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There are scenes that looked familiar, but at the end of the day, I am quite sure I never consciously watched this film. Strange, given it is a classic Christmas movie not just for US television, but surely in all other countries that have a taste for emotional approaches to the fest of love. This film stars James Stewart in a role that he is perfect for: the fundamentally good person, sometimes caving in under pressure and releasing some nasty character aspects, but in this only becoming more human and allowing for all the sympathy in the world when things go pear-shaped around his company and his life. The narrative structure appears a bit odd, as the story would, I think at least, be equally powerful without the intro and the interludes in heaven (or in the sky, as it is). I imagined a “Sunset Boulevard” moment in the writers’ room (which was in this case maybe just Frank Capra’s study), when somebody came up with the idea of adding a “Before the Play” episode so that the angel that is supposed to show up later on is easier to understand even if your belly is full of Christmas roast and your senses slightly dimmed after excessive mulled wine consumption. But without doubt the film still has great charm and quality, and even after more than half a century is a heart-warming story about true values.

Dont’s miss’s interesting approach to the film: “He finally knows the world as it really is, what his friends are capable of, the dark potential coiled in each of them.” – which is true, this film does not have a happy ending as such. What it has is spelling out one alternative, waiting for the darker side of things and people to come up again later.

One Comment

  1. I concur with you on the mis-placement of the “sky” scene. Either it should be full-bore, including multiple instances of Clarence talking to his superiors and ending with their evaluation of his performance, or it shouldn’t be shown at all. My preference would be that it comes back during the credits (very 21st-century, with a partial screen of that discussion and the credits scrolling). Nonetheless, I am a complete and total sucker for the emotional tugs. I don’t see the foreboding of evil within all those people, but rather see that, given a chance and an example, people can be good, though it is not in their nature….

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