|Chicago’s fantastic Music Box Theater.|
Last Friday, Andrea and Will took me out on the town — dinner and a movie.
It wasn’t just any movie, it was Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. (Donna Reed was delicately beautiful and her clothes were stunning, just saying. . .)
This evening has now become a holiday tradition for them. For almost a decade now, a group of friends meet for dinner and then stroll down the street to the 85-year-old Music Box Theater to see this wonderful film. Andrea told me that one of the best nights ever was three years ago when they walked out of the theater and it was snowing and as they passed a newspaper distributor, they discovered that a short story written by Will was published in that day’s edition. (Those sorts of serendipitous moments do feel like little miracles don’t you think?)
|Donna Reed and James Stewart in one of their many passionate clinches in the movie.|
Tickets are ordered in advance, seats are reserved and everyone tries to remember to bring a bell or two along for the Christmas carols the audience sings before the screening. A man in a red bow tie plays the organ, professional singers (one dressed as Santa and sits atop the organ) lead the sing along, and lyrics are projected onto the screen for those pesky third and fourth verses we somehow never memorized. I haven’t had this much holiday fun in years.
|Stewart with his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers), who ultimately convinces him why it’s a wonderful life.|
In the movie we are told that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. So, as you can imagine, there was a great deal of enthusiastic bell ringing throughout the evening.
I think this is my third viewing of the film, once when I was a little girl with my father and the second time decades later.
Although it has always been billed as a Christmas tale of hope, love and salvation, the holiday is really the “hook” for the messages it extolls. I wasn’t alone walking out teary, happy and hopeful.
|Lionel Barrymore plays the avaricious Scrooge character to great effect.|
Described, back in the day as a “fantasy comedy-drama” it is considered one of the greatest films of all time and was nominated for five Academy Awards including best film.
For the last several days I haven’t been able to stop ruminating about the evening, the movie, the messages and the importance of family traditions.
Sometimes I think we tend to minimize, even ridicule the obvious and revere the intellectual. In other words we’re told we should work for our inspirations, sort of like those who maintain that the Impressionists are “easy” and therefore less important (?) How crazy is that?
The French have a saying I love: “Why make it simple when you can make it complicated?”
No doubt about it, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a simple film. Ah, but is it. . .?
Here then is a list of the very human subjects addressed in this “easy” and wonderful film:
Love (of course)
Passion (a surprising amount of serious kissing, especially for that epoch)
The wonders of family
The true spirit of Christmas
Pride (in a good way)
Meals at table with the family accompanied by conversation
Snow. . .
Just for fun, click here for 25 things we didn’t know about It’s a Wonderful Live.
A demain, mes très, très chers amis.