Monday, November 29, 2004

It's a Wonderful Life


Every year at the beginning of the Christmas season, I put "It's a Wonderful Life" in the VCR and watch it... usually alone.  My kids and grandkids aren't interested in a corny old black-and-white movie.  And Cliff isn't usually in the house when I'm watching it.  Today, however, he came in early with a backache;  he was trapped.

It isn't that he doesn't like the movie; he laughs at all the funny parts.  But he's embarrassed to watch a movie that puts him on the verge of tears; and this one does, toward the end.  (He'll kill me for saying that when he reads this entry.)


See, we've never lived in anything BUT an old, drafty house rife with flaws; so when Jimmy Stewart kisses that knob on the stairway rail when it comes off in his hand for the hundredth time, we can relate.  And who among us had not felt like a failure at some time or another; George had big plans, like we all do:

"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long... "

None of his plans came to fruition.  He was stuck for life in a job he never wanted.  Oh, but when he stands up to Mr. Potter, I can hardly keep from standing to my feet and cheering!

"Just remember this, Mr. Potter: that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?"



There's sweet, kindly Clarence, working to get his wings.  Sometimes I think perhaps I have the same sort of angel looking after me... a bit clutzy, but well-meaning and, in the end, successful.

"You've been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you."

"You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"

 Another reason I love "It's A Wonderful Life" is that we once had a banker with a "George Bailey" heart, here in our little town.  We were in our late twenties when we moved here, and up till then, lenders had treated us like inferior beings.  But Larry treated us like equals.  He'd ask how our kids were doing and carry on a light-hearted conversation while he worked out the details of some trivial, unsecured note we needed to buy another Jersey cow, or a tractor.  I'll never watch "It's a Wonderful Life"  without seeing Larry Wims in the role of George Bailey.



Oh, and the closing scene, with everybody chipping in with the money needed to keep Bailey Building and Loan open as they're all singing around the tree.  Then little Zuzu says,

"Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."  That's when you know Clarence has it made.

I guess I'll always get a lump in my throat during that scene, even though I know it word for word.

Today, as you read this, stop and think of the lives you've touched, and how much the world would be lacking if you had not walked this earth.  Pay attention to these words from Clarence: 

"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."

"One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole."

Have a merry Christmas, everybody!


whitedove3622 said...

Every time I read something of yours Mo, I think, wow this is great. Well this one tops them all. You sure have a talent and its a blessing how you are able to share it with so many on this silly thing called a computer. Merry Christmas Mo, and yes you have touched my life in a big way. Thanks !!

ksquester said...

This movie was on TV this last Saturday, but I only got to watch parts of it! It's a wonderful story. Tell Cliff that I never trusted a man who couldn't cry. Sometimes, it is the ONLY appropriate response, especially if it's from the heart. Did you know that the girl that played Zulu used to live in Kansas City for years! She just moved recently.  Thanks for this entry, it was grand, swell (how I miss those descriptions)Anne

jspiker said...

What a GREAT entry. I think it's the best I've ever read. You have an amazing talent for sharing you thoughts with the world.

It reminds me of the time my Uncle Vivian stole a bread truck and put a loaf of bread on everyone's doorstep in the coal camp of Ward WV.  

Of course...that's only what I heard but I believe it's true!

Merry Christmas!

toonguykc said...

Mr. Grinch here....I just don't like this movie for some reason.  Maybe because it's shown over and over again on so many channels....or maybe because it sets up suicide to look like something a really deserving person could survive with a comical angel's help.  Don't get me wrong -- I love happy endings!  And I can weep like a baby when everything comes out right for the main characters in a family film (I cried at the ending of "Ice Age" the other night) ...but this movie just leaves me cold and unsatisfied.  Feel free to delete this comment if it's too much of a bummer.

ryanagi said...

I love this movie. In my college days, we used to keep track of the number of showings of the film. There would be such a buzz when someone in the dorm discovered it was on again. LOL

bnanajm said...

Wow - what more can I say.  (There goes my eye makeup?)   No I think I can say I must be a huge success.  I have you for a friend.

Merry Christmas Mosie and Cliff.

With much love

siennastarr said...

Oh, Mosie, thank you for sharing this link with me today.  I am feeling a bit on the depressed side.  A bit unloved.  A bit worthless.  Reading this made me realize that even  if I don't think I'm very important, that I really am, to so many people.  I love this movie, because it always makes me stop and remember just that.  Isn't it funny how an unknown angel knew I needed to read something like what you wrote here, to make me stop and think.  
Thank you Mosie...
Today.. YOU are that angel.

PS  I think I'm going to go pop it in the VCR and watch it.. right now.


gaboatman said...

Here it is years later and this entry is still putting lumps in grown men's throats.  This is one of my favorite movies of all times and I love to watch it alone or just with Paulette becasue I always tear up at the end of it.  Your observations touch deep with this entry.  Thanks!  Merry Christmas!

mutualaide said...

Amen.  This is my all time favorite holiday movie.  I watch it, with or without a companion.