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It's a Wonderful Life More at IMDbPro »

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The enduring classic for all time.

10/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I once read that It's A Wonderful Life is the holiday gift for all time. Never a truer statement has been made about one of the most popular films to have ever been made.

The Plot is a simple one that has since been regurgitated and trundled out almost yearly it feels like. James Stewart plays George Bailey, an all round swell fella, who because of a number of life's circumstances finds himself forever a resident of Bedford Falls. Here he is the principal guy in the running of the family Building & Loan business. When a substantial amount of money goes missing during the run up to Christmas, Bailey finds himself at the mercy of family nemesis, and nefarious town banker, Mr. Potter {Lionel Barrymore}. But George, tipped over the edge by an incident involving the bank funds, has an idea that taking his own life would greatly improve the fortunes of his family and the family business. But as he stands at the precipice of death by suicide, George is saved by his guardian angel Clarence {Henry Travers} and given the chance to see what Bedford Falls would be like having not had George Bailey's influence.

Few, if any, directors have rivalled Frank Capra when it comes to successfully portraying the human heart on screen. It's A Wonderful Life is Capra's masterpiece. Rightly so, it is unashamedly sentimental, but also it's rich with the directors faith in community spirit and a belief in the strong bond of family love. The story is loosely worked from "The Greatest Gift," a Phillip Van Doren Stern story that he had sent to his friends as a Christmas card. Aided on screen writing duties by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett {Dalton Trumbo is in there sometimes too}, Capra fashioned an ultimate feel good movie that is flecked by sheer darkness and disconcerting "life is tough" undertones. It's most likely that the more dark side of the film, and the wait for Christmas cheer, is what made It's A Wonderful Life a flop on its release. The film made a huge loss, tho not quite as gargantuan as many today believe, and was quickly consigned to the forgotten bin. But annual yuletide repeats on television over the following decades garnered it a cult following. A cult following that eventually swelled to a near universal one, to the point that now Christmas just wouldn't be the same without it. It is by definition, the ultimate comeback movie.

Tho all the cast are superb {special mention to Donna Reed as George's wife, Mary} it's Stewart who leads the way in the class stakes. As he drifts from homely, lovable dreamer, a man sacrificing those dreams for others to benefit. To his descent into despair and the undertaking of a nightmarish odyssey, Stewart captivates in every frame, and more telling is that he is believable with each transformation of George's state of mind. However, when all is said and done, it's with the ending that basically the film rewards those who have trusted in Capra and Jimmy. It's an ending warm enough to melt the coldest of hearts. So see it with someone you love {always nice to have someone else to cry with} or introduce it to the poor souls who haven't seen it yet. Either way, it's here to stay forever the timeless classic that it so most certainly is. 10/10

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Self-Sacrificing Going Too Far?

5/10
Author: bigverybadtom from United States
13 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The premise of the story is, of course, how a man named George Bailey keeps sacrificing his money and his desires all his life to help others in various ways over the years, and when later in life he is finally overwhelmed by his latest problems which he cannot solve himself and is ready to commit suicide, an angel from Heaven whose eyes are upon promotion is sent down to tell George about how all his self-sacrificing had saved so many people from disaster.

One can nitpick about various things in the movie: reading a Bible, there are references to cherubs and seraphs, angels whose status in Heaven is indicated by the number of wings they have; the fact that George, despite his frustrated ambitions, didn't do too badly-he has a nice wife and children and is not living in poverty, and not being eligible to serve in the military would not necessarily be considered by some people (including people who had) to be a bad thing.

My problem, though, is this-it turns out that Bailey has lots of friends because of all the good he had done, and they're willing to pay him back to get him out of his financial hole and save him from jail. Unfortunately, in real life self-sacrifice, especially excessive self- sacrifice, does not necessarily result in gratitude from those one had sacrificed for. They might necessarily take your actions for granted and in fact might regard you as a slave, which all too often happens in real life. Once your purpose is served, the sacrificer is discarded and forgotten, or even despised. And that, alas, would have been the far more credible ending.

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

It makes you stop to think about your own wonderful life...

10/10
Author: kbncyk from United States
4 September 2006

On one crisp December evening, two decades ago, my husband and I celebrated our very first Christmas together as a married couple. One of our yearly traditions, which we established that very Christmas season, has been to settle in front of the TV with a large bowl of popcorn and sodas for a quiet evening enjoying the holiday classics.

That evening, my husband flipped the channels and excitedly noted the film "It's a Wonderful Life" had just started playing. After learning that I'd never seen it, my hubby enthusiastically said, "You have to watch this movie - it's one of the best films EVER."

I guess my prejudice toward black-and-white TV was rearing its ugly head. I was in no mood to watch a dated film that I thought was of no relevance to us. I encouraged my hubby to see if he could find one of the many holiday classics that we enjoyed as kids growing up in the late 1960s, early 1970s timeframe.

My husband chuckled and said, "Trust me, you'll love this story. It's about this guy, George Bailey, who..." After relating a brief synopsis of the film, he warned me that I might find the first 45 minutes or so to be slow-moving. Still, he encouraged me to pay attention closely. "Remember everything happening now to this guy, George," he advised, "It'll pay off in the second part of the film."

As I watched George struggle with his devoted wife to raise their kids and pay the bills, report to a job that he never really wanted, battle his devious nemesis Mr. Potter, and yearn for a life that might have been, I thought - okay, there are some universal themes here. But this was a Christmas film? I couldn't make the connection, and really wasn't in the mood to continue watching anything that wasn't about Christmas.

I was getting ready to go into the other room to finish my Christmas wrapping when, suddenly, finally, it was Christmas Eve in George Bailey's little world. I remembered looking at that serene little town, decorated for Christmas and bathed in fluffy white snow, and wishing that I lived in such a place.

And just as my husband had promised, over the course of the next several minutes, everything started to come together. By the end of the film, as I watched George Bailey come to the realization, with his cherished family and lifelong friends gathered around him under his Christmas tree that George Bailey, representing every man and woman, ultimately realized that he surely had had a wonderful life. I wiped away a happy tear from my eye, knowing I'd viewed something very special.

Then two and then four Christmases later, as I sat in a rocking chair, at first with our newborn baby girl and then her baby brother, I watched It's a Wonderful Life with my babies. I have subsequently repeated this tradition with friends and relatives of all ages. Many of them, like me at first thought they were dealing with an out-of-touch film from the mid-1940s, only to come to realize the timeless, wonderful gift we've all been given by Frank Capra.

Since Christmas 1985, I have watched "It's a Wonderful Life" countless times. I agree with many other viewers - it is not only hands-down, the best Christmas movie, but perhaps my most favorite movie of all. I love and cherish it for so many reasons, perhaps most of all because it really makes you stop to think about what's important in your own life.

And the most special moments of all are those times when I get to share "It's a Wonderful Life," as my husband did that one Christmas so long ago, with someone who is watching the film for the very first time.

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Life's Not Always So Wonderful

6/10
Author: evanston_dad from United States
23 March 2006

My apologies to all of you "It's a Wonderful Life"-ers out there. Please believe me when I say that I've tried multiple times to develop warm feelings for this movie. But it's just not meant to be. I've seen this film a couple of times, and I never want to see it again.

I want to beat James Stewart's George Bailey about the head and shoulders every time I watch the movie. Perhaps the most passive-aggressive hero in motion picture history, George Bailey spends half of his time sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of others, and the other half whining about his hard luck. No, George, it's not hard luck...it's the result of your own decision making skills. Either be selfless and stop complaining, or be a bastard and screw everyone else. But make up your mind, and don't take two hours to do it.

Ahhh, perhaps I now live in too cynical and jaded a world to tolerate George's namby-pamby indecision. But maybe that's a reason better than any other to keep this film around. Character aside, however, the one thing I can unequivocally praise about this film is the performance of Stewart. He provides a welcome bitter edge to combat Capra's sugary-sweet corn. His breakdown scene in a bar, where he desperately prays to God to help him keep himself together, is a tour-de-force.

Drag it out every Christmas and enjoy...I won't begrudge you that small pleasure. Just don't expect me to join along.

Grade: B-

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18 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Ageing Beautifully

10/10
Author: dowdosean from Culver City, USA
20 June 2006

I had fond memories of "It's A Wonderful Life" but, somehow, it never made my top ten. The other night I felt the urge to see it again, from beginning to end, after that fun compilation from the AFI, 100 movies, 100 Cheers. The most surprising thing about this perennial classic is that it's not just a good movie but a sort of miracle. Age has made it more relevant, more powerful. Frank Capra is, without question, its miracle worker. His narration style was a first and in a way unsurpassed. As you may very well know, the film wasn't an instant success. A peculiarity it shares with most of the great works of art. The truth is something that needs time to be confirmed even recognized. James Stewart's performance lived from a 2006 stand point is, quite simply, extraordinary. Capra's films were known as "capracorn" in their day. Strange to think about it now because its sentimentality wasn't really sentimental but a need to find goodness in the darkest places. The great Capra not only found it, it unmasked it with the same relish that he unmasked evil and greed. My only regret is that on this times of technical prowess we'll never see again the likes of "It's Wonderful Life" But, trying to look on the bright side in the most Capraesque kind of way. "It's A Wonderful Life" will be around for ever.

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19 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

It WAS a wonderful life

5/10
Author: namor2000 from United States
3 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are movies that we like so much we will watch them to the point of redundancy and never get tired of them. It's A Wonderful Life used to be one of mine, but not anymore. In fact, I can't remember the last time I actually watched it in its entirety. I realize the reason why now...it's Frank Capra's populist message. It had finally gotten under my craw.

The message, that having money is EVIL but being altruistic and broke is GOOD, served Capra well during the depression when everyone was broke (ironically, Capra got rich off this message). By 1946, Americans had money again and populism had worn out its welcome, which might explain the movie's dismal box office take.

George Bailey is altruism squared. He willingly becomes a doormat to townfolks who can't spoonfeed themselves, forgoing his goals and dreams of making his own life better. Sorry George, but I eventually lost sympathy for you. Your desires are equally important.

Other characters I got even more fed up with: Uncle Billy...what a drunken bonehead! Cmon, George, I don't care if he is family. Either fire this rumdum or make him into a harmless janitor or something so he won't go losing $8000 at a clip. Harry Bailey, you're next! You have no intention of ever paying back George for your college education, am I right? And finally, Clarence Oddbody,AS2. No wonder you haven't gotten your wings, you doofus. You knew about the $8000, so tell George that Potter stole the money so he, Mary, and the rest of the family could storm the bank and clean his clock like in the Saturday Night Live skit from 1986. Yes, I know that last part was played for laughs, but wouldn't that be your gut response, though?

Maybe my criticism is a bit harsh, but it's towards the populist message and story line. I still like the acting in it, and the special effects were very good for the time...Capra's fake snow all over Bedford Falls still looks realistic to this day. And as goofy and manipulative as it seems, I'm glad George's deadbeat customers finally paid him back in the end.

(P.S.: George, this would be a good time to remind your brother, Harry The War Hero, that he owes you four years of college tuition and the cost of a long distance phone call!)

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19 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

My all time favourite film

10/10
Author: brolac from Cambridge, England
24 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before writing my comment, I skimmed through the existing 196 user comments and found that much has been said about the way this film reaches out and touches people (some of whom are fully paid-up members of the cynics party!) There have also been some very negative views registered, and I think I can see why some find it hard to relate to this film, with it's post-war values and strong religious tones.

Personally I love 'It's a Wonderful Life' on all levels; it is heart-warming and moving, it has a message that is lacking in so many films today and it is a superb piece of cinematic art. But if the religious frame of the film does not appeal to you, I say look beyond it and appreciate some of the most skillful moments of cinematography and finest acting you will ever see.

****POSSIBLE SPOILER*****

In my mind the finest scene is that when George meets his brother from the train and discovers that he is planning to marry. Watch the way the rest of the action becomes incidental as the camera focuses on George, a man seeing his hopes slipping away from him.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A dissenting view

Author: jbuck_919 from Bamberg, Germany
6 June 2002

No folks, I promise not to do the same thing to the Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind, but this has got to be the most overrated movie of all time.

It took me a number of tries to watch it all the way through, because it is so incredibly boring. All the scenarios are exaggerated without a hint of the whimsy or joy that should mark a Christmas movie. NOBODY in it is likeable, including the hapless and almost hopeless hero. They even give Donna Reed an improbable scene in the alternate reality where she is a total... well, if I want this posted, I can't use the word.

But the worst flaw? THEY NEVER GET BACK THE MONEY THAT WAS STOLEN. It is morally unacceptable that this guy doesn't get punished and the townspeople have to rush in with a bailout.

I've heard this movie praised to the highest heavens as one of the ten best ever made for most of my life. I'll give them credit for the body language between Donna Reed and James Stewart in the scene where he is on the phone, but not for much else.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Brings you back into the true meaning of Christmas

10/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
20 December 2005

I know this is going to sound ridicules, but seriously, I have not seen this movie since I was a child. Even though they play it every year for Christmas, I never really had an interest to see it again. I was complaining to my mom the other day how sad it is that people just look at Christmas as present time and just getting what you want, I almost cried over it because I miss how my family would get me presents, but we'd go the homeless shelter to help out people who couldn't have a better one than us, I always thanked my parents for those wonderful experiences. It taught me that there is always worse and we must help those not just on Christmas, but all year around. Well, we did it again this year, but I'm now in the retail business and when I complained about this to my mom, she lent me the movie and said to watch it.

Watching this movie truly touched my heart and brought me back to the true meaning of Christmas. I mean, your heart just goes out to George and his wonderful little town of Bedford Falls. He and his wonderful wife Mary together do whatever they can to make it in life and support their 4 darling children. But when a horrible mishap goes on at the bank that George works at, loosing $8,000, he starts to wonder if his life is worth living. But there is one angel who will not give up on him and shows him what life would be like if George had never been born. In Bedford Falls without George, turned into Pottersville because of the very greedy business man Mr. Potter, no one is happy and Mary is all alone. George realizes that maybe life is worth living and comes home to this loving town that is willing to do anything to help him and his family out.

"What goes around, comes around", I couldn't stop tearing at the end because it's just so loving. I hope future Christmas's will go back like this movie's examples, where people are just happy to have what they have and realize some are not so lucky, but we must all do our part. Cheesy, I know, but if one person can raise their hand, we all will do our parts in the end. Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

10/10

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13 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Masterclass in Movie-making

10/10
Author: Richard Tunnah from Birmingham, England
23 December 2005

The first time I am aware of seeing IAWL I managed to catch the last 5 Min's of the movie. It seemed to feature a character running around shouting 'Merry Christmas' at everybody, followed by a party where everyone handed over money To be frank, I wasn't in a hurry to see the rest of the movie.

Then several years later, I started to watch IAWL from the beginning, unaware that it was the same movie. I was struck by how comprehensive the character study of George Bailey was. He was a good man, but his ambitions were frustrated at every turn. He wanted an Education, that was just outside his grasp. He wanted to travel, life conspired against him. At every step of the way, one person saw George 'rolling with the blows', that was Mary Hatch. This woman loved George and wanted to stand at his side, so they can face the slings and arrows of misfortune together. This is love of the purest kind.

But even Mary's love cannot prevent George contemplating suicide. A single bad day that sees George on the top of the World at the beginning and thinking that taking his own life is the only way out by 10.45 pm.

I was stunned when the ending turned into the movie I had seen some time before. But this time I understood, this wasn't just sentiment for it's own sake. To understand the ending you need to have gone on the same dark journey that George Bailey had been on.

Many others have commented on the feel good aspects of the movie, so I won't. What I would like to say is that there are a number of scenes which live in the memory long after the end credits.

Young George trying to persuade Mr Gower that he had prescribed poison (with young Mary Hatch Looking on).

George hurrying home when he heard his father had had a stroke (with Mary Hatch looking on).

George waiting at the station with Uncle Billy for Harry to come back from college (only to find Harry is already married and has a job that will keep him away from Bedford Falls).

That kiss (I have to check that I am earthed, there is so much electricity in the air).

Mary giving up their honeymoon money, to keep the Building and Loan out of Potters grasp.

The Bridal Suit (with Ernie & Bert).

Trying to talk to Mary in the alternate reality, but managing frighten her.

The Ending.

I don't think I have seen a better character study, or for that matter a better movie.

