Subversive thoughts about a classic

This weekend, I had the chance to see a screening of that perennial holiday favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life the way it was intended–at a proper movie theatre on the big screen. To be honest, I have lost track of the number of times I’ve seen this movie. For all of its schmaltz, the sheer number of character actors makes this worth watching. Plus, I can’t help it, I always cry. Always, always, always. However, as is my wont, I find myself wondering a few things:

  • Does George Bailey ever get out of Bedford Falls? Like even for a weekend? Or is the man forever trapped there?Also, what message are Capra and the film actually sending us in respect to this. George doesn’t hate the people in Bedford Falls, he just wants to do more than the town’s physical limits will allow him; he wants to see things most of us would like to (e.g. Paris, London, Rome, Athens). Is that so very wrong? The film seems to be suggesting that we’re supposed to be content with our lot.
  • Pottersville is apparently a very prosperous city. It would have to be to support that kind of entertainment economy. I mean, Bedford Falls is apparently located in upstate New York somewhere. It’s not a suburb. So we’re supposed to believe that a city that’s the equivalent of Batavia or Seneca Falls turns into Sin City? I think not. Unless of course, Pottersville has expanded by leaps and bounds and Main Street is now the bad part of town.
  • Speaking of Mr. Potter, I get that he’s a nasty piece of work and really rich, but he seriously owns everything in town but the Bailey Building and Loan? Everything?
  • The much touted Bailey Park in the movie is located over a graveyard and is suburban tract housing, rather grim looking suburban tract housing.
  • And finally, I love how Mary’s fate worse than death turns out to be an existence as an old maid librarian. While four children in close succession in the one reality has left her a lithe, attractive woman with 20/20 vision, spinsterhood in the alternate reality has caused her hair to grow prematurely grey; her eyebrows to grow bushy and unattractive, and her eyesight to fail. I guess single life will do that to ya.

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