How It’s a Wonderful Life Seized on an Urbanizing America’s Nostalgia for the Small Town

As Mid-Century Americans Moved to Cities, Capra's Film Helped to Idealize Isolated White Communities

It’s a Wonderful Life can be read through multiple prisms—as a Christmas movie, a family movie, a love story, an existential journey, and a celebration of the everyman. But Frank Capra’s movie invites audiences to consider it, first and foremost, as a small-town film.

The first image seen is a sign welcoming audiences: “YOU ARE NOW IN BEDFORD FALLS.” Even if initial audiences don’t know anything about this specific town, they “know” the community they about to enter: the American small town.

While we think of the small town as a …

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The bank run scene in It’s a Wonderful Life always makes me cry real tears. If you care about America, you should love the scene too—and not just because it …

Why George Bailey Is the American Jesus

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Frank Capra’s Formula for Taming American Capitalism

It’s a Wonderful Life Prescribed Community and Empathy as the Remedy to a Callous Economic System

From the Gilded Age and until well into the Great Depression, Americans engaged in one of the most consequential debates in the country’s history: how best to address the economic …

How Traffic Circles Became Ground Zero for the French Middle Class

Garrisoned in Roundabouts, ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters Want Urban Elites to Respect Their Suburban Dream

Just over 50 years ago, Jacques Tati’s Playtime opened in French movie theaters. In the comedy, Tati once again features his iconic character, Monsieur Hulot, the confused but courtly Parisian …