This is it! Finally! "The 12th Day of Christmas Movies". I'm so happy. For the twelf movie in this series, I've decided to do something completely different than I had set out to do. I had originally intended on including "The Office Xmas Special" (BBC) on my list. I watch that every year around Christmas and it has what is probably one of my top 5 favorite television moments of all time in it. But I decided not to write about that. Well, I guess my mom decided that, indirectly. One of her favorite movies is "It's a Wonderful Life". I have seen probably about a thousand movies because of her but for some reason I escaped my childhood under her watch without ever seeing this. I wasn't so lucky when it came to "Sound of Music" (sorry mum). Year apres year I would set out to watch it but then one of the other 11 movies on this list would occupy my time and "It's A Wonderful Life" would get left out in the cold. I should also point out that I know all the words to several Barry Manilow songs just to give you an idea on how media in our house was imprinted into our heads. In case you weren't aware, he wrote the songs. This year, my mother decided enough was enough and she bought me the movie on bluray. In my life, I like to think that eventually I can take a hint (after about 12 rejections, I start to think maybe a girl isn't interested....maybe) so I decided that I would close this series out with a movie that is a "Christmas Classic" that I haven't seen before. I know she reads this blog and she has to put up with a lot of my swearing, so Merry Christmas, K.Bowman. Here is the final entry in the "12 Days of Christmas Movies" series.
It's A Wonderful Life
It should be noted that I am writing this article as I watch this movie for the first time...on December 31st (WINK!). It's now 2:48 am and it BETTER be a wonderful life! I was given the option to watch it in color or in original black & white. I promised myself I would never do anything to make Frank Capra spin in his grave, so I will watch it as he originally directed it, in black and white.
The Plot according to j.Bowman:
And we are off to a creepy start already. The movie opens with some establishing shots of what I can only assume is the sleepy town of Bedford Falls. I devised that using my keen intellect, deductive reasoning and by paying attention to the "You are now in Bedford Falls" sign in the first shot of the movie.
So while we see some Christmasy shots of the town, we hear voice overs of a bunch of people praying for a dude named George Bailey. It's cool. A little spooky but cool. A bit heavy on the God stuff too but I dig all religions so that didn't bother me. The last two voices that prayed for him, however did bother me. A creepy little girl and a creepy little boy are the last two to speak. One says "Please God! Something's the matter with Daddy" and the other says "Please bring Daddy back". It is pretty damn scary, and I don't scare easily (if you've ever watched a horror movie with me you know how much bullshit is in that last statement. Roughly 1000%).
I can't believe that picture made it into this series. Back to the movie, we are now in space and two nebulas are talking to each other. Okay, I'm willing to see where this goes.
They are talking about how everyone seems to be praying for this "George Bailey" character and how they need to send someone down to help him because it's, and I quote, "his crucial night". I got a question for you, Nebulas. Where the fuck were you on my crucial night? It would have been nice if you had sent someone to stop me from drinking so much whiskey when I totally had a shot with her. Fuck you, Nebulas. You cost me a future wife.
As if I wasn't mad enough at Nebulas they decide to send "Clarence" to go help George Bailey. One nebula remarks incredulously "But he doesn't even have his wings yet" and the other one says that he "has the IQ of a rabbit". So let me get this straight, everyone is pleading for this guy to get some help, and a couple dickhead star systems are gonna send the galactic equivelent of this to help him?
I should point out that I have written all this material and the movie has been running for about 2:36. It has been substantially longer than that in realtime because I have been making love to that pause button. Ok, I'm gonna watch some more.....
That lasted until 2:58. "Clarence" comes sliding across space. He is a star/dot. The Nebulas tell him to go help George. Clarence asks if he's sick and one Nebula replies "No. Worse. He's discouraged". So next time you get the flu, just remember that it could be worse. You could be discouraged.
So Clarence (who is still a dot in the sky by the way) is told that George Bailey will consider throwing away god's greatest gift in about an hour. He means life, not XBOX 360 (god's second greatest gift). Before he sets off on his mission, Clarence makes sure there is something in it for him. He asks if he can save him, they will finally give him his wings. The Nebulas say yes. Based on my experience with Nebulas, they are going to fuck him over for sure.
Now we actually get to see living people. A bunch of kids are sledding down a hill on shovels. One of them is 12 year old George Bailey. He taunts his brother about being a coward, as brothers are contractually obligated to do, and his brother responds by being awesome at sledding. So awesome in fact that he goes past the ice and into the water cause he is a moron. George jumps in and saves his life. Jumping in that icy water however caused him to "catch a bad cold" which "cost him the hearing in his left ear". Holy shit! Colds can do that?!
The narrator then points out that due to this injury, it was weeks before he could return to his after school job working at some store. Wait, what? He's twelve! His friends walk him to work and then taunt him with this gem:
"Go to work, slave"
What a bunch of little assholes. He then says hello to his boss who in turn bitches him out for being late. He's 12! He starts work and then has a run in with 2 girls (one Betty, one Veronica) both girls have a crush on him, but the brunette whispers in his deaf ear that she will love him till the day she dies. He then whistles like 6 notes and his boss, Mr. Gower, pokes his head out from behind a curtain and tells him "You're not paid to be a canary!" while smoking a cigar and crying. Seriously it looked like he was about to end himself.
