Last night I sat down with the boys and Miss Perfect, and watched It’s a Wonderful Life. It may not be my favourite Christmas movie (that would be Brazil), but I find it lives up to its feel-good status.
And what’s not to feel good about? George Bailey is a heroic everyman who’s not out to gouge the people who borrow from him. Mr Potter is an old-school plutocrat.
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? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!
Remember when wealthy “fat cat” bankers were villains in movies, instead of being held up as paragons of virtue and job creation? And when George is down and money goes missing from the bank, the 99% step in and save his building-and-loan from closure and him from arrest. Thanks goodness these themes are becoming relevant again.
For me, though, the peak is George’s new-found elation at being alive, his joy for life, even with its unmet ambitions and frustrations. Okay, so there’s a warning for religious themes (what the hell was Zuzu’s teacher thinking, telling schoolkids that?), but all that aside, it’s still worth a watch if you haven’t seen it for a few years.