12/16/16 – Getting to know Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed
It’s Christmastime, and one film that is watched over and over and over again every year is the lovable classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, this movie reminds us to appreciate our imperfect lives and the people who love us.
Stewart was a calm and collected #13 FCIR whose warm personality at times resembled a #11 FCAL. Few people know that on March 22, 1941, and before taking his role as George Bailey, Stewart was drafted in the U.S. Army. At the time he only weighed 130 pounds, but asked that they change his weight in order to serve. “I’m proud to be here,” he said, “and to do my very best for the U.S. Army.” He was already an experienced pilot by then, and in 1943, Jimmy led a raid on Germany’s big naval base at Kiel. He flew several combat missions, in fact, and led multiple groups at times with hundreds of men. “He was calm under pressure,” said a fellow soldier, “and inspired confidence in the men. And he could be a disciplinarian.” As an actor, Stewart was unprecedented. He could act as though he was not acting, and possessed a warm and reassuring demeanor that won peoples’ hearts.
Donna Reed, on the other hand, was a classic #11 FCAL, and she certainly brought that same personality into her role as Mary Hatch Bailey. Kind, motherly, and seeking a simple life of marriage and family (ala Audrey Hepburn), Reed’s portrayal of Mary Bailey was “as moving as it was believable.” Years later, she starred in “The Donna Reed Show”, which received criticism from feminists for its rosy portrayal of a contented house-wife taking care of her family. “Reed’s character, Donna Stone, is a loving mother and wife, but also a strong woman, an active participant in her community, a woman with feelings and a sense of humor. According to many of Reed’s friends and family, Reed shared many similarities to the character that she portrayed on screen, implying that the fictional Donna Stone was a near-identical copy of Reed herself.”
In an age of so much suffering around the world, even as it was back in 1946 when the film was released, “It’s A Wonderful Life” stands as a beautiful reminder of how much we have to be thankful for. With God’s gifts of clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and food on the table, it truly is a wonderful life.
Written by: Staff