It's a Wonderful Life

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Bram
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It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Bram » Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:04 pm

This is such a classic Christmas movie, that I assume everyone has seen it before...but I'd never watched it until last night.

A great story, about the importance of our actions in the world. Funny, sad, sweet, and engaging.

10/10
"If we just work hard without complaining, we can become one with Heaven and Earth." - Zen proverb

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Cayenne » Wed Dec 25, 2019 2:36 pm

I have not watched it in some time, but one detail I've thought about many times over the years is when Donna Reed takes Jimmy Stewart to the old, broken-down house that, against his, "travel the world" fantasies, will become their home, and as he ascends the stairs, the post cap of the stairway railing comes off in his hand.

Years later, after renovating the house and raising a family, in a moment of crisis, as he rushes up the steps, the post cap once again comes off in his hand, indicating that with all the demands of life he never got around to fixing it or, never fixed it adequately or perhaps, even though he fixed it, the problem came back.

I have heard 'the existential dilemma" described as being the result of the fact that we are "finite beings in an infinite universe." We can do or have perhaps, almost anything, but we can't do and have everything. We may "get the girl, fix the house, have the kids, have the career, etc." but it may come at the cost of "traveling the world" and even of getting the post cap of the stairway fixed just right.

That "small" moment in the movie is, for me, a potent reminder of that bittersweet reality.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Bram » Thu Dec 26, 2019 4:12 am

Cayenne wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 2:36 pm
I have not watched it in some time, but one detail I've thought about many times over the years is when Donna Reed takes Jimmy Stewart to the old, broken-down house that, against his, "travel the world" fantasies, will become their home, and as he ascends the stairs, the post cap of the stairway railing comes off in his hand.

Years later, after renovating the house and raising a family, in a moment of crisis, as he rushes up the steps, the post cap once again comes off in his hand, indicating that with all the demands of life he never got around to fixing it or, never fixed it adequately or perhaps, even though he fixed it, the problem came back.

I have heard 'the existential dilemma" described as being the result of the fact that we are "finite beings in an infinite universe." We can do or have perhaps, almost anything, but we can't do and have everything. We may "get the girl, fix the house, have the kids, have the career, etc." but it may come at the cost of "traveling the world" and even of getting the post cap of the stairway fixed just right.

That "small" moment in the movie is, for me, a potent reminder of that bittersweet reality.
Hmmm....I took that moment as that he was worrying about the wrong stuff. He had a town that loved him, a kick-ass wife, great kids, and real purpose in his life. But he was tempted to look at the external trappings to define himself. No one in that house cared but him about the loose knob. I think his dream's deferred of traveling and becoming an engineer were sad consequences of his actions, but so much good came out of him thinking of the group over himself.

The message of the movie seemed to be that final quote left by the angel:

"No man can be considered a failure who has friends."
"If we just work hard without complaining, we can become one with Heaven and Earth." - Zen proverb

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by newguy » Thu Dec 26, 2019 4:18 am

Cayenne wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 2:36 pm
That "small" moment in the movie is, for me, a potent reminder of that bittersweet reality.
That's some fucked up shit for Christmas Day.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by motherjuggs&speed » Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:35 am

This movie sucked. It's only considered a classic since no one bothered to renew the copyright, thus making it super cheap for tv stations to air endlessly. Plus it's insidious leftist propaganda. George never got to do what he really wanted but that's okay, the town (collective, party, state) was more important. The capitalist is evil of course and the people who wanted their money out of the bank were bad people and those who left theirs in despite knowing the bank might fail utterly are the good people: "how much do you really need?" Mrs. Bailey asks people, as if it's any of her damned business.

But in a way I almost like it. I like where George is wrecked and he sees that his life has come to nothing. It feels real, and it plays real, since JS was a combat vet at that point and knew something of the darkness. But what changed after Clarence? Everything still sucks, his life was still wasted, but see, everyone wuvs him. It's just a matter of time before he gets hammered drunk again and goes off the bridge. This short read gives some perspective on how JS felt while filming -- https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertai ... olumn.html

I just read the plot to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The ending was even dumber and more contrived than I thought. This movie is an example of mass psychosis. If you showed it to someone who had never heard of it, he'd say it sucks. But it's a classic so everyone loves it. (Like I Love Lucy, which was a bad show with a few good bits. OK, vitameatavegamin. What else ya got?) The leftist message is why IAWL is jammed down our throats. But The Dukes of Hazzard, which was not that good but not bad either, isn't on reruns because the PIC don't want "those people" portrayed as anything but the Klan, or at best deplorables.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by nafod » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:54 pm

But The Dukes of Hazzard, which was not that good but not bad either, isn't on reruns because the PIC don't want "those people" portrayed as anything but the Klan, or at best deplorables.
First, the DOH roll in and out of reruns on CMT and Nashville Network. Don’t ask me how I know.

