Saturday, December 29, 2007

What's So Good About It?

Will (5) was talking a blue streak through It's a Wonderful Life. Having been told it was everybody's favorite Christmas movie he was stymied, and full of questions. "I don't get it!" he finally lamented.

Thinking it would help, I condensed the plot into a few sentences, explaining that George Bailey was having a terrible time and was going to kill himself, but his guardian angel would save him. As soon as I said it, I realized the phrase "kill himself" was pretty heavy for a little boy, but it caught Will's attention. If something that exciting was going to happen, he'd stay tuned.

Every second or so he asked, "When's he going to kill himself?" I said, "It won't be for a while. First he has to fall in love, get married and have some kids." "Yuck! I don't want to fall in love," said Will. "George Bailey doesn't either," I told him. "Most boys don't want to fall in love until they meet the perfect girl. So they just fall in love."

"Then they kill themselves?" Will asked.

A Wonderful Quiz
  1. Who was the first choice to play George Bailey?
  2. Who was the director's choice to play Mary Bailey?
  3. Why was Old Man Gower so angry that he boxed George's ears?
  4. Carl Switzer plays a boy who is also in love with Mary. What other famous character did he play?
  5. What is the name of the small town in Pennsylvania that Bedford Falls is based on?
  6. Uncle Billy is played by Thomas Mitchell. He played the part of whose father in another famous movie?
  7. After the run on the bank, the staff drink a toast to the two dollars they have left. What do they want the dollars to do?
  8. Ellen Corby is the actress who tells George Bailey she needs only $17. In her later years she was a famous Grandma. Who was she?
  9. How many Academy Awards did It's a Wonderful Life win?
  10. During the final scene of the movie, when Jimmy Stewart was happy with the whole town bringing him money and he knew he was going to be saved, who was watching the whole scene as if he were living it himself, with tears flowing down his cheeks?
The whole premise of the show is summed up by Clarence, George's guardian angel.
"Each man's life touches so many other lives. If he wasn't around, it would leave an awful hole."

Wonderful Answers
  1. Cary Grant was the studio's first choice, but Frank Capra's first and only choice was Jimmy Stewart.
  2. Capra asked Ginger Rogers to play Mary, but she thought the part was too bland. He also considered Olivia De Havilland.
  3. Mr. Gower had just received the news that his son had died.
  4. Mary's other suitor played Alfalfa in The Little Rascals.
  5. Bedford Falls is based on Indiana, PA, a town of 16,000 people in the western hills of Pennsylvania.
  6. Scarlett O'Hara's father was Uncle Billy.
  7. George hopes that mama and papa dollar will have lots of babies.
  8. Ellen Corby played Grandma Walton.
  9. It's a Wonderful Life didn't receive any Academy Awards and lost $480,000. It was ranked #27 on the list of movies released in 1946-47.
  10. The director, Frank Capra, cried as he watched the final scene. This was his favorite movie, and the one he was most proud of.
I think my little Will felt like George ought to just kill himself and get it over with.
Others might feel that way when it's on TV for the 1,000th time in a month.
I could watch it anytime. It always reminds me that
It's a Wonderful Life!


kenju said...

I knew #8 already!

Merry Jelinek said...

I did know that Uncle Billy also played Gerald O'Hara... I could watch this movie every year, it is one of my favorites... I didn't know that they thought of 'Melly' to play George's wife..

Funny, I couldn't picture anyone else in these roles... hindsight's twenty twenty.

Happy new Year!

mama jo said...

i think this and 'white christmas' are always the best.

MissKris said...

This is one of my favorites but so is "The Christmas Story". As an adult I can relate to George's desperation. As a child, I could relate to Ralphie's sense of wonder. Both are great, great movies!

Nancy said...


I have been in Indiana, Pennsylvania many times as I live in that State.

Did you know that Jimmy Stewart was born and raised in Indiana,PA?

They are very proud of their native son in that little town and have parks and streets named after him.

'It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the most treasured films ever made.......

Marty said...

I go to PA often...I'm going to have to visit Indiana and honor Jimmy Stewart properly!

The Christmas Story is one of the best. There's a store that sells lamps nearby, and every year there's a leg lamp in the display window.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

We LOVE this movie. We carried out the tradition of the G.B. Award this year and love everything about that movie. Hilarious little Will, too!

moon said...

I knew a few of those but not many lol, I love that movie..and we were all watching it on xmas eve!
Best wishes for you and yours in the New Year!!! BONNE ANÉE!

Rebecca said...

I only knew the answer to "What did he want the Dollars to do?" Oh well. I watch that movie every year. That said, I am glad that is down to one or maybe two showings a season, rather than every time you turn on the TV for the weeks leading up to Christmas. And I also really like the original Miracle on 34th Street.