Until last night, I had never participated in the time-honored tradition of viewing "It's a Wonderful Life." Todd, aghast at the possibility that he had married a philistine, bumped the film to the top of his Netflix queue, and it arrived just in time for Christmas. The general message of the film - should there be other philistines reading this blog - is that every person matters, and we never really know how much good we do, or how many lives we touch. An easy sentiment to sell, obviously, though that being said I do think it's a good film, with a remarkably strong script and well-directed, extremely fine acting.
The second half of the film involves George - the discouraged, suicidal protagonist - being shown by his guardian angel how different life would be for many people in his hometown had he never been born. The many predicable tragedies include the death of George's brother at age 8 and the town's descent into poverty and vice under the thumb of the Evil Capitalist Rich Man whose empire is only kept in check by George's humble savings and loan. All well and good. But what of the George's loving wife Mary? Had our hero never been born, what tragedy would have befallen her? This was the only tragedy that I didn't see coming, which probably did a lot to heighten my shock and incredulity. Her fate? Spinsterhood! And what do spinsters do? Apparently they wear glasses and work as the town librarian. Horrors! So...Mary's fate involves developing her mind and achieving financial independence rather than churning out 4 kids. Close call for Mary. Thank goodness George opts to keep his Wonderful Life.