Merry and bright.


What, you’ve never seen a Hanukkah parade before? Fifty cars with electric menorahs on top, including, of course, the traditional Hummer limo.

Just another December night in Oak Park, Mich. Happy Hanukkah.

Thought I’d stop in and throw a little holiday bloggage your way.

The gauzy Currier-and-Ives veil Capra drapes over Bedford Falls has prevented viewers from grasping what a tiresome and, frankly, toxic environment it is. When Marx penned his immortal words about “the idiocy of rural life,” he probably had Bedford Falls in mind. B.F. is the kind of claustrophobic, undersized burg where everybody knows where you’re going and what you’re doing at all times. If you’re a Norman Rockwell collector, this might not bother you, but it should — and it certainly bothered George Bailey. It is all too easily forgotten that George himself wanted nothing more than to shake the dust of that two-bit town off his feet — and he would have, too, if he hadn’t gotten waylaid by a massive load of family-business guilt and a happy ending engineered by God himself. Gary Kamiya says what I’ve always thought — Pottersville isn’t THAT bad a place.

And remember a few days ago, when Slate called “My Humps” a song so bad “as to veer toward evil?” Darlin’s, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Posted at 8:13 pm in Uncategorized |

7 responses to “Merry and bright.”

  1. MarkH said on December 27, 2005 at 1:07 am

    I suppose I could take Mr. Kamiya’s tome in the spirit it was meant if he knew his movie facts.

    Even non-fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life” know Bert was the COP, and ERNIE was the cabdriver. Also (I digress), ERNIE was not taking them to their bridal suite in the abandoned house. He was taking George and Mary to the train on their way to a honeymoon in Bermuda when they got waylayed by the run on the bank. They only ended up at the house when George gave all the honeymoon money to his depositors to save the Building and Loan, and Mary engineered the wedding night.

    Also, Mr. Kamiya looks at the movie with a rearview mirror; a vision completely surrounded by the trappings of modern life. Thus, he misses the point. George wasn’t only different from everyone else in Bedford Falls, he was way ahead of his time. Everyone else wanted to stick around and only George was hell-bent to get out. Back then, that was pretty rare. As Uncle Billy said, “no one ever changes around here, you know that”. It seems only Sam Wainwright was successful in extricating himself from Bedford Falls, and profitably, too. The movie is a genuine product of it’s time, the 1930’s and ’40’s.

    Yes, I’m prejudiced; I’m one of the 250 million who watched it on Christmas Eve. I knew those people. The whole film has the feel of the little town outside Pittsburgh where my parents were from, with all the grandparents, oddball aunts, uncles and cousins, corner drugstore, local bar, and yes, a Potter-type town baron. I feel about this film they way Brian Stouder (and many others) feel about “The Wizard of Oz”. Each viewing brings a sense of renewal.

    Pottersville “not THAT bad”, Nancy? I’ll pass by his Ayn Rand analogy, and go straight to the Trumpville comparison. Kamiya has a point there. If that would be a natural transgression, that would indeed be a nightmare. And that makes Pottersville “THAT bad”.

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  2. Nance said on December 27, 2005 at 1:34 am

    Um, I think the piece was tongue-in-cheek.

    (Although I, too, hate towns like B.F.)

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  3. Danny said on December 27, 2005 at 10:54 am

    The “B.F.” abbreviation was not lost on me. I think there is one in Egypt too :).

    For the record, though I love Wonderful Life, my favorite Christmas movie of all time is the 1951 “A Chrsitmas Carol” with Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Superb.

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  4. MarkH said on December 27, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    I realize that, Nance.

    It’s just that he indulged himself so much, I had to respond as I did.

    BTW, B.F. towns aren’t so bad as long as you haven’t sunk irretrievably into cynicism.

    Danny, I agree. It is the best af all versions of Scrooge films and certainly set the stage for IAWL.

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  5. MarkH said on December 27, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    uh..check that. I obviously meant the original Dickens story, not the 1951 film, which was made after IAWL. Earlier versions could have set the stage as well, though. Happy New Year!

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  6. brian stouder said on December 28, 2005 at 9:46 am

    Speaking of Detroit Decembers and so on, I got a great book for Christmas called The People�s Tycoon; Henry Ford and the American Century. I keep thinking of Nance as I read it (I�m only about 150 pages in so far), as all the place names are now hers (mainly featuring, of course, Dearborn, Detroit, and Grosse Pointe, and the various streets where this or that rented house or machine shop was, and so forth). Fort Wayne even popped up, when they discussed the investors in Henry�s first �go� at creating a car company (the Detroit Automobile Company).

    I saw the author, Steven Watts, on C-SPAN a few weeks back, and he gave a lively talk � and the book hasn�t disappointed. I highly recommend it � especially for people who live in or near Detroit

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  7. Richard N. / Toronto said on January 1, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Mona & I made a back-roads trip in 2001 that took us to the upstate New York town of Seneca Falls. S.F.’s main claim to fame (I mean, besides being in one of the prettiest parts of the United States) is that it’s where the Declaration of Women’s Rights was issued in 1848 – memorialized by what must be the smallest National Park. But S.F.’s second claim to fame is that it’s the model of Bedford Falls. You can even walk (as I did) over the bridge that George jumped from.

    The one thing I remember about S.F. is that double espresso I bought there was horrid. What did I expect?

    But here’s a rhetorical question for you, kind of in between the positions of the Slate writer and commenters above: if Capra was so fond of “Bedford Falls”, why did he live in Los Angeles? For the same reason, of course, that most of us prefer large cities to small towns.

    By the way, while I’m not an uncritical fan of Capra-corn, some of his movies are among my favourites. It’s probably appropriate that my very favourite he didn’t write: You Can’t Take It with You, where the schmaltz he loved was barely visible against the wit of the original play.

    All the best from slushy Toronto!

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