This classic film comes round every Christmas. Some of the audience revisit an old favourite; some taste its pleasures for the time. After over six decades of success one would think that there is nothing left to say or write about this film. But, just as it finds new fans, it also stimulates fresh insights and comments. With an unusual stance Sandy Irvine in Picturing a Planet in Peril (Introducing Green Issues to Film Studies in Splice Volume 3 issue 2, Spring 2009) writes:
“Take, for example, the popular evergreen It’s a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra, released in 1945. The major driving force in environmental destruction is simply human overpopulation, and George Bailey [James Stewart] and his wife [Donna Reed] generously contribute to the population boom by parenting four children, instead of just ‘replacing’ themselves with two (indeed, in real life, actress Donna Reed was a mother of four).”
This aspect possibly escapes most members of the audience. And I am sure that you can enjoy the film and not worry about population during its screening. There is an unexpressed assumption here. That George should follow in his parent’s virtuous footsteps: not just by taking on the Building and Loan Society, but also in only fathering two children: in their case George and his brother Harry (Todd Karns).
I have to confess that I would have been hard put to name the four Bailey children. I looked it up, Janie Bailey (Carol Combs), Pete Bailey (Jimmy Hawkins), Tommy Bailey (Larry Simms), Zuzu Bailey (Karolyn Grimes). However, I could name Clarence’s (Henry Travers) favourite book, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. And I could identify one of Uncle Bill’s (Thomas Mitchell) pets as a squirrel.
So if you have a new insight over the coming week why not post a comment?