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Jimmy Stewart and Psalm 91
NC Register ^ | December 17, 2009 | JOSEPH PRONECHEN

Posted on 12/17/2009 3:32:58 PM PST by NYer

When it comes to a Christmastime movie, a perennial favorite of most everyone is It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart made no secret it was his favorite film and favorite role as George Bailey.

The poignant slice of Americana is on the Vatican’s film list and No. 5 on the Register’s 100 best films list.

No matter how many times we watch it, the story remains fresh and remarkably uplifting. And with strong spiritual implications whose foundations were laid before filming began.

Before Stewart became George Bailey, his guardian angel surely watched over him during harrowing combat missions in World War II. When Stewart, a Presbyterian, was leaving for Air Force duty as a B-24 bomber pilot, his father slipped a copy of Psalm 91 into his uniform pocket, telling his son to pray it often — it would help him get through the war safely.

This simple incident made its way into Stewart biographies. We can only guess how many times he meditated on its verses: “You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day (verse 5) … Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come (verse 7) ... For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways (verse 11) … With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone (verse 12) ... Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high (v.14).”

Surely that little anecdote inspired many readers over the years to discover or reacquaint themselves with this uplifting Psalm of God’s protection.

Maybe Stewart whispered it to George Bailey. At a critical moment, Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (Angel, second-class) makes it clear George’s simple, ordinary life really disguised an extraordinary one. Can’t we picture George standing among the sheep, asking Jesus, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? … a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you … ill or in prison, and visit you? (Matthew 25:37-39)

And George would hear from Jesus: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine” — the people in Bedford Falls who came for help to Bailey Savings and Loan, like Ernie the cabdriver and Burt the cop and immigrant families; misguided people like Violet you helped without repayment; bumblers like Uncle Billy you treated with patience; those ill like Zuzu, whom you cheered; those whose lives you saved like Old Man Gower and your kid brother Harry; and the Bailey family you sacrificed for — “you did it for me.” (verse 40)

Director Frank Capra, a Catholic, explained that in It’s a Wonderful Life one major goal was “to show ... that each man’s life touches so many other lives.”

It also reflected his intentions in making movies.

“I will show … the courageous renewal of faith,” he wrote, “and I will remind the little man that his mission on earth is to advance spiritually. ... My films must let every man, woman and child know that God loves them … and that peace and salvation become a reality only when they all learn to love each other.”

George’s supposedly commonplace life tremendously helped make others’ everyday, ordinary lives shine as worthwhile and wonderful, too. He may not have known of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, but he was heading along her “Little Way.”

If George’s life included a 75th birthday party, as Stewart’s did in his hometown, the “richest man in town” would likely repeat what Jimmy said then: “This is where I made up my mind about certain things — about the importance of hard work and community spirit, the value of family, church, God.”

Living life simply, in the love of God and neighbor — truly it’s a wonderful life.

image


TOPICS: General Discusssion; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: capra; christian; cinema; frankcapra; hollywood; iawl; jimmystewart; presbyterian; psalm91; stewart

1 posted on 12/17/2009 3:32:59 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
Quick Quiz

Name the only film, based on a work of fiction, blessed by a pope! Good luck!

2 posted on 12/17/2009 3:34:15 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

We watched it (again) just a couple nights ago.


3 posted on 12/17/2009 3:34:15 PM PST by bgill (The framers of the US Constitution established an entire federal government in 18 pages.)
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To: NYer

One of America’s great Conservatives.


4 posted on 12/17/2009 3:38:14 PM PST by Huskrrrr
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To: NYer

The Godfather?


5 posted on 12/17/2009 3:39:28 PM PST by RanGreHad
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To: bgill
We watched it (again) just a couple nights ago.

DVD?

6 posted on 12/17/2009 3:39:47 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

The Quiet Man.


7 posted on 12/17/2009 3:39:52 PM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: NYer

Why buy a DVD when it’s on tv a hundred times during the holidays.


8 posted on 12/17/2009 3:40:49 PM PST by bgill (The framers of the US Constitution established an entire federal government in 18 pages.)
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To: bgill
Why buy a DVD when it’s on tv a hundred times during the holidays.

Not here in NY.

