There are many reasons my spirit needs refreshing this holiday season, and here comes the Belcourt to my rescue with a series of Capra classics. It kicks off with the quintessential “It’s a Wonderful Life,” during which I’ll do my best not to perform each part. Next, they’ll have “It Happened One Night” starring Claudette Colbert as a runaway debutante and Clark Gable as her amorous yet grumpy suitor–it’s a great romantic teaser. They’ll have heart throbs Jean Arthur and Gary Cooper in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” Jimmy Stewart performs a successful filibuster and earns five stars for patriotism in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” “Lost Horizon” was not memorable for me, but I’m willing to give it another shot. The crown jewel of course is “You Can’t Take It With You” with Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, and my gal Jean Arthur. It’s a morality tale that will put all your holiday money woes to shame.
Viewing Capra’s films now, I want to call him naive, dangerously optimistic, clueless of troubles that Americans would face. But he made his films during the Depression, when people needed a tonic to boost their spirits and give them something to hold onto. In Capra’s cinematic world, all men and women are essentially good, and class conflicts can be assuaged with a battle between harmonicas. It reminds us of how cinema often reflects the culture and spirit of the people, for at it’s best, it shows us what we need most.
Belcourt often makes a signature drink for these events, and I wonder what they’ll come up with… (“I’ll have a mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves!”)
After viewing all six films, I’ll feel like Frank Capra whispered to me, “Friend, you are a divine mingle-mangle of guts and stardust. So hang in there! If doors opened for me, they can open for anyone.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” will run Dec. 19-25. The rest will run in times TBA Dec. 26-Jan.1.