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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Favorite Movie Reviewed

By Joyce Benedict

There are numerous great films of the 1940s. After searching the back shelves of my memory bank, an all time favorite of mine is It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatcher.

It was a curious phenomena that I hadn’t seen the movie until the early 1990s. One of those great flicks that had fallen through the cracks of daily experience along with a myriad of other movies viewed.

I was in my mid-forties when one bitter cold winter’s evening I turned on the television and there was, It’s A Wonderful Life, right at the beginning.

I settled into a stuffed chair, made hot tea and merged with the movie. I was hopelessly hooked. And I saw it again and again and again whenever possible. Here is why.

Can't we all identify with George who at every opportunity he is about to leave Bedford Falls, something comes up and he is thwarted, frustrated in following his dream?

He represents all of us, a dash of innocence and naiveté, a good guy who does his damnedest to do the right thing yet at every turn he seems to sink deeper into an abyss.

The mean spirited Mr. Potter, portrayed by Lionel Barrymore, you just want to wring his neck as his compassionless and greedy heart turns George's life upside down and threatens to bring ruin to the whole town. Haven't we all had times when despite our best efforts, it seems life conspires to hold us back and nothing goes right?

George courts Mary awkwardly but never seems to realize how much he loves her. My all time favorite love scene is in this movie. Mary is in her home and George sits in her living room.

Mary gets a call from another would-be suitor. While Mary speaks to Jimmy, he decides he wants to say hello to George.

Holding the phone close to both their ears the closeness of their bodies and eye contact causes undercurrents of chemistry to be released. You feel it intensify as their bodies remain close. They no longer listen to the babbling guy on the other end of the line, their awareness of the power of love and attraction builds.

George's muscles in his face tighten from the mounting sexual tension. Donna tries to look away as if to know that her own rising sensuality mustn't be discovered for fear of appearing not so nice anymore.

Their faces move closer and closer to one another, yet they never touch. No mad grabbing, no tongues in mouth, no blouse pulled off shoulder - just pure, intense attraction and nary a touch. It is a breathless, vibrant, powerful scene. Simply, great acting.

Following more ill-fated events, George runs in despair and anguish to the bridge that overlooks a river. About to jump in himself, his guardian angel flounders in the water and George's good heart wins out over death and he saves the angel. He then is shown all the events in his life and all the loved ones Fate that would have gone in another direction had he not been there.

He returns home a changed man.

This movie is great for it shows how deeply connected we all are to each other in ways totally not discernible and that our place in the great scheme of things does make a difference and is worthwhile despite the many vicissitudes we all struggle with.

We learn we can make a difference, that the measure of our worth has nothing to do with fame and fortune. I suspect this movie has touched literally thousands of lives to see a perspective of their own lives they had never considered before.

Years later, Jimmy Stewart was being interviewed and mentioned that director Frank Capra was prepared to rehearse the love attraction, telephone scene over and over but when finished, Capra informed him you could have heard a pin drop in the studio during that first filming. No one moved or breathed a full minute or two.

Capra awakens from his own mesmerized state at what had just transpired claiming, "Print it!" It is one of the finest pieces of acting in the whole movie and my all time favorite love scene. Fantastic!


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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Love your summary of this, and love this movie. Yes to all you say about it!

Wish they knew that sensitive movies are the best. Today, blowing up, shooting, loud noises, what trash!! And those of us who can more easily afford to go to the movies timewise and moneywise find them awful. Wake up movie makers!! Give us some good mental health films.
Great review!

I am also a fan of Jimmy Stewart and every movie I saw him in kept me enthralled. I also thought his love scenes were the most powerful, believable, melting moments on the big screen.

What a great review!! Well written. I've never watched the movie all the way through. Think I will take a look with new perspective next time it plays.

Now I need to see the movie again, thanks.

We tossed it in the player at Christmas this year, ready to enjoy, when our 12 year old suddenly confessed he didn't remember ever seeing it. He was mesmerized. I still cry at the ending. Capra was a master, and Stewart showed how acting should be done. Well written reminder about a piece of art we should never forget to remember.

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