Almost precisely a year to the day after the publication of Other People's Children and Marie Reilly's meditations on the Bailey Building & Loan Association comes Wendell Jamieson's fantastically insightful reexamination of It's a Wonderful Life:
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. . . . “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.I wholeheartedly agree. This year's obligatory viewing of It's a Wonderful Life reminds me that any wise man would swiftly trade all the places, geographic and metaphysical, that he can reach through planes, trains, automobiles, and an Ivy League degree — fifteen countries, four continents, and three languages, if you insist on counting — for devotion worthy of Mary Hatch Bailey and his children's confidence that he really can fix everything complex as well as he can build a rose.