So this Real-time Rankatron is an experiment of sorts to test out what would happen if A) I happen to catch the movie in question on the tube and B) if I reviewed it on the fly. If this is successful, I may use it again if I ever stumble upon one of the Ultimate Rankatron movies in the future.
Below, you’ll find the running transcript of my thoughts as the movie ran (a full THREE hours thanks to commercials) from 9pm to Midnight last night.
THE RANKATRON REAL-TIME TRANSCRIPT: Jimmy Stewart Edition
- 8:50pm – Just got back under the wire. Mass transit is awesome when it works but horrible when it doesn’t. Expected to be back about an hour ago. Decided it would be fun to have a running thought-flow as I watch this. Need food.
- 8:59pm – Chinese food. Check. A nice beverage. Check. Xmas lights on. Check. Alright. I’m all set. Let me do a quick breakdown of this movie in less than a minute…crap, it’s starting now. Let’s see what I can pull up while the opening credits roll.
- Based on an original story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern who couldn’t find anyone willing to publish his story in 1939 (I know the feeling). So in 1944 he sent it out as part of a Christmas Card to his family and friends. In 1945, an RKO producer caught wind of the story and bought it. In 1946, it was adapted into a movie and renamed “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
- Directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.
- 9:03pm – Angels are jerks! “Clarence has an IQ of a rabbit.” Stay classy there, Inconsiderate Angel.
- 9:04pm – Is the head angel voiced by Orson Welles? Time to do some digging on the Info-Tron…Nope, it was Moroni Olsen. Thanks IMDB!
- 9:06pm – Is evil Mr. Potter’s first name Harry? I must’ve misheard that. But the emblem on the side of his carriage is eerily similar to the current Harry Potter ‘HP’ logo. (NOTE: Turns out it was Henry Potter.)
- 9:12pm – Unintentional attempted murder by a drunk pharmacist? Child abuse? Gotta love Christmas movies…and we’re into the first commercial break! Time to click through some more movie stats.
- Won 5 Oscars in 1946: Best Picture, Best Director – Frank Capra, Best Actor – James Stewart, Best Editing, and Best Sound Recording.
- Only became a Christmas movie staple in the 1980s. Frank Capra didn’t even consider it a Christmas movie when he made it but is happy it’s become so.
- Other actors up for the main roles: Henry Fonda – George Bailey, Ginger Rogers – Mary Bailey, and Vincent Price – Mr. Potter. Imagine how that movie would’ve looked!
- 9:19pm – And we’re back! AAAAAH-OOOOGAAA! How did they get the car horn to do that? If any women deserved it on this movie, it was Violet (Gloria Graham). Side note: must remember that these people are older than my grandparents…
- 9:22pm – “I want to do something big…something important.” Amen Jimmy. Don’t we all. That’s why I just finished off a huge plate of Chinese food and not feeling to great right now…it was big. How “important” it was is yet to be determined. Commercial break!
- Hey just noticed that Tron’s showing on another channel? Why did I have to take this on tonight? This’ll probably replay a million and a half times in the next couple weeks. (It is on Xmas Eve. Check your local listing!)
- 9:29pm – When George met Mary…things are about to get spicy. And when I say spicy, I’m taking about the Charleston! Why isn’t there a movement to bring this back?
- 9:32pm – Pool Scene where George and Mary fall in. Nothing bothers this guy. He’s so even keel. He has no outlet for frustrations or disappointments. This might be bad.
- 9:37pm – George: “So how old are you now Mary? Seventeen?” Mary: “18.” George: “Well, I remember you just being a young girl a little while back.” (I’m paraphrasing all of this because I’m writing fast.) Special Family Guy adaptation expressing the context: “Giggity-Giggity.”
- Commercial Break. The Chinese is starting to come back. HERE’S where it lives up to it’s “important” moniker.
- 9:45pm – Missed a bit but I’m back.
- 9:46pm – Huh…Whoda thunk that it turns out that George Bailey’s view of banking (allowing anyone no matter what their credit history is like to borrow money) is what really lead to the recent Recession and that Mr. Potter’s take on it is harsher but would’ve prevented the whole thing?
- 9:50pm – And George sacrifices again. How many parts of himself will he give up before he fights for himself? This is more rhetorical. I’ve seen this movie a billion times and whoever’s seen it already knows the answer.
