This is such a strange film. It was MGM’s second feature-length musical and one of the studio’s earliest sound films. Unlike most MGM musicals, this film really has no overarching plot. Like the title suggests, it’s just a revue – a series of skits, songs and dance numbers by basically everyone on the MGM lot (the only major MGM stars of the era missing are Lon Chaney, Ramon Navarro and Greta Garbo). The film was only nominated for Best Picture and the other films up for the top prize that year were Alibi, In Old Arizona, The Patriot (now a lost film) and winner The Broadway Melody (also an MGM musical).
Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: I used to be just like you. Then one morning I was going up in the elevator and it struck me that I wasn’t having any fun. So I came right down and I never went back. That was thirty-five years ago.
Anthony P. Kirby: [sarcastic] Admirable. And you haven’t done a thing since, huh?
Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Oh, yes, yes. Just the things I want to do. Collected stamps, went to the zoo when I got the notion, took up the harmonica and even found time to notice when Spring came around.
Anthony P. Kirby: [sarcastic] This would be a fine country if we all spent our time at the zoo and played the harmonica.
Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: You used to play one yourself; Tony said so. Maybe you ought to take it up again. Maybe it’ll stop you trying to be so desperate about making more money than you can ever use. You can’t take it with you, Mr. Kirby. So what good is it? As near as I can see, the only thing you can take with you is the love of your friends.
I couldn’t possibly say everything I’d like to say about this film. In fact, when I started out setting up this post I found myself wanting to talk about so many aspects of this film I had to stop myself and pick my very favorite characters and scenes to focus on. It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my Top Ten Favorite Films of All-Time. I’ve watched it every year on Christmas Eve since I was a little girl. I’ve also watched it countless times throughout the years at other times as well. It’s a perfect film, that stands up to viewing after viewing after viewing. I just love it so much. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning none: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Actor Jimmy Stewart, Best Director and Best Picture. It was up against The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France, The Razor’s Edge, The Yearling and winner The Best Years of Our Lives.