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It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story?
2006-12-24 22:18
by Jon Weisman

I'm probably in the minority now, but it's Life for me. Not that it doesn't have light moments, but the intensity in this film that some call overrated is so underrated. It is so strong. It is a wonderful movie.

A Christmas Story is fine - it has its fun, but it's mostly a trifle for me now. I saw it in the theater when it came out and liked it (it wasn't nearly as popular then as now), but now I think the hype has gone a little far.

How many of you disagree?

2006-12-25 17:44:11
1.   Marty
IAWL is by far the better movie. But both suffer from over exposure. Christmas Story is particularly over-played at the moment.

I watched It's a Wonderful Life last night on NBC. I swear there was more commercial time than movie time.

2006-12-25 17:45:04
2.   Marty
DzrtRat has a good post at his blog on It's a Wonderful Life.

2006-12-25 18:49:16
3.   D4P
Funny, I was thinking earlier today that these two are my top two Christmas movies, with IAWL coming out on top. I've liked ACS since the very beginning, and liked it better before it was discovered by the masses. But it's still a great movie.
2006-12-25 21:13:35
4.   Sushirabbit
Of those two, It's a Wonderful Life.

Also, I love the Lion in Winter : What shall we hang, the holly or each other?

Midnight Clear, too.

2006-12-25 21:36:23
5.   Bob Timmermann
An ex-girlfriend of mine who loved "It's a Wonderful Life" kidded me once by saying that if I hadn't met her, I would just have been a lonely guy who had to close up the library.
2006-12-25 22:14:50
6.   Bob Timmermann
Oh, and "It's a Wonderful Life" is by far the better of the two films.
2006-12-25 22:37:00
7.   ToyCannon
Thanks for the link. I've always thought IAWL was one of the greatest movies ever made. My favorite Christmas movie was the Bill Murray take on Scrooge.
2006-12-26 06:51:01
8.   D4P
On some level, it's probably not "fair" to compare the two.

1. Almost strictly a "Christmas" movie
2. A comedy
3. Light-hearted subject, not intended to be overly profound

1. Only nominally a "Christmas" movie. Upon closer inspection, most of the movie takes place outside of Christmas, and Christmas really has no meaningful relation to the plot
2. A drama, though not devoid of humor
3. Serious subject, intended to be profound

2006-12-26 07:48:36
9.   mikethinksblue
Somehow I've never managed to see It's a Wonderful Life in my 34 years. I don't even know what it's about. Kinda like Jerry Seinfeld's character never having seen an episode of I Love Lucy, it's just never happened.
2006-12-26 08:57:22
10.   Benaiah
IAWL is one of those movies that just sticks with you. The entire movie is so down, and so even though the ending is a pure Hollywood, I end up wiping away a tear every time I see it. I don't think you could make a better film that sentimental and I love the theme that the community couldn't function without its one great man.
2006-12-26 12:58:16
11.   El Lay Dave
8 Very well put. If I may add:

1. Frank Capra
2. James Stewart

1. Bob Clark
2. (anyone in the cast would acknowledge being humbled by the comparison)

2006-12-26 14:49:31
12.   aloofman
Although I agree that both are way over-exposed, I'm going to buck the trend and say ACS. IAWL has a fine message and is well-made, but in the end I'm not repeatedly entertained by it like I am by ACS.
2006-12-26 14:56:32
13.   Robert Fiore
I must take issue with El Lay Dave on the key elements in A Christmas Story, which are Jean Shepherd, Jean Shepherd and Jean Shepherd. Bob Clark's achievement is in translating a very difficult to translate author to the screen, even though he did descend to hokeyness at various points. I don't think it would have worked without Peter Billingsley.

The particular appeal of A Christmas Story is that it's about the holiday as it's actually experienced. Rather than immerse us in syrupy transformations, it deals with the true meaning of Christmas: What's under the tree. The father is like an actual father, the mother is like an actual mother, the family members relate to each other like a real family does. There's no melodrama going on, it's just everyday life. It touches a chord because it evokes the family feeling in its most positive yet everyday aspect, and the extraordinary delight small children take in the stuff you give them.

Though the theme is ostensibly Christian, It's a Wonderful Life is a challenge to what the average believer finds to be the biggest raw deal in the Bible, the Prodigal Son, and its pitch on behalf of the Dutiful is a major factor in its appeal.

2006-12-26 22:25:27
14.   bhsportsguy
Watching President Bush bopping is head while a bad face-lifted Kenny Rogers sings Islands in the Stream is what Christmas is all about.

I will always love A Charlie Brown Christmas but this version of the classic is pretty good too.

2006-12-26 22:57:53
15.   Linkmeister
I hadn't seen "Life" in a while until the other night. I'd forgotten just how dark it was. "Story" is a hoot, but as Mr. Fiore says, it's a representation of Everyman's Christmas. I'll bet many of us have had parents tell us we couldn't have that BB gun. (For obvious reasons, in some cases; my next door neighbor once shot a hole into a portable TV screen trying to kill a Nazi soldier who was sneaking up on one of the "Combat" guys.) "Story" is Jean Shepherd at his comic best.

"Life" is a moral tale, something Capra knew how to do (think of the "Why We Fight" films he put out during WW2).

2006-12-27 09:41:19
16.   Benaiah
15 - It is very dark. It is a movie about the suppression of your dreams for the greater good. It reminds me of Unbearable Lightness of Being where they talk about the dichotomy being "lightness", where a person is free and unattached, and "heaviness", where someone is concerned with reality and connected. It is the free dream world versus the difficult real world. George Bailey wants to be light, but ultimately discovers the importance of the weight he carries. Still, not a lot of movies shown around the holidays show characters about to commit suicide.
2006-12-27 14:15:14
17.   MadMonk
It's a Wonderful Life is the better movie but ACS is the more entertaining one. ACS is getting overplayed like IAWL used to be.

I like the Bill Murray's Scrooge as well.

2007-01-02 10:26:13
18.   dzzrtRatt
Thanks, Marty, for pointing to my IAWL post!

I realize this response is so late no one will read it, but just in case:

I agree that IAWL is really not a Christmas movie, but I'm happy they only show it once a year now. When I first saw it, they were airing it in chopped up versions on every channel -- endangering it in many ways. Now it's a special event, like The Wizard of Oz used to be.

I've always been a big fan of A Christmas Story, but I admit that after repeated viewings, it's grown a bit tired. However, I will still always laugh at the lamp sequence, which is a brilliant set-piece all its own.

One superb Christmas movie I never saw this Christmas: The original "The Bishop's Wife."

One superb Christmas movie I saw frequently on TMC: "Meet Me in St. Louis."

One superb Christmas movie I saw on a VCR this Christmas, but not on TV: "Christmas in Connecticut."

One awful Christmas movie that was played incessantly: "Miracle on 34th Street."

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