IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
THE GIST: It’s Christmas Eve and George Bailey (James Stewart) isn’t very happy with his life. He’s in financial trouble with a job he never wanted in the first place. He’s sacrificed his own happiness to make others happy. He can’t take it anymore and he’s ready to take his life. But with Heaven watching, a guardian angel is sent down to stop him. Though before the angel can stop George, the angel needs to find out a bit more about the man he’s trying to save.
NAUGHTY OR NICE: A bit of both. It’s nice in the sense that it gets at a much deeper meaning to Christmas, though takes a bit of a dark, albeit realistic, route to get there.
WHY IT GETS US IN THE SPIRIT: This film is the ultimate Christmas classic. If you have any feeling for the season, you need to see this.
MAGIC MOMENT: The scene when George and Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) fall in love on George’s brother’s graduation night, walking home in the only clothes they could find after falling into the high school pool. It’s so real, it’s so charming.
SANTA SIGHTING: No Santa, but a few starry angels.
ACCOMPANYING CAROL: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Not only is this the song George’s daughter constantly plays leading up the film’s climax, but it’s obviously got metaphorical meaning to the film. And it too is a classic.
PERFECT PRESENT FOR: Those who countdown the days to Christmas on their calendars.