Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Classics: It's A Wonderful Life

Christmas just never is the same without It's A Wonderful Life, it's one of those seminal moments of the Holiday season. Frank Capra's classic fairy tale about one man's importance to a small community, whilst learning the true meaning and worth that one person's life can bring in the process, is a genuine classic.

The man is George Bailey, played expertly by Jimmy Stewart in one of the finest performances of his career. His everyman charm is what makes this film work, and it is because of his ability to act just like your Average Joe American that makes this film the uplifting piece of cinema that it is.

My favorite character in the film is Clarence the Angel, who is hilarious almost every single time he is onscreen, not to mention Lionel Barrymore's Mr. Potter, who is one of the more treacherous badguys to ever be in a movie (I put him alongside Darth Vader). Then you round out the ensemble with the likes of Donna Reed and the lovable Uncle Billy, and you have a terrific movie right there.

Then, there is the director, Frank Capra. The word masterpiece is often thrown around too much, but here it is highly justified. Frank Capra was the hinge that made this movie work, if any other director had done it, it probably wouldn't have been as good, thus, for this reason alone, this is his masterpiece. Plus, he's the only filmmaker in the history of cinema to of been so bold to do an ending that is so overtly sentimental, yet so perfect at the same time.

When you examine this film by today's standards, the film doesn't play like a realistic piece of cinema, but rather as a black-and-white portrayal of a pure and innocent world, where good is white and bad is black, no gray areas in between, and it's because of this that this film has endured as long as it has. People want to believe the best in people, even if that person can't find it in themselves, and this film tries to help show you the way.

I give It's A Wonderful Life an A+!

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