I rarely review movies that I genuinely detest, but I’m making an exception in this case. Think of this review as more of a warning than an assessment, if by some chance you have not watched this “classic”. I really dreaded re-watching the public domain issue of this bloated and pedestrian yawner on YouTube, but hey, I would not want to miss out on remembering any of the “lore” in this abomination of a holiday stinker. This will be a short review because there was no snappy dialogue, there were no special memorable scenes and there was no special life changing message to be gleaned from this movie.
Where to begin? This movie was a colossal flop at the box office, but somehow, decades later, Frank Capra’s effort at man’s inhumanity to a movie is a highly revered Christmas tradition. How did this happen? I’ll be damned if I know. This movie is drecky, sappy, overly long and a real burden to watch. This wreck of a movie is the very embodiment of America’s gullibility and willingness to adopt sentimental hogwash, regardless of how unwatchable. IMDB voters have catapulted this movie to an unimaginable 8.7 out of 10,voting it to be one of the greatest movies of all time. I know, unbelievable. Lovers of this “classic” embrace it with a fervor and ferocity not unlike that of tree-killing Alabama Football Fans. A single negative comment on YouTube resulted in a firestorm of shock and hate similar to the outrage exhibited by Confederates over the current occupant of the White House.
For those who may not be familiar with the storyline, George is a small town dreamer who is forced to abandon his dreams to run the family S&L business. George settles down in Bedford Falls, marries his High School sweetheart (Donna Reed) and proceeds to continue to make marginal loans to the local townspeople. Uncle Billy, a drunken incompetent, somehow manages to be trick-bagged out of an $8,000 deposit, by an ancient cripple in a wheelchair, leaving the company to potential ruin. A distraught George is ready to fling himself off a bridge, but is rescued by a bumbling fool of an angel, Clarence, who uses supernatural forces and hallucinations of an alternate universe to force George to experience redemption, return to real time, and witness the town rallying around his misfortune to save the day. Sound familiar? Of course it does, this movie is just a shameful rip-off of of “A Christmas Carol” and Scrooge.
James Stewart, who was wonderful in a movie like The Flight of the Phoenix gives forth the worst performance of his career as the shrill and suicidal hero of this celluloid debacle. Except for the pharmacy scene (Stewart not present), not a single scene in this movie is watchable. Clarence the bumbling angel is so annoying that it is painful to watch, and is at least as watchable as a Jar-Jar Binks. He is simply awful.
What does this movie have to do with Christmas? Not a goat-damned thing, that’s what. Somehow, after decades, this movie is in public domain and the general public not only thinks that it is a Christmas movie, but that it is one of the greatest movies of all time. The movie is tedious, overly long, and just how long does it take for Georgie to realize that Clarence is an angel? As far as George’s original life goes, why does he even bother to salvage it? Did not his original life consistently omit all of his aspirations and dreams, so what sort of a redemption is this? This movie has nothing to do with realism, and the alternate universe town of Pottersville presents a much more likely reality than Bedford Falls, hey I’m here for the popcorn, not the movie.
There are no really memorable scenes in the movie, just two plus hours of corn, but I did enjoy watching George stumble drunkenly around the town after Uncle Billy’s disaster with the bank deposit. As soon as the wingless rescuer and meddler hits the scene, it’s all downhill as Clarence poisons every potentially good subsequent scene with his mere presence.
I hated this movie, on every level and just having to write this review makes ME want to think about jumping off of a bridge. Avoid this movie if you can, you have been warned. A wonderful movie it is not.
Special Ruthless Ratings