As I sort through the debris of Christmas and try to ramp up for New Year's Eve, as is my nature, I am apt to pursue a post-mortem of the holiday just gone. What most strikes me most is the Broadway cinema's free screening of It's a wonderful life.---
When I got to the cinema Christmas Eve at 3 p.m., my head still ringing with the travails of my current cover story on a vocal critic of the LDS church, I lined up with I'd guess around 100 people, the majority, unlike myself, without kids.
I ran into friends who have been going to the screening for the last six years and view it as a cornerstone of their Christmas. As much as I love Capra's film, I couldn't understand the fuss. But when I settled down next to a woman who fanned herself periodically through the film, the pleasure of watching a scratchy, at times sound-hobbled 35 mm print unfold on the big screen was too much to deny.
At the end of the film, the audience applauded, as much perhaps for Capra and his cast and crew as for the generosity of the Broadway. As I walked along the street, holding my children's hands, I thought about how Capra's sermon about not giving into the values of Pottersville was long dead and buried. And yet, there was the independent vinyl store Slowtrain and a few others noble holdouts to the corporations that rule our lives.
Broadway is surely to be commended for this ultimate of Christmas gifts. It bonds you, for a few hours, with a living, breathing Salt Lake City, then sends you out with a new appreciation for the world around you. What more could you ask of a Christmas present?