Well, you look about the kind of angel I’d get. Sort of a fallen angel, aren’t you? What happened to your wings?

Who can forget that famous movie line from the downtrodden George in the perrenial Christmas favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life?

Directed by Frank Capra (nickname Capra-corn, for the Hollywood fluff he was criticized as creating) in 1946 and starring the convincingly vulnerable Jimmy Stewart, many feel this classic is the most inspirational movie ever made. And with good reason.

It's a Wonderful Life posterRife with the core values of life – compassion, selflessness and self-worth – and hinged upon an angel earning his wings by showing the film’s protaganist, George Bailey (Stewart), the error of his ways, this beautifully shot classic earnestly aims for no other place than the heart.

Starting at the opening scenes of his pending suicide at a bridge, the film flashes back through George’s life from saving the life of his brother who had fallen through a hole in the ice after a sledding incident costing him the hearing in one ear, through his intervening to prevent a shopkeeper from innocently poisoning a child, and, then his refusal to sell his father’s unprofitable savings and loan company to Bedford Fall’s dominant financeer, Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore). We quickly learn George wants to help everybody, and does, and his principle-driven life and altruism dictates, at least is his own mind, that he is fated to never become successful.

Temporarily in charge of the family business until his brother, Harry (Todd Karns), returns home after being away for a number of years, George learns Harry will not be assuming leadership of the family business. Desperately wanting to leave his hometown and therefore his dismal future behind, George finally settles into a conventional life falling in love with, and marrying Mary (Donna Reed), an attractive yet unremarkable woman from town. More of the kindness and compassion of Bailey shines through as he eeks out a meagre living over the years supporting a loving home and the couple’s four children.

Potter despises George for his selflessness and is hell bent on driving him out of business. An error on the books made by George’s Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), leaves the S & L on the brink of collapse and we witness a huge swallowing of pride as George begs Henry for a temporary loan. Scoffed at and booted out of Potter’s office, we watch George uncharacteristically lash out at his family and head out in a blizzard back to the bridge only to meet up again with his angel.

Clarence then shows our hero what life-would-have-been-like-without-George. Among other things, Harry would have died as a child and never been a war hero. Bedford Falls would have been renamed Pottersville. Mary would have remained a spinster librarian, unhappy at best. At this heart-opening moment, George races home, revitalized, to find the townpeople he had helped so much over his lifetime had come together to now help him, pooling the money to take care of the debt.

We all have our angels (inner voices) and we’d all be a lot happier if we just listened to them as George eventually did.

No greater inspirational family film will ever be made. Gather the family and watch It’s a Wonderful Life, simply, because it’s wonderful!

Inspirational movie review by Rick Beneteau

Rick Beneteau
Rick Beneteau is co-founder of Modern Day Mastery.
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