My family’s favorite Christmas tradition is the annual Driving of the Father Crazy by Watching the Same Movies Over and Over and Over. The main instrument of torture my wife and daughter employ is It’s a Wonderful Life, a film I enjoyed the first 47 times I watched it, but not as much the last 83 viewings.
Nevertheless, being the effervescent, Capra-esque character that I am, I’m always on the lookout for the proverbial silver lining. And I think I’ve found it in a new book and an old article.
The new book is Joey Green’s delightful Weird & Wonderful Christmas, which details odd customs and craziness that surrounds everyone’s favorite holiday. One of the more fun chapters is trivia regarding It’s a Wonderful Life. For example, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver. Who knew? Joey did! Here’s another one: Although nominated for five Academy Awards, the film was a box-office flop.
Wendell Jamieson takes a different tack in his hysterical New York Times article from 2008, “Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life.” “It’s a Wonderful Life is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people,” he writes, as if speaking directly to me. “It is a story of being trapped, of compromising… of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher, and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.”
I think I’ll reread this during the 131st time we watch the film. Happy holidays!