John: Favorite movie? Casablanca.
Berg: Searching for Bobby Fischer.
Chris: You know mine, It's a Wonderful Life. And the other --
John: Gotta say, once you realize George Bailey dies in the middle, it's a totally different movie.
Chris: ... what?
John: It's a Wonderful Life is really a movie -- and I'm not the first person to say this -- about how a man's dreams are crushed by family expectations and middle class responsibilities. George Bailey's dreams of going to college and off to Europe are destroyed by the allegedly idyllic small town values that in fact trap him. Suffocate him.
John: So, say Bailey jumped off that bridge and died. Say Clarence was there to guide him to heaven. What would heaven be for such a man? It would be validation. And that's what Clarence the Angel gives him, a tour meant to show him how significant he is. Or how significant, at least, he always secretly believed himself to be.
John: And then when he repents of his suicide, what does he get? A timeless eternity in his living room surrounded by his loved ones, with everyone he knows in the world coming through the door to tell him how amazing he is. The second half of It's a Wonderful Life makes much more sense if you assume that George Bailey committed suicide, and the rest is Bailey's heaven.
Chris: Is that more or less depressing than the original meaning?
John: I honestly don't know.
In the Comments -- your favorite movie. And no sniping. There's no accounting for what kicks your heart the right way.