Thursday, January 04, 2007

wonderful life?

It's A Wonderful Life is one of my all-time favorite movies. Love it. I can't get enough of its jingoistic propaganda, its spirited populism, its earnest faith, and its sentimental charm.

I just adore the film.

But. The thing that always pulls me out of the movie - albeit briefly - is the unintentional hilarity of George discovering Mary's fate. Like she wouldn't have just married Sam "Hee Haw" Wainwright and lived unhappily ever after as a housewife while Sam banged a lot of underage secretaries on business trips to Europe...

After being shown how badly everything's gone without him, after seeing the despair and hopelessness, after discovering that his brother's dead and that every man on the transport died - a transport filled with men that may have very well won World War II itself! - we learn that the worst thing that could possibly happen, the one thing that finally convinces George to live: it's Mary's fate. Mary has become...

an old maid.

She's working as a mannish-looking librarian. Noooooo! Women are reading! Take me back, Clarence! I need to save Mary from a life of books and lesbianism! Take me back! I want to live!

And then I'm back to weeping like a child at the triumph and generosity of the human spirit. Well played, Capra. Well played.

I also noticed something this past Christmas...

At the beginning of the movie.

When the Heavenly hosts are discussing who they should send to help poor George Bailey, they decide to send Clarence, an Angel: Second Class trying to earn his wings. And why hasn't ol' Clarence gotten his wings yet?

"Because, you know, sir, he's got the I.Q. of a rabbit..."

"Yes, but he's got the faith of a child..."

Of course, Clarence has faith - he lives in Heaven. With God and angels and twinkly stars. Even someone with the I.Q. of a rabbit would have faith -

Wait. I.Q. of a rabbit? Clarence has the I.Q. of a rabbit?! THIS is going to be George's guardian angel?! As if George's life hasn't been insulting enough, Heaven is sending JoJo the Half-Wit to save him?

See, people - Capra was more cynical than you thought. Why was George's life so miserable? Simple.

God hates him.

Why else would the Almighty send an idiot clockmaker as George Bailey's last hope?

One could make the argument that George - with the help of Clarence - overcomes the cruelty of a wicked God to discover the innate goodness of humanity.

Either that, or Capra was just being a dick.

No wonder the FBI thought it was subversive.

"Teacher says, 'Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.'"

"What's teacher doing talking about angels in school?!"