It's a (Mostly) Wonderful Experience
Look, I'm a big sap. Everybody knows this.
I've seen It's a Wonderful Life about two dozen times, and it always makes me cry. I'm watching it now, and I'm keeping track of everything that chokes me up:
1) Okay, here's young George refusing to deliver the poison capsules Mr. Gower accidentally prepared. Gower is slapping George on his bad ear, and then realizes his mistake.
Apparently, I've got something in my eye.
2) That scene in the building & loan where everyone is withdrawing money. Tom demands $242, but Ed settles for $20, and then Miss Thompson takes $20, and when Miss Davis timidly asks for $17.50, George kisses her on the face. It's sweet, 'cause George and Mary are using their own money to take care of everyone.
This scene makes my cheeks wet.
3) George is coming apart now. He just bitched out his daughter for practicing the piano and now he's apologizing to everyone. To Mary, to Janie, to Pete. "George, why must you torture the children?"
No tears, but there's a lump in my throat.
4) Things are pretty bleak now, but what did you expect? This is a movie about suicide.
Bailey Park is a cemetary. Clarence is telling George that Harry Bailey broke through the ice and drowned at the age of nine. And George says, "That's a lie. Harry Bailey went to war. He got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport." But Clarence tells him, "Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry."
There's definitely something rotten in Pottersville.
5) George is back on the bridge, pleading with Clarence. He wants to go back to his wife and kids. Now he's begging God.
6) Okay, he just found Zuzu's petals. I am watering those petals with some salty tears.
7) George is now shaking hands with the bank examiner. There's a warrant for his arrest, but George just wants to hug his kids. Mary has returned from searching for George. There's never been so much kissing.
Here comes Uncle Billy with a basket of cash. George is in trouble and everyone in town is dumping money in his lap. The bank examiner just threw in some cash and the warrant has been ripped in half. Now Harry is here, toasting George.
"To my big brother George, the richest man in town."
Look, I know the movie has problems. I'm not even convinced Jimmy Stewart can act. But how can you not love a movie with an angel named Clarence Oddbody?
Anybody hear a bell ringing? An angel just got some wings.