My sincerest apologies again to readers: I am extremely delayed with this review (as readers will note, this Monday review is going up on a Thursday—d’oh!). Like a good little port, I re-watched 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Lifetwo or three weeks ago, when Audre, Ponty, and I agreed to review it and the 1951 Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol earlier in December. I was writing and editing like the wind to get most everything done before departing for a pre-Christmas trip to Arizona (more on that in a separate post), but didn’t quite manage to get it all done.
As I’ll detail in another post, I spent the first quarter of Christmas Day driving from western Kentucky down through Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Augusta, before finally reaching my parents’ home in western South Carolina. I’d managed to get posts done through Christmas, thanks to a delayed connecting flight in Minneapolis, but was unable to get much more writing done beyond that. Christmas Eve saw me convoying to Kentucky from my older brother’s home in Indianapolis; I spent a frosty Christmas Eve with his in-laws on their farm, before setting out early Christmas morn along the route delineated above.
That’s all to say that, despite my chubbiest efforts, I was not able to get everything done. Facing the prospect of writing this review late on Christmas night, I put it off, hoping I’d knock it out Monday evening—to no avail.
But I digress—enough excuses. What about the film?
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is one of those films that holds a special place in the hearts of millions, myself among them. I’ll never forget watching it one Christmas night on the floor of my paternal grandfather’s den, he in his recliner, my cousins and myself on our bellies. Implausibly, I was allowed to stay and watch it while my parents took my brothers home (we lived probably twenty or thirty minutes away at the time, and my mom loathed the inefficiency of multiple trips anywhere—a thrifty trait I have inherited), and my dad came and picked me up afterwards. I was happy and utterly exhausted, but I’ll never forget that good old mom made me take a bath anyway, even though I could barely keep my eyes open.
Ask anyone who has seen this film, especially in childhood, and they’ll have a similar story. Ponty relates his own tale in this wonderful review, and it’s something that contributes to the timeless and heartwarming quality of the flick. It’s a Wonderful Life is not just a movie, but an experience, something shared across generations, and indelibly linked, for as long as film as a medium exists, to Christmas and family and love.