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17 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

I don't like it

5/10
Author: oneillrobyn from United States
28 December 2009

I am definitely in the minority regarding "Wonderful Life". I have avoided seeing this movie for years ... and I finally gave in just before Christmas 2009. It was Christmas Eve and I discovered why I was so depressed on the holiday. I really can't stand this movie. The original problem I had with it was when I first saw it many many years ago. I didn't like the idea that "Mary" needed glasses and was "ugly", and a lonely prim librarian without Jimmy Stewart in her life. No, I am not a librarian, but I love spending time in libraries with all the knowledge books have to offer. I felt this was gratuitous and insulting. In addition, couldn't "Mary" have found another husband? I resented those old movies where all the those poor, struggling people live in large, comfortable old houses, even if the hero's mother ran a boarding house. I think Frank Capra's films are phony and the products of an immature mind. Another Christmasy movie is my favorite one: "The Bishop's Wife". It's sophisticated, witty and beautiful, and has much stronger actors than any of Capra's films, with the exception of Henry Travers who, as far as I am concerned, is the real star of "Wonderful Life". Even Lionel Barrymore is wasted in "Life".

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22 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Why is this a "classic"? Basic premise poor

5/10
Author: Denver53 from Denver, Colo.
30 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Finally, at the age of 38, I saw "It's A Wonderful Life" in its entirety (after catching a few minutes here and there over the years on TV). When it was over, I found myself puzzled over why this movie is considered such a classic.

I am not talking about the acting, or the film's technical proficiency. All of that seemed fine, even well-done at times. I am talking about its reason for being: Its story.

I'll assume you have seen it, so prepare for spoilers. The basic message of this movie seems to be that a man who never left his home town to pursue his personal dreams nevertheless led a wonderful life due to his kindness and caring for the town and its residents. In fact, when he finally reaches a low point, the town's residents come to bail HIM out, thereby proving what a wonderful person he has been.

A nice story, but the movie misses two logical points. First, was the man who never pursued his personal dreams (George Bailey) HAPPY with the life he DID lead? If he was happy with staying home, helping people afford houses and bailing out his family's business, then the point of the movie is MOOT. He evidently gave up very little for a happy life. Other than a few wistful asides, we never see that George is bothered much that he didn't travel the world. He seems perfectly content where he is. So if he is happy, then the central message of kindness and helping others while sacrificing your own dreams is weak or lost entirely.

Second, if a man spends DECADES helping out residents of his little town (most of whom remain residents over the years), I don't see it as any great act of charity that when the man needs monetary help, all those people he assisted over the years are willing to give him a few dollars to fix his problem. The climactic ending, when people line up to give George 20 bucks here and 75 bucks there, is made to look like some kind of incredible holiday miracle. But think about it: If a man made it possible for YOU to buy your first home (in an era when buying a home was truly a dream), and a few years later he needs some money for his business (which is the entity that helps so many local people) to survive, wouldn't you go donate whatever you could afford to help him? It wouldn't even have to be that painful, really, in a town with several thousand residents.

No, I think the town's true colors are shown earlier, when George's business almost goes under due to a run on the banks and his customers are more than happy to run to his competitor's bank to get 50 cents on a dollar. Some people end up staying ONLY after George uses his own WEDDING MONEY to pay them a fraction of what they sought to withdraw (which, when you think about it, is no real risk ... they can always go to the competitor later if things get worse). THAT seemed to me to also be normal behavior by the local residents, and it was not celebrated like the ending is.

Maybe some people were impressed with the plot device of an angel showing George what life might have been like without him. Maybe that was the first time that had been done in a movie, for all I know. But I found that device not unlike the ghosts who visit Scrooge, and that tale was written long before It's A Wonderful Life was made. So I don't get that, either.

There were some fun moments, and who doesn't like Jimmy Stewart. But a revered classic? I guess I don't get it. I gave it a 5.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

I never changed my mind about a picture so completely

2/10
Author: Enoch Sneed from United Kingdom
13 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have seen this film several times now, and the first time it really had me suckered. George Bailey really did have a wonderful life, after all. His wonderful friends and family got together to do a wonderful thing for him in his time of trouble. And Clarence got his wings... pass the Kleenex, quick!

Then I started to think: George Bailey never got to travel the world and fulfil his potential to be a great architect. All his dreams faded and died as he struggled to run a business and raise a family. And what thanks did he get? His father dropped dead and landed him with the family business. His brother sold him out by getting married to the boss's daughter and landing himself in Easy Street. His uncle makes him liable for a larceny rap by losing thousands of dollars. OK, friends make up the shortfall and even the bank examiner joins in the goodwill, but - back in the cold, real world, maybe in January - George would still have to explain where the money had gone. If he couldn't do that he would still be seen as an embezzler of company funds. And meanwhile that nasty, villainous Mr Potter has got a nice little Christmas present - no sign of him making nice and handing it back.

And then there's Pottersville - wow! Bars, music and women. A dance with Gloria Grahame - preferably a horizontal Mambo - would be worth any red-blooded man's hard earned cash, surely? (Ms Grahame played at my local UK theatre in 1980. She was still as sexy as hell and, apparently, a lovely person to work with.) Of course, you could always listen to the snow fall and watch 'The Bells of St Mary's' instead.

So, from snuffling into my sleeve at first viewing, I am now horrified at the crabbed, stifled, thwarted, frustrated, cramped 'life' it tells us we should consider 'Wonderful'.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A lone dissenting vote on It's A Wonderful Life

Author: anonymous from Washington, DC USA
25 February 1999

I hate to be the lone dissenter here, but I think It's a Wonderful Life stands right up there as one of the most overrated movies of all time. Not that it is a particularly bad movie, but I cannot see how it rates on everyones top ten list. True, the story is interesting and a bit intriguing, and it has a couple of good scenes. But you take out the scene where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are dancing and they fall in the pool, and you take away the last five minutes of the movie, then there is not much left. And speaking of the last five minutes of the movie, that is the only reference in the whole movie to Christmas, yet this movie has been branded a Christmas movie. To me, in terms of Christmas movies, it does not belong in the same category (or class) as Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and yes, Even Home Alone, Parts I and II. I will give it one thing, the ending to this movie is truly one of the best of any movie ever made. But to me, a movie has to have more than a good ending with a Christmas setting to be called either a classic movie or a Christmas movie. Oh well, the minority has spoken.

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

"Aah!" or should that be "Argh!"

2/10
Author: Cheese Hoven from United Kingdom
25 December 2013

Watching this film in the wake of the banking crisis, it is apt to have a different effect on the viewer than that intended. The actions of George Bailey and his father amount to a long justification for "sub-prime" mortgages,"sub prime" being a euphemism for "lending to people who have no chance of paying you back" which has lead to the present day bank bailouts which means that responsible people now must pay for the actions of the irresponsible. Why does doing this make George and his dad the good guys?

Why, for that matter, are we told that George's father only made enough money to send one of his kids to college? Is that meant to be good? Surely, in the real world, that would make him a poor father? He has clearly never heard the truism "charity begins at home" although he did have enough money to hire a black servant..perhaps he should have saved the money he spent on her to put his kids through college? Just a thought.

Obviously Hollywood will never get to grips with the real life implications of the Bailey's irresponsible lending policies, ie people being lumbered with unpayable mortgages and losing their homes. No, this is the land of magic pixie dust where good intentions always lead to good outcomes. The reality is transformed into a one dimensional baddie, an evil capitalist who could come straight out of the Stalinist propaganda of the period (in fact this film could have easily be shown in the USSR without a single cut whereas it was -rightly- a box office flop in the US). Oh, if only there weren't these greedy evil people, if only banks could lend money to good people without worrying whether they could pay it back, then how much nicer the world would be!

Around this childish morality, a sanctimonious and saccharine story is built. Even by Hollywood's golden age standards it is extremely sentimental. I must say in passing, I've attempted to watch this film many times, but this this is the first time I've managed to make it all the way through and only through gritted teeth.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Either extremely dated or doesn't work

3/10
Author: WakenPayne from Valhalla
30 April 2016

Considered to be an extremely uplifting movie by most and hailed as the greatest Christmas movie ever made (and even the director hailed it as his favourite movie until he died... that doesn't make him sound egotistical at all!) I was intrigued and decided to watch it and... It suffers from being both too dated and (for me personally) not being that realistic, I mean - yeah, I could tell by the concept that it wouldn't be realistic but I'll elaborate more on it below.

So the movie opens with everyone in town praying really hard for George Bailey, a man who seems to be going through problems. So God decides to send down a novice angel to convince him out of suicide by looking at his life and subsequently showing him what life would be like if he never existed.

Okay, the story is really really good. No, really - I love concepts like this and I'll say to this movie's credit I can see why it had the impact it had in the 1940's. I probably will continue to praise the idea and say that I usually love it when premises like this show up. What doesn't work for me however is the execution.

I don't know, throughout this movie George Bailey frequently has to be a doormat for the people around him. Stuff like him taking his father's job and ensuring the greedy rich guy (whom God himself introduces to the audience as "The richest and meanest man in the county"... SUBTLE!) get richer, okay I can see him trying to stop the town living in slums which is basically what he does but giving all his honeymoon money away to the clients at the bank for loaning just makes me think that might be a bit too much. But the thing that really pushes my buttons is when the poor guy has to take the fall for a mistake made that wasn't even his fault! Oh and the ending where despite losing $8000 1940's money the townspeople manage to chip in and pay it all off? I don't know if that's a product of this movie ageing but I can't see this happening. I'd say if the bank I had lost the equivalent of $8000 to the 1940's I'd be very scared about my finances first.

Okay, now onto the part that makes me dislike the "What life would be like if you were never born" well... It's too short for one thing. It's extremely out of proportion with introducing this character and we have what feels like 20 minutes spent in bizarro-world. Either way, I have problems with it. What happens to the wife is extremely dated and sexist, if you want to watch a movie where it's portrayed as the ultimate crime for a woman to never marry and learn at the library then this won't bother you so much. Oh and one last thing plot related, everyone - EVERYONE is portrayed as either the paragon of all niceness or a cold-hearted, thieving maniac, this really is the source of most of my problems with this movie, nobody seems to be a shade of grey at all when it comes to the character's morality and that to me is unrealistic.

Okay, what else? I'll say this movie is quite well shot though and the acting for the most part is pretty good (I say for the most part because the child actors are terrible) and I will re-iterate that I really love the story. I'll say that the execution either doesn't work or doesn't age well. I will also re-iterate that I know my opinion isn't the popular consensus and if your opinion differs from mine then I'm not asking you to dislike the movie with me, I just feel as though I should share my own opinion.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Best feel good movie there is

8/10
Author: Miller Tucker from TN
14 January 2015

I had heard of It's a Wonderful Life for years, however had never watched it. This Christmas I sat down to watch it and was taken aback by the phenomenal film. The acting was spot on and the filming was perfect despite how old the movie is. This film made me sad, mad, and happy all at the same time. The actors show emotion well enough to make the viewers feel the same way. Throughout the movie you question why you would want to see such a story, however the end scene brings it all full circle. It's a great movie to watch during Christmas to give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. This movie fortifies faith in human generosity and is the best feel good movie I have ever seen. A must watch for all!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A great story, one of those which brings shivers of awe to me

8/10
Author: Johan Dondokambey from Indonesia
21 June 2014

Despite the age of this movie, the story of the movie is an incredibly marvelous one. The story of how one often underestimates his/her own life especially under sickening burdens.

The flow is quite a slow on the start, up to three-quarter parts of the movie. But it picks up at about the last half-hour and builds up a fast paced yet long and detailed finale.

There are also things to compensate, regarding the age of the production, such as the color, the spoken accent which sounds quite stupid for the current times. But besides those, I think the story is a strong one that it helps the movie overcome those obstacles.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

You Can't beat the Classics.

Author: alex-caruso1 from Wisconsin
12 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

God forbid if they ever attempt to remake this movie in any way. I know they probably already have in different versions and ways of telling the story, but this is a movie that will never die. Like everyone else, I and my family watch this movie every Christmas eve. It's like a tradition in a lot of families who celebrate Christmas. The best thing about it, is that this movie never gets old. You know the story, you know what is going to happen every Christmas you watch this. But this movie has a very deep meaning to it that a lot of movies in the history of film DON'T have. Every Christmas eve I watch this it gets me in the perfect Christmas mood, and makes me forget about all the worries, problems, and struggles I have to put up with in life. This movie teaches me that everyone in the world can make a difference, and that everyone, no matter who you are has a purpose of existing. Even when its not the holiday season, I'll just watch a couple scenes of this movie just to put me in a good mood anyway. They just can't make movies like this anymore that teach you a very meaningful lesson. Even to people who don't celebrate Christmas can still enjoy this film. I can't wait for Christmas this year, for it is my favorite time of the year, and the time to be very happy in life.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Highly recommended

9/10
Author: manendra-lodhi (manendra.lodhi@gmail.com) from India
15 August 2012

The film has what I love most about films, "Inspiration". The story really is built up in such a way that you'll eventually get inspired by it. Acting by James Stewart is superb. The story is about a man who wanted to do a lot of things, but circumstances changed his fate. He never lost hope, but one day things get really out of controlled and he loses faith in everything. It is very interesting to see how the story reaches to its ending.

PROS:

One of the best acting performances I had seen recently. The whole film rests on its beautiful story. The film is a very fine example of what we expect from life and what we actually get. The life of our hero seems to be frustrating a lot of times but than in the end, you are finally going to get convinced that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

CONS

I admit that the whole angel thing did not impress me much and I was hoping for more realistic kind of thing. Also the editing at some later part of the film looked bad. It was nominated for the best editing Oscars, but just my opinion. But when you have a very fine story, you have to overlook these small glitches.

MESSAGE: "It's a wonderful life."

VERDICT: "A must watch for all."

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Greatest Film Ever Made

10/10
Author: caseynicholson from United States
20 December 2014

So often the movies that claim the top spot on people's "Best Movies" lists are iconic films that are suitable to watch any time of year. "Gone With the Wind", "Casablanca", "The Godfather", and many more would easily fit into that category, and certainly those movies along with your favorite that I'm leaving out all should be in the discussion whenever we talk about the best movie ever made.

But whenever I'm asked that question, be it now (five days before Christmas in 2014) or in mid June or July, the movie that I always come back to time and again is the iconic Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." This movie is the greatest film ever made.

The film features James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who dreams of seeing the world only to be a victim of fate that finds him staying in his hometown and running the family business, the Bailey Savings & Loan Company in the fictional town of Bedford Falls. James Stewart turns out the performance of his career (barring no other role, including "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"). The tale sees him fall in love with Mary (Donna Reed, who offers a similarly strong performance as supporting actress). The two are wed and life goes well for a while, until a fateful day when George's world comes crashing down on him, prompting him to wish he had never been born...only to eventually realize what a wonderful life he has.

The story is of course much more complex than that brief summary, but it's the story itself that is the most prevalent star in this movie. The script is a masterpiece in the art of conveying an entertaining and emotional narrative, taking the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Over the course of two hours you grow to love George Bailey for his character and his perseverance in standing up for the little guy against the tyrannical Mr. Potter, the film's antagonist. When George is elated, you feel it with him. When the frustration of life overwhelms him, you sympathize with him. When he finds himself in the midst of great despair, your heart breaks. And when his grief turns to joy, your heart swells....along with your eyes. I cannot watch this film without crying time and again in its final minutes.

Along with the acting and the script, the other major contributing factor to this movie being such a wonderful film is its cinematography. I have seen this movie pop up on "film noir" lists from time to time, and I'm not sure that I would agree with that categorization at all, given that film noir movies tend to be more tragic in nature. That said, though, there are a few scenes in which the film uses strong shadow effect in a similar way that noir films are known to do. In at least two scenes, Stewart is shown staring prominently into the camera as he realizes the gravity of certain situations he finds himself in. Those scenes become impressed in your memory after you've seen the film a time or two, and overall the film is well produced with good scenes and settings, and good camera work.

All of this makes "It's a Wonderful Life" my pick for the Greatest Film Ever Made. We may not always think of it immediately when we're sitting around the picnic table in the summertime thinking about great movies, but it's nevertheless a top notch movie that stands out for its artistic and cinematic value in a way that makes it much more than just a "Christmas movie". The wonderful story and well constructed script, the tremendous acting, and the excellent camera-work and film production all make this movie the cream of the crop.

10 out of 10 stars!

