I just watched It's a Wonderful Life. Truly one of my all-time favorites and very, very good for anyone who wants to feel a little better about what a piss-poor job they've done of pursuing their goals in life. (Maybe not as effective if they also have no friends or family and never saved anybody's life, but nothing works for everybody.) This year, though, I tried watching it with a new set of eyes to see if I could notice anything new, with the specific intention of writing about it. That means that I couldn't be sloppy drunk; I couldn't skip that nauseating part with fucking Zuzu and I had to take notes. Here's what I got:
- I'd never noticed the overtly homoerotic nature of the scene wherein George, in the luggage shop spreads his arms apart and says, "I want a big one" as Clarence, in voice-over says, "Ooo. I like him. I like George Bailey."
- Gloria Grahme is hot. Is George nuts or is it me? Violet throws herself at him repeatedly in this movie. Why the hell does he not play Stuff the Stocking with her?
- There's actually some good acting in this movie. Sure, you've got hacks like Alfalfa and the guy that plays Sam "Hee-Haw" Wainwright, but Ma and Pa Bailey turn in believable performances.
- The Charleston contest looks like a room full of people having seizures. It's the absolute whitest dancing outside of a They Might Be Giants concert; people who should stick to plain old walking and leave the dancing to others.
- More proof for my theory that some of the best lines ever spoken in movies are said by people who say nothing else in the entire movie. Joining the Return of the Jedi captain who says "You rebel scum!" and the Wicked Witch's henchman who gives voice to "She's dead. You killed her." we have the mustachioed dandy who calls after Violet, "We'll wait for you, baby!" speaking for himself and another guy, who are apparently trying to talk her into a threesome.
- Would you fall for a guy who grabbed you and shook you and proclaimed--maniacally--that he didn't ever want to marry you? Didn't think so.
- What the hell is up with the squirrel in Uncle Billy's house? What is up with the birds that land on his shoulder? Does he also have seven dwarves for whom he keeps house?
- If I was Mary, my response to George's "Why do we have to have so many kids, anyway?" would probably be, "Because you can't keep your dick to yourself, asshole."
- Is it really necessary for George to look so completely insane as he's about to commit suicide? Isn't his depression enough?
- I'm actually a little appalled that, in the alternate reality, Harry's dead, Mr. Gower is an alcoholic ex-con, Uncle Billy's in an asylum, but the horrible thing that happened to Mary is that she's a librarian. And they save that one for last, like that's the most appalling.
Despite all of these flaws, I still love this movie. I will say, though, that the idea that an angel gets his wings every time a bell rings makes me think that the whole process must be a little too easy.