This scene is fairly spectacular. Along with a few other scenes, like George’s dinner-table conversation with his father before the dance, I think this is what made the movie off-putting to audiences in 1946 (such that it failed at the box office), and increasingly beloved with the passage of time (such that it has become many people’s, including my own, favorite Christmas movie).
It was just way, way ahead of its time. It was so dark, so in-your-face realistic in confronting things normally swept under the rug, at least in the stylized world of Hays Code Hollywood, that it must have been a jarringly intense experience to audiences of the day. It’s a jarringly intense experience now.
I think this scene is probably the best example of that. Not necessarily the part shown in this gifset (though the “He’s making violent love to me, Mother!” line is both out there and hilarious), but the rest of the scene as it plays out. If you know the movie, and the scene (which, c’mon, you have to, right?) you know what I’m talking about. If not, consider this a giant **SPOILER ALERT**. You really should see it before reading about it.
Supposedly Stewart was very self-conscious about filming this, his first romantic scene since returning from the war. As a result, Capra filmed the end of the scene in a single unrehearsed take. After George and Mary get on the phone together there was a significant amount of additional dialog they were supposed to say, but in the moment Stewart and Reed skipped it and went right to the embrace. The result was so intense that Capra had to cut some of the kiss in order to get the scene past the censors.
It’s really an amazing thing to watch. I’ve heard some people (“kids these days,” I think is the technical term) talk disparagingly about old black-and-white Hollywood movies, about how boring they are.
Um, no, sorry. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Donna Reed died in 1986, Jimmy Stewart in 1997. But with the help of Frank Capra and the rest of the people who made this movie, the five minutes of film they created here remain as compelling today (for me at least) as anything I’ve ever seen on screen.
Reblogging to remind me how much I love this scene.
Reposted from http://ift.tt/Pu8Y76.