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

There should be more movies like this.

9/10
Author: Innsmouth_Apprentice from Earth
16 October 2014

It's a Wonderful Life is an epic story of the life of a man named George Bailey. George spends this life living in a small town, with his nose deep in the lives and problems of its other citizens. He dreams of seeing the world, of conquering it, but somehow always postpones that in order to battle his arch-nemesis - the ruthless local businessman Mr. Potter. Potter perpetually has his sights set on utterly dominating the town's cash flows and, effectively, its life. The idealistic and charitable Bailey family, especially George, are the one thing that persistently prevents Potter from succeeding.

However, George has his share of troubles, and they eventually begin to take their toll on his good nature and optimistic outlook. It's now up to his guardian angel, Clarence Goodbody, to open George's eyes to how wonderful his life really is.

IAWL promotes friendship, empathy, optimism, and love of life. You can't but admire the excellent way in which it does this. The story, the sets, the actors, the dialogue, the music are all top-notch. Highly recommended!

9/10.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It's Really A Most Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: thinkerv0 from India
26 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's A Wonderful Life" is the most wonderful film I have ever seen. It's most inspirational movie I have ever watched and it's very perfectly made movie in my opinion. Performances, script and dialogs are so perfectly done that you don't have enough words to appreciate them. This film by Frank Capra is a gift to the world. Strange enough it was a box office flop when it was released and it failed to win an academy award.

The performance by James Stewart who plays George Bailey is one of the greatest on big screen by anyone anytime in the history. George Bailey makes you so engrossed with his emotions that it naturally calls for your empathy and you start living moments with him and start thinking for him. Even if you don't believe in the angels and God, the part where that comely angel starts alleviating suffering of George Bailey makes a profound impression on you and instills feelings of goodness in you. The second half just emphasizes the importance of life whereas the first one underscores the great character of George Bailey right from his childhood.

You witness some instant karmic clean up in the second half and you see how the good deeds George Bailey had done come back to him saving him and making him realize the importance of life he had. Prior to that he lives with the impression of having sacrificed a lot for everyone else and that had some inner lack of satisfaction in his life and the accident which renders bankruptcy to him and his organization just evokes this karmic burden to the fore and then it seems that all the wrong things start happening with him, but then his good deeds come to his rescue. There are so many well-wishers who pray for him and then he realizes importance of life and accepts it the way it's and with this acceptance miracles start happening and money for which was about to end his life; comes rolling on its own and his brother says "To George, the richest man in the town". The colored restored version made it look even more exquisite than it would have been when it was made. It's indeed a most wonderful film with a most inspiring climax.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I cried. A lot.

10/10
Author: Pancho Diaz
8 September 2014

I don't think I would be able of ever cast an objective statement regarding the quality of this movie. It's not one of this movies I can objectively say which rating does it deserve in a 1 to 10 scale, because it reached something in me way beyond objectifiable maths and numbers. Yes, it may sound super cheesy, but it did reach my heart. I don't even know how it happened, but it was definitely a slow, progressive proccess. The more you get to know George's life, the more difficult it is to wish the best for that man even if he doesn't exist beyond the flat screen. Art is very much about creating an illusion of reality, and some say that if an art piece doesn't cast a spell on you that makes you believe you're appreciating the real world, then it is bad art. When you're reading a novel and you're able to abstract from it and make sense of the fact that all the characters are just plane words on a blank page, is because the spell was not correctly cast and the book you're reading is a bad one. Well, at some point during the movie I stopped to think why on earth was I so touched by just a bunch of pixels in my computer's screen, because I couldn't understand how could I care so much for a person that doesn't even exist. I guess that the answer to that is that people like George do exist, and we're surrounded everywhere by those people who make our lives better, and that sometimes life doesn't give back to them what they deserve. I guess that's the reason why, in the last scene, I just started to cry like a baby, not just a timid tear, but lots of them, up until the movie finished. I don't remember having cried this way for a movie before. I still need to digest this movie, it'll take me a while.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I don't get it

4/10
Author: praisehim-425-577701 from Germany
24 December 2012

It is a nice movie, but what is the special thing about it? What is the "magic"? The story develops slowly... veeeeery slowly. It might have been appropriate 65 years ago, but today? Storytelling in cinemas changed and that is not always a bad thing. The setup took to long and the struggle of the hero was not believable for me. The acting was good (more or less). The moral of the story was lame. "Your life makes a difference!" It is a calendar motto, the message of a cheap self-improvement book. Maybe I am not romantic enough to enjoy this movie. To me it was OK, but it was not a "revelation". Not a movie, that I want to watch "over and over".

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A classic Stewart classic

10/10
Author: Andreas Niedermayer (leeds1@gmx.at) from Klagenfurt, Austria
28 December 2000

I`ve just read all the other comments about this amazing and everlasting classic, and there's nothing more to add. I really, really love watching classics, especially Stewart-Classics, 'cause he's in my eyes next to Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Rich Widmark, Sean Connery and many others like Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra or Burt Lancaster one of the greatest actors of all time.

This movie, although produced simply, is THE Christmas story, which can be watched every year, by everyone. Stewarts great and breathtaking character-performance is so brilliant, none of our modern actors would be able to act in this classic style.

10/10 with no doubts!

Greetings from Austria to all American movie-fans!!!!

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

How can it be so loved?

3/10
Author: ComedyFan2010 from Canada
22 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really don't get it. I just watched it for the first time and did not like it...And I wanted, really. I like old movies, I get a nice feeling watching old classics and I enjoy some over sentimental holiday movie at the right season, but this one just didn't do it for me.

I do like the main idea. That no matter how disappointed you are about your life and yourself, just take a step back and see how you may have affected other people's lives. How many good things would not have happened if you weren't there. This is all nice, but I didn't like how it was made and presented.

It is sooooo loooong and boring until the last 20 minutes or so when the angel finally shows him the world without him. And you know what, it seems it would have been better if he wasn't born. Seriously, what is so bad about Potterville? It has entertainment and people having fun? Oh how evil, so immoral! Apparently life is only good if you don't have fun and never pursue your dreams!.

Don't like George's character either. He is the one who never went for what he wanted. And while James Stewart might be a good actor, he wasn't one in this movie. I thought he was awful.

I also don't like how they made the girl who enjoyed to have fun the bad one. Well once again, people who enjoy life, especially females, are just horrible aren't they? This is still a common sentiment. Although the idea that Mary would be an "old maid" librarian without George is a bit outdated by now. Now she would have a cat as well. Poor her, she didn't get the joy of being a housewife but had to be a working woman without a man.

So yes, I don't get the love for it. Is it just sentimentality of having watched it back in childhood for Christmas or is it the redneck hype of the "good old days" and "family values"?

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22 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

The Second Most Overrated Movie Of All Time

2/10
Author: david from California, USA
26 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 1946 audience quite correctly stayed away in droves, making IAWL a box office flop. Generations later, after its initial failure, after public domain, after the not even born when it came out pseudo critics have somehow brainwashed almost everyone under 40 into believing IAWL is a Christmas classic, we must face the fact that IAWL is not only not a great movie, it's not even a good movie.

Treacly, sappy, overlong, exasperatingly predictable fairy tale with just two good scenes and a main character devoid of interest, empathy or sympathy, IAWL is an exercise in futility at every turn. To begin, this is closer to James Stewart's worst performance than his best; George Bailey is a dreamer with his thoughts in the stars, rather than focused on the very big problem at hand. He's a naive, crybaby whiner with just the right mix of stupid to make him truly annoying to one and all. And he takes forever to realize Clarence is an Angel; I mean, how many miracles does it take?

This turkey comes to life only twice - the scene between young George and the druggist, played by the always great H.B. Warner, in which George (brilliantly portrayed throughout by the underrated child actor Bobby Anderson) stops the grieving Warner - who has learned of his son's death - from dispensing a fatal dose of the wrong medication to an elderly customer; and the ending, which, while just as sugar-sweet as the rest of the movie, is so well crafted, it works wonderfully well, giving the film a 2 on the scale of 10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Director Frank Capra's bittersweet, heartwarming Christmas movie is a wonderful movie!

9/10
Author: ironhorse_iv from United States
31 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings'. That is the quest for the guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) when he was assign to take care of a suicidal man named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart). Clarence must try to show George, the tremendous impact he has had on his community before it's too late. Can Clarence, change George's mind or will this Christmas, be the last for George Baily? To find out, watch the movie! Made just after World War 2, this movie was a favorite for both leading man Jimmy Stewart and director Frank Capra. It's easy to see why. There's so much things to like, about this film. The film is full of delightful moments, from music and a dance sequence, funny comedy, and heart-warming romantic scenes. While, some critics might see this film as too sentimental and syrupy. In fact, in my view, most of the movie's vision is something out of a more modern complex, dark-edged sophisticated film. Yes, there are some really dated dialogue, sayings and behavior, but for the most part, I think modern audiences can still, watch this movie and find something about it, that they can related to. No matter how often, you get to see this Christmas favorite, there is always something timeless with this film, when you do. Important message about the value of an individual life and how one person's actions affect all those around him/her is a great life moral for people to take. Themes about family and friendship are also very important. Another great message is having faith, and belief in yourself and the future. After all, director Frank Capra himself said he made the film in large part to "combat a modern trend towards atheism and Nihilism". While, a lot of people say, that this movie isn't really a Christmas movie, due to the fact, that 90% of the movie is a story about George's life and takes place at some point in time other than Christmas; in my view, the whole Clarence arch, wouldn't had work as good as it did, on any other day of the year. There is something about Christmas, that makes the whole magically redemption story with Clarence somewhat believable. Based on the short story "The Greatest Gift," by author Philip Van Doren Stern, It's a Wonderful Life was never intended to be the Christmastime staple that it is now. In fact, when the film was first released back in 1946, it was generally considered a box-office flop. This film had a resurgence for a while in the U.S. during the 1980s when it was discovered that the copyright on the film was never renewed, which meant the film was in the Public Domain and any television station could legally show it as often as they wanted without paying for a license. Many stations across the country would run it, around Christmas time, to the point, that people label it as a Christmas movie. No matter, if it's a holiday movie, or not. A lot of critics, has point out, that the film protagonist's action are very similar to a Christ figure in all. I have to say, they're somewhat right, but there were some moments that George Bailey got really problematic to sympathize with. Some people feel that brought all his problems on himself by choosing to run an over-leveraged, illiquid bank business even though he's given many opportunities to do something else. However, I didn't find it, too abrasive to watch. What I didn't like, is how he treat Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) for most of the film. He was a little too mean-spirited to her; mostly in the beginning of the film He nearly ruin his first date with her. I really didn't like that. Thank heavens, he got more likable, as the film goes on. Still, the drunk driving scene was a bit hard to watch. Anyways, Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as George. I'm glad, he didn't quit, acting after the war. He gives the performance of a lifetime, here. Alternately affable and bitter, he is the movie's little-man hero. All of his emotional were, mostly play as for real. Seeing this, Capra had to reframe the shot in order to get it closer than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch the expression on Stewart's face. At the time, this shot was an extremely time-consuming project, each frame had to be done individually, making it only one step away from stop-motion animation. Capra spent the whole night doing it. Thank Goodness, he did! Most of the supporting cast are just as good as Stewart, but one-person stands out. Donna Reed is wonderful, despite her character being a one-dimensional manic pixie dream girl. She was really able to show the character's beautiful, supporting and caring nature. Just say the word, Mary, and I'll lasso you, the moon, indeed! I just don't buy the idea that George and Mary are somehow supposed to be soulmates. It's a bit unrealistic to think that Mary can only love George. Nor, do I believe, without spoiling it, that the ending of this film seen can be seem as "happy". After all, George is still in the same position he was before Clarence show up. An investigation is still looming. There are tons of others puzzling questions, still worth debating. So a rewatch, is needed. One thing, when watching it, is not to watch the color version. The black and white works well, to show the symbolic snow of the peaceful Bedford Falls, when compare to the cold and dark sleet of Potterville. It's better to watch that, since Paramount had all the grain removed in 2006. Overall: This well-known sentimental film is a masterpiece. Capra's Magnum Opus. A must-watch. So check it out.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This Film is a Life Changer

10/10
Author: farez from United States
6 December 2015

Everyone has heard of this film, and if you haven't seen it, it's probably because you live in Antarctica or you have purposely avoided watching an old corny rerun in black and white.

I command you to watch it, and if you have a heart, you will cry with joy. This film has endured as a timeless classic for 70 years for good reason. This film is pure art because it taps into the human experience in such an effective way. The message that we are all important is simply and beautifully brought to life.

Jimmy Stewart's performance is human, funny, poignant and brilliant. Do not look for subtlety, clever meanings, high drama, modern art, political correctness, special effects, sex scenes, or car chases. You won't even see any color (avoid the colorized version at all costs), but what you will find is a perfect little film that will stay with you forever. This film represents the very best of what America wants to be at its core.

I appreciate high brow multi-million dollar productions as much as any other film geek/ movie buff, but this film always brings me home because it reminds me of what really matters in life.

Watch it and savor every wholesome corny second of it. If you don't feel something, you are not human.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Spoiler Alert - Great movie!!!

10/10
Author: walshy448 from United Kingdom
4 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of an handful of movies I can watch time and time again, it never shows its age. Its always Christmas once I have watched this or should say feels like the holidays once I have watched it Frank Capras film shows us why is one of the most popular and enduring festive films of all time,with its gloriously sentimental testament to homely small-town moral values and how we all influence each others life's along the way and what would happen if fate was given a nudge in a different direction.

James Stewart gives one of his finest, most affecting performances, though he was always great at portraying the everyman character that most people can relate to, even us outside the US. This film and Scrooge and Christmas Carol (the George Minter one from the 1950's) are my all time favourite feel good Christmas movies, though I have Elf on here as well. Overall its a great film and I am amazed to know it bombed at the box office, even though its now a well loved classic.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's A Wonderful Loss

6/10
Author: Michael Radny from Perth, Australia
20 October 2015

It's A Wonderful Life may have been one of the all time greats back in it's day, but now it just feels a little too dated to be considered fantastic. Whilst by no means is this film trash, it just feels a little too old for your attention not to wonder off into pointless thoughts. However, there are parts in this film that genuinely are fantastic, some of which are quite funny and others being heartfelt and sentimental.

It's A Wonderful Life may have it's faults as viewed by a modern viewer, but you cannot deny that it is somewhat one of the greats. Even though this film may be considered boring in comparison to the twenty-first century cinema, It's A Wonderful Life still has it's place somewhere in history.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Arguably James Stewart best performance

8/10
Author: Forest G from Indonesia
21 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To be honest before I watch It's a Wonderful Life, I really don't like James Stewart. I watched him in Vertigo, Rear Window, and other Hitchcock's movie, and I don't like him at all, I think he was so typical and 1 dimensional. After I watched him in this movie, I start to like him, especially when he acted in the last part. Well I guest I just hate Hitchcock as a director, not Stewart as an actor.

Back to the movie, at first I don't like it because Stewart looks so older when he was playing as teenager Bailey -.-". After half of the movie I don't really care, I guess I am such a sucker for Christmas family movie, the golden part of this movie is the last part after Bailey met the angel, Stewart showed that he is good actor in this part. In the end this is good family movie if you like Christmas film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

like it

Author: pisrgofort from Japan
4 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is a impressive movie. Firstly, it happens unhappy things. But happiness comes, finally. I realize that the most important thing in our life is friendship. In addition, consideration. If people have consideration and kindness, and act of kindness, people will be rewarded someday. I think that god doesn't betray great person. God looks people. Also, people look great person, too. After experiencing pain, happiness is waiting absolutely. If we do everything whole- heartedly, result follows us. This movie makes us realize that what is important in our life and life is wonderful if we spend the valuable life.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

George Bailey's Community, or Stray Thoughts About It's a Wonderful Life!

10/10
Author: teddyd
19 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The concrete lessons from this film: 1) the world is a thankless place, and 2) 99.9% of the time, you will not receive help if you don't ask for it.

The final act of the film, I am immediately concerned with George Bailey's apparent closet-alcoholism. I know he has finally hit, what he believes, anyway, the rock-bottom of hopelessness in his business, and the only way to go through with his final plan is to get very drunk. I suppose it is also fitting that he has to become incredibly drunk in order to meet Clarence, and "enter" Pottersville, modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Like nearly every repeat watcher of this film, George's return home is overwhelmingly emotional. That the financial downfall of the building and loan can bring an entire community together like that is amazing, and hopeful for humanity.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What is there to say?

