This three-hanky Frank Capra classic often tops the list of favorite holiday movies. It has something for everyone: Jimmy Stewart playing an everyman hero who happens to be a lender with a heart of gold. A guardian angel. A greedy banker. A small town replete with cute kids and friendly families who pull together when it counts. And, just in case you have any Kleenex left at the end, a soldier returning safely from the war.
What it reveals: For the people of Bedford Falls, the gifts that mean the most aren't available in any store.
"People do good deeds with their hearts at the holiday season," says Todd Mark, vice president of education for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas. "You're going to feel better about a gift of meaning rather than a gift from the mall. If you want to have your 'It's a Wonderful Life' moment, it's often represented by generosity and care, and not just a shopping spree."
Revelation for cynics: We should clone George Bailey and put him in charge of the Fed. A bank too small to fail? Genius.