For a beloved holiday classic, something about Itâs a Wonderful Life seems to really stick in movie-goersâ collective craw. Maybe itâs 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 Billyâs 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, âIt'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.â
Theatrical Outfitâs âradio playâ version of the material (reviewed here) simply celebrates the work, but satires of Itâs a Wonderful Life can cut Frank Capra's vision to the quick. Gary Kamiyaâs classic Salon article âAll Hail Pottersvilleâ 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 âSheldonâ gives Uncle Billy some much-needed tough love. And is there anybody who hasnât seen âSaturday Night Liveâsâ classic âLost Ending to Itâs a Wonderful Lifeâ sketch? It seems scarcely necessary to embed it, but you can watch it here.
Instead of that one, Iâll 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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