I think there is a consensus out there that It’s A Wonderful Life is as close to perfect a Christmas film as there can be. There is also consensus that people either love it or hate it. People love it because it hearkens back to a by-gone era where things were simpler, less complicated and the emotion of the season just gets to people. People hate it for the same reasons. It dredges up bad memories of family get togethers, makes people feel uneasy and feel that the message is simply too… simple. For a lot of people, the setting is simply too perfect and there is no upheaval (or car crashes or explosions) to hold their interest. In fact, there is upheaval (a man considers suicide – a taboo no-no in the 1940s) AND a car crash.
I like to come at It’s A Wonderful Life from a different angle – as a film. This really is a great film. Even if it is overplayed every Christmas, it’s still great fun to watch. The message of living every day to its fullest, seems simple, maybe even cliché, but it is at the heart of this film and it shouldn’t be dismissed as too corny. The fact is, this simple idea morphed into a great story. Without that simple idea and a great story, this film would be a shell with no filling.
Fantasy and flashback have never worked so well together. The point where Jimmy Stewart’s character arrives at the bridge, then comes full circle back to reality is one of the great pieces of fantasy and time displacement in film history. Jimmy Stewart’s trademark ‘aww shucks’ character is shaken up here, especially when he goes off the deep end, and he does a great job of it. Donna Reed is perfect as his wife. Lionel Barrymore gives a performance so wringingly evil, he makes Hannibal Lecter look good. That voice and his actions are deadly.
The film is a bit too long at the beginning, but watching it again, you don’t mind.
Photo Credit: Sang Tan/AP
Call them whatever you want – Pospisock, the PopSocks, SockPop, PopsicleSock – tennis’ newest men’s doubles team sensation Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock are the talk of the tennis world. As of this writing, they have compiled a record of 16-1 since joining forces at Wimbledon in late June. They now hold the record for the most consecutive wins by a first-time team – 14 – by winning Wimbledon, the ATP 250 event in Atlanta and reaching the final at the ATP event in Cincinnati. Their only loss is to the team that they beat in the Wimbledon final – Bob and Mike Bryan – in Cincinnati.
The sensation that they have created in not just the tennis world, but the sporting world as well, is not just because of their record. It’s also not just because they have never played together at all before Wimbledon this year. They have created a sensation because from the first time that they played, right through to their current matches, they have exuded a certain carefree, playful, fun, happy-go-lucky, professional attitude on the court. That attitude is simply so much fun to watch and to cheer on. It’s infectious. It’s also an attitude that has been seriously lacking in tennis. In all the years that I have been watching tennis, not once have I seen a player or a team have fun or appear to have fun on the court. Tennis is a do or die professional sport where every point counts and every point means money or rankings on the line. Players ultimately are serious at their sport and on the court because there is so much on the line. Pospisock turns this do or die for every point attitude on its head.
They have fun. It’s plain to see. Maybe they’re still stunned at their success. Maybe they’re still on cloud 9. Maybe they still can’t believe how well they have gelled together as a team. It’s a remarkable story because the two can’t be further apart in terms of personality. Pospisil has a congenial, sweet, happy personality off the court, but he’s intense on the court without it getting in the way or being contrary. Sock has a history of explosive temper on the court which gets in the way of his playing tennis and being able to cheer for him. Somehow, Pospisil has tamed this hot headedness and the occasional ball that Sock kills is the only temper that surfaces. Pospisil is good for Jack Sock. His calming influence will hopefully work its way into Sock’s singles game. It has already worked in producing incredible results for them as a team.
Even though their personalities are quite different, this yin and yang is perhaps the greatest modern tennis concoction that we have seen. Kudos to Sock, who obviously saw something that would create a tennis team to be reckoned with. And to think that Pospisil’s year was turning into a disaster with his bad back. A Wimbledon title cures all. Doubles will only make them better singles players. The problem is that they may turn out to be too successful in doubles, which will put a lot of stress on their singles aspirations. However, if neither player makes inroads in singles, they always have doubles. In fact, if they wanted to, they could become one of the greatest doubles teams of all time. There’s nothing wrong with that, and with the enthusiasm that they bring to the court, they’ll bring in a whole lot more fans to not only doubles, but to tennis.
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