Much to my horror this Christmas season I learned that half my family hates some of my favorite Christmas movies. I was crushed. Not really, but you know, we’ll pretend.
It turns out where I thought it should be tradition to watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Story’ my family (immediate and extended) didn’t feel the same and decided this year to vomit all over my Christmas movie parade.
I heard words like “schmaltz”, “cheesy,” “overplayed,” “sick of” and “not really my favorite, no” about my favorite movies. Okay, they aren’t my favorite movies really. And okay. I’ll admit it. I don’t want to see the entire movie of either movie. I mean, you can only watch one movie so many times before it’s like “Okay, okay…I get it.” And I hate the ending scene of It’s A Wonderful Life with the little girl saying “Every time a bell rings an angel gets its’ wings.” It’s sort of annoying because it’s been parodied so much.
Still, there are at least three scenes in the movie that I just adore and one of them is one of my favorite scenes in any movie I’ve seen. Whether you have seen the movie or not, I’ll set the stage: George has come to talk to Mary, at the prodding of his mother and he’s pretty down because his brother Harry has come home and it looks like he’s not going to stay and take over the Savings and Loan so George can go to college, like the original plan. Instead, George is going to be stuck at the savings and loan, no education or experience outside his little town under his belt.
He walks off to see Mary, who his mother hopes will lift his spirits (and I’m pretty sure she hopes he’ll realize he loves Mary too). Long story short, George and Mary’s old friend Sam Wainwright calls to talk to Mary but then he wants to talk to George too so they are sharing the old rotary phone – the one where the earpiece is detached from the mouthpiece.
This necessitates George being close to Mary to hear and being close to Mary is the one thing George really doesn’t want because that’s when he starts to realize how much he really wants her. I love the acting in the scene – how you can see Jimmy Stewart’s expression change as he starts to smell her hair, feel him next to her. He wants to kiss her, hold her, not talk to Sam and it’s clear as each moment goes by and Sam continues to prattle on. Mary is starting to notice it too and her face is showing the struggle of her wanting to be close to George too.
Finally, George cracks and he’s holding Mary and she’s crying and he’s telling her he doesn’t want to get married because he doesn’t want to stay in this little town.
“I want to do what I want to do,” he tells her, grasping her shoulders and shaking her.
He’s leaving, he’s not going to stay with her, and he wants her to know that, but he’s saying it more for himself than her because he knows he loves Mary and he knows his love for her will keep him tied down in this little town and will complicate his life even more. And all along, Mary’s mother is crying because her daughter is going to marry a poor man like George instead of the rich businessman, Sam.
I love that scene because it’s so real. It’s a man not wanting to admit he’s in love, instead of the usual schmaltzy romances where the man is going after the woman like a tenth-degree horn dog, so to speak.
According to trivia, I read about the scene, Jimmy Stewart was nervous about filming it because it was his first onscreen kiss since he had returned from World War II. Director Frank Capra guided him and the scene ended up unrehearsed and shot in one take. It worked so well that part of the embrace was too passionate and had to be cut from the movie because it couldn’t get past the censors.
In case you’re curious, my other favorite scenes are when the floor opens up and everyone falls in the pool and when George tells Mary he’ll lasso her the moon if she wants it.
As for A Christmas Story, I’ve rarely gone a Christmas season without watching the scene of him in the mall with Santa and the scene where he beats up the bully. I did not, however, see it this year, so I broke with tradition.
So truly, I wasn’t that offended (that offended) that part of my family doesn’t believe in watching the classics. Two things made me sad about it all, though. One, a lot of people seem to be annoyed with or disenchanted with some old, classic, sweet movies anymore and instead want to watch movies with what I believe often feature unnecessary smut, crudeness, and violence. Two, I miss my Christmas movie watching buddy, my aunt Dianne who I used to watch the favorite scenes of these movies with and who passed away four days after Christmas in 2017. These movies weren’t necessarily her favorite movies either, but we liked the tradition of watching them. More than missing the innocence movies used to show, I miss having that tradition with Dianne, but not as much as I miss just having her here to talk to.
How about you? Do you have favorite movies or at least favorite movie scenes? And do you have any sentimental memories attached to the scenes of movie? Let me know in the comments.
Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.