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It's a Wonderful World (1939)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery  |  19 May 1939 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,637 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 9 critic

Detective Guy Johnson's client, Willie Heywood is framed for murder and while Guy hides him so he can catch the real killer, both of them are nabbed by the police, tried, convicted and ... See full summary »

Director:

(as W.S. Van Dyke II)

Writers:

(screen play), (based on an original story by), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Guy Johnson
Guy Kibbee ...
'Cap' Streeter
...
Sergeant Koretz
Frances Drake ...
Vivian Tarbel
Edgar Kennedy ...
Lieutenant Miller
Ernest Truex ...
Willie Heyward
Richard Carle ...
Major Willoughby
Cecilia Callejo ...
Dolores Gonzales
...
Al Mallon
...
'Gimpy'
Cliff Clark ...
Captain Haggerty
Cecil Cunningham ...
Madame Chambers
Leonard Kibrick ...
Herman Plotka
...
Stage Manager
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Storyline

Detective Guy Johnson's client, Willie Heywood is framed for murder and while Guy hides him so he can catch the real killer, both of them are nabbed by the police, tried, convicted and sentenced to jail -- Guy for a year, Willie to be executed. On the way to jail Guy comes across a clue and escapes from the police... Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE HAPPENINGS OF ONE WONDERFUL NIGHT! (original ad - all caps)


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

't Is een wonderlijke wereld  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System) (5.0) (L-R)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many easily recognized cast members who are supposed to be in this film (according to studio records) are not seen in the print. These are Jack Norton, Eddie Acuff, Lester Dorr, Dorothy Ates, Nell Craig, Carl Stockdale, Bess Flowers and David Newell. See more »

Goofs

All of the newspapers shown in the film share many of the same articles, with the same headlines and typefaces, despite being in different newspapers and spread across several weeks. See more »

Quotes

Guy Johnson: I got one chance in a thousand without some silly dame gummin' the thing up!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Claudette Colbert shines in this little-known comedy with Jimmy Stewart
26 May 2010 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Although the title doesn't say much about the film, IT'S A WONDERFUL WORLD (1939) is basically a screwball comedy about a detective on the lam and on the case. It's pretty funny, with great performances by Claudette Colbert and Guy Kibbee, and it's a story centered around murder, crime, evading the police, etc.

(The film's title comes from a line in a poem written by Colbert's character and has little, if anything, to do with the movie's plot.)

James Stewart, still early in his illustrious career, plays a private detective who is wrongfully accused and escapes on his way to prison. He thinks he can crack the case, if the cops don't catch up with him first. He is joined by Colbert's character and the two of them try to elude the police manhunt.

Stewart's character is a little different from the roles for which he's best known. As a detective he's rougher and more cynical than viewers would expect of Stewart. As always, his performance is solid. There's one part of the film when he wears a scout's master disguise, complete with silly thick-lensed eyeglasses. Some of the physical comedy stemming from the character's visual impairment is gold. It's cool to see Stewart star in a detective comedy.

Colbert is very good in this film as well, playing Stewart's accomplice. She's eager to help Stewart's character, even when he'd rather be rid of her. (She does her darndest to disprove Stewart's theory that all women are dumb.) Colbert was a seasoned Hollywood star by the time this film was made (she'd won an Oscar for 1934's IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) and her performance is top-notch.

Key supporting roles go to Guy Kibbee as Stewart's partner and Nat Pendleton as the police sergeant on Stewart's trail. Kibbee has some scene-stealing moments in the movie's final act. A young Hans Conried (perhaps best known for his voice work as Captain Hook, Snidely Whiplash, and Horton the Elephant) has a brief role as the stage manager at the Saugerties theater.

A lot of talent worked on this rather obscure comedy. James Stewart and Claudette Colbert starred. W.S. Van Dyke directed. The great Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay. It seems like a recipe for success, but for whatever reason IT'S A WONDERFUL WORLD is not well-remembered nowadays. (It's probably overshadowed by Stewart's other "wonderful" film, 1946's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.) I think it's a nice little comedy with some big names. It has its moments and it's pretty funny. It probably won't blow you away, but it's worth checking out if it's on TCM or something.


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