9/10
Author: your-killin-me-smalls from United States
4 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is a classic. There is very little negative that I can say about it. The acting is incredible and the plot is great and iconic. The film hit with me a lot of different emotional levels and is definitely can be a tear-jerker at times but is uplifting at the end when George wishes he was born again and goes back to his family. The film plays out as a life story for our main character George Bailey and follows the different events in his life such as the people he meets and the things he does. It is powerful and touching and a iconic masterpiece. It is not only a great movie but a great Christmas movie as well. It is something that everyone should see at least once in their life because it teaches great lessons about life. It is not always happy as it does get a little sad at moments but when you sit down and watch it you can have fun with it because it really is just that great of a film. Definitely something worth watching every Christmas.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

a story about a man livilng a wonderful life

10/10
Author: koichi-saito-95 from Japan
27 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favourite films. I heard that it's still nominated as films which people want to watch in Christmas seasons in the US. Although this film was published in 1946, it's still popular among the people. The lesson of this film, I suppose, is that we mustn't give up until the end. We cannot guess what will happen in our future. Even if we had serious problems, an angel might help us. We cannot prove what is impossible in our world.

I've watched some films in which Jim Stewart, who is the star of this film, appears. In these films, I like 'It's a Wonderful Life' the best.His way to act is perfect.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

the movie told about an angel that helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

10/10
Author: Boni Andika from Indonesia
22 July 2014

I consider this movie as one of my inspirational movies. I think there are many lessons that we can take from the story. In life, sometimes we feel down, nobody cares with us, no choices in life, and many others desperate things. We might feel like why we should be born in this condition, or why is God gives this problem to us, or anything else. But, we should reconsider how wonderful life is.! From the movie we can learn that life is like a cobweb. We don't know that thing which happened to us, might be connected and give the influence to other's life. We don't know that the thing we do is might be a history. We don't know how is precious our life for others, for our family, our friends, and for people around us. We can think that the thing is disaster, but we never knew how great that thing and what is God's planned for us. From the movie we can see that George might feel very desperate and thought that better not to be born. But, God has his own plan! And no matter how hard the problem is, God can always helps his slaves. We should not be regretful to everything happened in our life. Even how hard our life is, we should consider that God is exist, and we have many friends that still willing to help us and give us their support. We are human being, we don't know the future, we don't know that every problems has its solution behind. That we need just belief that LIFE IS WONDERFUL!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A flawless movie that never grows old.

10/10
Author: roberto_cava (roberto_cava@hotmail.com) from Spain
12 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a 1946 movie directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time: the three-time Oscar-winning director, Frank Capra.

The film is set in a fictional North American village, and tells the story of an ordinary guy, George Bailey (James Stewart in the role of his life) from his childhood to his adult age.

The first hour of the film is like a summary where we witness some events of George's life: his first love (the astonishing Donna Reed playing the role of the woman everybody would like to marry), the death of his father, his wedding... But the real aim of this introduction is making us feel utterly identified with Stewart's character: a good man who has been constantly sacrificing his dreams to help his family (renouncing to go to University to stay in charge of the family business), his friends (lending them money through his company whenever they need it) and many other members of his community.

Capra then focuses on an unfortunate incident of George's current life that leaves him totally broken and makes him believe his whole existence so far has no sense, what finally will lead him to attempt suicide.

Then, an angel from heaven appears to help George by letting him see how different (and worse) the life of all the people he knows would have been if he hadn't been born. In other words: in the middle of an incredibly intense family drama, Capra did something that nobody had done before (and nobody would dare to do again) in movie history: he changed completely the gender of the story... after almost 2 hours of movie!!! Therefore, a drama film suddenly became a fantasy film... but, surprisingly, it worked perfectly well because those last 30 minutes still remain as one of the most touching endings in movie history.

Curiously, the movie was not only a flop, but it was also defeated in the Oscars by "The Best Years of Our Lives", incidentally, my favorite movie of all time. But what is harder to believe is that Stewart wasn't awarded for one of the most outstanding performances ever given by an actor.

Fortunately, as years went by, this masterpiece eventually reached the critical recognition it always deserved and nowadays it's constantly included in the lists of greatest motion pictures ever made... including mine. It became even more legendary when TV channels all over the world started to show it on TV every Christmas since the 1970s decade.

But "It's A Wonderful Life" is much more than a Christmas movie: it's a gripping and moving work of art, a masterpiece that never grows old, but mostly, a film you never get tired of watching over and over again. I think that's the best compliment for any movie.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My family watches this every Christmas!

10/10
Author: mjennings_cot from United States
30 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love, love, love this movie. (;)-Darcy) It is our Christmas movie while we eat our party foods.

Comments below may be considered spoilers: It's been about six months since I've seen this movie so I don't know if I can think of all my favorite scenes. I'm sure I will have forgotten to put some of them. :) * I like when they are walking home from the school party and throw a rock in the old house windows and make a wish. The whole scene where they are walking home is good.

* I like when Sam is explaining about plastic and getting them to invest. It is kind of upsetting because George has longed to get out of the little town, but he is falling in love with Mary. It is very conflicting, does he love Mary and stay in the small town and have a family or leave the small town.

* Some parts are frustrating or upsetting, George's father dies, Potter is trying to take over George's late father's business, George will never get his dream of leaving the small town, Potter tries to have George arrested.

*The end is wonderful when his friends come to his rescue. It makes me cry. And George's family house servant says the money she is giving to help George is the money she was saving for a divorce if she ever got married. :)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Every Life Makes A Difference

8/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
9 December 2012

For many this is a Christmas classic, watched every year and much beloved. For me, I've never seen it before. Heard of it; seen short clips of it; but never have I sat down and watched it straight through from beginning to end. Having now done that I can understand why it's such a beloved movie to so many people. It isn't necessarily a Christmas/holiday movie. The basic message would work at any time of the year; it just happens to be set (in its climax anyway) on Christmas Eve. And the message it presents is an important one that everyone needs to hear from time to time, in a world where it's so easy to feel discouraged: every person's life counts. Everyone makes a difference. That's the point here, and it's well made.

The movie revolves around George Bailey (James Stewart.) George starts out as a kid with big dreams of escaping his hum-drum (to him) home town of Bedfork Park and seeing the world. But it never works out. He ends up running the small savings & loan operation his father started, while his brother and his friends all seem to go on to bigger and better things - becoming heroes; becoming famous; becoming rich. George has a good life. He's married to a woman he loves (Donna Reed) and he has great kids and a lot of friends, but it just isn't what he always wanted. It's not completely satisfying for him. Eventually it all falls apart when the local ruthless banker (Lionel Barrymore) comes up with a way of bringing him down. With everything apparently out of control, George decides to kill himself, only to be rescued by the angel Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows him what Bedford Park would be like if he had never existed - and it's not pretty.

The story isn't complicated. It's simple and straightforward. Everybody does a good job in it. Personally, I thought there was perhaps a little too much emphasis on George's life and what brought him to the brink of suicide, and maybe not quite enough emphasis on George being confronted by the consequences of his non-existence. (And, in the alternative timeline, Bert the cop opening fire on George in the street seemed a bit - shall we say - excessive; not to mention dangerous!) Perhaps the opening, with God and the angels talking to each other as stars and other heavenly bodies was a bit too cute, but it's all within the expected standards of 1946.

It is a nice movie, and it does have a nice message. Your life does make a difference to a lot of people - probably more than you know, so be satisfied with it and rejoice in what you have. I can easily understand why so many consider it a classic. (8/10)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

it's a good movie

8/10
Author: garyfromct from CT
2 December 2012

I just saw IAWL for the first time last night. While it's not the best movie I have ever seen, it is very good and worth watching at least once. It is allegorical and thus shouldn't be held to exacting standards, as some reviews have done, in my opinion. The movie gets you to think about how your life impacts others and how we should treat one another better. For that I think it succeeds quite nicely. I think Jimmy Stewart did an excellent job of portraying George Bailey. He is fundamentally a good person, but like all of us, is given to bouts of anger and emotion, and lashes out against the people he loves. He quickly realizes his errors and apologizes for them. He is frustrated by his responsibilities and obligations intruding on his dreams, but he does the right thing in the end. We can all related to this and learn a few things by his example.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life

Author: ShibanPD from Cleveland, OH, USA
12 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is like a photo negative (or positive) of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The Ebenezer Scrooge character in Capra's film, Mr. Potter (played perfectly by Lionel Barrymore), rather than occupying the position of the main character, is the antagonist. The protagonist in the film is the Bob Cratchit character from Dickens' story, a man named George Bailey (played perfectly by Jimmy Stewart). The supernatural (or imaginary) visions and visitations in A Christmas Carol comprise the bulk of the story, whereas the same in It's a Wonderful Life take up less than fifteen percent of the movie's screen time, although it seems like much more. In A Christmas Carol, we have an extremely unlikable central character, who is shown what the world would be like if he doesn't change; in It's a Wonderful Life, we have an immensely likable central character, who is shown what the world would be like if he had never existed. This second part of the film—in which George's guardian angel Clarence (a delightful Henry Travers) shows George how "each man's life touches so many other lives"—is a fun-house-mirror look back at the first part—a fantasy that resembles a rough night of drinking: fun and frivolous at first—then serious, painful, and dire in the end. The first part of the film, which inhabits more than eighty percent of its screen time, tells George's life story: his abundant acts of altruism, which enable the continual thwarting of his repeatedly voiced ambitions; his continuation of his father's fiscal and ideological battle with Potter, in the name of the Bailey Building and Loan, an institution that represents the "community" side of the film's diatribe against the form of unbridled, unrelenting, anti-humanistic "capitalism" represented by Potter's monopolistic business interests; and George's union with Mary, his lifelong sweetheart, and their settling down in that quaint, provincially idyllic American town named Bedford Falls, which George had seemed so insistently focused on shedding like a cheap suit. The sad, decadent, cold, flashy, Vegas-like imagining of Bedford Falls sans George Bailey convinces him (and us) that his heart is much bigger than his ambition, and it belongs to the members of his hometown. The final sequence jerks buckets of tears, not through manipulation, but through the genuine redemption of a man whose life of selfless acts repays him in a way that only a town like Bedford Falls can.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An incredible revelation

Author: Peter Caldwell from New Zealand
18 February 2012

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are terrific as the main leads in this Frank Capra movie. Set very close to his own working class roots ( supporting cast and characters bear this out) and some nasty people thrown in to boot, this film holds the viewer's attention without getting overly sentimental.. Ever said to yourself " I wish I had never been born?" This film will clearly answer that question.

It just goes to show that movies do not have to have all the special effects bells and whistles, deafening sound track and Dolby digital to capture viewer interest. Movies like this were made in a time when violence was often only suggested, not played in grizzly detail. There are certainly some dark themes. However you can't help being uplifted by the ending..

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

Author: s-tb from United States
15 November 2011

I have seen some very good films in my life, of that there is no doubt. This one though, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" I remember the first time I watched it, it was the holiday season I think my sophomore year of High School. Being a high schooler I tried extremely hard not t let my tears show, but it was no use, and I could see similar failures around the classroom. I haven't seen a movie that could reach such an emotional level with me since, probably the only one that ever came close was Lion King, when I was 5. This movie will always be on my top 5 list, and so far no contender has got even close to removing it from the #1, and 64 years after this movie has been made there still isn't, that is really saying something.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic and must watch

10/10
Author: avi-b-sharma from Nagpur, India
18 September 2011

Before I started watching it and even after watching around 50 minutes of movie, my first impression was not that good. As I am native American, I was even missing some links in this movie but then it absolutely changed !! After watching the movie as a whole (complete 2 hours and 9 min), I realized that this is one of the best movies which i have even seen. It gives us some teachings about how important are your friends are and what will be the world without you !! This is a must watch without thinking of what genre you usually watch or something, just remember the fact that after watching this movie you will realize the importance of friends and your presence... What are you waiting for ? GO WATCH !!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Its great movie to watch

Author: amikhalyuk from United States
28 July 2011

In a movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) goes through out his life trying to help people in his home town living with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four children in an old house. Even though he understood that his father's business does not bring much income, people were his main focus. He lived with a dream that one day he will travel across the globe and will come back to build new buildings. Despite of his dream, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) prevents him from leaving his home town and is forced to take over his father's loan company. On the Christmas Eve, George's uncle Bill (Thomas Mitchell) loses $8,000 while he is attempting to deposit them into the bank account. Mr. Potter is the one who discovers the money but hides them from Mr. Bailey. As George realizes that after bank examiner finds out about missing money, he might go to jail and will loose his company, therefore he decides to ask Mr. Potter for help and give up his company. As he thought about his family, he was told that he is worth more dead when he is alive, and decided to commit suicide. Because of his family prayers, an angel Clarence (Henry Travers) was sent to save him and to show him how valuable his life is to the people he cares about by taking him to the time as if he was never born. I loved this movie because of its positive attitude. Some of the main characters are just perfect for their character in the movie. Even though James Stewart won an Oscar for his George Bailey character, my favorite character is the Mr. Potter. His bold head and cricket eyes are perfectly underline his grouchy character. Bailey's wife Mary is a perfect character as well. Her facial expressions are very clearly expressing her feelings. Her face did show an expression that she is deeply in love with George. Also you can see when she figured that George is in money trouble.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Warm, heart-wrenching and reaffirms our faith in ourselves !!!

10/10
Author: Lord Aragon from Gondor
24 July 2011

I was very much aware of this film consistently being listed as one of the best movies EVER made. James Stewart has been one of my favorites for a longtime. This DVD had been lying with me for quite some time so I decided to give it a try. By God, I was stupefied, I did not write a review immediately just to see if this was not a flash in the pan, just an overdone, emotional blackmailer of a movie but this movie is simply brilliant. As an after thought maybe, its so hard to describe what one feels after watching this gem, this masterpiece. I am told it was a resounding flop when it was released, aah thats so unfortunate.

Everyone goes through the vicissitudes of life, and many a times it is so tempting to end it all, to blame each and everyone around for one's misery that we miss out on the differences one's life makes to others. This is Hollywood at its very best, this is what everyone needs to realize...............

Its a WONDERFUL LIFE... indeed...... ! See it and praise the Lord !

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the Greatest Films Ever Made

9/10
Author: Supachewy from United States
20 August 2010

The drama fantasy It's a Wonderful Life is directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore and it takes place in a modern day small town.

The film starts off with angels talking about how a man, George Bailey (Stewart), needs help to make his life better. The angels decide to send a second class angel, Clarence, to go and help him. But before sending him they give him all the important details of his life. The first one that is shown was when George Bailey was a child and saved his brother's life and stopped the shopkeeper he worked for from selling poison tablets. Then it showed when George Bailey was older and how he dreamed of traveling the world but at any chance he got he had to do some sort of work for the loan shop he was in charge of. He fell in love with a young woman named Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) but struggled to gain her as his wife. This film is excellent and has a morale that everyone needs to hear, a timeless classic.

Frank Capra directed this film brilliantly. It was truly sentimental and he made it so you could feel the emotions of George Bailey. There were quite a few classic moments that he created in this film such as when George asks Mary is she wants for him to lasso the moon for her. Capra truly created an excellent film.

The writing of this film was pure bliss. There are not that many films out there that have a sense of purity such as this one and that is intended for all audiences. There were many ups and downs on this ride and it left you completely satisfied.

The acting by the whole cast was remarkable. James Stewart gave a great performance as George Bailey never being able to get what he really wants and being extremely stressed by all the tasks that he has to do. Donna Reed was great as the love interest, providing much support for Stewart's character to grow off of. Lionel Barrymore was great as the big business man in town trying to buy up everything and keeping Bailey down. Excellent performances for an excellent film.

Overall I give this film a strong 9/10, it is truly a timeless classic from the legendary Frank Capra. I recommend this to absolutely everyone young and old, it is a truly heartwarming story that has already gone down in film history.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Must watch movie

10/10
Author: Md Rabiul Awual K from Chittagong Bangladesh
20 August 2015

Another masterpiece of James Stewart, Donna Reed the most romantic duo.i got myself eyed into these fine illustrious events hopes dreams of George bailey.could not lift myself from the chair.it really made me think over my life philosophy to rejuvenate the enthusiasm.the turnaround of events were not as dramatic though enjoyed every bit of it. that's why it may not be able to compete The The Shawshank Redemption...whatsoever.It's a film that you can enjoy sitting with every level of people.Marvelous fantastic though lacked a tiny little bit of Extreme Dramatic flavor.I can just mark 10 just only for the characterization,acting staging...what a good film must have.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good luck in not to cheer after watching this picture

10/10
Author: 851222 from Lithuania
23 July 2015

Greetings from Lithuania.