Second, Boss Hogg = Potter, and Hazzard County = Pottersville. Boss Hogg wanting the Duke Farm = Potter wanting the savings and loan. Bo & Duke are the good hearted people of Hazzard County/Bedford Falls. Think about it.
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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Bram » Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:31 pm

Interesting to read that article...Jimmy Stewart does seem pretty unhinged during the scenes towards the end with his kids. Good for him to channel some of that negative experience and to get back on the horse with acting.

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the movie MJS.
"If we just work hard without complaining, we can become one with Heaven and Earth." - Zen proverb

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by newguy » Mon Dec 30, 2019 3:06 am

Well.... you all need some happiness in your life. Or puppies. Or a Thai woman..... I don't know....

But to MJSs POV...

NOTHING we do matters...

There was a book on happiness. Chasing the Tiger Tail or something. And it made in its own way a very profound distinction between what fulfills us in the short term vs. that long term sense of happiness. And it made the point that people with kids on a moment to moment basis are less happy....but on a deeper long term level are more happy.

We are human. Not wolf. We cannot live for that moment to moment pleasure. I tried that for a two year period (or I've tried that.....) The pursuit of that instant vicarious pleasure is fine but empty.

I don't want to draw too deep of parallels but I've been very drawn to what happened with Anthony Bourdain. We all thought he had this ideal life, travelling place to place, eating wonderful food, drinking, all that.

The point that this chasing the tiger tail book tried to make was that we as humans are made for both a sense of short term fulfillment, but that we also need a long term goal/ideal and some suffering. We are happiest when we suffer in the short term for what we define as a higher purpose.

Maybe George never gets to live the life he wanted.

But maybe that's why he ended up happy.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by motherjuggs&speed » Mon Dec 30, 2019 1:54 pm

There are works which reward close study, like The Conversation or The Godfather. Then there are those which can be dismissed. In the last decade or so people seem to have lost the capacity to discriminate between the two. For example, no Trekkie fails to see the difference between Mirror, Mirror and Spock's Brain. They know the difference without having to be told, but they also know the reasons why that Star Trek went off the rails: Gene Coon left, Roddenberry left, etc. . But fans of Breaking Bad seem to not understand how much the show imploded after season 3. I really like seasons 1-3, but after that it flat sucked. Somehow people also fail to make distinction between popular and good.

With regard to the point about meaning and struggle, people find this so important that they will plug in something utterly meaningless just to fill that receptor. A bad relationship, someone else's agenda, a cult, a political movement, an ideology, you name it. I believe the thing has to hold real meaning, otherwise it's absurd. What is really important to a person? Often people have no meaning in their lives and such people get hijacked by other people or sign up for someone else's mission. I've done both, much to my regret and to the detriment of the world around me. What holds actual value?

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Bram » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:18 pm

newguy wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 3:06 am

There was a book on happiness. Chasing the Tiger Tail or something. And it made in its own way a very profound distinction between what fulfills us in the short term vs. that long term sense of happiness. And it made the point that people with kids on a moment to moment basis are less happy....but on a deeper long term level are more happy.

We are human. Not wolf. We cannot live for that moment to moment pleasure. I tried that for a two year period (or I've tried that.....) The pursuit of that instant vicarious pleasure is fine but empty.

I don't want to draw too deep of parallels but I've been very drawn to what happened with Anthony Bourdain. We all thought he had this ideal life, travelling place to place, eating wonderful food, drinking, all that.

The point that this chasing the tiger tail book tried to make was that we as humans are made for both a sense of short term fulfillment, but that we also need a long term goal/ideal and some suffering. We are happiest when we suffer in the short term for what we define as a higher purpose.
Your comments really strike me because I have poured a lot of effort into maximizing my day-to-day happiness:

I work when I want, stop when I want. I have created time to surf every day, which I love to do! I volunteer because that is supposed to increase happiness, and in my experience it has. I have pursued a career path that has meaning to me, although so far only moderate financial rewards. And I have a good group of friends and family that I care about.

