Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Rod Bennett on Frank Capra

I stumbled across this article last summer, but have been very neglectful of posting it here until I noticed it making its rounds of the blogosphere. It's an excellent piece on Frank Capra, and in particular Capra's most well-known film, It's a Wonderful Life.

Since it's still Christmas, I'll post this anyway and you might have time to watch timeless classic one more time. :)

I had no way of knowing at the time that this was supposed to be a corny old Christmas "feel-good" movie. It began to make me feel pretty bad, in fact. Certainly I saw that It's A Wonderful Life is full of wonderful things: charm and humor and unforgettable characters that have since become like a second family to me. But the longer the movie went on, the bleaker and blacker things got. George Bailey, the hero (played by James Stewart), the dreamer who was going to see the world and lasso the moon, struggles to get out of the dead end job that keeps him chained to the hick town where he was born. It soon becomes obvious, to us and to him, that he never will get out of it. And yet, somehow, with every commercial break, that announcer kept repeating It's A Wonderful Life. I myself had dreams very like George Bailey's: dreams of accomplishment, dreams of romance. But the plain reality was that I was failing in school, my first real romance was ten years away, and I was lonely, alienated, and ugly with that unique ugliness only possible to fourteen year olds. And yet with every commercial break, over and over at eight-minute intervals, the "Armchair Theatre" man insisted It's A Wonderful Life. Before long, George Bailey (because of a meaningless accident—his lovable, doddering old uncle has destroyed his business by absentmindedly losing a packet of money) stands on a frigid overpass ready to drown his whole thwarted, aborted dream in an icy black river and we're not so sure we blame him. I stood there with him—my own dreams seemed (and sometimes still seem) just as hopeless. And still the man says It's A Wonderful Life.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Thanks. I enjoyed reading it, and agree wholeheartedly on the power of Capra. Personally, this movie was huge for me.