I think that classic film fans are idealistic. We may differ in our lives in many ways, but we share that basic element of idealism that is likely the result of watching films from a more unabashedly idealistic -- and yet, no less troubled -- era of history. "Watching" perhaps isn't a strong enough word; we absorb these films through a wonderful intellectual and emotional osmosis. They give us ideas, stir up our feelings, add value to our lives in ways which I think we are actually acutely aware. They also give us inspiration and courage.
James Stewart in the above photo comes with hat in hand to Lionel Barrymore, the Scrooge-like villain of Bedford Falls. The great difference between Mr. Potter and Mr. Scrooge is that Scrooge will undergo redemption and become a decent human being again at the end of the story. Mr. Potter will not.
James Stewart as George Bailey is demoralized, defeated, crawling to him for money, for mercy. He is at the end of his rope. It is George, not Potter, who undergoes an epiphany with the help of supernatural aid. When his brother Harry announces at the end of the film, "A toast to my big brother George, the richest man in town!" -- we cry, the church bells in our heads ring, and it is a moment to rejoice. His family, his friends, his community have come to his rescue.
We are lucky to be classic film fans; those who are not may have more difficulty swallowing the idea that good can triumph over evil through something so simple as all of us helping each other. We will need that lesson, and that kind of inspiration and courage to get through the years to come. Fascism is evil, and it is with us in the White House, in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, and is bleeding downward to state and local offices. There may be a time when a black and white movie about a wealthy man who strips the poor of what they have, destroying any possibility of their climbing into the middle class will be banned. Consider how during the infamous House Un-Amercian Activities committee, which we covered in this previous post, a film like The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) could be criticized because it showed a character who was a wealthy banker merely for showing him in a less than flattering light; and for showing a character who embraced far right-wing politics being punched in the face.
We've had the draconian tax bill destroying our future. We've had the encouragement of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis. We've had the protections stripped away, the rules broken, the nation sold out to the highest bidders, foreign and domestic. Now look for censorship, and erasing the Bill of Rights.
Let's remember our idealism in the face of this, and have courage, and help each other.
To all who visit this blog, may I wish a Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it, and a very Happy New Year to all. May we discover, as George Bailey did so hopefully expressed in Psalm 30:5: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
We'll see you next on Thursday, January 4, 2018, for another year of Another Old Movie Blog.