Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Xmas Gag Gift 3: Is it really such a Wonderful Life?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 9:22 PM

For a beloved holiday classic, something about It’s a Wonderful Life seems to really stick in movie-goers’ collective craw. Maybe it’s because the inequities and injustices of American life seem so close to the surface. Everyman George Bailey sacrifices his dreams to fight the good fight in Bedford Falls, and almost loses everything to his Uncle Billy’s idiocy. Atlanta playwright Steve Murray, who penned a one-man adaptation of the show in 2005, commented on the darkness of the work by saying, “It's got alcoholism, child abuse, attempted suicide -- and a spectacularly intense performance by Jimmy Stewart. The movie is uplifting, sure, but it earns it the hard way.”

Theatrical Outfit’s “radio play” version of the material (reviewed here) simply celebrates the work, but satires of It’s a Wonderful Life can cut Frank Capra's vision to the quick. Gary Kamiya’s classic Salon article “All Hail Pottersville” suggests that the nightmarish version of Bedford Falls sans George Bailey might be more fun than the real thing (and is certainly more diverse). The comic strip “Sheldon” gives Uncle Billy some much-needed tough love. And is there anybody who hasn’t seen “Saturday Night Live’s” classic “Lost Ending to It’s a Wonderful Life” sketch? It seems scarcely necessary to embed it, but you can watch it here.

Instead of that one, I’ll offer this clip that David Lee uncovered, which suggests that George Bailey's dark side is closer to the surface than we might suspect. There's trouble in Bedford Falls ...

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