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To see a simple English version of reviews about some of the movies, click on the  ESL section of Midnight Oil.

Entries in James Stewart (2)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)


It’s a Wonderful Life is the kind of film everyone loves to see (and see again) no matter what time of year it is. It seems like the more things change, the more a film like this stays the same. It provides a kind of film-watchers’ comfort food as we hurtle at breakneck speed through the ensuing decades of personal, societal, and cinematic  evolution. Perhaps some of us are not so sure anymore of why exactly we like this movie, how the tradition of watching it got started or if the film is really all that good in the first place. We know that it’s a part of a well-worn tradition (like eating fruitcake and turkey giblet gravy at Christmas). For that reason, if for no other, we are bound to see it again some time.

There’s just something terribly likeable about that everyman character, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart). It’s not that he’s all that good looking or extremely clever or exceptionally charming or anything else. He’s just supposed to be an ordinary “nice guy”. In this big old mean old world, even nice guys can have some pretty big problems. At a certain point, George’s charmed life comes crashing in upon him and he finds himself about to jump off a bridge to put an end to it all. George Bailey wonders out loud if his life has really been worth living. A guardian angel (played by Henry Travers) is immediately dispatched from the heavenly realms in order to put things to rights. With the help of the unearthly messenger, George comes to realize that his life has had a tremendous impact, not only on his immediate family members, but on the whole community.

Wholesome is a good word to describe this film. It’s not a type of picture that you would see made today. Maudlin might be another word employed by some detractors of the film who would have little patience for such a cinematic work. But then, such people might not really appreciate how things work and what exactly goes on around the family dinner table each Christmas at our house. There are just certain dishes that Mother makes for every Christmas dinner (like the orange jellied salad or the buttered spicy squash). If you come as a guest for the dinner every year, you know that you are going to have to eat those dishes. It does no good to complain. You might as be reconciled with the traditional menu offering and find the virtues of the said salad. You’ll enjoy things a lot more if you do. And after all, what’s so bad about being good? Milk is wholesome too. It can be quite pleasant if you are used to it. And you would probably miss it if you could no longer have it. That’s kind of how I feel about “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

>>Not so Real Life: Sarah takes a chance on striking out in a new direction. Dealing with disappointments

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

See the three minute summary of "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946). Also see the scene where George lassos the moon.



Shenandoah (1965)

“Shenandoah” (1965) IMDb with James Stewart playing the lead role provides a less than usual perspective on the American Civil War. The film tells the story of a well ensconced Virginian farming family caught up in the latter part of the Civil War. Stewart, as Charlie Anderson, vehiculates a pragmatic pacificism about a mean and dirty war that now encroaches on his land and his family. Anderson himself is not undergirded by a particularly robust morality about the war nor about his position on pacificism. He finds himself fighting a losing battle even though he technically remains “out of the war”.

The Uncivil War episode offered by Saturday Night at the Movies pairs Ride with the Devil” (1995) IMDb with this movie classic from 1965. SNAM’s interviewed guests bring out the relationship of “Shenandoah” with American sentiments of the day concerning young American men snatched up into the war in Vietnam and the accompanying anger, confusion and sense of helplessness on the part of those at home.

 >>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

See the SNAM preview for The Uncivil War here. Dig in to the background for the films through the Interviews on The Uncivil War with experts on the period.

Catch the video trailer for “Shenandoah” (1965) here.

visit videodetective.com for more info