The best part of Christmas, once you’re too old to get toys, is It’s A Wonderful Life. But what about the rest of the year? Wouldn’t it be great if the cast and director of America’s timeless holiday classic made another movie, one suitable for non-Christmas occasions? They did, eight years before It’s A Wonderful Life, and it won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Anthony Kirby is a brutally avaricious Wall Street executive during the Great Depression, delighted that an imminent business deal will not just bring a huge profit, but crush the competition in the process. The only glitch: Grandpa Vanderhof, the patriarch of an extended family of eccentrics under one roof who have forsaken the pursuit of wealth. With no interest in money, the cheerful Vanderhof refuses to sell out at any price. Meanwhile, Kirby hopes to groom his spoiled son, Tony, into an executive himself. Tony’s main interest, however, is falling in love with his secretary Alice – whose grandfather is none other than Vanderhof. While the elder Kirby plots to acquire the property and complete the deal, Tony plots to convince his snobbish parents that Alice is a suitable fiancee for their son.
Ah, Grandpa Vanderhof! I loved him from the first moment he entered the story. Plodding, deliberate, self-possessed, doddering – truth be told, he reminded me in many ways of my own beloved Opa. He’s a mensch of the best kind, beloved by his neighbors for Continue reading