For decades, it was the custom here in NY to broadcast the original version of "Miracle on 34th Street" on Thanksgiving day. Not anymore. The same is true for "It's a Wonderful Life". The only way to see this film is by purchasing it on DVD. "Home Alone" and "Home Alone2" are broadcast throughout the year and now we can look forward to 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" beginning on Christmas Eve. As for the other classics, they have simply vaporized in our part of the country.

9 posted on 12/17/2009 3:48:45 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

I guess I’m in a minority, but seeing “A Christmas Story” once was more than enough for me. Unnngh.

That said, I don’t like “It’s a Wonderful Life” that much.


10 posted on 12/17/2009 3:50:12 PM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: NYer

I don’t think you can really appreciate this movie till you get in your 40’s.

You really have to experience loss and disappointment.


11 posted on 12/17/2009 3:52:09 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: bgill
Why buy a DVD when it’s on tv a hundred times during the holidays.

You're behind the times. NBC bought the right & now it is shown only once a year!!

12 posted on 12/17/2009 3:55:20 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: Tax-chick
I don’t like “It’s a Wonderful Life” that much.

Is there something in particular that you don't like about this film? And ... what is your guess on my question ;-)

13 posted on 12/17/2009 3:56:13 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: KosmicKitty

Seriously, the problem with the movie is that George Bailey engages in the same kind of slipshod lending practices Congress pressured the banks to engage in in the 1990s. And we know where that led. But Bailey is treated like a hero. He really is little more than a human doormat with everyone’s footprints all over him.


14 posted on 12/17/2009 3:58:38 PM PST by RanGreHad
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To: KosmicKitty

Well, someone better call NBC because it’s been on several times already this year.


15 posted on 12/17/2009 3:59:19 PM PST by bgill (The framers of the US Constitution established an entire federal government in 18 pages.)
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To: NYer

My guess was “The Quiet Man.”

Regarding “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I really don’t like James Stewart that much, as an actor. Not that he isn’t good, objectively, but he just doesn’t appeal to me. And I’m annoyed by the mispresentation of angels, who are, from Creation, “created spirits without bodies,” and none of this confusion about their being somehow transformed from people.

And also, the Baileys should have more children. Everyone has just two children in the movies, unless it’s one of those big-family shows, when in context, everyone would have been saying, “What’s wrong? Is she sick? Don’t they *like* each other?” if people had only two children.


16 posted on 12/17/2009 4:02:19 PM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: RanGreHad

>>Seriously, the problem with the movie is that George Bailey engages in the same kind of slipshod lending practices Congress pressured the banks to engage in in the 1990s. And we know where that led. But Bailey is treated like a hero.<<

Um, no.
Everyone that the Savings and Loan is lending to has jobs. Martini even has his own business.

Pay attention to the backgrounds and you will see the whole story. He is a hero. Perhaps you don’t know what it’s like to live in company owned homes. My grandparents did. When someone gave them a hand up, they worked like dogs to keep what they had earned.

It was a different time back then.


17 posted on 12/17/2009 4:03:56 PM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: NYer

Jimmy Stewart, to my mind THE greatest of all American movie actors. From It’s a Wonderful Life, to Mr. Smith goes to Washington, to the great Hitchcock films, Vertigo and Rear Window, and way, way, beyond, he embodied both Old Hollywood stardom, and great Americanism, AND great , almost blessed, acting talent.
I have seen IAWL about a dozen times.
My wife has seen it probably two dozen times, and just went last week with friends to a Satirday morning screening of it
at a nearby oldfashioned mini-Movie Palace where the place was packed with local people.


18 posted on 12/17/2009 4:08:28 PM PST by supremedoctrine
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To: netmilsmom

Even if we sympathize with their circumstances, the fact is they couldn’t afford the loans. Even Bailey admits they would be too old to enjoy their homes if he waited for them to qualify under ordinary rules.


19 posted on 12/17/2009 4:11:31 PM PST by RanGreHad
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To: NYer

In 1899 William O. Cushing and Ira Sankey devised the following hymn, which is based on Psalm 91:

UNDER HIS WINGS
Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.


20 posted on 12/17/2009 4:12:13 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: bgill

When??

