Posted by Jen; 4 stars
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
When the holidays come around, it’s hard not to think of the classic movies like It’s a Wonderful Life. They remind us to be grateful for what we have, but what is it about George Bailey’s story that captures our imaginations so well? It’s the fact that life constantly shits on him, but he’s able to persevere.
George Bailey is all of us. He has big plans when he’s young: he’s going to travel the world, then build things like airports and bridges; he’s going to do something important. Then his father has a stroke and he’s forced into a life he never wanted: taking over his father’s business at the tiny little Bank and Loan in the tiny little Bedford Falls. They’re constantly struggling to make ends meet, but at the end of the day he’s the one giving hard-on-their-luck people the chance to live in a nice little house rather than the Potter Slums. And it’s the owner of those slums, Mr. Potter, who is constantly trying to destroy George’s business.
George wonders what it’s like if he had never been born, and realizes that he’s touched more lives than he ever imagined because, as the story goes, “No man is a failure if he has friends.” It’s a beautiful sentiment. It’s heartwarming, really. George Bailey is the most unselfish man, an ideal, that makes those of us watching his story want to at least try to be better people. That’s why this movie is a classic, and that’s why it truly is a wonderful life.