Woops. Okay the movie just revealed that his son died of influenza and he just found out. I'm going to awkwardly move on now and not dwell on my insensitivity for the pain of fictional characters. At this point we meet what I can only assume is the films villain, Mr. Potter. Which to be honest I'm thankful for because for a moment I was pretty sure I was the villain of this movie. His villainy is confirmed by his weird eyebrows and the fact that he dresses like Oddjob from the James Bond films.
I should point out I still feel pretty bad about that guy with the dead son. Luckily the movie helped me get over my guilt by having him beat the shit out of George Bailey and bloody up his ear with slaps to the head. I know I said this before but...HE'S 12! The next scene shows a grown up George Bailey. He has aged into Jimmy Stewart and his boss seems to have aged about 6 months. I'm all for retaining the same actors but c'mon now, this is ridiculous. The blonde girl, Violet, turned into a total babe. George's dad also seems to have aged about 6 months and is still feuding with Oddjob. George goes to some big dance thing and just when it looks like him and the blonde are gonna get together, she gets "clam-blocked" and he ends up dancing with the brunette Mary instead. Did I say dance? I meant "fall in love with". During their dance, the guy Mary ditched has an ingenious plan to open up the floor and have George fall into a pool that is underneath. This awesome bit of supervillainy is ruined when everyone sees how much fun it is to fall into water and they all jump in.
It's worth noting that I started watching this movie 2 hours ago and 23:54 has elapsed. Gonna be longer than Lord of the Rings by the time I'm done. It's 4:33 now and I got 3/4 of the movie to go. So George and Mary walk home after the dance and they both make wishes by throwing rocks at an abandoned house and breaking windows. Whoa, badass. George wishes to travel the world and get out of that crummy old town (kept waiting for him to say he was taking his talents to South Beach) she refuses to disclose her dream. He then tells her he will give her anything she wants, like the moon. He romantically offers to throw a lasso around it and pull it down for her. She says "I'll take it" and unfortunately he doesn't just kiss her here. He instead chooses to elaborate on his moon idea:
"Then you can swallow it, and it'll all desolve, see? And the moonbeams will shoot out of you fingers and your toes and the ends of you hair and....am I talking too much?"
RUN BITCH! There is one person I've heard talk nonsense like that and he is a coward who wouldn't even accept my challenge to a blog off.
George's dad dies (What?! He looked so young) and George cancels his trip to Europe to tend to family affairs. Oddjob makes a play for the family business, and guess what? He looks the same age! I'm really digging this movie though and the bluray looks fantastic. George lays a passionate verbal smackdown on Oddjob during a board meeting and I loved every second of it. The board votes against Oddjob on the condition that George takes over the business/throws his future away by not going to college. He goes for a walk to have a think and he comes across the blonde chick and she is super slutty towards him, and he asks if she wants to make a night of it. She acts TOTALLY into it and asks what they'd do? He talks about going to a field and taking their shoes off and running around and she...gets...mortified. Disgusted at the notion of running around without shoes, she essentially tells him to fuck off while like 15 townspeople are suddenly surrounding them and laughing at him. Wait, what? (Normally I only post 1 video per article, but you gotta see this fucking scene)
("...we can...uhh...swim in it")
Where did they all come from?! So after this he continues his thinking walk, now probably wondering where all those people came from and what they all have against bare feet, when he comes across the brunette, Mary. They get in a fight for absolutely no reason and he storms out. Really bad night for this guy as far as women are concerned. He has his game totally backwards. He returns moments later because he forgot his hat or something. Mary gets a call from their old friend who is rich and wants George to invest in a new business venture and then he further pisses off George by offering him a job. What...a...bastard. George reacts how any insane person would: He yells at Mary about how he never wants to get married, shakes her a bunch and then while she is crying they start making out. It cuts to the next scene, which happens to be their wedding. I'm guessing he refused to stop shaking her until she said yes. I haven't tried this move yet, but it's cinematic success rate is off the charts.
Oddjob tries to make a play for George's business again, but George holds him off. It flashes forward several years and George has a large real estate property he's developing homes on AND him and the Mrs. squeezed out a few kids. Things seem to be going pretty well for ol' George. However remember his rich friend who he turned down for an investment and a job? Turns out he wanted him to invest in....plastic. So yeah, totally not an idea that was going to take off. Oddjob admits defeat and tries to buy George out with a sweet job and a SHITLOAD of money as salary and our saavy business genius tells him to go fuck himself.
This next sentence should be used at some point in EVERY movie synopsis: Then World War II happens (think about how amazing Jurassic Park would've been with Nazis). Everyone goes to war and becomes a hero, except for George. His ear makes him a liability so he isn't invited to partake in heroics. Oh, by the way, Mr. Gower is STILL ALIVE! By my math (which is probably way off) the movie has jumped from 1920 to 1942 and Gower was an old man back in the 20s. Remember that picture of him crying with the cigar up there? That was YOUNG Gower. Oh and it turns out his Uncle was taking his companies bank deposit to the...bank, and he accidently gave it to Oddjob, but he doesn't know it. After pressing him all day to find out where the meaning went, what does George do when he doesn't get a satisfactory answer from his Uncle? He goes to page 1 of his playbook, and violently shakes his Uncle and threatens to turn on him and have him sent to jail.