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) truly deserves all the praises and kudos it got true the decades. Seeing it first time this evening in 2015, all i can say that this is an amazing movie in every term. I won't going to into plot details as you all probably know it better than me. Try not to smile after this movie - it's impossible.

This is a movie making at highest level. Acting is outstanding (it was made in 1946!), especially by a lead James Stewart - he glues the whole picture. Supporting cast is also great. Script is so simple yet so rich and combined with pitch perfect directing - near every scene (litteraly) in this movie clicks and it is just marvelous to watch this story unfolding. Before watching this movie i really didn't expect it to be THIS good, thought it could be a bit overrated, but boy was i wrong - this is a must see picture for every age, for every person.

Overall, "It's a Wonderful Life" has to be one of the finest pictures. At running time 2 h 10 min this movie never drags, and is superbly involving from start till the last frame. Every scene works here so well, because of great acting, superb direction, great script (simple, yet very involving). The ending is superbly inspiring. I do wonder however about age of some more old characters in this movie, as it seems like they never get old (and some of them should be at around 120 years old by the end of the movie), but it's not even a complain. Watch this movie if you haven't seen it yet - it is an amazing motion picture.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Literally perfection.

10/10
Author: liquidmetalkingslime from New Zealand
8 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's not much to say about the movie, except that it is utter perfection in film.

A lovely story about strife in life, and overcoming it with love and family. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, as he overcomes every challenge that life can throw at him, with an added magical spin from his angel, Clarence, which turns the movie into a pseudo-remaking of A Christmas Carol.

It's tough to review it though, in today's terms at least - but that doesn't make it any less of a fantastic movie. Fantastic movies should stay as fantastic movies, and this certainly has.

A perfect Christmas classic, and one that you should watch at least once in your life.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Timeless Narration of Family Christmas

10/10
Author: Evan Dewangga from Semarang, Indonesia
25 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Drama, personally is my favorite genre of movies. It is usually less action, and uses solid dialog. Seems boring, but when the filmmaker knows to execute it well, there is no single scene that's useless. Drama is about the power of story, the strength of characterization, and the deep moral value. Don't say just about blazing editing or unique cinematography, drama doesn't need those so much. Maybe just the soundtrack that counts to the synergy of movie construction. I know there are so many non-drama movie that have amazing idea, but only drama that has businesslike idea. No compromise about all of the social critic, capture it beautifully, and give the enormous view of daily live in human's life each times.

Let's jump to this movie. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), very classic piece, crafted by doubtless director such as Capra. Before watch it, I have known this notable quote by Frank Capra, "I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries". So, I expect so high from this movie. I know it's from 1946, how old is that. But I also know that every year this movie aired again and again on American television. So what do I say, it must be very great cultural node in the cinema history. Don't worry about the release date, art lasts forever, especially the superb one.

Yes, my high expectation is paid off. Usually when you expect high, you are disappointed. But, no, it's really wonderful one, very wonderful. In fact, I watch it near before Christmas. It's so Christmas movie though. I feel so grateful after watch this movie, honestly. So humble movie with original comical act. Even after more than six decades, it still drives me to the joyful of Christmas. The fantasy-aspects is just enough, I mean it's not too imaginary. Just a touch of fantasy and you can smell the scent of life.

The moral value, indeed, a very thoughtful one. So, let's say, even a very compassionate man can get stress and crazy. And, maybe a kind man, is actually depressed inside. That's the little twist fact in our life. I don't want to say too much about this problem, because clearly this movie give the fictive solution, the angel. Or you can translate it to the real one. Such as, let's think all over, don't get mad, be calm, and you know that you just think it too much. But, what's actually in my mind is the intrinsic message, maybe not all of the audiences will notice this. So, let's say, that we, and our people measure the success of a human from his/her wealth, properties, and sometimes his/her travel. It's wrong success judgment remains until now, especially in my nation, Indonesia. Yes, because all those things is measurable, no wonder why people think of that. But, we keep forgetting the essential value of life is laid on every human conscience. What is the meaning of a bunch full of money when you lack of true compassion itself. The problem is actually we know those things about compassion etc, but our society drives us to the what they think success is. We learn that, we do that, and we teach that to other people directly or not directly. Even in this modern era, those stigmas still exist, eventually more exist. Those fundamental value of life is eroded by this acceptable idea. Yes, it's acceptable, but you know it's not fully true. This movie lead us to this opinion. I mean look at George Bailey, he doesn't go anywhere, isn't rich, although he can. He keep refusing all those interesting offer, because he knows it's true. And the moment when he want to commit suicide, he just suddenly forget all that truth. Angel comes, and that's the solution. Even without angel, we human can figure it out what we must do in life. Again, it's conscience that this movie tried to lift up.

At last, from the flash impression until the deepest value, I enjoy this movie. In addition, it's also a family movie. Even children can get those visionary message. I give ten out of ten, because all that reasons, added by the acting, cinematography, and its timeless period. A wonderful artworks, from the initial cinema era. Just watch it, and you will love it.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Haven't we all at some point on the way home ...

9/10
Author: calvinnme from United States
25 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

... arrived at our exit on the freeway and wondered, "What if I just kept driving?". That very modern - and yet timeless - feeling is at the heart of this film, before life was so complex, when the U.S. was dotted with small towns in which it was possible to be born, make a good living, and die, without ever leaving, save for military service.

George Bailey is both an extraordinarily lucky and unlucky guy. He's unlucky because none of the plans he made for himself as a young man ever worked out - his loyalties to family and to his hometown always kept him pinned there. He's extraordinarily lucky because he has a wife and children that adore him. But one Christmas Eve when he is in his late 30's a crisis brought about by his uncle's stupidity is the last straw that causes him to wish that he was never born, and he gets that wish granted to him - to see the world as if he had never been born, and he does not like the view.

It turns out over his life, George did a series of good deeds - some large some small - that changed the course of just about every life in his hometown. Basically, without the Bailey Savings and Loan, which without George would have collapsed in the 1920's at the death of his father, the only source of financing is Mr. Potter's bank, which makes Citibank look like a charitable institution. The town has thus been thrown into chaos, a place where alcoholism, prostitution, and broken homes abound. Now I could sympathize with George's horror at seeing the bad fate of just about everybody he knew save Mary, his wife. When George inquires about her fate he is told - "You won't like it. She's an OLD MAID"! Oh the horror! She in fact is the town librarian. To quote someone else on this subject - "in a town thrown into chaos she's an educated woman with a job - what's the problem?". Mary, before she even married George, is full of life and has a sense of style, but just subtract George from her existence and she becomes someone who dresses like a woman twenty years her senior and is deathly frightened of men? Pleeeease! Oh well, if I am going to watch the films of 1946 I'd better be prepared to deal with the values of 1946, but I digress.

The fact is George probably WOULD have been better off without these ties that bind. He could have seen the world and done big things and slept like a baby without a worry. But the fact is he realized he cared about these people whose lives would be ruined without him, and that is probably why so many of us don't just keep driving when we hit our exit on the highway. We go home to the people we love and the problems that come with them.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Nothing Short of Superb!!!

10/10
Author: zardoz-13 from United States
21 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Producer & director Frank Capra's crowning glory "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946) with James Stewart and Donna Reed ranks as one of the greatest Hollywood movies. This warm-hearted epic about life in the small town of Bedford Falls and protagonist George Bailey (James Stewart) and his eternal battle with the corrupt and evil Potter (Lionel Barrymore) captures the spirit of America after the end of World War II. A box office flop, "It's A Wonderful Life" acquired a new lease on life when copyright holders National Telefilm Associates neglected to renew it in 1973. Consequently, television stations ran it ad nauseam until Republic Pictures renewed the copyright in the 1990s. Everybody considers Capra's film an example of the classic Christmas movie, but Christmas doesn't play a part in the plot until more than half way through it. George Bailey epitomizes optimism and plans to break out of the confinement of rural America to globe trot around the world until events larger than he compels him to remain in Bedford Falls.

After his long-suffering father dies, George steps into the breach and continues his age-old struggle against the greedy Potter and he triumphs in the end. Winning, however, isn't a picnic for our hometown hero. George Bailey comes mighty close to losing. At one point, he contemplates suicide when the bank examiner arrives at his savings and loan office and poor Uncle Billy (Oscar winner Thomas Mitchell) has lost $8-thousand dollars. Capra and scenarists Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Jo Swerling, working from an original story by Philip Van Doren Stern, paint our hero into a corner when Uncle Billy lost $8-thousand dollars when he encounter the despicable Potter in the bank. Of course, Potter kept the money that poor Uncle Billy inadvertently handed to him in a folded up newspaper. At this point, fearing scandal, prison, and humiliation, George got drunk, slammed his ancient automobile into a tree, and wandered onto a bridge where he contemplated suicide. Mind you, Potter put the idea into George's head when George turned in desperation to Potter for a loan to cover his shortfall of cash. At this point, an angel second class without wings, Clarence (Henry Travers of "Shadow of a Doubt"), is dispatched from Heaven to save George. When George mentions that he wished that he had never been born, Clarence comes up with the imaginative idea of showing George what Bedford Falls would be like if George had never been born! George is shocked not only when he notes that the town is now called Pottersville but also that his brother died in an ice-skating accident. Earlier, George had saved his younger brother's life when the latter fell through thin ice and nearly drowned. George is so horrified by everything that he sees that he decides that he'd rather be born so he can face the music. As Capra has said himself in interviews about "It's A Wonderful Life," he describes it as a celebration of the individual. Basically, one man can make a difference in this world.

Naturally, for George's sake, he receives a second chance. Meaning, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a life-affirming movie.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Christmas film everyone will enjoy

8/10
Author: m-h-clough from United Kingdom
15 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was James Stewart's third (and final) collaboration with Capra, following on from pre-war films You cant take it with you and Mr Smith goes to Washington. Later in life he claimed it was his favourite work.

James Stewart, born in 1908, often portrayed the everyday middle class American, usually a character struggling with adverse circumstances to win through, in many ways the reality of his own early life. After studying at Princeton, Stewart tried to establish a career on the stage. Coinciding with the height of the Depression there was little work, and he later claimed only to have had employment for 3 months between 1932 and 1934. Signed by a talent scout to MGM in 1935, he moved to Los Angeles and stated his film career, working with a series of stars including Jean Arthur, Marlene Deitrich and Katherine Hepburn. World War II brought an interruption: Stewart, a skilled pilot, was eventually enlisted in the air corps. Resisting official attempts to use him merely as a recruiting prop, Stewart was ultimately transferred to an operations squadron, becoming commanding officer and flying bombing missions over Germany. He was awarded the DFC and the Croix de Guerre. His return to Hollywood saw a further 4 decades of films, including noted collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock in the 1950s.

It's a Wonderful Life was his first film in five years: in it he plays the part of George Bailey, a man living in Bedford Falls, a small town in America, but yearning to get away and fulfil big ambitions. Using a plot device, the audience sees George's past life up to the point, on Christmas Eve, when he tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Using a similar device, George then sees what the world would look like if his attempt were to succeed.

The film was not a huge commercial success at the time, but has since come to be regarded as a masterpiece of storytelling. Traditionally associated with Christmas, which forms its backdrop, the film has a wider scope. George makes constant choices of self sacrifice which enable those around him to prosper. This prosperity is more emotional than financial, and a key message is perhaps the value of relationships above money. This self sacrifice is not without cost, but George uniquely gets to see what would have happened if he hadn't existed at all.

The film also examines differing approaches to business and looks at their results. On the one side is the Building and Loan Company, a financial institution run not on a financial basis, but on the idea of mutual support. On the other Mr Potter, who owns most of the rest of Bedford Falls and who wants to end the Building and Loan so he can complete his financial exploitation.

Whilst the film clearly includes many elements which can be regarded as fantasy (changing the past and future, angels descending to earth) it keeps one foot firmly on the ground, offering an ultimately happy ending which only the most jaded viewer will be able to resist.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's still so popular for a reason

10/10
Author: yeltzmanmatt from Birmingham, England
10 June 2014

What can you say about this film that hasn't already been said? Modern audiences are in the main averse to watching black and white films. The fact it is still an incredibly popular film decades after it's release tells you all you need to know.

It's a clever idea and it's great story that actually makes you think. The acting is superb and James Stewart is at his brilliant best. There are sad and uplifting moments in equal measure and an ending that leaves you thinking whether you should laugh or cry.

If you are feeling a bit down then just put this film on and I guarantee it will make you feel better. Quite simply this is one of the best films ever made and only the most cynical misery will fail to be touched by it.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"No man is a failure who has friends."

10/10
Author: Natko Krasevac from Croatia
3 May 2014

After suggestions from many of my friends, I decided to finally watch this movie classic.

Firstly, I was really delighted by the quality of the picture, sound and everything else. I expected it to be a low quality black and white film, but my mind was blown away by the fact that in 1946 the movie industry was so well developed. Frank Capra directed this movie so well, I might say this is the best movie I have ever watched. If not the best, then definitely one of my top 3 movies.

Secondly, the actors were just perfect. Stewart really did a wonderful job and became one of the few actors that I really admire. Also Donna Reed did her part just as good as Stewart. Currently, there are no actresses that I can imagine playing that part.

Lasty, everything I already mentioned would have no meaning without the story and message this movie sends to the viewers. This movie brings all the emotions deep down from you to the surface. I am not ashamed to say that the end made me shed a few tears. There are not many movies that could touch a persons's life so deep. If the movie does so, it is safe to say that it is a perfect movie. Because a movie should communicate directly to every viewer. Just like poetry, every person should be able to find what they look for. One movie, but many meanings. One character, but many lives.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Don't read reviews about this film. Just watch it.

10/10
Author: humbleradio from Tokyo, Japan
24 December 2012

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is simply a masterpiece. A perfect film.

There's no need to take it apart scene by scene or examine its plot, its themes or do a character study of George Bailey. No need to attach more meaning than was intended, to imagine symbols where they don't exist, or to ignore the ones that do. No need at all. For if you are one of the many, the growing many who cannot watch this film without tasting tears, tears of joy, tears of sadness, then you know exactly what I am talking about - that further discussion would only serve to diminish the film's beauty.

There are few films that are in this category, that hit notes as true as this. "Casablanca" is one, "It's a Wonderful Life" is another, where everything comes together, where magic is not only seen in one scene, but in every scene, every line, every look and moment in the film. Pure magic. That's what this is, folks. Pure magic. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

And the less talk about it the better. We talk too much nowadays, anyway.

Just watch it and let it move you to joy, to tears, and tears of joy.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful film. One of best i've seen

10/10
Author: Lisa Walsh from United States
8 November 2012

This is one of my favorite movies of all time and a Christmas tradition in my household. This film is about sacrifice for the greater good. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) having big ideas of the world around him and continually puts his desires behind the good of the town. Another thing this movie shows perfectly that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are all linked to each other and play a important part in each others lives. After George looses his way and a angel shows what the world would be like without him he soon realizes how important he was to the people and town around him. This will always be considered a classic in cinema and a great movie to watch every year during Christmas. So we can all remember the good and bad of the present year and when new years comes around we try to make the next year better for others and ourselves. This is a must see for any family or fan of cinema.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

10/10
Author: SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain from United Kingdom
13 September 2012

As undeniable classic in every imaginable way. It's A Wonderful Life is the feel good Christmas movie above all others, despite the fact it paints a fairly depressing picture. It tells us not to take life for granted, and that we shouldn't be so selfish as to assume our life is for our own benefit. It clearly highlights how Jimmy Stewart's life has influenced all those around him. As his life takes a nosedive and his dreams go unfulfilled he begins to lose all hope. Other than the necessary schmaltzy ending, the film is well grounded in reality and avoids insincere sentiments. Capra's wonderful handling of the material make this a surprisingly gripping film, one that may climax at Christmas, but can be watched anytime of year.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A classic everyone should know about.

Author: emasterslake from United States
3 June 2006

I just saw it recent;y for the first time ever.

