Although it’s a Christmas classic the movie It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t actually released to theaters until after Christmas on January 7th, 1947, 67 years ago today.
Since the time I was a young boy lying on the floor and watching the old movies of the 30’s and 40’s, on a black and white television, I’ve always loved actor Jimmy Stewart. It was my mother’s fondness for him that initially led me to this discovery. Having my own roots in a small western Pennsylvania community, only 60 miles from Jimmy’s hometown, also helped to cement my affection for him.
But somehow, inexplicably one of Stewart’s greatest movies — It’s a Wonderful Life — went unnoticed by me until sometime in the 1980’s.
I never saw the movie that would come to mean so much to me before I had the opportunity to meet both it’s director Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. It happened on separate occasions while in college in the early 70’s. I would have liked to have told them how much the movie meant to me. (As if they hadn’t heard that before)! The two of them shared a special bond and I loved hearing both Capra and Stewart say, of all the movies they had a part in creating, It’s a Wonderful Life was their all-time favorite.
Loving the movie as I do, it was once a Christmas tradition to watch it with as many of my kids as I could gather together. Now I’m left to watch it alone. But its message, ringing as true today as ever, has helped me through some tough times. Moving and inspiring the film is a bittersweet human drama that touches my innermost senses in ways few movies ever have. It’s an all-American classic with a message of life-affirming hope despite desperate personal struggles. In all its homespun simplicity it is simply a great movie and leaves no doubt about the essential truth of what is really important in life.
Yes it’s a bit sappy, sentimental for sure, but so am I. Yes it’s in black and white (unless you happen to see the “colorized ” version) and granted it’s an “oldie,” but now… just the same, so am I!
We all matter. We all have purpose. Despite what we may think at times, it is indeed a wonderful life. It is truly a gift and one we should forever be thankful for.
Clarence the angel said it well, and I might add, it’s true of women as well as men:
“Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. If he wasn’t around, it would leave an awful hole.”
For Jaime. Happy birthday.
It Was a Wonderful Life (My tribute to Jimmy Stewart)