That said, the last 2 months have been filled with a weird sense of anxiety or dread. I feel like it's a combination of neglecting my spirit (I have strived to focus on my mind and body, but have made some choices along the way that have concurrently made me a shittier, more manipulative, and more self-serving person), and by having no long-term goals.

I guess I thought the ends would justify the means: if I was busy with work, surfing well, and having fun with other people then I would achieve some state of joy. But instead there seems to be a hole or lack....

In any event, I appreciate your thoughts, as it highlights the issue in a different way than I was thinking about it.
"If we just work hard without complaining, we can become one with Heaven and Earth." - Zen proverb

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Turdacious » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:21 am

motherjuggs&speed wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:35 am
This movie sucked. It's only considered a classic since no one bothered to renew the copyright, thus making it super cheap for tv stations to air endlessly. Plus it's insidious leftist propaganda. George never got to do what he really wanted but that's okay, the town (collective, party, state) was more important. The capitalist is evil of course and the people who wanted their money out of the bank were bad people and those who left theirs in despite knowing the bank might fail utterly are the good people: "how much do you really need?" Mrs. Bailey asks people, as if it's any of her damned business.

But in a way I almost like it. I like where George is wrecked and he sees that his life has come to nothing. It feels real, and it plays real, since JS was a combat vet at that point and knew something of the darkness. But what changed after Clarence? Everything still sucks, his life was still wasted, but see, everyone wuvs him. It's just a matter of time before he gets hammered drunk again and goes off the bridge. This short read gives some perspective on how JS felt while filming -- https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertai ... olumn.html

I just read the plot to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The ending was even dumber and more contrived than I thought. This movie is an example of mass psychosis.
I remember the movie pretty well, I probably watched it once or twice every year while growing up.

1. Bailey wasn't just a banker, he was in the real estate business, as was Potter. Bailey was more in the development and new construction side, while Potter wanted to buy and own rental properties at a discount rate. Both were capitalists.
2. Banks in the pre-FDIC period were at high risk of failure, and financial types trying to corner the market in various commodities were often the cause, or exacerbated relatively minor problems. The Panics of 1901 and 1907 were examples that were still in the memory of older adult viewers when this film came out. In this case, Potter was trying to corner the residential and commercial retail market, and a big part of his strategy was eliminating competition (like the S&L that Bailey ran and the development of owner occupied homes that Bailey was building). Potter was trying to create a monopoly/oligopoly, while Bailey was creating capitalistic competition. And Bailey was pretty successful (but presumably not successful enough to survive a bank run)-- while he built decent suburban middle class homes, he lived in a nicer fully renovated home in the old money part of town.
3. Bank runs were also still common, and running out of cash could ruin a bank and, by extension, anyone who had a loan with the bank. The viewers of this film, who remembered the Great Depression, would know this. Mrs. Bailey's question was prudent. It was also in her family's financial self interest-- without access to capital, the citizens of Bedford Falls wouldn't be able to buy the homes her husband was developing.
4. The idea that George's life is wasted is ridiculous. He has a family he is responsible for, and obligations to his community-- the idea that it's inevitable that he would give in to selfishness and cowardice rather than responsibility is pretty nihilistic. Why's it unreasonable to think he hardened the fuck up and overcame his momentary weakness to fulfill his obligations (like millions of men who hate their jobs do everyday)? This ethos saves thousands of morons from getting deservedly punched every day.
5. Bailey's dad, who he took the S&L over from, was a capitalist too. He didn't give money away, he made loans based on pretty standard criteria of the time-- Potter had higher standards and demanded more collateral and charged higher rates. Bailey's dad, while not as ambitious and successful as his son, did alright as well. Bailey's dad probably would have done better if he was more frugal like his son (let's be honest-- he wasn't doing well enough to justify hiring a mammy).
6. Fuck Potter-- he stole money that he knew was Bailey's. That's not capitalism, it's outright theft.
5. Save your anger for the remake-- Back to the Future II
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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by DikTracy6000 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:24 pm

Turdacious wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:21 am
motherjuggs&speed wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:35 am
This movie sucked. It's only considered a classic since no one bothered to renew the copyright, thus making it super cheap for tv stations to air endlessly. Plus it's insidious leftist propaganda. George never got to do what he really wanted but that's okay, the town (collective, party, state) was more important. The capitalist is evil of course and the people who wanted their money out of the bank were bad people and those who left theirs in despite knowing the bank might fail utterly are the good people: "how much do you really need?" Mrs. Bailey asks people, as if it's any of her damned business.

