Archive for May 18th, 2008

Collateral Damage of life

If so much as long life beyond

Mortal hour-glass may be burdened;

Each grain nudging an age thereof

Past its pursed mouth to eternity; enough

For hills to powder crumble

And the hollows levelled to brim

I shall still think: one brief hour was

All that needed for such a man as I:

An hour rounded off by happiness.


If so much as long life beyond

Pleasure of senses or of mind did last

Life would have lost its best part,

For a man such as I: Devoid of feel

A head though with facts be filled  

Has come far too short on living;

Unsettled as I am, one perfect hour was

All that needed for such a man as I :

An hour rounded off by happiness.


Wrapped in tears and laughter of mankind

Either way a perfect fit I may never find.



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His joining the Army was accidental. His elder brother had taken Chemistry course at the Virginia Military Institute. He had done well. When George was ready to enrol in VMI he overheard his brother telling his brother not to let George go. Because he was afraid George would disgrace the family name. More was his determination to prove his brother wrong.



In 1902 as the second lieutenant Marshall was leading a patrol by ‘banca’in the Philippines. They were heading towards a small island where an armed band had been reported. On the way he had to cross a narrow stream but deep for fording. As the patrol got moving some one heard a splash and yelled,’Crcodiles!’. In panic men ran for safety knocking Marshall over. He quietly got to his feet and ordered them to fall in, gave them right shoulder arms and faced the river they had just crossed.’March!’the lieutenant commanded. Down they went single file into the river with Marshall at their head. Having reached the other end they were kept marching back where they started from. This was repeated before they could fall out. No more the incident was mentioned. As the one in command he merely used the reflexes of discipline to restore the substance of command. 



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It certainly is. Especially with Christmas in the offing. Capra warms the cockles of our hearts with this much loved classic as Charles Dickens did a century earlier.  Angels and Christmas are now packaged as Christmas spirit comes by an act of will as shallow as a smile. Yet new generations are added to the ideas of self-sacrifice and reward, and an oh so happy ending that could bring any suicide back from the brink. No small achievement if this were true?


Angels are discussing George Bailey (James Stewart), a small town savings and loan proprietor. Life is getting him down and he’s thinking of ending it all. His childhood dreams of travelling the world and doing great things have not been fulfilled.  

    I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long…

 He had to sacrifice his chance of going to college for his brother and despite his own aspirations he ended up marrying his childhood sweetheart (Donna Reed) and running the family business in Bedford Falls. Now, thanks to his absent-minded uncle unwittingly giving a pile of money to an unscrupulous banking rival, he’s got money problems and is ready to throw himself from a bridge.

 Enter his appointed guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), a trainee hoping to win his wings. Clarence shows George what a terrible place Bedford Falls would be if it hadn’t been for George and his string of good deeds. He’s saved lives, protected the town from the money grubbing banker Potter (Lionel Barrymore), built decent homes for folk and so on and so on.

 When, after Clarence’s intervention, George returns home, the townsfolk are there with thousands of dollars from their savings, just to save George from going to jail. He is back with his family. It’s lovely. A bell tinkles on the Christmas tree.

Zuzu his daughter says: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

George (grinning): That’s right, that’s right. (He congratulates Clarence, looking upward and giving a wink.) Attaboy, Clarence.

Corny eh? But George has found his own rewards and gifts – life, redemption, and freedom. The swelling sounds of Auld Lang Syne build to a crescendo in an affirmation of life. [The film originally ended with 'Ode to Joy.']

The film doesn’t pretend to be arty or of highbrow. It is as honest as a fart and Frank Capra knew how it could be done as natural without offending the fine sensibilities of others. I mean he let the reprehensible act of Potter, despite stealing money from the Bailey Building and Loan go unpunished — something unusual for the average Hollywood movie at the time. The inclusion of this sop to popular hypocricy would have diluted the film message. Our lives like that of George touch everyone else’s. How the good or bad is repaid is subjective and Capra simply told a story intelligently and straight to the heart.

 This film bombed at the box office which is probably why it won no Oscars despite 5 nominations. Repeated holiday TV showings from the sixties onwards hammered home the point. A lot of people like it now. 

    This is a film that people either love or hate… it’s an unashamed statement to the innate goodness of human nature or alternatively it’s sentimental goo.

    ~ Barry Norman, 100 Best Films of the Century

Director:Frank Capra 

George Bailey: James Stewart

Mary Hatch: Donna Reed

Mr. Potter : Lionel Barrymore

Uncle Billy : Thomas Mitchell

Clarence: Henry Travers

Mrs. Bailey : Beulah Bondi

Ernie: Frank Faylen

Bert: Ward Bond

Violet Bick: Gloria Grahame

Mr. Gower : H.B. Warner

Sam Wainwright : Frank Albertson

 129 minutes

Academy Awards

Won (0)

 Nominated (5)

    * Best Picture

    * Best Actor (James Stewart)

    * Best Director(Frank Capra)

    * Best Sound Recording (John Aalberg)

    * Best Film Editing (William Hornbeck)

 compiler: benny



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Poetry Please!- An Ode

Ode To A Master-Builder




Bridgebuilder over sylvan shadows

What complexity shall I reckon

To St.Arachnid in part

And your native Art?





Weave me a dream as substantial

Out of your loom:

Already I am high even as you

With pride elemental

Past the seven sisters and Orion climb;

It is your universe and my plodding mind

Think it is dew, -

Oh overlook my vain presumption:

I am merely a poet in love with words

While you create new worlds

And stay fit on your gifts.




Blustery winds from North

Do blow; If the boughs of larch

In heap fall and acorns pepper

What shall you do, spider?

Between floor-boards of earth

(Stolidity begone! ) I swim

Among clouds on warpath;

Round the Sun’s rim

One can’t be too careful.

‘Malignant be your beam,’

The spider cries out, baleful:

‘Still I must spin another

Web around my naked hearth;

As long as life has its power

From this piteous hearth 

Shall my dreams flower.’




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