Continuing with our epic journey through the war on Christmas; the last Christmas movie I think needs to be discussed is the Jimmy Stewart classic, Its a Wonderful Life.
This is my review of Guinness Over the Moon Milk Stout
In this movie we find the protagonist, George Bailey takes over the family business, a small Savings and Loan in his hometown of Bedford Falls. We learn a lot about George personally in the beginning of the movie: Why he was deferred from serving in World War 2, how he met his wife, and his overall outlook on matters related to his family business. We find out fairly early in the movie about, Mr. Potter, the antagonist as well. Mr. Potter is major a shareholder in the Savings and Loan. He voices his opinion during a board meeting regarding the “rabble” in the town that triggers George. The idea that people should save before trying to purchase a home is apparently evil and issuing sub-prime loans to workers that may or may not be able to afford to pay back the loan is as pure as the driven snow.
We find out later, during the depression both men were the only ones in town with businesses that survived. For the most part, Potter is portrayed as a caricature of a greedy, monocle twirling capitalist. I might even go so far as to say he probably fits in around here. Eventually, Potter discovers somehow Bailey’s Savings and Loan is still afloat in spite of questionable lending practices and alarming issues with his book keeping, but is the only real competition Potter has. That is, if you want to define Bailey as a competitor…after all, Potter is a member of the board. So he tried to do the sensible thing, and buy out Bailey.
Later Bailey’s uncle, Billy, loses a large deposit which is seriously troubling because it is potentially ruinous to their business. It is also a seemingly small amount for a mortgage lender of only $8000 (~$110,000 today), and he is depositing it in Potter’s bank (really?). Bailey then goes to the only person in town that can save him—Potter. It is here that Potter learns the $8000 in cash he randomly found in his bank earlier that day was Bailey’s. For better or worse, he tells Bailey to pound sand.
Bailey falls into a drunken depression, and considers suicide but is sidetracked by a stranger, whom he saves from his own death in an icy river. Remember–Bailey is not a shady businessman and is supposed to be the good guy. This random stranger is an angel (in training) named Clarence, that shows Bailey what the world is like without Bailey. People he saved by telling the pharmacist he filled the prescription with the wrong drug, pulling his brother from the ice in a frozen lake, who goes on to save other servicemen in the war, etc, is the impact Bailey made. This part in itself actually is a good message: one person (all of us, really) can impact the world in a variety of ways, with an infinite number of possibilities—it is up to you to make that impact positive.
Hopefully your impact is not crashing the economy through sub-prime lending.
Can this movie be made again today? I am here to tell you, if this movie is made again today it will be labeled by right leaning media as socialist or anti-capitalist propaganda–because it already is. Every speech Bailey makes, including the times he needs to weasel his way out of satisfying his customers is a smear on Potter. While Potter may be a cold-hearted businessman, portraying him as a villain is unfair. Others previously made a similar argument in pointing out that Potter is the only honest businessman in this story. His frequent complaints about the savings and loan can be argued are in his interests as an investor; how he insisted on customers having adequate collateral before approving loans supports this point. Even offering to buy out a large percentage (50%) of customer accounts when Bailey was unable to cash out his customers and offer full payment in 60 days, does not lend itself to the idea Potter is a villian. The only real crime Potter did was keep the money, but even there he comes across it by accident and only learns who left it in the scene where Bailey asks him for a bailout. He didn’t intentionally steal it. Given the issues Bailey has caused Potter over the years, is keeping that part a secret in that moment as unethical as it sounds? Is calling the banking authorities unethical, when bailing out Bailey would make him complicit in the scheme? He could have easily had a change of heart and deposited the money into Bailey’s account the next day, but we will never know.
Bailey’s business model is selling subprime loans; 2008 is still in the memories of many today. Which means neither of the characters can be reasonably portrayed as a protagonist. The honest businessman is a greedy capitalist who wants to own the entire town, and the other is a grifter selling loans to people that cannot afford to pay them back. In this theoretical new version will Bailey see all the people he gave loans to are living in a rental home or an apartment and not in bankruptcy had he never been born? So he has a change of heart and goes back to the universe where he likely ruins the entire town (Potter included) when those mortgages default?
Clarence is gone, unless he’s replaced by a wizard of some kind, played by Oprah Winfrey. According to lore, they thought the movie was too religious…in 1946, which is why they went with singing Auld Lang Syne instead of an actual Christmas song in the final scene. Plus, there are feminist complaints when they show what happens to Bailey’s wife had George never been born (old maid). Bailey’s wife will necessarily have to be more successful as a single woman for whatever reason they want to come up with. Bailey is just holding her back by marrying her and letting him focus on his career.
This movie cannot be made again.
Didn’t I already review this one? Sort of. This is similar but not quite identical to a Guinness varietal that I found at the Dublin airport and packed away to save for the end of my self-imposed temperance. This is a little more like the Extra Stout made in Canada and imported to the US, but it is not as harsh with the burned malt flavors. It splits the difference between those two but it is otherwise solid. Then there is the part where it is brewed in Baltimore. Just do what I did and pour it through a colander, into another vessel to make sure there are no empty .40 S&W cartridges, syringes, or shards of broken glass. You should be good to go. Guinness Over the Moon Milk Stout 3.5/5