American Film

'Tis the season we're reminded that it's a wonderful life, thanks to Frank Capra, an Angel Second Class named Clarence and the good people who program our movies on television at this time of year. (Add to this the recent announcement that a sequel to the classic film is now planned for Christmas release in 2015. Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions reportedly have chosen Karolyn Grimes, who played the daughter Zuzu Bailey in the original, for a part in the new film. The James Stewart role has not yet been cast.) Capra's common touch and all-American vision of hope in tough times is a beloved feature of the holidays, adding yuletide warmth like a shot of rum in our eggnog. However, there is a dark side to Capra's films, and Morris Dickstein explores it thoroughly in "It's a Wonderful Life, But..." from the May 1980 American Film. So before you tune in to watch James Stewart and Donna Reed in this perennial Christmas classic from 1946, treat yourself to this brilliant analysis of Capra's films. Like George Bailey, you'll feel like "the richest man in town."