being to save his brother. He goes out of his way to help the grieving shopkeeper, ?. His approach to business and housing helps countless people. He gives his own money away to keep his business open.
It’s this spirit that helps this film to capture the heart of the Christmas season.
2) An Endearing Theme/Title
I’ll be the first to admit that this film tends to make me a little emotional, and that’s because of the themes that are presented. George Bailey has faced disappointment after disappointment in life, and his struggle is one that many can find identifiable. Whenever Clarence shows him a world where he doesn’t exist, though, George gets to see that he’s made a difference. He gets to see that he may have missed out on many of the adventures he wanted, but in the middle of his seemingly ordinary life is something wonderful.
This moment also just reminds me that the title for this film is perfect, and this endearing theme inspires hope.
3) That Ending
While there are many iconic moments throughout the film, it’s the end that everyone tends to remember. We remember his youngest daughter exclaiming that an angel is getting his wings when the bell rings. We remember his community coming together to save he and his family. We were remember the communal singing and the joy of everyone in this renovated house.
It’s the realization that George Bailey does have a truly wonderful life, and it’s the perfect ending with all of its Christmas glory.
So, have you ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life? Is it a holiday film that you revisit on a yearly basis? Comment and let us know!
Also, stay tuned next week as we rank our favorite films of 2018!