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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
985 ( 102)
Top Rated Movies #24 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Todd Karns ...
Mary Treen ...
Ruth Dakin


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


Frank Capra's..."It's a Wonderful Life". See more »


Drama | Family | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, smoking and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Greatest Gift  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,180,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£49,845 (UK) (19 December 2008)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dalton Trumbo, Dorothy Parker, Marc Connelly, and Clifford Odets all did uncredited work on the script. See more »


The number of boys at the bottom of the slope during the sledding scene increases from shot to shot even though we've only seen a couple actually sledding. See more »


[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 ringing facsimile of the Liberty Bell (without the crack) forms the backdrop for the studio logo, which is Liberty Films, 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 »


Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Jupiter Ascending (2015) See more »


King Porter Stomp
Written by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Sheer brilliance!
18 April 2000 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

After strong performances in films such as "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" and "The Philadelphia Story", James Stewart confirmed his status as one of the greats with his performance as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life". This movie is, without a doubt, the best of all time.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that you can watch over and over again. It's movie that makes you think, about life in general and how each person makes a difference, and about how great life can be (hence the title "It's a Wonderful Life). Whilst making you think, it also entertains with many light hearted moments, particularly towards the end of the film.

The direction, sound and casting in "It's a Wonderful Life" are second to none. Yet it is the fact that almost any person can watch this movie and come away feeling inspired that makes it easily the best movie of all time!

A 10/10 without a doubt!

163 of 197 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Racist? UM Yeah. This movie did not age well dolcineadelamantra
Great message for girls who watch this film timroth
It's a Wonderful Film? terranova222
Colorized or Black and White? trailmarker3-2
The saddest scene in the movie... TrouserArmadillo
Why did George say "pop, you want a shock?" tranngoc
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