Merry Christmas, Mr. Movie House
And Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this thing.
Most of you have probably seen Clare’s superb tribute to It’s a Wonderful Life already, but if you haven’t, that’s my Christmas gift to you. After it was posted at the beginning of the week, some friends and I were talking about it. As Clare reads the movie, George Bailey’s moral greatness is partly a product of Mary’s vision of him: she sees a potential in him that he doesn’t, and at several important points pushes him in the right direction. (This is one reason why, for Clare, there’s no “Mary problem” in the film: it’s not that her life would be so bereft without “a man” but that she chooses him, and everything that comes with him. In an important sense she makes him.) And it makes sense that in a film so focused on the necessity of a whole social web, of interpersonal love and loyalty, greatness would ultimately be something we ultimately derive from each other—a kind of common property. My friend Olivia quoted the line “your money is in Joe’s house and jack’s house and the house next door to you.” Harry’s greatness (his war heroism) is in George, who saves his life; George’s is in Mary. Where did Mary’s come from? It’s outside the scope of the film, but it didn’t start with her, either.
God bless y’all!