A Few Words About the Greatest Movie of the Season
By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 15, 2008 9:30PM
First, a few words from George Bailey on our current economic crisis:
Forget Citizen Kane. Frank Capra's Christmas chestnut is arguably the second-most influential movie of all time, after The Wizard of Oz. Why? Because its world has become our world. When politicians talk about small town America, they're talking about Bedford Falls. The homey hamlet encapsulates our visions of the idealized American Dream. Every citizen has their job, and these jobs define their personality. Bert the Cop and Ernie the Taxi Driver begat Joe the Plumber.
And on the flipside, Pottersville perfectly symbolizes the greed and corruption of unfettered capitalism. As David Thomson has written, inside this movie there's a noir oozing to take over. James Stewart's claustrophobic George Bailey is the American Everyman: denying himself escape (shades of The Truman Show) in favor of family and community. It's a balancing act both enabled and camouflaged by a letter-perfect screenplay, a cast made in heaven and a genuinely touching finale. If you haven't shed a tear by the time George says, "Attaboy Clarence!" it's time to get a chest x-ray à la The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.