MOVIEmeter
Top 500
Up 266 this week

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

 -  Drama | Family | Fantasy  -  7 January 1947 (USA)
8.7
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.7/10 from 218,230 users  
Reviews: 650 user | 190 critic

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

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Get Showtimes

In 2 theaters near Ashburn VA US [change]

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 26 titles
created 25 Oct 2011
 
list image
a list of 24 titles
created 07 Jan 2012
 
a list of 43 titles
created 03 May 2013
 
a list of 31 titles
created 18 Dec 2013
 
a list of 43 titles
created 5 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) on IMDb 8.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of It's a Wonderful Life.

User Polls

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

Director: George Seaton
Stars: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne
Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Ralphie has to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and 3 more credits »
Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV Short 1965)
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

Director: Bill Melendez
Stars: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer
Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A little girl discovers dreams do come true if you really believe. Six-year-old Susan has doubts about childhood's most enduring miracle - Santa Claus. Her mother told her the "secret" ... See full summary »

Director: Les Mayfield
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.

Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
Stars: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

Director: Lee Unkrich
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Spirited Away (2001)
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into beasts.

Directors: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise
Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).

Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright
The Lion King (1994)
Animation | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Lion cub and future king Simba tests his limits, supported by his family, but sometimes gets in over his head.

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

Director: John Pasquin
Stars: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson
Animation | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Stars: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn
Edit

Cast

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

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:

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

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  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In the version of this film which aired on TV in the late 1950s and early 1960s, George Bailey (James Stewart), by phone, accuses the teacher of "sending my kid home from school in the rain". In the most recent version aired on NBC,12/24/12, George's line is "You sent my kid home from school half naked." Quite a stronger accusation. This would give the teacher's husband a more ample reason to "take a poke" at George, as he did, later in Nick's tavern. See more »

Goofs

When George is on the bridge, the snow and ice pattern on his left coat shoulder is the same as it was when he was in Potter's office, even though he was in the bar afterward. 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 How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love You Truly
(1906) (uncredited)
Written by Carrie Jacobs Bond
Performed by Ward Bond and Frank Faylen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
"To My Big Brother George, The Richest Man In Town"
25 December 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I've always thought that the reason It's A Wonderful Life has had such enduring popularity is that more than in any other film it shows what can be the value of a single individual and the contribution to the greater good they can make.

George Bailey as portrayed by James Stewart is the kind of every man hero we can all identify with. He's got the every day problems to be sure, raising and providing for a family, but he's got bigger problems than that. Fate has made him the rallying point of opposition in his small town of Bedford Falls to the "richest and meanest man in town", embodied in Lionel Barrymore.

It's a real David vs. Goliath battle. Barrymore seems to have unlimited resources at his disposal. Samuel S. Hinds as Peter Bailey put it so well to him in asking what are you doing all this for? Barrymore does have more money than he could ever possibly use. A little charity wouldn't hurt him.

Remember the basic plot outline. A whole lot of people in Bedford Falls one post World War II Christmas Eve see that their friend George is toting a heavy load of mysterious origins. Their prayers reach the heavens where an angel is dispatched to aid.

But before Henry Travers the angel arrives, he's given the story of George Bailey's life. And we see the kind of struggles he's had, the sacrifices he's made for the good of a whole lot of others. We've also seen a greedy and grasping Potter, grabbing everything that George Bailey cannot save.

Something happens that day before Christmas through no fault of his own, Bailey is in big trouble. It's driven him to the brink of despair. That's why the angel is sent down. He shows him the alternate universe that would have been had he never existed. It's something each and every one of us should try to do, step outside ourselves see just what our contributions can be.

But I think what Frank Capra is trying to say in this greatest of his films is that having done that and we realize we haven't contributed to the greater good of humankind, we resolve to do so. It's a simple, but profound lesson.

What if Potter got the same opportunity? In a sense Charles Dickens did just that in A Christmas Carol. Would Lionel Barrymore change? It's an interesting point of speculation.

In addition to those cast members already mentioned a whole group of players who worked with Capra before grace this film. Add to that some others and you have a perfectly cast feature picture.

Donna Reed has an interesting part as well. Your choice of mate is real important in life. Had she not been as loving and supportive to George Bailey, he might very well have taken a different route in life. Mary Hatch Bailey became a signature part for her, more identified than her role in From Here to Eternity which got her an Oscar. It certainly was the basis for her TV series.

When Todd Karns who plays Harry Bailey toasts his brother he's saying that the riches of the world are not necessarily things that can be quantified. Your life is not measured in material things, but in how you use the material things given you.

And that universal lesson will be taught into eternity as long as It's A Wonderful Life is shown every year. Wouldst we all learn it.


80 of 95 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Just watched it for the first time ever cliffcarson-502-470231
What dose Nick say ?? tcob4-387-998129
Everyone else's life Amy-93-155144
Will you watch this near Christmas in this year? tomasz1414-1
The letter from Clarence illgainprosperity
'You must mean two other trees.' HardSteelMill
Discuss It's a Wonderful Life (1946) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page