“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.” -George Bailey
I just recently viewed December’s Sustainable Love Movie of the Month and from the first time to the thousandth time I still hold it in a special place in my heart. Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946) has already been put on a dozen of classic movie lists for it’s wonderful casting and terrific director, among other reasons- now here’s why it’s on our list.
The film follows the life of George Bailey, played by James Stewart. George Bailey is a man with high ideals and lust for adventure forever trapped in the pitfalls of life in a small town. He is an incredibly kind person and is always putting other people ahead of himself, sacrificing his college education and worldwide trip to maintain the family business after his father dies. Along the way, he helps a variety of people in countless ways. But when a crisis strikes, he questions his very existence and is shown the light not only by an angel, but also by the people who love him most.
More importantly, “It’s A Wonderful Life” illustrates the sustainable love between George Bailey and his wife Mary, played by Donna Reed. At the beginning of the movie, Mary and George interact as children and she tells him with a childlike innocence that she’ll “love him til the day she dies.” And love him she does, at least from afar, until they dance at her high school graduation. George claims, “If it weren’t me talking, I’d say you were the prettiest girl in town.” Their attraction to each other grows and they finally get married after Mary returns from college claiming she was homesick, when she really was just missing George. On their way to their honeymoon, there is a bank run and Mary sacrifices all the money they had saved up in order to give to those in need. While George is divvying up the money, she creates an elaborate “honeymoon” right there in town. During their life together, they have four children, they rebuild a broken down house almost from the ground up and see the rise and almost collapse of the Bailey family business.
George and Mary have the kind of relationship where, even years later, they can’t imagine being with anyone else. In one of George’s insecure moments, he asks her why she married someone like him and she answers, “To keep from being an old maid.” Indeed, when George gets a chance to see life without him, the sight of Mary as an old maid closing up the library has him begging his guardian angel to reverse his wish. Meanwhile, when George runs off, consumed by the fear of losing a large amount of money, Mary proceeds to tell all their friends what is wrong, and in the end, gets their help.
Although George and Mary’s relationship is nothing explosive, it is sweet in its utter simplicity and its complete lack of pretense. The movie itself is a heartwarming tribute not only to the romantic relationships important in our lives, but also those relationships between friends and family. George gives so much to those he loves and gets nothing in return, but as soon as he is really in need, his friends rush to help him. The movie culminates in a beautiful and kind ending about the generosity of humanity. It is truly a must-see this holiday season.