Thursday, December 20, 2007

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

I went to the last movie of the season up on campus. They were showing "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore on the big screen. They show it every year and every year I miss it. But considering I'm graduating this spring I thought I should finally see it.

I invited friends but they weren't interested. Another was certain it was going to be shown in colour (that's an example of blasphemy right there). I phoned to double check about this. Turns out they asked for a colour version but were sent a black and white version instead. All is right with the universe. It was too late to contact her so I ended up going alone.

I find that I really like seeing movies alone. I went to see "Superman Returns" alone and found the experience strangely satisfying. But back to the black and white version. One of the theatre's employees came down to explain what had happened and you should have heard the cheers and clapping.

Then the lights dimmed, the curtains parted and the movie started. I can't tell you how amazing it was to see an old classic on the big screen. I noticed things I've never noticed before. Bert the cop is reading a paper when George walks up to him. The front page reads "Smith Gains Nomination". Now, if you're a total nerd like I am you'll have realized this is a nod to another Frank Capra film with Jimmy Stewart "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". I managed to keep from yelping in the quiet theatre. As well, there's a butterfly collection on the wall when the Bailey's are polishing off dinner and they show up later in George and Mary's house. How I love props!

The strangest thing by far was the audiences reaction. They were laughing throughout the movie. And yes, this movie has quite a bit of comedy in it. It's weird and wonderful how funny a movie can be more than 60 years later.

And you know what? I think I've finally decided on a favourite movie. I've always been finicky when it comes to being definitive about favourite songs and colours and food. But now, having seen this movie in all its glory, the way it was originally seen, I just can't say no.

I've seen it more than a dozen times and I never get tired of it. It did take me quite a while to realize Mr. Potter was Lionel Barrymore. I mean, he was a big cheese when it came to the early years of movies and I didn't recognize him at all. He plays the curmudgeonly miser perfectly.

From a very young age I wanted to do something extraordinary with my life. Not necessarily become an astronaut and travel to Mars but something special. I'm slowly realizing that this may not happen and that's why George Baily's story is so close to my heart. George never left town, never even went to college and yet look at the impact, the difference he made in the lives of the people around him. Despite just being just a movie, it has a very inspirational message.

Happy Holidays everybody and have a great New Year! I know I will.


teflonjedi said...

Ah, this is definitely one of my favourites, wife hasn't seen it, so I'm trying to figure out how to rectify that.

Melanie said...

I'd like to see this on the big screen, even though I'm not too fond of it. (sacrilege, I know!) I much prefer "The Bishop's wife" for my Xmas viewing tradition!