Did you know that 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of It’s a Wonderful Life? I actually didn’t know that until I found The Classic Movie Muse’s blogathon, created to honor the film. I just finished rewatching It’s a Wonderful Life, so I’m definitely full of love for it at the moment. ❤ The fact that it’s still such a huge favorite of so many people after so many years just speaks to how good of a movie it is!
There are so many things I could say about the film, but for this blog post I’m going to focus on a few scenes that never fail to bring tears to my eyes. #funtimes Now let’s travel back to Bedford Falls!
I. THE PRAYERS OF THE TOWN
“Help him, dear Father.” “Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.” “Help my son, George, tonight.” “I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.” “Please God, something’s the matter with Daddy.”
I’m not going to lie: just rereading those quotes made me tear up. As It’s a Wonderful Life begins, the camera pans over the quiet town of Bedford Falls. Well, quiet on the outside perhaps–inside their homes, people pour out their hearts on behalf of George Bailey, calling on the only One Who can save him from himself.
This is an intriguing start to the film, one that makes us instantly interested in just who this ‘Mr. Bailey/George’ person is. And of course it also gives us a hint of the spiritual/supernatural elements that are so crucial to the story. All in all, a truly excellent (and tear-jerking) first scene.
II. MARY GIVES AWAY THE HONEYMOON FUND
“How much do you need?”
George sacrificed so much of himself to keep Bailey Building & Loan going, but let’s not forget the sacrifices that Mary made as well! Her selflessness is wonderfully demonstrated in the scene where she gives up her and George’s honeymoon money so that Bailey Building & Loan can remain open (and remain the only Potter-free business in town).
Just a few minutes earlier, she’d been begging George to not stop at the Building & Loan (knowing he’d probably become embroiled in whatever the trouble was). But when she understands the seriousness of the situation, Mary gives up the fancy honeymoon she and George had planned–and she makes me tear up as well. She is just as much of a heroic character as George!
III. GEORGE FINDS HIS BROTHER’S GRAVE
“Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry.”
This is one small moment in the midst of George’s journey through Pottersville. But it hits hard every time. Besides the fact that Harry drowned and all those soldiers died, there’s also the fact that Harry was someone of whom George could always be proud. Someone through whom George could see his dreams realized. Harry went to collage, was successful, and became a decorated hero. And George didn’t resent that! He loved his little brother and did everything he could to see Harry succeed. So George realizing that Harry died long ago and never got a chance to live his life…it hurts.
IV. GEORGE WANTS TO LIVE AGAIN
“Please! I want to live again. I want to live again…please, God, let me live again.”
After already coming to the end of himself one time that evening, George is once again brought to that lowest point. But this time, instead of eyeing the churning waters of the river and preparing to throw himself in, he cries out to God. And God answers. It’s the most powerful moment in the whole film, to me. Absolutely wonderful.
V. THE TOWN TO THE RESCUE
“A toast…to my big brother George. The richest man in town!”
In true Frank Capra fashion, It’s a Wonderful Life ends on a high note. Sentimental and a little sappy, sure. But it’s an earned happy ending. George has earned it. We, the viewers, have earned it. And it’s cathartic, in a way, getting to see everyone happy and holiday-bright after we’ve witnessed the horrors of Pottersville. Harry is alive after all, George has Mary and the kids, and dear Clarence gets his wings! How can you not shed a few happy tears? ❤
Of course, these aren’t the only five moments in It’s a Wonderful Life that make me cry. 😉 But they’re the main ones. What about you? What are some of your favorite tear-jerking moments in this very tear-jerking film? Let me know in the comments!