The Name Above the Title: An excerpt
I didn’t give a film-clip whether critics hailed or hooted Wonderful Life. I thought it was the greatest film I had ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody had ever made. It wasn’t made for the oh-so-bored critics, or the oh-so-jaded literati. It was my kind of film for my kind of people; the motion picture I had wanted to make since I first peered into a movie camera’s eyepiece in that San Francisco Jewish gymnasium.
A film to tell the weary, the disheartened and the disillusioned; the wino, the junkie, the prostitute; those behind prison walls and those behind Iron Curtains that no man is a failure!
To show those born slow of foot or slow of mind, those oldest sisters condemned to spinsterhood and those oldest sons condemned to unschooled toil that each man’s life touches so many other lives. And that if he isn’t around it would leave an awful hole.
A film that said to the downtrodden, the pushed-around, the pauper, “Head’s up, fella. No man is poor who has one friend. Three friends and you’re filthy rich.”
A film that expressed its love for the homeless and the loveless; for her whose cross is heavy and him whose touch is ashes; for the Magdalenes stoned by hypocrites and the afflicted Lazaruses with only dogs to lick their sores.
I wanted it to shout to the abandoned grandfathers staring vacantly in nursing homes, to the always-interviewed but seldom-adopted orphans, to the paupers who refuse to die while medical vultures wait to snatch their hearts and livers, and to those who take cobalt treatments and whistle – I wanted to shout, “You are the salt of the earth. And It’s a Wonderful Life is my memorial to you!”
And my kind of people saw the film. And it touched their hearts.