Golden Oldies On the Big Screen Golden Oldies On the Big Screen




For, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015

Even if you've seen "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946, b/w) a dozen times, it can still pull you in. And if you've never seen it on the big screen, now's your chance. It's even more powerful when you don't have the distractions of home viewing.

The classic Frank Capra film is about the life of George Bailey (James Stewart), a desperate man contemplating suicide when an angel rescues him and gives him an opportunity to see what the world would have been like if he'd never been born.

It's a startlingly resonate concept, even in the cynical 21st century, and Stewart is perfect as the everyman who tries to break away from his small town life to see the world but repeatedly lets family obligations, and loyalty to friends and neighbors, get in the way.

Naturally, George ultimately discovers that nothing the world has to offer can match the devotion of loved ones. And the fact that the film is largely set against the backdrop of Christmas only makes it resonate more.


         Donna Reed, James Stewart, 'It's a Wonderful Life'

There are always elements of nuance or visual gags or background images or ominous foreshadowing that are lost on a TV screen, even if you have one that boasts 60 or 70 inches. And if the phone rings or the doorbell announces a visitor, the mood is broken.


But in a theater, you get sucked into the story, participate in the experience, and allow your emotions to cut loose as you laugh and cry (bring Kleenex), even while trying to surreptitiously wipe away tears.

It's a singular experience and few movies can sweep you away like "It's a Wonderful Life."


This is Capra at his finest and he has packed the film with first-rate character players (including many handpicked from his regular stock company), each one delivering a great performance — Donna Reed as sweet Mary, Lionel Barrymore as greedy Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as distracted Uncle Billy, Gloria Grahame as sexy Violet, Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as … wait for it … the inimitable Bert & Ernie, Beulah Bondi as George's mother, and, of course, Henry Travers as the delightful apprentice angel Clarence.

I know, I know, you've seen it a thousand times; it's shown over and over around the holidays. But there's something about this movie that pulls you in all the same. And watching it front to back in a darkened theater with no distractions elevates and expands the experience, even if you think you know it well.

Charming, funny, warm, heartbreaking, romantic, smart and ultimately uplifting, "It's a Wonderful Life" is guaranteed to bring a bit of joy in your heart.

If you've never seen "It's a Wonderful Life" on a movie screen, check it out on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m., or Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 2 or 7 p.m., at a local Cinemark Theater (it’s playing at quite a few all around the country). And if you miss those, it will have a special encore on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec. 24, at 2 and 7 p.m.