“If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen, and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow… It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling.”
– Bill Murray in SCROOGED
That’s right – it’s time to feel the moment and that holiday spirit thing. It’s time for SpoilerFreeReview’s 12 days of Christmas 2021 edition! We will be posting our favorite holiday experiences with 12 reviews and illustrations of movies, TV, and music. So sit back, enjoy some spiked eggnog, and welcome to SFR’s 12-days of Christmas 2021!🎅🏽
“Every time you hear a bell ring, it means some angel got his wings.”
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a 131-minute holiday classic, but it did not start out that way when it was first created in 1946. The black and white movie flopped, and Frank Capra was in debt to RKO movie studios to the tune of $525,000. This was a huge amount of money back then.
The story is simple. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who wanted to travel the world, go to college, build skyscrapers and bridges. He desired to leave the small town, Bedford Falls. He had so many dreams of what his life would be. He said over and over, he knew what he was going to do “tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that.” But life doesn’t always turn out as planned.
George’s dad suffered a stroke and died just when he was about to start his adventure. He felt obligated to stay and take over the management of his father and his alcoholic Uncle Billy’s business, The Bailey Brothers Building and Loan Association. A small store that yielded a mighty hand to thwart the antagonist, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore).
Years flew by. George married Mary, (Donna Reed), had four children, and still never realized his dream of travel and education. Then, on Christmas Eve, a bank inspector throws George into a whirlwind of events due to a misplaced money deposit. He can’t cover the loss. He doesn’t know where to turn. George finds himself standing on a bridge. Cue Clarence ASC (Henry Travers). He is an angel second class who has been trying to earn his wings for 200 years.
This is where the film becomes potent, raw, and real. Clarence sends George on a painful journey to find the true value of a human being. Are we worth more dead than alive? What would happen if we were never born? Would it make a difference? Clarence believes: “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole.” His point is made through excruciating lightbulb, manic moments for George.
I have often wondered why this movie is so revered and treasured to this day. I believe it is because Frank Capra chose not to sugarcoat our existence. All of us will have many bad days throughout our lives. We will not always be able to achieve all our dreams and yearnings. We will make mistakes, suffer losses, and sometimes not even treat those we love in the manner we should. But in the end, it is the sum of ALL our days on this earth that matter. Do we learn from our shortcomings? Do we become better, kinder, and more forgiving to those around us? Can we say we have been a friend to all, for “No man is alone if he has friends.”
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE sheds a light on the goodness we might not see every day. For me, I have always said it is a domino effect. Line them all in a row, and if just one is missing, everything is out of whack. There is a space where there should be none.
This film shows how important each and every one of us is to each other. We are connected in ways we might never realize. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE gives all of us hope to keep going, no matter what. Every day, every moment, or second is a start to a new beginning. It would be a shame if any one of us gave up too soon. In the end, love is the reward… the key to living our lives every day, the best we can.
Thank you, Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra, for reminding all of us. What a pure, joyous lesson to receive every day, especially during the holiday season.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.