It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

reviewed by
James Brundage


It's A Wonderful Life
As reviewed by James Brundage

It figures that we'd have to go back to the 1946 Best Picture winner in order to end up with a truly optimistic film. A film in which the characters are not simply cardboard cutouts and the dialogue isn't used-before cliché. This isn't the first time I've had this opinion: I think the same thing as a general rule -- old movies are almost always better than new ones.

I won't bother with the why. The answer lies in the question in the fact that the normal movie has to ask why it shouldn't use a thing that worked. They never take risks (studio films, that is. I think an old film and an independent are on equal footing), they never do anything new, and its all money, money, money.

But money's a very useful thing.

Then again, a man who has friends is always rich.

Cliches like that happen to comprise the idea behind on of the least cliché movies in history, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", the most famous of his works and the one that coined the term Capraesque.

It's a Wonderful Life is a story about hope. Hope for life, hope for people, hope for humankind. It shows us how we affect people in ways we never imagined, and how we make things better by being in it. It does what an artist should do, make the mundane important. And in making the mundane important, in giving the meaningless meaning, it helps us all. It's a Wonderful Life is one of the top fifty of all time, probably one of the top ten: a cinema masterpiece with a message.

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