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It's A Wonderful Life- review and recommendation
I find this classic film to be one of the most beautiful and heartfelt movies ever made. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart is the epitome of class. We watch him grow up in flashbacks throughout the film; from an honest youth who saves the local pharmacist to the hero brother that thinks nothing of diving in icy waters to save his younger brother. He is fair, mature and the kind of kid you dream of marrying your daughter. Someone who believes that everyone deserves a chance, whether a man, woman, boy or girl.
Donna Reed, who plays Mary is smart, reasonable, patient and strong. She knows from a young age that George is the guy for her and she moves on with her life; going to college and working until she moves back one summer with hopes of meeting up with George and beginning a relationship with him.
George always has hopes of moving away to an exotic location. He wants to see the world. One thing after another stops this dream of his. In the clip below, he has just realized that he is stuck taking over his father's business so as not to let the town bully, Mr. Potter, take over the bank and loan company.
George is responsible and takes every one's problems as his own. He is probably the nicest guy in the town and doesn't sit and stew in his disappointments, rather does the job and does it admirably.
When he sees Mary after years of separation, he is interested in her but still has hopes of making a break for it. Below, you can see the love they have for each other and it makes him angry because he knows it will mean planting roots in the town he loves, but longs to escape from. His love for Mary is greater however, and he makes his choice.
Unable to travel for years as he planned, he does the next best thing... after he and Mary are wed, they make plans to travel for a month and see some of the sights he has longed for. Then, there is a run on the banks because of the Depression. George and Mary almost make it out of town and he notices that the Building and Loan is not opening its doors. He goes against his better judgement and lets the people in; only to give away his trip money. Once again, putting everyone before himself.
George has a bunch of kids with Mary and continues to run the Building and Loan. His brother Harry becomes a war hero and during the holiday season, the town is abustle, planning his brothers visit home.
George never realizes what a hero he has been to everyone who's life he has touched. How his selflessness has empowered others and has changed their life paths from bad to good.
His Uncle Billy is in charge of depositing monies into Mr. Potter's larger bank. In a chance meeting of Uncle Billy and the horrid Potter, Uncle Billy accidentally places a large sum of money into Potter's lap. Potter, being the awful man he is, doesn't return it. Instead, he accuses the Bank and Loan of stealing and George is distraught; not knowing what to do.
He contemplates suicide so that his Life Insurance policy could make up for the missing money. He is sent a character of an angel named Clarence who shows George how every one's lives would be different if he hadn't been born. What a gift. To be able to see how you have made a difference to others.
There have been times in my life, and I am sure yours, where you felt that life might be easier without you, or if you hadn't been born, people and situations may have been better off. This movie is such an eye opener! It truly forces you to look at the people in your life and how the little things that you do can make a difference to someone.
At times in my life when I began to question the need for my existence, I would remember the lesson Clarence taught George Bailey and reflect upon all of the adults, children and friends that I had come in contact with. How I was able to make someone smile or feel important. The time I spent chatting with the elderly man on his porch. How I had shoveled the walk for someone that was laid up and didn't accept payment. I realized that the small efforts given by myself were insurmountable to someone else. That people that cared about me would be different and their lives would have changed had I not been there. Even events that bring sadness have a reason for becoming part of our life. We learn from situations. How we use this knowledge determines our path in front of us.
George realizes through the emotional journey that Clarence takes him through that his life has not been lived in vain. He wishes to be "alive" again so he can go back to the people that mean the most to him; his wife and children. He will figure out what to do later. When he arrives, a miracle occurs. Everyone that had been touched by George's kindness rallies together to help him out. He is a hero to them and George realizes that all the money in the world doesn't compare to the richness one feels in having friends.
George Bailey exemplifies goodness. His character was such a powerful symbol to me, I named my daughter Bailey after the personification of decency, honesty and love that exuded from George Bailey's character.
If you haven't watched this wonderful movie, please do. I guarantee that the black and white film won't have you missing the techno-color nor the special effects that you see in movies today. It is simply a wonderful movie showing us that our lives have been and can be simply wonderful!