I’m too lazy to check, but..

…I’m reasonably sure there’s a post about It’s A Wonderful Life for very nearly every year this site has existed. This is the 2008 version, spawned largely by this excellent piece from the New York times that points out something I’ve long kinda kept under my hat:

Capra’s film is really about the loss of dreams, and making do with what you get.

George wanted nothing in his life more than to escape boring old Bedford Falls, and is thwarted at every turn. He was denied even his generational globe-trotting (if harrowing) war-travel birthright because of his ear. Moreover, it’s not just the Universe giving George the finger; it’s his own family — his brother welshes on their deal, and instead of returning after college to run the B&L (and allow George to get his degree, too), he runs off to get married and work for his new in-laws somewhere else. When the crash comes, even hopes of a temporary escape collapse as George and Mary use their seed money to keep the B&L afloat.

From the NYT piece:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

He’s right. And yet still we watch it. It’s a horror film in many ways, but one where the monster isn’t Jason or Freddie; instead, the thing under the bed is a stultifying hometown filled with people who love you. How twisted is that?

(Also amusing: I followed that article to the Wikipedia article about Gloria “Violet” Grahame; hers was a sordid Hollywood life, and included a number of paramours — as well as the distinction of spawning children by both Nicholas Ray and, later, Tom Ray — her former stepson. Wild!)

One thought on “I’m too lazy to check, but..

  1. On another note, perhaps Mr. Potter wasn’t such a bad guy:


    I managed to avoid watching this movie for 37.75 years – the premise was not attractive for the same reason I generally avoid Ben Stiller films (yes, that deserves further examination).

    Last December it took a flight to Phoenix, a 3 hour drive into the mountains north, a snowed-in cabin, and a girlfriend who was a huge fan of the film asking me to watch it to finally make it happen.

    Instead of tears, my stomach was in knots. I did not like the film. It was a modern portrayal of Job, but instead of god, circumstance. George made his own bed and was then desperately unhappy in it. I don’t want to change the fact that I empathize with characters in film – that’s half the fun. But damn, George – get used to things, or get out, man – life is about changing expectations! You certainly aren’t qualified to fill your father’s shoes. Why stick around?

    I remember going to bed depressed for him, regardless of the outcome of the film. Quiet desperation indeed. Thankfully, I was distracted the next morning by ice on the inside of the windows.

    Two days later, any thought of this film left my mind due to a larger, more depressive event. I hadn’t thought about it until you posted this. Interesting how I’m still irritated about the film, but not the end of the relationship.