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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
1,604 ( 49)
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:


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


They're making memories tonight! 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:

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$3,180,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,270,000, 31 December 1947
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When a destitute Violet asks George for help, he thought her hat was silly in the novelization; she also returned the money he lent her. See more »


When Uncle Billy is counting the money at the bank for the deposit, we can clearly see the first few bills are 5's, followed by, at the most, 20 more bills. Considering that these would have been monthly cash payments on $6000 mortgages, it is unlikely that anything close to $8,000 could have been in that small stack of bills. It is about 1/3 of the size of the wedding money which is 1/4 of the amount. 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 »


Spoofed in It's a Miserable Life (1979) See more »


This Is the Army, Mr. Jones
(1943) (uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A wonderful film that should be watched again and again.
13 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is one of the best films of all time, without a doubt. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not be touched, if you can, you have no heart!

James Stewart is one of my favourite actors, and in this film he acts so naturally you even forget he's an actor playing a part, you really believe his story. You're pulled on a roller coaster of emotions throughout this film, and by no means is this a light hearted look at life, as many believe. This is not a rose tinted look at the wonderful life we have, this is a dark, downtrodden start to a film where the lead character is about to commit suicide.

However, it is a beautiful film, and is one of the few that you can watch again and again and walk away with the same glowing feeling as you did when you first watched it.

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