Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”
One of the most celebrated American movies of all time is being hijacked by host Glenn Beck, according to a writer objecting to the talk-show host’s decision to broadcast a show from a small town hit hard by the recession.
“Beck is now trying to steal the great 1946 Frank Capra classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and turn it into a rallying cry for the conservative anti-government Christian right,” said Lauri Lebo, a former newspaper reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., in a commentary posted online.
“Somehow, Beck manages to reinterpret the movie through an unregulated free-market ideological Ayn Rand prism and message of Christian conservatism.”
Beck has been planning to air his Dec. 15 show from Wilmington, Ohio, a town of some 12,000 people which has been pummeled with job losses since shipping giant DHL left the area two years ago.
Beck said Wilmington “is fighting to be Bedford Falls, not Pottersville,” a reference to the fictional towns in the film, which starred Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a small-town man receiving divine help as he rescues his family’s Bailey Building & Loan in the middle of tough economic times.
“First of all, it’s a Christmas movie with an angel in it and God, so I’m pretty sure that it’s already got the religion thing in it,” Beck said in response to Lebo.
Lebo had written “there are some terrific themes in that movie. Dare I even say it? Terrific progressive themes.”
It was that remark about “terrific progressive themes” that sparked the most spirited reaction from Beck, as he explained:
“Who saved the Building & Loan in Bedford Falls? The people did. George did, with his own private funds. The government didn’t bail him out, and that’s the deal. You remember the bank was bailing everyone out … along with the government closing down the banks. The banks and the government were in collusion. …
“The local banks were the ones that didn’t have a problem. It’s the gigantic banks run by people like [Mr.] Potter that were just trying to get rich and didn’t care about people. The local banks are the George Baileys. That’s not progressive. Progressive is about going past the Constitution and having people at a government level babysit people because they’re all too stupid.”
Among the most famous scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life” is embedded below as Stewart begs his fellow citizens to band together in standing against a malicious plot by powerful forces in town.
Beck’s planned visit to Ohio is getting mixed reaction from area locals.
“This is an abomination,” Kyle Gordon told the Wilmington News Journal. “Beck sees Wilmington as an opportunity to appeal to ‘hard-working middle America’ and spread his anti-Obama gospel without giving out hope of his own. If you want to see a portrayal of a toddler throwing a tantrum in front of several thousand people, go to this event.”
“I think all of you that are opposing Glenn’s coming to visit your town and calling him a phony is truly a shame,” said Pat G. “He is a good man and a true America-loving human being. He is so looking forward to coming to see you and truly believes in you and your town. Shame on you who doubt him. He is a very religious man and is NOT, I repeat, NOT a phony. I know Glenn. You should be glad he is even thinking of you. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
And Dean Feldmeyer noted, “Let’s withhold judgment for six months and agree to meet back here in June. Then we will be able to fairly ask and answer the question: Is Wilmington better off for Mr. Beck’s having been here or were we just used for political purposes?”