And I'm very amazed on how well done this movie was made.

It takes place from 1910s-1946.

Jimmy Stewart portrays a man who wanted to follow his dreams but always ended up being a failure. He feels as if his life is falling apart. On X-Mas eve he thinks the world would be better off without him.

When all seemed hopeless. A man named Clarence who is said to be a guardian Angel will help him change his way of thinking.

Unlike other holiday movies, this one is one of those feel good movies and has a great moral to it. That every person who fails deserves a second chance.

I think every person should know what this movie is. If you haven't seen it yet, do so, cause this is a must see classic. And it be a perfect movie for the whole family to watch.

There's nothing too offending in the movie. No swearing, some drinking scenes, non-brutal fights, and I think it's perfectly fine for the kids to watch. Just to let you know that this movie is long and has some long scenes too.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Depressing movie

Author: poche112
29 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life... Yea RIGHT! SPOILERS It's Christmas season and I just sat thru my 10000th viewing (or so it seems) of 'It's a Wonderful Life.' I movie that everyone but me seems to find a happy and uplifiting story that centers around the holiday season. I see it as something different, and I cannot find one small glimmer of hope in the life of the poor pathetic main character of George Bailey.

Poor George was born with but one ambition for his life, to get the hell out of Bedford Falls and to see the world. This movie is but one long look at his miserable failure. In the movie we are taken thru the life of George Bailey, introduced to his family and his freinds as we are shown what looks at first glance to be an unfortunate chain of events that keep poor George trapped in the prison of a town called Beford Falls.

He meets the love of his life, Mary, and despite his explaining his intentions of getting the dust of that small town off of his shoes; she traps him into marriage. This is due in no small part to his rivalry with childhood friend Sam Wainwright. None the less, he and Mary save and plan for their eventual departure from Bedford Falls, and once again George is crushed. His dream nearly within his grasp, a failure of the family buisness (The Building and Loan,) caused by the incompetence of his familt to run the buisness and the economy (manipulated by his arch nemmissis Mr. Potter,) force him to give away all that he has hoped and dreamed for to "save the family buisness."

Later, as world war two is raging, George's possibilties of getting out of Bedford Falls are again dashed by the evil Mr. Potter, who through is political influence has managed to ensconse himself as the head of the draft board, thereby using a slight hearing deficiency to keep George from joining the armed forces. That way the evil robber barron Potter can keep our George under his control, at home, in dismal old Beford Falls.

After that crushing blow to his dream, George becomes complaicent and allows Mary to saddle him with FOUR children. Ultimately dashing all hope of ever leaving Beford Falls. When an IDIOT relative misplaces a large sum of money that belongs to the Building and Loan, the money is stolen by the evil Mr. Potter and a crisis ensues. Poor George is driven into drpression and contemplates suicied.

Up to this point we can only feel sorry for poor George, we are shown his troubled life from his perspective; but, here is where this movie takes a turn. Just as George is about to end it all, an angel in the form of a dumpy old man named Clarence shows up and saves George from his untimely demise. What happens next is most enlightening.

Our George tells Clarence that he wishes that he had never been born. His wish is grated and we get to see what life in Bedford Falls (now Potterville) would be like if George Bailey had never been born. We are shown in great detail how each and every person in the town was better off because of George Bailey. Everyone that is EXCEPT George.

George's dear wife Mary ends up as a spinster. It would seem that her only prospect for landing a husbandl was George. Even though she had been persued in the first half of the movie by George's close friend Sam Wainwright. We can now plainly see that Sam's interest in Mary was only a rivailry with his friend George. With George out of the picture, Sam had no interest in Mary at all. No wonder then that she did everything in her power to trap poor George into marriage, and keep him by producing multible offspring.

At a blinding pace, the movie shows us how each and every person in the town of Bedford Falls has USED George Bailey. Taken his kindness and generosity for all it is worth and given nothing back. And, in the process, assuring that George's one dream of getting the hell out of Bedford Falls will never become a reality. Each and every person in that hell of a town had used George in their own way: the cab driver, the police man, the bartender, the list goes on and on. All had TAKEN from George and given nothing back.

In the end though, Clarence scares George so badly that he pleads for his old life back, and predictably his wish is again granted. The movie then tries to make us feel better by showing that this town of ungrateful takers has begun to realize that they NEED George Bayley. In a stirring closing scene, we see these "users" come to George and Mary's house to give money to help save George from prison. The movie closes with George having been saved from prosececution, only to be stuck in the same HELL that has been his whole life.

What is not shown at the end of the film is that the evil Mr. Potter, who stole the money that caused all the trouble in the first place, gets off scott free. Once again the evil robber barron Potter comes out on top, while poor old George is left to live out his misserable life serving the leitches of Beford Falls.

The moral lesson to all who watch the film is that no matter what your dreams, no matter how good a life you live; the evil in this world (be it low life leitches that take, take take; or corporate robber barrons like Potter) will ultimately triumph over you and crush your dreams.

Merry Christmas everybody!!!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Classic? Of its time and out of place, now.

4/10
Author: Brian Milnes from United Kingdom
30 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is on a huge number of people's best films of all time. Sadly, I think that says more about the people than the film. This was a feel-good film made in the aftermath of World War II and is supposed to reference the great depression. We shouldn't expect subtlety from such a morality tale, and truth is the characters are more like those from a Christmas Pantomime than from some carefully crafted, nuanced film plot. So Jimmy Stewart plays the Aladdin/Dick Whittington character, "George" who wants to go off and see the world but instead always does the "right thing" standing by the potentially downtrodden people of Bedford Falls. These, who would otherwise be at the mercy of archetypal villain, "capitalist/banker" Potter. ("Boo"! "Hiss"!) It takes nearly half of the film's two hours plus for George to be pushed into the arms of the pantomime's leading Girl, the saccharine sweet "Mary", by his mother!? The telephone scene in which he finally kisses her is utterly implausible, even risible. No wonder its original audiences and its writers didn't care for it. Then we have the major story arc of "Clarence" the Guardian Angel (= Fairy Godmother), who is trying to earn his wings by saving George from committing suicide (which would have disqualified paying out on his insurance policy). This is why the film is described as re-working of Dicken's Christmas Carol, and they are indeed, fairy-tale morality tales. Scrooge is redeemed, and George is saved from pointlessly topping himself and abandoning his wife and children. Of course there a whole load of holes in the plot line. Just one example; a call to his highly successful younger brother, whose life he saved, would surely have secured a loan to bridge the gap? And the film is misogynistic, sexist and racist: The "world without George" version of the bar in which he originally gets sozzled is just there for "men to get drunk, quick", associate with loose women and has a black guy playing the piano! OK, so Pantomimes are popular at Christmas...

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

an enduring classic that has only gotten better with age

10/10
Author: TheUnknown837-1 from United States
19 December 2009

James Maitland Stewart was one of the most inspirational and admirable actors who ever lived. Although his range of talents allowed him to effectively play whatever kind of role he wanted, he is remembered most for the roles where he stole the audiences hearts. He was nominated several times for an Academy Award, but won it only once and at that time felt that his friend Henry Fonda deserved it more. In my opinion, James Stewart should have won the Oscar at the very least three times. He deserved the one who received for "The Philadelphia Story" (1940). And he should have won it for his performances in "Vertigo" (1958) and his most beloved classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." This improving-with-age classic is generally marketed as a Christmas classic, but that's very one-dimensional. Yes, the perfect season to view it is during the said holiday season, but it's about much more than that. It's about life itself and the ups and downs of life and no matter how heavy the latter may be at times, it's well, it's a wonderful life.

In the film, James Stewart plays an ambitious young businessman who would rather do nothing but travel the world and build cities (perhaps a reference to Stewart's early ambitions to be an architect?) but his generous heart and the constant shortcomings of his friends continually puts him behind in his own life. When his troubles become so heavy and so depressing to the point where he ponders over suicide, he is visited by a strange man (Henry Travers) who turns out to be an angel wanting to show him how the world would have been if he'd never been born.

I guarantee you that most if not all storytellers of the past sixty-some years wanting to generate a character that would win over the hearts of the audience have used this masterpiece for reference. Jimmy Stewart was just warming up at winning over your heart with another collaboration with Frank Capra, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," here he just steals your sympathy with every scene he's in.

As for Stewart's supporting cast, well, let's just say he had a great collaboration to work with. The enchanting actress Donna Reid is fantastic as his love interest, Lionel Barrymore is superb as the conniving greedy businessman Mr. Potter, the great Thomas Mitchell gives another fantastic performance as Stewart's bumbling uncle, Ward Bond is terrific in his supporting role as the kindly town sheriff, and of course, I cannot leave out Henry Travers who is absolutely lovable as the guardian angel who comes to teach Stewart about the gift of life.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is one of those rare films. Like "Casablanca", it does not wear down even as decades go by. It's only gotten better with age. James Stewart said it was his personal favorite out of all of the movies that he made in his illustrious career in Hollywood. Is it my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie? No. But I will tell you this. It is so sweet and moving and enchanting and wonderful that I held back a lot of what I wanted to say in this review because I don't want to give any more away than what is necessary. There's only a handful of movies that I will do that for. Because there is so much to be seen here and every minute is absorbing and beautiful.

And one more thing. You know that feeling you get—that really, really good feeling in your soul—whenever you see a really, really good movie? If you want to revisit that sensation, see "It's a Wonderful Life" as soon as you can. And the beauty of it is, you don't even necessarily have to wait for the Christmas season to do that.

Rating: 4/4

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Take the kids

10/10
Author: rareynolds from Columbia, Maryland
24 December 2005

Just returned from seeing this at the AFI Silver -- had not seen it on the big screen before, so piled the kids into the van and drove down to Silver Spring to see it. What a movie! I'd seen it before, of course, but didn't expect to cry so much. The scene at the end, when the whole town shows up to pitch in to save the Building and Loan, was almost too much for me to bear. I just sat in the theater and bawled. It was a bit embarrassing.

Impossible to think of anyone else but Jimmy Stewart as George. If Stewart had never been born, quite likely this movie would never have been made! One can't help but wonder how the world would be different...

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Perspective!!!!

10/10
Author: dataconflossmoor from United States
16 August 2007

This will be my 100th comment on this website, and, it stands to reason that I should pick an all time classic movie such as "It's A Wonderful Life"!! This film is Frank Capra's best film ever... A statement of this nature tells you how remarkable this movie truly is!! Jimmy Stewart was voted by one magazine as the second best performer ever in the history of Hollywood!! Only second behind Katherine Hepburn, making him rated the best actor in the history of movie making!! While some people may question this assessment of Jimmy Stewart, due to Jimmy Stewart's innocuous Huckelberry Finn disposition, I can empathize with this verdict of Stewart's acting on account of his precisely executed latent tendencies which ultimately resonated into an articulated anger!! Jimmy Stewart's acting is very itemized, and thus, it establishes emotions which are genuine, these emotions relegate Stewart to a vulnerability which was pertinent to the fact that his feelings which could no longer be bottled up inside of him, would make him obtusely erupt!! Donna Reed is in this movie, and her performance is very believable as well!! Lionel Barrymore is extremely adept at playing the role of the ogre (Mr Potter) who is metaphorically writhing in his acquisition of the Baily Building and Loan!! This movie is the classic Christmas movie of all time!!, "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Fantasia" as well as any other Christmas movie, do not capture the spiritual camaraderie related to the yuletide association with caring and benevolence that "It's A Wonderful Life" exemplifies so flawlessly!!What the film "It's A Wonderful Life" accomplishes is the ideology behind the true meaning of what Christmas signifies... This phrase in of itself sounds very rhetorical, however, with a movie like "It's A Wonderful Life" such an accolade is the genuine article!! "It's A Wonderful Life" resembles the movie "Best Years of Our Lives" in the manner by which a happy ending is attained the hard way!! Often times, we look at our lives and become demoralized at the uneventful banalities which perpetually plague us!! We are depressed at how money dictates virtually everything, and, as was the case with George Bailey, we become trounced by failure and despondence!! Adversities are what make us cohesive, considering that this film was made right after World War II concluded, we as Americans were thoroughly aware of such a fate!! The fatal predicament which besieges George Bailey in this movie arouses occasion for all of the good citizens of Bedford Falls to bond together and realize the importance of caring for each other!! Such a homespun philosophy was anything but an artificial panacea, and with it, Americans immersed themselves into a nationally guarded perspective of good will and compassion!! This film is outstanding!! The talent and the ideological premise to this film, has out-shined virtually every other movie made!! A socially responsible movie is entitled to the luxury of a heartfelt happy ending, especially if it has been earned!!! Films which make people feel fortunate are not breaking any rules which compromise the quality of a film!! All of these carefully devised components to this film make "It's A Wonderful Life" an absolutely magnificent movie!!

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

See it for what it is

5/10
Author: SlipGun from United States
24 July 2004

It's a Wonderful Life is to cinema what The Fox and the Crow is to literature.

Don't get me wrong: This is a gem of a film, definitely worth watching at least once, but it really is more of a parable or short story than anything else. Its biggest drawback (aside from its length, which could use a trimming of about 30 minutes) is its cheap sentiment, done in typical Capra style. Beyond that, though, is a very simple yet potent film that serves as a reminder that the stories that work on a simple, allegorical level are often the ones that work best. I believe that due to it being a Christmas movie, people are willing to overlook its multitude of flaws, from the hokey acting to the weak script. It's interesting to see the rather bluntly portrayed themes here still work well today, though thankfully with more subtlety and complexity, such as the childlike wonder in Amelie, alternate realities in everything from the Groundhog Day to the Matrix and of course the very obvious character arc no good story should be without (although Capra is hardly the inventor of this basic centuries-old device, as one reviewer stated).

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16 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Pursuit of happiness? Only if you stay put!

3/10
Author: manuel-pestalozzi from Zurich, Switzerland
29 March 2006

So, if Jimmy Stuart had really lived I wouldn't sip a Martini now - but I would know and maybe even befriend a valuable citizen called MISTER Martini who lives because Lionel Barrymore died at the right moment? Or is it the other way round? I liked to speculate along those lines, when I was a child.

Watching It's a Wonderful Life made me quite mad. The message is pretty cruel. It goes like: you are needed here and don't you dare planning to go on a world trip or anything like that. It's for other folks only. This strongly smells of Calvin's doctrine of predestination which, some say, is one of the foundations of the spirit of the USA. The main character is practically denied a free will, due to the circumstances a non too benevolent god arranged for him. I must admit, Stewart's hysterical shrieks on the bridge, as it dawns on him how valuable he is for the community, sounded to me like the first signs of full fledged madness.

Ironically, the Potterville Stewart's character prevents through his sacrifice seems to be a much more thrilling place than the Bedford Falls he preserves, at least to a modern day audience. I am not against modesty, a good community spirit and loyalty, but inertia and values that are declared absolute and unchangeable will not help to solve the world's problems. I don't know how Frank Capra weathered the HUAC hearings, but the rigid categorizations of the citizenship this movie makes in order to propagate American values could well have pointed at him as a „Commie sympathizer".

James Stewart's George Bailey is the exact opposite of Gary Cooper's Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, made three years after this movie. The both represent American extremes in movies that I find overbearing and simplistic.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Best Movie Ever Made

10/10
Author: the-fearless-america from United States
24 April 2016

Absolutely, It's A Wonderful Life is in my top 5 movies of all time. Frank Capra also in my top 5 directors of all generation. Yet, James Stewart is one of my favorite actor. This was the best formation ever. Indisputably, Capra, without any serious contemplation, exalted as one of the most talented drama-director ever borne in this world. He was a master of film-maker. Any movies he touch, will always persist as classic for the next generation. It's A Wonderful Life, Casablanca, and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington was the prove. They were all masterpiece.

The performance by two leads was Hollywood's's classic. Yet the plot was magnificent, i know this movie will be something since i watch the prologue (the bell ringing and narration). This plot style is one of the best, wide and depth but simple in complexity. Then it is bonded with strong drama-background. A man regret his life because of the problems within him. This film has very high moral impact to the audience. Maybe this is one of the most influential movie ever. This movie is about thanking your life to god.

