I’ve mentioned before my deep, abiding love for both A Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, and especially my love for the Lux Radio Theater productions of both shows which I listen to over and over each Christmas, but for some reason this year, listening to both shows for the 500th or so time, I’ve started to notice things. Picky little things. Maybe I just have a case of the bah humbugs, I don’t know. You tell me what you think.
(This is assuming that you’ve seen the movies at least once before. If you haven’t yet, please stop everything you’re doing and go watch them now, Miracle on 34th Street is even available on Netflix streaming so you have no excuse.)
OK, so Miracle on 34th Street… the basic premise is that a nice, old man named Kris Kringle believes he’s Santa Claus (because he IS!) and has to go to court to keep from being committed because of this belief. His friend and lawyer, Mr. Gailey is charged with defending Kris and proving that he isn’t insane, despite the fact that he believes himself to be Santa Claus.
Now here is my issue: Mr. Gailey admits to having no idea how to prove that Kris isn’t insane, yet when Mr. Sawyer, the psychologist who caused this hearing to be held in the first place, offers to drop all of the charges, let Kris go, and pretend it never happened, Mr. Gailey chooses to go on with the hearing anyhow. WHY? This makes no sense. Of course it makes for a great story, but still, I have an easier time believing that reindeer can fly than believing that a lawyer with no defense plan would choose to go to court rather than have his case dismissed. The case he isn’t being paid for.
And then we have It’s a Wonderful Life. I love this movie. I think I would have had a big crush on Jimmy Stewart if I’d been a teenager in the 40s. But there are a few things that gnaw at me every time I listen to the story. The basic premise of It’s a Wonderful Life is that a man named George Bailey is at his desperate wit’s end on Christmas Eve and decides that everyone’s lives would be better if he were dead. His guardian angel, Clarence, is sent to help him see that his life is worth living, which he does by showing George what everyone’s life would have been like if George had never been born.
So here’s my problem… in one scene George mentions how much money he makes at his job: $45 per week. That equals $2,340 per year. Fine, so then in the scene where George has just gotten married and is heading away on his honeymoon, he and his new wife, Mary, have $2,000 in cash on them for their trip. Where did this come from? This is nearly a year’s salary, it would be like a young couple taking off today with $25,000 in cash for their honeymoon. Does that really happen? Did I just invite the wrong guests to my wedding?
My other issue is with the book Tom Sawyer, which Clarence, the guardian angel, has in his pocket. Brace yourselves, this one involves some math. Clarence tells George that he is 293 years old—I’m not sure if that is his living years plus his angel years, or just his years as an angel, but let’s say conservatively that it’s living plus angel years. Maybe he died when he was 70, that means that he died 223 years before he met George. I’m not certain of the exact year the movie was supposed to be set in, but it was released in 1947, so let’s go with that. That would mean that Clarence died in 1724. Tom Sawyer was published in 1876. How would Clarence—in heaven—get a copy of Tom Sawyer? Are there bookstores in heaven? I hope so. At one point he comments on how he’s sorry he isn’t wearing something more current, he’s wearing the clothes he died in. Following that logic, he must have carried in his pockets whatever he had on him when he died, right?
I know I’m supposed to suspend logic when I watch movies, especially black and white movies from the 40s, but for some reason I can’t seem to let those little things go. Maybe I need a candy cane. Don’t worry, though. It won’t ever stop me from loving them. Now you just wait for what I have to say about Frosty the Snowman…