Last year, we pondered the supreme villainy of Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter. Now, let us consider one of the reasons Frank Capra’s fantasy has such emotional power: It’s not afraid to get dark. Before Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey is redeemed, Capra paints a harrowing portrait of what life would be like if no one cared enough for their fellow citizens to feel any compassion at all, let alone keep the social contract George Bailey dedicates his life to.
This image, here, shows us that world. It’s a cold, alienating and brutal bar where they serve “hard drinks” for “men who want to get drunk fast.”
When the happy ending comes, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
It’s a Wonderful Life will be screened tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 20) at 7 PM at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany). Tickets are $5, $3 kids. For more info, call 465-3334.