Wednesday, 21 December 2011

It's A Wonderful Life when you can get to hear the real Zuzu!!!!

On Tuesday morning, driving into work, I got very excited when I heard someone being interviewed on the radio.

While many other people were probably tuning into other stations and getting exercised about the death of the Korean leader or the euro crisis, I was instead immersed in an interview with a woman whose name I didn’t even know but who has just happened to play a small but highly significant role in a cultural phenomenon which has always had a big impact on me.

For yes, I was listening to the voice of Zuzu.

You know –- Zuzu.

Zuzu of “Zuzu’s petals” fame?

Come on you must know!

If you are still wondering what on earth I am prattling on about (and fear not, I get that a lot) Zuzu was the name of one of the children in the ultimate Christmas film. It is mine and many other people’s favourite movie of all time – it is, of course, the truly magnificent It’s A Wonderful Life.

I got to hear the voice of the legend that is Zuzu – real name Karolyn Grimes – when she was talking to Nicky Campbell on Radio Five Live.

The ever-entertaining Mr Campbell is a man who has effortlessly interviewed world leaders, royals and stars of stage and screen and yet for once he seemed genuinely star struck and somewhat humbled. For he knew as I did that this was Zuzu – the one who said “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”.

And I shared his sense of awe.

It isn’t hard to see why this film means so much to so many and why it will have millions weeping into their Christmas puds as it is shown again over the festive period (it is also at the Little Theatre in Bath on Christmas Eve). It is just one of those remarkable films where once it gets you, you stay ‘got’.

I remember seeing it for the first time on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon when I was just keen to watch anything and it appeared unheralded on the BBC2 schedules. As I sat open-mouthed in admiration it became, from that day forth, (and it is about 30 years now) my number one film.

I watch it at least once a year and if I ever want to remind myself what a softie I am I will just watch the last 15 minutes again and blub like a Gazza. Frankly, if you don’t cry watching It’s A Wonderful Life it is not because there is anything wrong with the movie – it is because there is something wrong with you.

As Zuzu and Nicky Campbell pointed out this beautiful fantasy piece has a timeless quality. It features a man in financial problems (2011 – check) being screwed over by an evil banker (2011– check) who is only bought back from the brink by a loveable angel (2011 – err, not quite).

The thing that ‘saves’ him is to see what life would have been like if he had never been born and I can guarantee there isn’t a single person who will have watched this film who won’t have asked themselves that same question afterwards.

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.

So I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas but if you do need a lift then just say hello to Zuzu and her petals again. Atta boy Clarence.

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