He then follow that up by going home and taking out his frustration on his wife and kids. I sure hope everything works out for this paragon of virtue. He then yells at his daughter's teacher over the phone and then challenges her husband to a fight, followed by yelling at his other daughter to stop practicing piano. Then he smashes a model building and kicks a bunch of furniture while his kids look at him with tears in their eyes. What....the fuck...happened? This movie took a sharp left turn. It gets worse. He goes to beg Oddjob for money, Oddjob turns the tables and tells him he is gonna George arrested for embezzlement (oh snap!). He then goes to a bar and gets shitfaced and it turns out that guy he challenged to a fight earlier? Yeah he is at the bar and he decks George in the face. George leaves the bar, drunk and probably concussed, and drives his car into a tree. Man! this is getting progressively more fucked up by the minute.
Then he stumbles to a bridge and contemplates killing himself. He gets saved however, by Clarence. Remember Clarence? He rolls with those Nebula assholes but now he's here trying to earn his wings. Naturally George mouths off the angel and wishes he had never been born at all. Uh-oh!
Remember kids, always be careful what you say around people with wish granting abilities. Clarence, using his magical angel powers, makes it happen and wipes out George's existence. First thing he finds out is that Oddjob owns the town. He then heads to the one place he would turn to in a time like this. Church? Family home?
Guess what? MR. GOWER is still alive in this alternate universe! And he looks like shit. Turns out he is the town drunk and the bartender shoots water in his face and makes fun of him. Of course, George Bailey chooses this moment to hit his "go to" move.
The town is also all full of bars and strip clubs so it has gotten kind of awesome. George has a ridiculously hard time understanding that the life he had (although not very wonderful) doesn't exist anymore. He goes back to his old house, which is abandoned and he gets stopped by the police. George just keeps trying to talk to people as if they no him and h-- OH SHIT THE ANGEL JUST BIT A COP!
I will now admit, I should've watched this movie a LONG time ago! My mom was totally right, this is awesome! If this conversation would've happened when I was a kid I would have:
Mum: j*****, do you want to watch "It's a Wonderful Life"?
jB: No. It's in black and white and I see the world in shades of grey.
Mum: It has a scene where an angel bites a cops hand....
jB: ....I will watch this movie immediately.
I...I just don't know where this movie can go from here. Sweet lord. Oh, his brother died when he fell through the ice as a kid because George didn't exist to save him. He then goes and chases Mary down the street (keep in mind in this reality she isn't his wife and doesn't know him) then he...grabs her by the lapel and shakes her! Of course he does. Why wouldn't he? This time however it doesn't cause her to fall in love with him and she basically freaks out. Then the cops show up to se-- OH SHIT! GEORGE JUST PUNCHED A COP IN THE FACE!
He then goes back to the bridge and weeps, begging Clarence and God to let him live again. One of them makes it happen and George suddenly exists again. He then goes running through town and celebrates, yelling "Merry Christmas" to every building and person that he runs by. He realizes how much he had and that it is, in fact, a wonderful life. His family forgives him and then the townspeople show up and shower him with money. That actually happens.
How this movies tagline wasn't "Angel bites cop...seriously" I'll never know. So yeah, everything works out for ol' George Bailey. They all have a massive sing along of "Auld Lang Syne" (I love that song!) and Clarence ends up getting his wings. He leaves behind his book with a note to George written on the inside cover:
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
And with that, j.Bowman's freaking heart melts.
What solidifies it's status as a Christmas movie?The fact that George Bailey ran through the streets wishing inanimate buildings Merry Christmas.
Key Christmas MomentRemember that awesome "Lasso the moon" Ultimate Warrior speech George did? Well it might not be a key Christmas moment, but it deserves some love, dammit.
Key Christmas QuoteGeorge: Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!
Mr. Potter (Oddjob): And Happy New Year to you, in jail!
Favorite non-Christmas QuoteIt's a tie!
George: [yelling at Uncle Billy] Where's that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where's that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison! That's what it means! One of us is going to jail... well, it's not gonna be me!
George: You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?
Xmas Game Ball Goes To.....The immortal Mr. Gower, naturally.
Most Hated Character?
Wouldn't have happened if...George Bailey was super psyched that there are tons of strip clubs in Bedford Falls and nobody knows his name.
12 Days of Christmas Movies
Day 10: Christmas Vacation
Day 12: It's A Wonderful Life
THAT....IS.....IT! It's over! No more! "12 Days of Christmas Movies" has come to an end. "HIT MY MUSIC!" I should probably feel like I really accomplished something here, but...I didn't really. This was all just a loving tribute to 12 movies that make me feel like it's really the holiday season. Snow, crowded malls, ugly sweaters and greedy children just don't give me the same sense of holiday warmth that movies do. So with that,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a fucking awesome night.
Thanks for Reading