Haven’t seen it round here.


21 posted on 12/17/2009 4:12:57 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: NYer

See my post 18===the screening in question was at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern NY. Rockland County near the border of NJ, where I live in Bergen County.
I had no idea about the lack of TV broadcasts of IAWL.
Now that I come to think of it, I haven’t seen it on TV
for at least a few years.


22 posted on 12/17/2009 4:14:04 PM PST by supremedoctrine
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To: RanGreHad

Come on!
When things went haywire George Baily bailed his bank out with his OWN money!
His own risk.


23 posted on 12/17/2009 4:15:44 PM PST by right way right
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To: right way right

True, but remember the big tear-jerker scene at the end when everyone takes up a collection? Does it occur to anyone that these “altruists” had a good thing going and wanted to keep the gravy train running? Although we tend to sentimentalize small-town America, people there can be grasping and self-interested, just as big-city folk.


24 posted on 12/17/2009 4:21:51 PM PST by RanGreHad
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To: NYer
Name the only film, based on a work of fiction, blessed by a pope! Good luck!

Alien???

25 posted on 12/17/2009 4:25:53 PM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: Iscool

Ben-Hur?


26 posted on 12/17/2009 4:27:38 PM PST by RanGreHad
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To: NYer

So here’s a proposal:

Who can we get to write a screenplay for “It’s a Wonderful Constitution,” to be produced and showing in theatres by midsummer? Can you see it now? A young man just trying to help people (think healthcare) is thwarted by the unconstitutionality of his dramatic plan of action. He is angered and disgusted by what he sees as selfish, self-righteous conservatives standing in the way by standing on their “constitutional rights” and it leads him to extreme despair, disparaging the Constitution as no more than an old, worthless piece of paper, as he sets out to end it all in the river below.

Then he encounters an angel (not Palin - too over the top) who must help him resolve this life crisis. He does so by sending him into an alternate universe where the American Constitution was never written, where the American colonials never got past their small-minded bickering because, by a quirk of alternate history, someone convinced King George he could keep the colonies in line if he just enslaved them at a kinder, gentler, slower pace. The revolution had no trigger, never took place, and while Jefferson and Franklin had some great tavern conversations, no one ever had the impetus of crisis sufficient to set down those words that have for so long been the guardian of American freedom.

So, as our protagonist ventures into this alternate world, he encounters a strange, unsettling culture where the protections of the Constitution were simply not there to protect him and the people he cared about from the many harms people inflict on each other, where the government had become this large, faceless machine that treated humans as commodities to be bought and sold at will by the privileged class. No freedom to speak. No freedom to gather with like-minded people. No freedom to practice one’s own religion. No due process. No equal protection. No warrant needed for the government to invade any home. On and on it goes. Adventure yes, action aplenty, but with an ever diminishing hope of final escape, a slowly growing sense of suffocation. .

Toward the end, he further learns there is nowhere else in the world he can go where freedom still reigns, because there was no America, as he had known it, to step in and help the other peoples of the world fight off their respective tyrannies. All had fallen, in the end, to the petty interests of small men.

Finally, as he approaches the apex of this dark terror, our hero has the epiphany that the lost dignity of man in this future horror show turned on a singular event, the absence of a decision by a relatively small group of extraordinarily thoughtful people to respond to a crisis of impending tyranny by putting down on paper a system of government which, by it’s power to limit government, could actually succeed in protecting the inalienable rights of all who must live under the power of that government. Yes, he says, that is the answer. If only it had not been lost, the opportunity not missed.

At which point the young man is returned to his own time and place, full of relief, to be sure, but also amazement and gratitude that he was privileged to live in a place that, however imperfect, had that wonderful old piece of paper known as the US Constitution, to stand as the timeless defender of his and everyone else’s inextinguishable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Good movie? Or not? What do y’all think? And what about casting? All (beneficial) ideas welcome.


27 posted on 12/17/2009 5:13:08 PM PST by Springfield Reformer
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To: RanGreHad

But...but, they all loved George!

Parade pisser!

Now I will never be able to enjoy that happy ending!

LoL you win.