- 9:59pm – We’re an hour in and so far exactly 0% Christmas content and that whole little scene at the beginning with the angels seems more of a plot device than an actual plot point.
- 10:02pm – Note to self: Drunk Jimmy Stewart = not very suave. Drunk me = less suave and more smarmy.
- 10:03pm – 10:53pm – Got caught up in the story a bit and forgot to make notes. In a roasted chestnut shell by the fire, George marries Mary. They have a couple kids (one names Zuzu). George doesn’t leave Bedford Falls. George’s life is about to fall apart (oops…spoiler alert!). Mr. Potter just stole $8000 from one of George’s absent-minded employees.
- 10:54pm – Still 0% Christmas content. But there’s snow…I guess that counts. Let’s say 0.5% Xmas content.
- Commercial break! That Yogi Bear movie looks horrible but it will do well in theatres because it’s aimed at the same demographic that made Alvin & The Chipmunks movie a hit. I fear for humanity.
- 11:00pm – Aaaah! There’s Christmas. Up until now, this was merely a good dramatic movie but nothing that really stood out. But for the record, the past two hours were necessary to set the scene for the final hour to establish George’s character. Without that, this final act wouldn’t seem so classic.
- 11:04pm – Zuzu’s Petals! If I ever have a punk band, I may name it Zuzu’s Petals. Darn…it’s already been taken by a early 90’s girl’s rock band. I’ll call it Zuzu’s Metal Petals then.
- 11:05pm – Bailey’s FREAK OUT!!! (Stewart’s acting is superb in the movie!)
- 11:15pm – This is where that strange angel scene with the jerky angels comes into play. Where the movie moves out of the realm of entertaining drama into a fantastical sci-fi Holiday movie.
- 11:18pm – OK. Two plot holes that I can’t ignore have just popped up: 1. Clarence falls into the freezing river on Christmas Eve to get George to jump in and save him totally ignoring the fact that George would probably suffer from hypothermia thus risking killing him. 2. I’m pretty sure life insurance plans didn’t cover suicide back then either. So if he was hoping his family could cash in would be sorely disappointed.
- 11:20pm – Clarence: “Read the new book Mark Twain’s writing right now.” Yeah, it was Mark Twain’s autobiography that just came out this year. Haven’t read it yet…but I will geek out for it.
- 11:24pm – Alternate Reality…before Lost…before Fringe…before Sliders. Probably the first successful film to dabble with that subject.
- 11:42pm – Two police officers are named Bert and Ernie! However, by the admission of longtime Muppet writer Jerry Juhl, it is simply a coincidence that they’re named the same as the famous Sesame Street duo. Yet, they did spoof the scene in “Elmo Save Christmas” in 1996.
- 11:43pm – Rabid angel! If an angel bites you, do you become an angel. Is the rule the same with angels as it is with zombies? Inquiring minds want to know!
- 11:47pm – Who do you turn to when know one remembers who you are? Can you shoot a man who doesn’t exist? The Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix trilogy) would’ve probably explored these questions.
- 11:48pm – And we’re out of alternate reality world. 24 minutes (minus commercials) that turned this movie into a classic.
- 11:50pm – Moral of the story: Don’t drink when your depressed or appreciate the little things or the value of a man is weighed upon the number of friends he has or if 30 minutes of a three hour movie is centred around Christmas, this turns it into a Christmas movie.
- 11:54pm – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!”
- 11:55pm – Why is the auditor counting money when George just received a telegram saying he was being advanced $25000 for the $8000 he lost. Doesn’t that make the pile of money moot? Now that I think of it, maybe the telegram said $2500…wish I had a DVR or Tivo to resolve this…sadly I don’t.
- 11:56pm – “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” Zuzu gets the line of the movie. George pulls the weight but Zuzu gets to put the cherry on top.
- 11:57pm – And that’s all she wrote!
The live viewing was intense and I will do it again if I happen to discover that one of the Ultimate Rankatron movies appear on TV.
Why did I do this? Not sure exactly. It just felt right. Also, it gives you the unique ability to follow along with my thoughts as you watch the movie to try to get into my head (Again, it’s on Christmas Eve!). That’s all for tonight. Have a good one!
8.4 money shots out of 10.