Steve Greydanus Defends “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Go Steve!

I’m glad First Things is publishing this, since they offered the incredibly wrong-headed and misbegotten piece a couple of weeks ago attacking the film on amazingly specious grounds.  (Although the wrong-headedness of the critique was at least in favor of saving Bedford Falls and not in exalting Mr. Potter as the moral lunatics of the postmodern Left are wont to to do.)

I simply cannot grasp the mentality that would dislike this film.  I’m reminded of Auden’s remark that he could not trust the literary judgment of anybody who disliked The Lord of the Rings.  I think of Chesterton’s comment somewhere to the effect that there is, in every human heart, a thing that likes sunshine, fresh air, the sound of wind in the trees, and the laughter of children.  That thing, he said, loves Dickens.  He took it as a basic sign of health.  I regard love for “It’s a Wonderful Life” in much the same way.  Is it s a flawless film?  Of course not.  But the instincts of the film (and frankly, of Capra’s moral vision in all his films) is just basically healthy and oriented toward the Good.  To dislike it seems a lot more like a judgment against the critic than against the film

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