Few movies have the power to make me cry. “Schindler’s List” couldn’t do it. Neither could “Old Yeller” or “Life is Beautiful” or “Titanic”, all notorious tear-jerkers. Heck, even that scene in “Bambi” where (SPOILER ALERT!) his mother gets shot and dies couldn’t turn on the ducts. It was close, but even at the tender age of seven I was able to remain strong.
“It’s a Wonderful Life,” on the other hand, gets me blubbering every time. For some reason that last scene, where Harry Bailey raises a toast to his brother George, “…the richest man in town,” makes me well up like an old woman at a wedding. It’s such a timeless film, and it reminds us of the important things in life: a loving family, a cozy home, friends who are willing to cough up their life savings to keep you from going to prison when you somehow misplace $8,000 (thanks, Uncle Billy). Because of this, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.
It has nothing to do with that fact that it co-stars the beautiful Donna Reed.
Although, that doesn’t hurt.
So when my neighbors bought my two-year-old daughter, Antonella, a book for Christmas called Dance by the Light of the Moon (Joanne Ryder), I immediately recognized that it was based on the old John Hodges song “Buffalo Gals,” which plays a prominent part in Capra’s film. Antonella immediately grew attached to this charming little tale, which follows Buffalo Flo and her friends Goose, Cat, and Pig, as they join Farmer Snow for a moonlit dance beside the barn.
Before we read the story to my daughter every night (and I mean that literally), my wife and I sing “Buffalo Gals” to her, which she adorably refers to as “Come Out, Come Out.” Then, when the story’s over, we sing it again. Now she’s obsessed. As a matter of fact, a couple of times, immediately after waking up in the morning, she has called out to us over the baby monitor: “Mommy! Daddy! I want you sing ‘Come Out, Come Out,’ peas!” We may have created a monster.
I’ve been thinking about showing Antonella “It’s a Wonderful Life” so that she can see the part where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are walking home from the high school dance singing her new favorite song. She being such a huge fan of Sesame Street, it would be interesting to see how she’d react to a cab driver named “Ernie” and a policeman named “Bert.” Then again, I wouldn’t want to confuse her.
And besides, I wouldn’t want her to see her daddy cry like a baby when the good people of Bedford Falls break into their rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”
I have a reputation to uphold, you know.