To be honest, this film was one of the most inspirational for me. This was one of movies that shaped my character. One of my good character and habits comes from this film. It shaped my moral. It taught me so many lessons in my life. How to struggle in the hard times, how to enjoy and share the happiness with others, how to become a good ones, how to diminish my bad feelings to others, and the most important thing is, how to always thanking my life, because without it, i wouldn't meet the person i truly love now, i don't know what is it to love and to be loved by someone you truly care, i wouldn't know of these feelings. Of course in our life, we will face the hard times sometimes, maybe for some people most of their live is hard times. But always remember, if you ever regret your life and choose not to live, you wouldn't feel the joy anymore. And don't forget, a small happiness can erase the whole pain you got before. Life is wonderfully beautiful.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful film

Author: GusF from Ireland
21 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on the 1945 short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern, this is a quintessential Christmas classic that I never saw before today. It is not only a wonderful life but a wonderful film. Its excellent script by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra chronicles the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The film serves as a reminder that the most important thing in life is other people and that no one is truly a failure so long as they have friends, which is the perfect Christmas message. I had never previously seen one of Capra's films but I was very much impressed by his direction and his superb handling of the material. I was expecting to love the film as I'm a big softie who loves old, sentimental films but I loved it even more than I thought I would.

The film stars Jimmy Stewart in perhaps his best performance as George Bailey, a much loved institution in the small town of Bedford Falls who is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve 1945. We are introduced to George as a 12-year-old boy in 1919 when he saves his younger brother Harry from drowning after he falls through the ice. In the process, he loses the hearing in his left ear, something which becomes symbolic of the sacrifices that he makes for others. For many years, he entertains the dream of exploring Europe and South America in order to escape the monotony of Bedford Falls where everyone knows everyone else. Over the years, he displays his propensity for selflessness time and time again. His dream dies a death and he never leaves home. On that fateful Christmas Eve, he comes to believe that he has accomplished nothing in his life. Thankfully, however, he is proved wrong after he wishes that he had never been born. Without knowing it, he has single-handedly prevented the town and many of its inhabitants from falling into darkness and despair. George is a great character who, in spite of being a thoroughly decent man, is not perfect as he falls victim to the same depression that anyone else in his position on Christmas Eve 1945 would. He thinks of himself before others but these scenes serve to humanise him. Except for Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck if he were a few years older, I don't think that anyone other than Stewart could have played this role so well.

Donna Reed is excellent as George's incredibly loyal, supportive and understanding wife Mary Hatch Bailey, who has harboured a crush on him from the time that they were children. Although George initially does not seem to be interested in her and tells her that he never wants to get married, he realises that he is in love with her. Mary is a kind, somewhat shy woman who is a perfect partner for George. They are like two peas in a pod. She tells George that she would have ended up an old maid without him and this is proved to be the case in the reality where George was never born. I think that Mary could have easily married someone else in the other reality as I am sure that she would had her fair share of suitors but George was the only man for her and she was the only woman for him. Crucially, Stewart and Reed have great chemistry. The scene in which George and Mary are listening to the phone while standing very close together is one of the best romantic scenes that I have ever seen in a film. It is so simple but it works so well.

Lionel Barrymore is suitably vile as Bedford Falls' wealthiest and most immoral citizen Henry F. Potter, a "warped, frustrated old man" who sees the Baileys as a thorn in his side. Consistent with the film's thematic links to "A Christmas Carol", Mr. Potter is similar to Scrooge prior to his redemption but I found him to be even more despicable. He is a great film villain who almost succeeds in crushing George's spirit, telling him that he is worth more dead than alive. He is not seen in the other reality but he has gained control of the town and has renamed it Pottersville, turning it into a den of iniquity. Henry Travers has very little screen time but he is fantastic as George's eccentric, whimsical guardian angel Clarence Odbody. His manner serves as a very effective contrast to George's depression before he realises that he has a great deal to live for. The film also features great performances from Thomas Mitchell as the sweet but scatterbrained Uncle Billy Bailey, H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower, Frank Faylen as Ernie Bishop, Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick and Todd Karns as Harry Bailey. It also features small appearances from Charles Lane, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and the future television producer Sheldon Leonard.

Overall, this is a sublime film which shows that one man can make more of a difference to the lives of others than he ever through possible. I have to admit that I cried at the end. I honestly cannot remember the last time that I cried because of a film and I have watched over 500 in less than two years. I plan to watch this every Christmas season from now on. There is talk of a sequel in which Karolyn Grimes will reprise her role as George's daughter Zasu (now a guardian angel herself) but, since it is unlicensed, it is unlikely to materialise. In any event, I would not be terribly interested. Without Jimmy Stewart, what's the point?

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It's a wonderful movie!

9/10
Author: OllieSuave-007 from California, USA
18 December 2015

This is indeed a wonderful Christmas movie, where James Stewart plays George Bailey, who has dreams of moving out of his town (Bedford Walls) going to college, having an established career and seeing the world. However, after his father's demise, he reluctantly takes on the family business (a loan company), indefinitely putting his dreams on hold.

This is a classic story that definitely reminds you of the more innocent times in America and reminds you things will always turn out all right at the end if you have enough hope and faith. The plot keeps you engaged from start to finish as you follow George Bailey's life, from his times as a preteen to him taking on the family business, and finally to him getting married and raising a family of his own - all the while seeing his dreams fade away. However, when things get too down in the dumps for him, an angel tries to help him out of despair and lets him see what would life be like in George's town without him being born. This reminds you to never take anything for granted and to always appreciate what you have.

It's a great movie with heartwarming moments and great acting. James Stewart and leading lady Donna Reed had great chemistry together. And, the rest of the cast, from Lionel Barrymore as the villainous Mr. Potter to Henry Travers as the angel Clarence, all did a wonderful job.

Even as a movie made in the 1940s, it holds up very well through the test of time and is surely one of the greatest to watch during Christmas time. Highly recommend!

Grade A

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Classic American film deserving ALL acclaim

9/10
Author: michaelny7-909-638520 from nyc
13 December 2015

Just a terrific film that needs to be seen each yr, Great acting by James Stewart and supporting actors. I guess audience and critics back then could not support another inspirational film vs Best years of Our Lives which deserved much acclaim after WW 2. Stewart did deserve the Oscar though and that would have made 2 if they got it right, since he should have won for MR Smith goes to washington.director Frank Capra does a tremendous job and its a shame he wasn't given more time and money for creative jobs. BTW its fascinating that the snow scenes were filmed on days of heat waves and you see Stewart sweating in the scenes. A great classic film that holds up and hopefully will be seen a hundred yrs from now

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Years Later, It's A Wonderful Life Continues to be a Reassuring Holiday Spectacle!

9/10
Author: sandnair87 from India
20 April 2015

What Christmas needs is schmaltz and snow and Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life has both by the hamper full.

Set in Bedford Falls, New York, the movie follows common man George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who after getting married to his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed) takes over the management of the building and loan association in his hometown that acts as a charity organization. He tries hard to buck a local Scrooge – evil rival banker Old Man Potter (Lionel Barrymore), who never misses a chance to jockey him into a position where he could be dealt misery. However, all his troubles come to a head as his mortgage company is plunged into financial crisis, after being broken on the wheel of capitalism. Prodded by failure, incompetence and deceit, our hero is soon brought to despair by fate and the machinations of Mr Potter and teeters on the edge of sanity one snowy Christmas Eve. It is then that George, in a moment of weakness, wishes he was never born. A genial, bumbling 292-year-old wingless angel from heaven, named Clarence (Henry Travers), who is assigned to watch out for him, grants that wish. In the fantastic events that follow, George is brought to a realization of how much his apparently aimless existence has meant to others and shows him the futility of feeling futile.

What is remarkable about 'It's a Wonderful Life' is how well it holds up over the years. It has a simple message told elegantly, intelligently and with a whole lot of heart that never gets old. A socially responsible movie is entitled to the luxury of a heartfelt happy ending, especially if it has been earned! And this film so earns it! Capra's trick rests in the fulsome manner in which he allows a motion picture audience to share in the glory, investing the story with the tremendous heart that always stamps his offerings. This couldn't be other than a Capra picture, the humanness of its story the prevailing factor at every turn of situation. And essential to its extraordinary enduring power is the towering presence of James Stewart who with the supporting cast puts up an amazingly controlled performance, to give a simple but poignant script an unbending strength of character.

All these carefully devised components make it an absolutely enduring classic which does not wear down even as decades go by. The movie that defined the term 'Capra-esque' - and cemented Stewart's position as Hollywood's favorite everyman - is the ultimate winter warmer.

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It doesn't take anything special to live/make a wonderful... life/movie.

8/10
Author: Kop_Reaz from Dhaka, Bangladesh
20 March 2015

The movie is beautiful. Although it took 1 hour to get me interested on what was happening on screen. Afterwards the film is a bit intense but kind of plain.

It's a Wonderful Life is like a fable. Teaching a moral through the life of George Baily a small town folk who is going to kill himself on the Christmas eve, while an angel Clarence tries to make him understand how valuable a human life is.

The acting performance isn't one of the greatest. But good enough for a classic. I'd say the same thing for all the technical stuffs, but I don't know much history about how these things were back in the 1940's.

From a cultural point of view It's a Wonderful Life is an very good film, but only a very good film.

Final verdict: 8.4 out of 10. Do I recommend it: Yes. Do I wanna see it again: No.

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The Best

8/10
Author: kevinsprod from france
16 February 2015

I have seen some very good films in my life, of that there is no doubt. This one though, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" I remember the first time I watched it, it was the holiday season I think my sophomore year of High School. Being a high schooler I tried extremely hard not t let my tears show, but it was no use, and I could see similar failures around the classroom. I haven't seen a movie that could reach such an emotional level with me since, probably the only one that ever came close was Lion King, when I was 5. This movie will always be on my top 5 list, and so far no contender has got even close to removing it from the #1, and 64 years after this movie has been made there still isn't, that is really saying something.

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A Great Movie

10/10
Author: Sable Toulouse from United States
9 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is such an amazing movie. It has so many life lessons in it that it just make it even better. It tells about a man who wishes he wasn't alive. There is a consequence for every action. when he figures out that if he wasn't born, all the things he achieved were non existent. This movie is worth watching over a million times. His guardian angel tries to help him, but he refuses to get help. That changes in the end because even though you hate your self at one time doesn't mean you should wish things you will regret. You have accomplished so much and you might not even know one of one accomplishment, but its there. Other people can see it.

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When a man isn't around he leaves an awful hole, isn't he?

10/10
Author: Artimidor Federkiel from Austria
6 September 2012

Voted as the "Most Powerful Movie of All Time" by the American Film Institute in 2006, Capra's masterpiece now seems redeemed once and for all after it had been considered a major disappointment at the box office back when it was released. Due to a clerical error (or should we better choose to say, divine intervention?) the film even went into public domain, and well, now that it can be shown by every station on the planet it has turned into the ultimate Christmas classic, all ages aboard. The picture might look a tad dated in parts, but on the other hand this is exactly what embeds this fantastic journey even better between fairy-tale and harsh reality. And thus it hits home when it is holiday season again, the Christmas tree is being decorated and the smell of ginger bread hangs in the air.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is about standing up for the community, for principles, for family and friends, for those things that are important in life. Now that all might sound commonplace, but every now and then we need a serious reminder, so it might as well be in the Christmas season. The movie builds up magnificently to its final third, when everything goes downhill at the same time, and America's most favorite son-in-law James Stewart as George Bailey finally loses it. At this moment an already great character-driven movie turns magical when all threads come together and lead up to a breathtaking finale one isn't likely to get tired of. The climax is engaging, uplifting, heart-warming, and the all around great photography further enhances the effect. I can't say if Jimmy Stewart got his wings with this one, and he's probably already immortal anyway for many a reason. For sure he got his place in the audience's hearts with the film, and someone up there gave us the chance to revisit his struggle every year and teach us that after all one's better off being alive. Just remember: When a man isn't around he leaves an awful hole, isn't he?

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Inspiration for the failures

9/10
Author: genext-brite from India
9 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Its a Wonderful Life -Saw this movie today and I regret why so late, seems as if made for me. I need not comment on direction and actors because already much has been said which is no doubt a classic in every point of view.

If one summarizes the movie , it can be drafted within 5 minutes. But the flow and sequence of scenes proving Bailey as a true human for his city men and how he received favor in the end was excellent.

The only few scenes I thought was not required was his Childhood scenes ; the movie could have been started as showing him a mature person and then continuing forward. The beginning scene of God and angel was interesting. Real crux of the movie was the last 40-45 minutes , he realizing the actual worth and essence of life when he was made non-existing.

Anyone not having seeing this movie yet ,would recommend to watch it for sure. 9 points out of 10.

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Smile to life and life will smile to you ...

10/10
Author: ElMaruecan82 from France
30 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's a Wonderful Life" speaks the most universal truths about the kind of values humanity should stand for to make life that wonderful. It's Frank Capra's Christmas gift to Cinema and one of the all-time greatest classics.

Indeed, what we use to define as 'classics' in the Cinematic Dictionary is probably the kind of movies that look and sound familiar to movie fans BEFORE the first viewing. And for me, the great classics as those we're familiar with before watching them and without this parameter affecting the magic of the first experience. We know that Marion Crane will be murdered; that Michael Corleone will become the Don, and that George Bailey will reunite with his family but it NEVER affects the enjoyment.

I've seen enough parodies from "Simpsons" episodes or TV Christmas specials to know the very basis of Frank Capra's immortal classic, I even remember James Stewart's final wink from the movie "Look Who's Talking", and I was so aware of the film's plot that the first viewing probably consisted on spotting all the references I had. Not that it ruined the whole experience though but I didn't really grasp the inner greatness of the film until the second viewing, and now I do. Yes, it's very positive, very "good-vibrations inducing", something that definitely justifies its top spot on AFI's 100 Most Inspirational list, but there is more to that. There is more.

You see, I've always thought the film to be a Christmas story and nothing else, expecting a 'message'; an obligatory happy ending established by the Family reunion, I expected that and well, I got it. BUT it's surprising how dark it really gets for a Christmas film and even by today's standards, 2000's TV specials can't elevate themselves to this gutsy change of tone. And James Stewart carries it quite spectacularly in "It's a Wonderful Life", powerfully transcending the initial atmosphere of the film. I would never have expected such genuine and authentic displays of sheer anger and Stewart is really scary here. I recall one line in Ebert's review where he regretted the colorization of the film precisely because it didn't visually fit these dark undertones. I can't imagine myself watching the film in color either.

And Stewart's anger is very significant, because it illustrates the overall sentiment conveyed by his character, George Bailey, toward his life. The man considers himself a failure because he didn't fulfill all his dreams of travels and explorations. Sure, all his achievements helped the community, but never did he expect to stay in his modest natal hometown, Belford Falls. Bailey exemplifies the notion of being victim of circumstances, something I could relate to who spends my whole time dreaming of what I wish to do, instead of appreciating what I already did. Seriously, could it be more frustrating than dreaming of the world and be forced to live in a dull small town? Logically, Bailey becomes a bitter man with the eyes so turned to the future that he can't turn his back and consider the extent of his achievements and his popularity.

George Bailey reminded of one of my friends' sayings: "we don't spend our lives writing the future, but writing the past" It's even truer for Bailey whose past (understand: achievement) helped people to build their future. Following the death of his father, he took over the "Loan and Building" affair and played a significant role in the lives of all the people of Belford Falls by selling houses lower than the prices they would normally rent it, thus providing them the most precious thing in America: a land, a home, with prices low enough to be able to sustain to the other obligations. He naturally made himself an enemy through Lionel Barrymore as the infamous half-tyrant half-tycoon Mr. Potter, a fitting 'Capraesque' villain as the morally corrupted rich man who tyrannizes and despises little people. (Interestingly, both Bailey and Potter are in AFI's Top 10 Heroes and Villains)

Frank Capra is one of the few directors whose style became instantly identifiable and "It's a Wonderful Life" is the opportunity to culminate his own standards but not with the usual emotional bias this time. Here it's Bailey, the very protagonist of the film who takes distance from the little people, too real, too down-to-earth while he is a man who dreams, who writes the future in big, bold letters. This time, the enemy is not just the rich, the powerful, the corrupted, but the hero's inner demons, unknowingly celebrating Capra's humanistic vision: a world of solidarity, brotherhood, goodness and compassion. It's also, cinematically-speaking, the incarnation of a lost era through these characters forever graved in our memories, Mary Bailey (Donna Reed), Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), Clarence (Henry Travers) and all these unforgettable faces.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is the coming to realization of a man that he's better than what he thinks he is, and whose achievements speak something more important about him than his dreams. The trick was to allow him to see what his life would've been hadn't he be born: a frightening alternate reality (just noticed where "Back to the Future II" took its inspiration from). This little spice of fantasy conducts the atmosphere of the climax. And its darkness is perfect because the scarier it'll get, the more convinced Bailey will be. And he finally learns it the 'hard way' but this is the fate of all Capra's heroes, they all struggle, they're all licked and desperate before triumphing. Why so hard? Why the harder it is, the louder the 'YAAY' will be and so will the 'Merry Christmas' shouted while George Bailey is running out of joy, probably the most communicative of Cinema's history.

