It's a Wonderful Life is, if we all subtract our personal opinions from the equation, almost certainly the greatest Christmas film of all time. Not only that, it is a straight up and down great film for any time of the year. Now of course there is longlist of important people who made that film the juggernaut it is today. But at the centre of that, it is clear that without the calm and steady hand of Cinemazov's favourite actor James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life would not be the marvel that it is. By that logic it would seem clear that Jimmy possesses the Midas touch. You could continue along that train of thought and conclude that in some ways The Shop Around The Corner is the Jimmy Stewart Christmas sequel we've all been seeking. Well of course The Shop Around The Corner came out 6 years before It's a Wonderful Life and is in no way associated with that wonderful movie apart from one: Christmas! It'd be unfair to compare any film to something so untouchable in my eyes as It's a Wonderful Life but I am afraid that in many ways it is inevitable. However, this isn't a comparative essay. This is something far more important! To the Christmas scale...
The Christmas Story
A couple are exchanging anonymous letters around Christmas and don't realise that the person they are falling in love with is also the person they are working with who they simply loathe and despise. Later Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) figures out that the girl he loves is this girl who he also hates. The moment of him figuring out that his first impression of her was very wrong is the Christmassy part of all of this. It also brings some classic misunderstandings like him trying to convince her to get her boyfriend a wallet and not a cigar box. Kralik has already won her heart through letters but just can't convince her to like him in person.
The Voice of Christmas
When asked how he will spend his Christmas, Ferencz Vadas says to Mr. Matsuchek "Just my wife my little boy and myself, and we are very happy". He is so sincere and unassuming that this comment sorta hit me hard. Even as you read it now, it seems tremendously unimportant, but in a film full of drama and misunderstandings Vadas is calm and loving.
The Annoying Kid at Christmas
I don't want to keep harping on about It's a Wonderful Life but my lord this is too much of a coincidence is pass up. The shop owner Mr. Matuschek hires to Private investigator to track his wife as he suspects her of having an affair. The P.I. tells him that he is indeed right, she is having an affair and he goes off to kill himself. Well the P.I. is the same gosh damn actor who plays the tax man in It's a Wonderful Life, Charles Halton, who causes all the trouble that gets Jimmy Stewart to try and commit suicide! What's more annoying than a guy who not only gets the nicest man in the world in trouble but also gets a guy to commit suicide. I'll tell you what's more annoying, being oblivious to all the damage you are causing! He is not the only annoyance. There is the shop clerk who was actually the one having the affair. His comeuppance is spectacular. After the boss tells Jimmy just to simply fire him, he gets him to do all sorts of ridiculous and tedious tasks. Oh and then there is the young guy who saves Mr. Matuschek life. Once he gets promoted to clerk he just fucks with all the assholes and gets work done. He then turns into an asshole himself so there is a little bit of depth to the world that hints as a perpetual cycle of asshole.
The Christmas Miracle
Well a man recovers from a suicide attempt and finds a friend for Christmas, It's not really a miracle but it is nice.
The Christmas Message
Not judging people on first impressions, whilst not a particularly Christmassy message, is a great lesson for all seasons. A cliche that no one really pays much attention to.
-People really hate that cigar box and it's great advice, don't buy a musical cigar box for Christmas +1
-Old Christmas is just so cosy +1
-Consumerist Christmas is a bit icky really -1
-No one is left alone at the end +1
-It ends just before Christmas day -1
James Stewart knows how to get all intense and romantic and when he admits his love to Klara at the end you can't help but be swept up. Let's just forget It's a Wonderful life. It is sincerely in all ways a masterpiece. The Shop Around the Corner however is a Christmas film not to be missed. It's funny and romantic and actually quite a bit Christmassy.