It was only a few years ago when I first saw It’s a Wonderful Life. I had heard so much about it, I felt ashamed that I had missed it every year when it came on TV during the holidays. But when I finally got around to watching Frank Capra’s masterpiece, I was blown away by its magnificence.
George Bailey, played perfectly by Jimmy Stewart, inspired me. He was a true altruist, and the movie came along at a time in my life when I thought being mean was the way to go.
Later that night, when my then-roommate, Jeff, came home, I ran down the stairs and gave him a big hug. Jeff is George Bailey personified. He’s the guy who will sacrifice his own happiness to please someone else.
Yes, I cried at the end, when George is surrounded by his family and realizes he is loved for being the great man he is.
I bring this up because that is the core of the film. Every year, all the critics put It’s a Wonderful Life at the top of their Christmas or holiday movie lists. But I seem to be missing the boat.
Sure, the film’s opening takes place during Christmas, and it concludes with a Christmas tree in the background — but that’s about it. It’s a timeless film. It is relevant for all seasons. Not just the one when it’s time to be nice to one another, so more presents will come your way.
But if December is when all the networks want to showcase this wonderful film, then, by all means, take advantage of it.
Great films have the ability to do different things to their viewers. This one in particular inspires me to be a better person.
Others, such as Happy Gilmore and The Big Lebowski, make me laugh. The romances I can always turn to are The Princess Bride and Casablanca. As far as dramas go, I’m a sucker for The Shawshank Redemption and It’s a Wonderful Life.
These are flicks I can watch again and again. Each for different reasons and each move me with every viewing. Movies are powerful that way. They can take you to a different place and time and make you laugh or cry.
George Bailey is as good of a character as any to follow for guidance on how to live a good life. He had a wonderful one.
I’ll always remember sitting alone in my old apartment balled up on my couch crying like a little girl. I’ll always remember Jeff for reminding me that there are people out there in real life who are as good as the ones in the movies.
When things don’t go my way, I always tell myself, “George Bailey didn’t always get what he wanted, either — but at least he didn’t have to live in Pottersville.”
Yeah, I’ll be the sucker who catches It’s a Wonderful Life on TV this month. But I’ll also be the fan who’ll pop in my own video copy next June — on my birthday, and when more presents will come my way. Perhaps a DVD copy of a new “old” favorite would be nice (black-and-white version, please).
But hey, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.
Contact Will Albritton at oraclewill @ yahoo.com