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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

 -  Drama | Family | Fantasy  -  7 January 1947 (USA)
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 217,833 users  
Reviews: 649 user | 190 critic

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
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Title: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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Top 250 #26 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 7 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Todd Karns ...
Samuel S. Hinds ...
Mary Treen ...
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Virginia Patton ...
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Storyline

George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never had the opportunity in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that prevents him from doing so is George's modest building and loan company, which was founded by his generous father. But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, with the promise of earning his ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Celebrating 65 years. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Greatest Gift  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,180,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£49,845 (UK) (19 December 2008)

Gross:

£682,222 (UK) (24 December 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(colorized)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Ma Bailey and Mrs Hatch want to know what George wants at some point; Ma Bailey in Pottersville and Mrs Hatch in her house. See more »

Goofs

When George invites Carter to come in and follows him, he is holding the pipe with his left hand. But in the shot after someone asks him about hang up the phone, he appears with the pipe in his right hand. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mr. Emil Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.
Giuseppe Martini: Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Ma Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that's why he's in trouble.
Ernie Bishop: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God.
Mary: I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.
Janie Bailey: Please, God, something's the matter with Daddy.
Zuzu Bailey: Please bring Daddy back.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A church bell forms the backdrop for the studio logo, and the opening credits are in a scrapbook with Christmas decorations. The bell reappears before the end credits, and the end credits have a Christmas card picture as a backdrop. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hamlet (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Charleston
(1923) (uncredited)
Music by James P. Johnson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Great Influence...
4 March 1999 | by (Marietta, OH) – See all my reviews

No movie ever made has influenced me more than this classic. I had the honor of doing a play version of it about 5 years ago. I had seen the film thousands of times, had loved it, but I never really knew what it meant. During the course of the production, I suddenly felt alive. I felt that I wasn't having enough fun. I felt that I wasn't doing enough in my life. Crazy things, like kissing my mother or my father. I hadn't really hugged one of them in a while. It makes you think. It's more of a thinking person's film than a mere Christmas film. If you think it's just a Christmas film, I insist you watch it again and again, until you get the message.

Stewart gives the finest performance of his career, in one of the most difficult characters ever portrayed. A character all of us are familiar with...a person looking to find himself/herself. It's the great struggle for finding what it is in life you really want to do. George Bailey teaches us so lessons throughout the film and in the end he teaches us the most important lesson of all, that life, although a long and winding road, truly is (for lack of a better word) wonderful...


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The letter from Clarence illgainprosperity
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