Why 'It's a Wonderful Life' Is Sacred
I fell a little in love with Jimmy Stewart during tenth grade. My English teacher, enamored by the sage lessons of one Sir Alfred Hitchcock, made our year's work deconstructing his films, his methods, his themes. I'd say I had grown noticeably weak in the knees about midway through Vertigo.
He was perfect. A tall drink of water, strong square jaw, earnest eyebrows, and quite the dish, if I may say so myself. But college arrived, and my high school crushes evolved into late-night parties, and, honestly, I forgot about the man.
I had heard my family cracking wise about It's a Wonderful Life at Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. "THAT on again?" they would chuckle and moan. I'd never seen it, and judging by the jeers, I wasn't sure I wanted to.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
One Thanksgiving Eve, at a television not hijacked by football, I settled down and gave it a try. "Can't be that bad," I thought to myself. And then I noticed the actor who was starring in it. None other than my long, lost high school heartthrob.
I watched the movie once, and by Christmas, I was filled with vitriol towards my family.
"What is wrong with that movie? It's, like, the best movie EVER!" Still, they laughed. Was there something I wasn't seeing, or were they just jaded by the passage of time, the repetition? I didn't care. Say what they did, It's a Wonderful Life was on my Top 5 list to stay.
A few years later, after having recounted the unspeakable abuse I suffered at the hands of my family, my best friend at the time, Laurie, reached out and picked me up the 65th Anniversary Edition on DVD for Christmas. Best gift I've ever received (hear that, family? the BEST GIFT ). And I've watched it yearly for the past fifteen years solid, even though it's in black-and-white, my family razzes me, and most of the actors are no longer with us.
But the theme of the movie has withstood the test of time, and will continue to do so...
...until the sequel comes out.
What's that you say? Sequel? How ever could there be a sequel to, like, the greatest movie EVER? I know, right? There's no Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (and a Couple of Redheads) or Titanic 2. I mean, even, Star Wars...
Okay. You got me there. Great movies do have sequels, some of which are as good, if not better, than the originals. But can you truly breathe new life into a 67-year-old movie? Would It's a Wonderful Life 2: Electric Boogaloo ever achieve Batman: The Dark Knight notoriety? I mean, even Karate Kid didn't really come back until the third movie.
I also realize we're living in a franchise world, with the Harry Potters and the Katniss Everdeens and the multiple scenic tours of Forks. But here's something you need to understand: these stories were made for multiple installments. It's a Wonderful Life was not. George Bailey and his family lived happily ever after in Bedford Falls. End of story. That's all we need to know.
And, yes, I understand the concept of the sequel. George Bailey's ungrateful grandson gets taught a lesson he'll never forget about love, family, and - oh, I don't remember because I couldn't hear anything above the sound of Frank Capra turning over in his grave.
Listen, some things in this country are considered sacred - like baseball, Radio Flyers, and McDonald's french fries. Some things you just don't mess with. It's a Wonderful Life is one of those things.
Besides the fact it's already getting panned (and, honestly, do you blame them?), it just sounds tacky. If you're going to go that route, just send it straight to the Hallmark Channel. Don't let it die out in public for all to see, to have it thumbed up and thumbed down and have rotten tomatoes thrown at it.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the film still lacks a producer and a director. Let's hope it stays that way. If you must, and I beg for you to reconsider, Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions, give the movie some grace. Give it some dignity. Because what you're proposing is to subtly crush the fabric of this country . Actors simply no longer exist at the caliber of James Stewart and Donna Reed, and I don't know about you, but I'd rather not be held up beside the best of the best.