Forget "It's a Wonderful Life", Jimmy Stewart's finest came six years earlier.
It was in his pre-war acting career, and his portrayal was one of a national spokeman than a small town yeoman.
In Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", Stewart was Jefferson Smith, an naive appointee to the United States Senate, who found himself quickly in a battle for his reputation over a little known entity name Willet Creek and a dam about to be placed there. Such a structure would compromise a Boy Scout camp which Smith was fond of.
In short, the bill was introduced by Senator Joe Paine via political boss James Taylor was corrupt and the blame was switched to the honorable Smith, who is quickly brought up to be oustered by the great lawmaking body. Unwilling to let a political machine win, Smith begins a 24-hour filibuster to force out the truth.
At its climax, a weary, unshaven, hoarse Smith is sifting through letters generated by supporters of Senator Paine via Taylor, asking him to stop his actions and get thrown out of the senate.
With what was left, Smith walks over to Paine and utters: "And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other. Yes, you even die for them." Smith then goes back to the letters until he finally collapses, which leads to the the admittance of guilt by Paine and the redemption of the naive senator from Kansas.
Perhaps this is the ending the Ron Santo hoped-in a different sense-as he went through his 70-year life, which ended early Friday morning.
He was a Chicago Cub after all, and for many fans and detractors that seems a lost cause at times. He joined the team at 19-years old, helping them climb from a 15-year stay in the bottom half of the National League to one of the elite teams in baseball.
Despite nine All-Star appearances, five gold gloves, and a respectable .277 batting average and 342 home runs, the Cubs could only muster a collection of second and third places in the late 1960s and 1970s. The closest the Cubs came to a World Series was their 155 days spent in first place in 1969, until the Mets proved to "Amazin'" to handle.
The cause ended after his trade to the White Sox in 1974, but was far from lost.
Santo came back for more as a color commentator for the Cubs on WGN-AM in Chicago in 1990. His enthusiasm for the club bordered then exceeded traditional "homerism", but his passion cauht on with fans and with straight-laced play-by-play man Pat Hughes, mad Cubs games must listen radio.
There again, he rooted hard for what appeared to be a lost cause. Seasons not spent in the bottom half of the division brought more heartbreak. The Cubs were swept out of the playoffs in 1998, 2007, and 2008, the latter of which came after a National League best 97-win season.
In 2003, he endured the most heartbreak, as the Cubs collapsed a game from the series by losing three straight to the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series.
Yet it was at that time that Santo fought another cause that went beyond that of the Cubs, and whose despair was more real and devastating than any drama played out at the Friendly Confines.
No cause was lost, even as he battled another at the same time.
Santo missed the 2003 playoffs in person due to complications with his Type-1 Diabetes, which he was diagnosed with as a child. He watched from his bed at his off season home in Arizona, and would call in to offer his commentary from the first win over Atlanta in the NLDS to the game seven loss to the Marlins two weeks later.
It wasn't the first time that it caused problems. Playing with Diabetes in the 1960's and 1970's was to do so without the technology afforded today. Santo said in interviews and in a documentary on himself called "This Old Cub" that he would judge his sugar levels by how he felt, and a dugout candy bar was his medicine.
After his playing career, further complications led the amputation of his legs in 2001 and 2002, but not the end of his broadcasting career, his support of the Cubs, nor his efforts to find a cure for diabetes.
He started the Ron Santo Walk To Cure Diabetes in 1974 and continued it until his death, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to where his efforts were focused.
In the end it wasn't even the diabetes that killed him, it was bladder cancer which had caused a decline in his health following the 2010 baseball season, the 102nd without a World Series championship for his beloved Cubs.
The cure for Type-1 Diabetes is still being sought despite all of his efforts over the past three decades to change that.
Lost causes to some it might seem, but to Ron Santo it was worth an effort until the end, a legacy long remembered even as the quest goes on.
"And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for an other. Yes, you even die for them."
An Oscar winner performance for one was a credo for another.