28 posted on 12/17/2009 5:17:39 PM PST by right way right
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To: Tax-chick

29 posted on 12/17/2009 5:23:09 PM PST by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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To: Tax-chick
And also, the Baileys should have more children. Everyone has just two children in the movies, unless it’s one of those big-family shows, when in context, everyone would have been saying, “What’s wrong? Is she sick? Don’t they *like* each other?” if people had only two children.

They had four: Pete, Tommy, Janie and Zuzu.

30 posted on 12/17/2009 5:31:32 PM PST by TradicalRC (Secular conservatism is liberalism.)
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To: RanGreHad
Does it occur to anyone that these “altruists” had a good thing going and wanted to keep the gravy train running?

Ah, someone has been imbibing in the Randian Kool-aid. In George Bailey's world people are human beings, not merely the means to a capitalists bottom line.

31 posted on 12/17/2009 5:37:02 PM PST by TradicalRC (Secular conservatism is liberalism.)
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To: Springfield Reformer

That’s a keeper. I can’t help with the casting, but that plot gets my vote.


32 posted on 12/17/2009 5:42:20 PM PST by Nighttime in America
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To: TradicalRC

“Really cares about her Fig-ure, don’t she?”

To be honest, I didn’t remember. I’ve only seen the movie a couple of times, because I don’t like it very much. “Zuzu”?


33 posted on 12/17/2009 6:16:11 PM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: NYer

I miss Jimmy Stewart and all the other G-dly, decent people who used to be so visible in the entertainment media. All we have now is the slime at the bottom of the barrel.


34 posted on 12/17/2009 7:27:14 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Vaya`an Yosef 'et-Par`oh le'mor bil`aday; 'Eloqim ya`aneh 'et-shelom Par`oh.)
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To: TradicalRC
Ah, someone has been imbibing in the Randian Kool-aid. In George Bailey's world people are human beings, not merely the means to a capitalists bottom line.

Despite the obvious gulf between our theological beliefs, I agree wholeheartedly. And I love your tag line!

35 posted on 12/17/2009 7:34:15 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Vaya`an Yosef 'et-Par`oh le'mor bil`aday; 'Eloqim ya`aneh 'et-shelom Par`oh.)
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To: NYer

I was always surprised by the life of Gloria Grahame - who plays the blond bombshell Violet in the film.

In real life she was married four times. Okay, that’s not too shocking for a Hollywood actress, but her last husband was her STEPSON from her second marriage! And she had children with both Nicholas Ray and his son, Anthony Ray.
Apparently she started having an affair with Anthony when he was 13.


36 posted on 12/17/2009 8:26:45 PM PST by vladimir998
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To: NYer

Not a fan of Frank Capra. Not a fan of Jimmy Stewart’s acting, either. The voice was just annoying.


37 posted on 12/17/2009 8:39:54 PM PST by Desdemona (True Christianity requires open hearts and open minds - not blind hatred.)
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To: RanGreHad

>>Even if we sympathize with their circumstances, the fact is they couldn’t afford the loans. Even Bailey admits they would be too old to enjoy their homes if he waited for them to qualify under ordinary rules.<<

Yes they could.
No one lost their house in the movie.


38 posted on 12/18/2009 5:40:28 AM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: onedoug

ping


39 posted on 12/18/2009 12:53:45 PM PST by stylecouncilor (What Would Jim Thompson Do?)
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To: stylecouncilor

Gosh, Donna Reed was pretty.


40 posted on 12/18/2009 4:26:13 PM PST by onedoug
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To: Tax-chick

Zuzu is a nickname for Susan.


41 posted on 12/18/2009 4:57:21 PM PST by TradicalRC (Secular conservatism is liberalism.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Despite the obvious gulf between our theological beliefs, I agree wholeheartedly. And I love your tag line!

My dream is to live in a world where the only arguments are theological. We also have overlapping areas in our faiths and religious folks ought to draw from that well more often as the real enemies are secular.

I think that capitalism is the best economic system, I just do not subscribe to such notions as its being beyond criticism, or if you criticize it you must be a communist or that the market is so wonderful that it has the ability to foment all sorts of virtues from humankind.

42 posted on 12/18/2009 5:07:04 PM PST by TradicalRC (Secular conservatism is liberalism.)
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