Some films need no introduction, and It’s A Wonderful Life is one of those films. Despite not doing so well in 1946, it’s been a Christmas staple for generations now. You’re probably a lot less familiar with what came after, since there’s a sequel – and it’s not good.
No, you haven’t somehow missed It’s A Wonderful Life 2. The Christmas movie got a follow-up on television that was aptly called Clarence, since it centers on the angel after he helped out old George Bailey. Conveniently, since the family movie‘s ending where he gets his wings, Clarence becomes much younger, now appearing as a man in his thirties.
Where this new movie (from 1990) picks up, Clarence has become a pencil pusher in Heaven, but gets roped back into being a guardian angel when a friend’s widow contemplates suicide. He takes on a mission to save her like he did George, but he can’t pull the same trick again. This is a bit of a thriller movie because Clarence has to do it all without revealing he’s an angel. And if he fails, he’s stuck on Earth.
Yeah, bit different from the spiritual redemption of the original, isn’t it? Robert Carradine plays Clarence, and though he’s not exactly bad, he’s no Henry Travers.
Likewise, director Eric Till does what he can, but this a TV movie, with an appropriate budget. It just doesn’t have the scope and charm of its predecessor, though there’s plenty of charm as an artifact of the late ’80s and early ’90s with requisite lighting and pre-prestige-television staging.
Funnily enough, Till did very well for himself with festive viewing around this time, almost making the Muppets movie A Muppet Family Christmas in 1987. Remember that connection when you’re discussing Christmas films!
Alas, not a replacement for It’s A Wonderful Life, but worth tracking down if you want something odd some year. You can watch Clarence free on Amazon Prime Video, which is handy! Check out our lists of the best Christmas horror movies and best Netflix movies for more viewing options.