IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Welcome to Pottersville. Young George Bailey is beaten until he's bleeding from the ear. Later, played by Jimmy Stewart, he shakes his uncle by the lapels, berating the "stupid old fool" like a scene from a film noir. He despairs, "I'm at the end of my rope! I wish I'd never been born!" Long before American Beauty, Frank Capra gave us the original midlife crisis movie, with Stewart (pictured with Donna Reed) in the Kevin Spacey role. Life has passed George by, and he's trapped by career, mortgage, and marriage. Despite Capra's 1946 post-war optimism about family, community, and the bountiful promise of the suburbs, you still can't shake off George's dark vision of reality. (PG) Grand Illusion. Sat. Dec. 13-Thurs. Dec. 25. BRIAN MILLER

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