But in a way I almost like it. I like where George is wrecked and he sees that his life has come to nothing. It feels real, and it plays real, since JS was a combat vet at that point and knew something of the darkness. But what changed after Clarence? Everything still sucks, his life was still wasted, but see, everyone wuvs him. It's just a matter of time before he gets hammered drunk again and goes off the bridge. This short read gives some perspective on how JS felt while filming -- https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertai ... olumn.html

I just read the plot to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The ending was even dumber and more contrived than I thought. This movie is an example of mass psychosis.
I remember the movie pretty well, I probably watched it once or twice every year while growing up.

1. Bailey wasn't just a banker, he was in the real estate business, as was Potter. Bailey was more in the development and new construction side, while Potter wanted to buy and own rental properties at a discount rate. Both were capitalists.
2. Banks in the pre-FDIC period were at high risk of failure, and financial types trying to corner the market in various commodities were often the cause, or exacerbated relatively minor problems. The Panics of 1901 and 1907 were examples that were still in the memory of older adult viewers when this film came out. In this case, Potter was trying to corner the residential and commercial retail market, and a big part of his strategy was eliminating competition (like the S&L that Bailey ran and the development of owner occupied homes that Bailey was building). Potter was trying to create a monopoly/oligopoly, while Bailey was creating capitalistic competition. And Bailey was pretty successful (but presumably not successful enough to survive a bank run)-- while he built decent suburban middle class homes, he lived in a nicer fully renovated home in the old money part of town.
3. Bank runs were also still common, and running out of cash could ruin a bank and, by extension, anyone who had a loan with the bank. The viewers of this film, who remembered the Great Depression, would know this. Mrs. Bailey's question was prudent. It was also in her family's financial self interest-- without access to capital, the citizens of Bedford Falls wouldn't be able to buy the homes her husband was developing.
4. The idea that George's life is wasted is ridiculous. He has a family he is responsible for, and obligations to his community-- the idea that it's inevitable that he would give in to selfishness and cowardice rather than responsibility is pretty nihilistic. Why's it unreasonable to think he hardened the fuck up and overcame his momentary weakness to fulfill his obligations (like millions of men who hate their jobs do everyday)? This ethos saves thousands of morons from getting deservedly punched every day.
5. Bailey's dad, who he took the S&L over from, was a capitalist too. He didn't give money away, he made loans based on pretty standard criteria of the time-- Potter had higher standards and demanded more collateral and charged higher rates. Bailey's dad, while not as ambitious and successful as his son, did alright as well. Bailey's dad probably would have done better if he was more frugal like his son (let's be honest-- he wasn't doing well enough to justify hiring a mammy).
6. Fuck Potter-- he stole money that he knew was Bailey's. That's not capitalism, it's outright theft.
5. Save your anger for the remake-- Back to the Future II
Damn Turd, you got ALL that from the movie? While I like the movie overall, the Commie undertone is obvious, and Donna Reed is the likely instigator for that. Newguy's comment was dead-on.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by nafod » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:23 pm

DikTracy6000 wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:24 pm
Damn Turd, you got ALL that from the movie? While I like the movie overall, the Commie undertone is obvious, and Donna Reed is the likely instigator for that. Newguy's comment was dead-on.
At about roughly the same time frame, my dad essentially lived in Pottersville. His dad worked for a series of different coal mines (Southwest PA) and for each, they had to live in the company house and shop in the company store. So he moved a bunch of times in the same town, which I thought was weird hearing about it as a kid. Died of black lung complications. Other industries were similarly respectful of the hoi polloi . So I get where the movie’s vibe would come from.
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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by Turdacious » Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:01 am

LOL at the idea that Frank Capra was a leftist or any sort of Commie sympathizer.
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Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Post by JimZipCode » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:03 am

The movie's amazing before Clarence jumps in the river. It's just about the most amazing "slice of life" movie of the 30s & 40s we've ever had. I don't really give a shit about the third act and the alternate history part: but I watch with close attention everything up until then. That's the stuff that makes the movie great.

Another nice point is that on some high-quality prints, if you slow-mo the part where they're dancing in the gym, Donna Reed's skirt flares out as she spins and you can see her stocking tops and thighs. The movie really does have something for the whole family.
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