Those who know me well, are aware that I have four favorite movies I watch around this season: The Preachers Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol (the older version with Alastair Sim), and my all-time favorite, ... Those who know me well, are aware that I have four favorite movies I watch around this season: The Preachers Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol (the older version with Alastair Sim), and my all-time favorite, Frank Capra's 1946 film, It’s A Wonderful Life. I’ve preached about the film and have written analysis papers of the plot. I think it’s about time to replace my current copy and move to a DVD. I’ve about worn out my old VHS.
Do you remember It’s A Wonderful Life? It’s so ironic that this movie, now viewed as a classic, was listed as "subversive" by the FBI when it came out in 1946. It’s the story of George Bailey (played by Jimmy Steward), who is a wonderfully honest and decent young man who has always wanted to leave his small town of New Bedford, New York, in order to travel the world. Unfortunately, George is never able to go, because it seems that whenever he is about to, a new crisis or development keeps him in town.
George is the oldest son in the family and ends up responsible for running the family business, the New Bedford Building and Loan. For many working people in town, this company is the only hope that they will be able to buy a house, since the banks and many of the other local businesses are run or controlled by the evil Mr. Potter. While this movie was made in 1946, many things look familiar. Affordable housing was an issue in Bedford Falls, too. Oh, I know that no one here today knows about the issue of lack of affordable housing, but there are folks out there somewhere who are facing that issue.
Mr. Potter, the richest man in town, is not interested in lending money to poor people; he prefers that they are stuck renting the horrible apartments that he owns. He was a developer with deep pockets and no compassion. Those stuck living in his substandard housing were the Irish, Italians and Blacks. All were in there together, facing the same challenges.
Although George never gets out of town, he does marry a wonderful wife and has a beautiful home with four wonderful and healthy children. But one day, crisis strikes when Uncle Billy loses $8,000 of the company's money. Now Uncle Billy really doesn’t just loose the money, he was in the bank and leaves it on the counter where the evil Mr. Potter finds it and doesn’t tell him. Suddenly, George faces bankruptcy, and scandal and prison. The situation gets so bad that George actually considers committing suicide.
And that is where the story really starts to unfold. Clarence, George’s wonderful "guardian angel" who is trying to get his wings, is given the assignment to help George. He asks his heavenly supervisor, St. Joseph, what is wrong with George. Is he sick? St. Joseph replies, "No, it’s worse, he’s down hearted. Isn’t that something how being hopeless and downhearted can sometimes just take away all of the beauty and cloud the way we are able to see the wonder in our life.? George is on the bridge about to jump in the icy water below when Clarence jumps in knowing that George will jump in to save him.
But this was only a temporary stop-gap because George is still pretty out of it. He starts to lament that maybe things would just be better if he had never been born. Clarence checks in with St. Joseph and they give him the OK to take George up on his wish, and just that quick, it’s as if he had never been born. He goes through the town and nobody knows him. He wasn’t there to marry his wonderful wife Mary, and her life was not the same. There were no four healthy children born to them. He wasn’t there to run the building after his father died, so all of those people living in Potter’s substandard housing never got their new homes that God wanted them to have. Because George wasn’t there, so many people’s lives were altered. George truly had a wonder-filled life, but he also