I read the headline, “Best Christmas movie ever? Not so fast” (Dec. 7), and wondered how anyone could dislike the film, “It’s a Wonderful LIfe.” Then I read the commentary and I understood — Eric Heavner, obviously hasn’t seen the movie. George Bailey doesn’t save “a friend” from drowning. He doesn’t own a bank. And the denouement doesn’t take place on Christmas Day. These aren’t minor quibbles over movie trivia — these items drive major plot points in the story.
That aside, I was amused to read that Mr. Heavner finds the movie “too dark,” compared to one of his preferred holiday films, “A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens’ classic describes grinding poverty, a chance for love and family discarded in the scramble for material gain, and a small disabled boy who’s going to die because his father is poor. George Bailey’s despair leads to his briefly contemplating suicide, yet this is somehow worse than Ebeneezer Scrooge mocking those he describes as “surplus population?” I think Mr. Heavner and I have different definitions of “dark.”
Mr. Heavner thinks George is a failure because he never realized the dreams of his youth, and he then goes on to miss the point of ZuZu’s petals. When George finds them in his pocket, it means he still has Zuzu, his family, and a wife who loves him. Lending to “impecunious borrowers” has, in fact, paid enormous profits. In part because of the life he has led, George now lives in a town where people care about and look out for each other. These are the things that make his life wonderful, not the chance for travel and college and building skyscrapers he dreamed of as a young man.
If Mr. Heavner wants to truly understand It’s a Wonderful Life, I encourage him to put together a box of canned goods and head over to the Senator on Dec. 22. If he can’t bring himself to watch the movie, he should watch the audience instead. Watch the smiles, the tears and the laughter. The other films he mentions in his piece are favorites of mine, too. But if shown at the Senator just before Christmas Eve, would they draw the same sized crowd? Would they evoke the same emotional response?
Steve English, Clarksville
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