And we wouldn't have had one of the truly happiest happy endings of cinema's history, immortalized by the sight of James Stewart smiling, with little Zuzu, Mary and a thought for his guardian angel.

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Capra's Masterpiece

10/10
Author: KJJenkins from Toronto, Canada
24 December 2011

Every Christmas Eve, I watch this film with my dad. Before I can remember anything else, I remember this film. I used to be bored of it, and leave sometimes, but this is the first time I can truly appreciate what an amazing, inspiring, heartwarming and perfect film this is. Without a doubt, It's A Wonderful Life is Frank Capra's masterpiece, and one of the best films of all time.

In one of his most iconic roles, Jimmy Stewart is George Bailey, a noble man living in Bedford Falls. After an intro that already leaves you choked up, we see an otherworldly conversation in which Joseph sends Clarence, an AS-II, to help George, who is "contemplating throwing away God's greatest gift". From there, we see George grow up, seeing his dreams pushed aside to help the town face the greedy Mr. Potter. Eventually, we catch up to Christmas Eve, where one of the greatest scenes in film takes place- only to be followed by another. It is a dark film, but ends with the most uplifting message ever told convincingly on the screen.

Everything about the film is perfect (except for 3 cuts). The acting, and the characters, are top notch. George Bailey is one of the most likable, developed characters of all time. He is a selfless man who puts the people first. As Clarence says, "I like George Bailey." I wish there were more George Baileys in the world. His wife, Mary (Donna Reed) is much like him- kind and gentle. Together, they're one of the classic screen couples, and we feel for them. The dinner scene in the abandoned house, and their first scene on the dance floor; it's... wonderful.

One of cinema's great villains, Lionel Barrymore's Henry F. Potter is the personification of greed. He has no family and no need for money, but he needs more power and tries snatching it away from the Baileys for the entire film. He is a completely realized character. The film also has a great supporting cast- Sam, the one who did achieve his dreams, Violet, the head turner, Uncle Billy and Harry... everyone brings this film together.

The location is a character itself. Bedford Falls, the fictional (New York?) town, is the backdrop of Georges adventure: he wants to leave, but can't shake the town. The strip, Bailey Park, Martini's and the bridge, it's a fully fledged town created on a set.

Truly great films use every shot to show something, and It's A Wonderful Life is a part of that club. Mostly little things that you can't remember, but every scene, every shot, benefits the viewer. We learn a little thing about George, a little about the town, a little foreshadowing, this quality separates great films from fantastic films.

Many films try to inspire, but this one puts all others to shame. For two hours, we build up, seeing why this good man is in a terrible situation, and then he is taught a divine lesson, and then you cry for a while as he understands the lesson and viewers wish to become better people- more like George Bailey. That's a factor you can't describe in writing, and the major reason this film is played every year. No matter who you are or what you believe, you can take something good away from this film.

You can call this a Christmas film, and it feels great watching it in season, but It's A Wonderful Life is timeless. The greatest actors, the greatest story, the greatest message- if you haven't seen this film you have to.

"To my big brother George, the richest man in town." -Harry Bailey 10/10

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Few movies stay fresh forever. It's a Wonderful Life is in a very exclusive club

10/10
Author: athomed from United States
24 December 2011

It's hard to review a movie such as this. Everything worth saying about it has already been said. No words truly do it justice. It's one you have to sit down and watch. Every year without failure, millions of people plop down in front of the television to be spellbound by it.

One only needs to refer to its ranking on the IMDb top 250 at #30 to see how well-regarded and beloved this classic is. It's one of those giants in film history that everyone needs to see.

I wasn't introduced to this film by my parents like many were. In fact, I'm the one who instituted the policy that we must watch It's a Wonderful Life every December in my house growing up.

This is the type of film which doesn't age. The themes and morals expressed in the film are the definition of timeless.

I would strongly encourage anyone thinking of viewing this film to watch it in black and white. Some networks have aired the color version and the Blu-ray also contains the colorized version. The colorized version was not what the filmmakers and actors intended. Here's what James Stewart thought of the colorized version: "I tried to look at the colorized version, but I had to switch it off--it made me feel sick." James Stewart and Donna Reed are one of the best on-screen pairings I've ever seen. This isn't just a Christmas movie. It's every bit a romantic drama and explores some dark themes.

Neither the director, Frank Capra, nor James Stewart knew what they had when this film was made. They hadn't discovered all the layers that existed within this movie. It took the viewing audience to find this classic on television for it gain the following it has today.

We found it then and we do again every year.

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Frank Capra's favorite, James Stewart's favorite, Jim Henson's. Who am I to dislike it?

9/10
Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
17 December 2011

No doubt about it that Frank Capra was one of the best directors of all time and James Stewart was one of the best actors of all time, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this is also one great movie to watch.

This movie always on a lot of top-lists and many well known and respected film-makers consider this to be one of their favorite movies, including director Frank Capra and actor James Stewart themselves. And really, it's not all that hard to see why. No, I won't call it one of the best movies of all time but its themes, the characters, the story and its message make sure that this is a movie to enjoy, over and over again.

Basically it's being a very warm, heartfelt and honest movie, about real characters in real life situations. The James Stewart character feels very humane and realistic and James Stewart was always a great choice for playing a sort of average Joe, everybody in the audience could relate and identify themselves with. It's also part of the reason why his character is often being voted one of the best out of movie history.

It's sort of funny how this movie has grown into being a sort of a Christmas classic, while about two-thirds of the movie are totally not Christmas related at all. It isn't until it last 30 minutes or so that the movie is suddenly all about Christmas and its themes and messages of giving and sharing with each other. It's definitely showing some parallels to Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'. It's what makes the movie a very warm one, even though the movie itself remains a drama and a quite heavy one as well.

The story itself is just great. It's really typical for its time, with all of its drama and developments but with a great twist to it as well. The movie has a fantasy theme in it, which is not typical for its time or genre at all. It perhaps even makes this movie feel a bit like a 'modern' fairytale. Needless to say, it makes the movie a very original one within its genre and its where the movie gets most of its charm and warmth from.

The movie is really a great example of some fine film-making and wonderful storytelling. It shows once more that you don't need all that much to create an unforgettable movie, that has an impact on a lot of people, even now days. The movie is about simple little things in life and perhaps that's the movie its greatest power. Everybody can relate to it, which causes them to be easily touched by the movie its themes and messages as well.

Big part of the reason why it all works out so well is James Stewart but you also need to give credit to some of the other actors as well. I for instance, also really liked Lionel Barrymore in this, as the villain. I'm normally a not too big fan of Lionel Barrymore, or any of the other old Barrymore's (John and Ethel) but I must say he was perfectly cast in this movie, as the tough, old, mean Mr. Potter.

Basically a wonderful made, simple, honest, heartfelt movie, with some great, effective and timeless themes in it, which all ensures that this is a perfect movie to watch over and over again.

9/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/

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The ultimate in feel-good

10/10
Author: Daniel Elford from United Kingdom
16 February 2011

Upon first inspection it is easy perhaps to understand why when first released, Frank Capra's Christmas movie, inspired by a simple seasonal card, was not well received. It is a movie that opens with a fantastical scene of a star, later revealed to be an angel, talking to a faceless God, the voice-over obvious, stilted in sweet humour, and immediately suggesting the film is going to be one that is too saccharine a pill to swallow. The thing is, beyond that, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the ultimate exercise in feel-good cinema, its virtue as such much parodied and referenced in TV and other films.

The film presents George Bailey, played by James Stewart who would go on to refer to the film as his own favourite, who stifles his lifelong dreams of travelling and discovery in order to save and run his father's Building And Loan Association. It has long been responsible for the affordable housing in his hometown Bedford Falls and he cannot see it lost to the scoundrel of the piece, Henry F. Potter, who is a major shareholder in the Building And Loan and the only man residents could otherwise turn to. After a run at the bank leaves the Building And Loan on the brink of financial ruin, and George's Uncle Billy misplaces $8000, in an act of desperation he attempts suicide, at which time he is saved by the angel Clarence. Understandably confused, he wishes he had never been born, and so his wish is granted.

If the plot seems familiar even though you have not seen "It's A Wonderful Life", it is probably because you saw the idea loosely re-worked in the Nicolas Cage film "The Family Man". For all its up to date technique, its colour, modern setting, etc, this version could not capture what made the original.

So, what did make the original? What could surprise people is how Capra clearly believed in the notion that you have to suffer the low to get the high. The second act of the movie gets really quite dark, with Bailey seeing what the world would be like without his birth, coming to understand just how important a person is to everybody else's existence, and bringing him to a full appreciation of his worth as a husband, father and friend. The finale is obviously that classic scene that we all know, even if we do not realise it, with his daughter's famous, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings", and despite how much you might think the whole thing sounds cheesy, silly, saccharine and sentimental, the power of the film is to bring a genuine tear of pure enjoyment to your eye regardless; for a while you are full of the joy of life and completely happy, no matter what.

A lot of the film's success comes down to how believable James Stewart makes the plight, and for any flaws you may find with it, its colourful characters, its tremendous performances, humour, heartbreaking moments, perfectly pitched highs and lows, and its' unabashed final sequence make this an inexplicably perfect film.

No wonder it remains at the top spot of many people's favourite Christmas films, and so it should.

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Notes from my recent intro, I have five favorite scenes...

10/10
Author: larry41onEbay from Culpeper, VA
27 December 2010

Notes from my recent intro, I have five favorite scenes: the shared phone call; the hat tipping rainwater in the doorway; the prayer at the bar; when snow starts falling again on the bridge and the brother toast in the closing scene. IAWL partially succeeds because of its small town charm and values. James Stewart was from a small town -- Indiana, Pennsylvania (now his museum needs a Capra miracle). You may not know this but Stewart was a real WWII hero, enlisting as a private in 1941. He flew over 20 missions and when he finally retired from the reserves it was as a brigadier general. (true story) Frank Capra was from a small town, Bisacquino, Sicily and during WWII he made a series of films called, Why We Fight. And on a personal note, Frank Capra is my favorite director because his movies inspire me. Back in the 1980's I used to write him and call him on our birthdays to chat. Donna Reed in real life was an Iowa farm girl. She sweetens the film and is lovely, innocent and pure representing both Stewarts reward and proof that he made the right choice. Trivia: "The Greatest Gift" story did not sell so the author Philip Van Doren Stern had copies printed and included them in the Christmas cards he sent out in 1943. Just like The Wizard Of Oz, IAWL did not cover its high cost upon its original release and was deemed a box office flop. And although Oscar nominated for Best Film, Director and Star it received no Academy Awards. Frank Capra wrote in his autobiography that he closed his book on the film. He thought his dream was over… But something had happened, fans found the film and wrote to him, mostly praising some complaining but they kept writing. Decades later he was still answering letters, but the studio forgot about the film and it fell into public domain. In the 1970s, hundreds of TV stations started to play it every holiday season because they did not have to pay royalties. And so people had the chance to see it more than once and with repeated viewings word of mouth began to build and spread. But I'm here to tell you it's not the only one. There are dozens, no make that hundreds of films nearly this good just waiting to be discovered. I'll toss out a few titles: MEET JOHN DOE; YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU; MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON; LOST HORIZON and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN. Anybody know who directed those masterpieces? I have a hand written letter I got back in the 1980s that reads,"Dear Larry, Frank Capra was a fine director with high ideals who was able to put them up on the big screen without preaching. Sincerely, James Stewart." Well find some friends & family to watch it with you and then sit back for some fun, and enjoy this gift from Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. Or better yet, see it the way they meant for it to be shared, on THE BIG SCREEN just before Christmas. And one last thing, I am sure they would want me to wish you … be sure to have a Wonderful Life!

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Great movie

10/10
Author: Jim Post from London, England
21 November 2010

This movie is one of the best (for an American film). Taking into consideration that it originally flopped. Couldn't believe they even have an phone App for the movie: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wonderful-life/id403653223?mt=8

Either way, this movie will go down in history as one of the best and you will enjoy it every year. The movie has some excellent quotes like:

George Bailey: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.

Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

George Bailey: There they are! Bert, what do you know about that! Merry Christmas!

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It's a wonderful movie

10/10
Author: valleyjohn from United Kingdom
20 November 2010

It's a Wonderful Life is another classic that i had not seen before but i knew quite a bit about it through reading about films and i am so pleased that this movie lives up to it's reputation. This is a fantastic movie. It's not just the acting which is memorable , its the message that this film sends. If you and your family have money problems like George Bailey it's not the end of the world because you have each other. Your children are everything and that's the feeling i got from this film. It takes a lot of it's ideas from Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" and gives it a modern edge. Even though this film is 65 years old it does not matter. It will guarantee to put a tear in your eye and that last 10 minutes is what feel good movies are all about. James Stewart puts in the performance of his life and will probably always be known for this film and quite rightly so. This movie deserves to be high up in the list of the best movies of all time.

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It was a Wonderful Movie!

10/10
Author: ace217 from Pakistan
22 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my first time writing a review for a movie. Seeing this movie I had to write the review. The movie really touched my heart. The script was beautifully written and the character development was great. How the main character George Bailey struggles with his life and always makes the right decisions was really beautiful but sometimes sad to watch. How he struggles in his childhood, how he struggled in his school to win the girl, and how he had to dash his dreams of going to college so he could take care of the family business and also so that his brother could live happily. I recommend you watch this movie with your family.

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Afirmation of our Worth

10/10
Author: (andrewsavedra@rogers.com) from Canada
29 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How often does a movie come along that changes the way you think and feel about your life? If you are like me not that often. Don't get me wrong I am a "movie-guy" I watch movies all the time, yes even "chick-flicks". But this movie is separate, its not obviously Hollywood in its approach to its core topic but rather it follows the path of an everyday man, in his thoughts and methods of thinking.

If you, like most of us have seen this movie, then you know that most people in our society today could walk away from a job which was unintentionally handed to us. A job which controls our life and has impact on our goals, we could walk away. But George does not he is caught up trying to do the right thing. He wants to indulge in the "its my oyster" society but does not.

Husband, Father, Nephew, Son and most of all Friend. George Baily is the common man, he is you, he is me, he is within all of us. We struggle, flounder, fall get back up. Wish and want more from life. Dream of doing and being and seeing different things. George finds he is far more rich than he thought when he considers how those around him feel about him.

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So blissful.

10/10
Author: Cocacolaguy912-2 from United States
25 December 2007

You have probably heard that It's a Wonderful Life is one of the happiest, most uplifting movies ever made. This is so true. I watched this film for the first time last night on Christmas Eve, 2007, and all I have to say is that, besides being close to tears when it was finished, it made me feel blissful. Now feeling happy is not too exciting, but this film made me feel absolutely cherry. It is the kind of movie that, were I to be abandoned on an island and I could only choose five movies, this would most certainly be one of them. The film is oddly scary in that it is truthful...not in the sense that angels will come down and make a man continue to live, but in the sense that is shows what would have happened had someone never lived in a fashion that is entirely realistic.

It's a Wonderful Life is remarkable, if not life changing.

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Motherhood, apple pie....

9/10
Author: Harry Matthews from Brooklyn, NY
31 December 1998

It was Frank Capra's genius to translate America's fondest dreams into irresistibly emotional movies. Maybe it takes a Sicilian to capture the essence of America.

The movie's power is certainly enhanced by its terrific cast: Lionel Barrymore as an irresistibly evil villain, Donna Reed as an imperfectly perfect wife, and Jimmy Stewart as, well, Jimmy Stewart. (Like most movie-goers, I am enormous grateful to Tom Hanks for taking up this mantle.)

I could go on, but why bother? Get out the Kleenex and enjoy! "It's a Wonderful Life" beats roast turkey, roast ham, roast beef and even apple pie as a holiday tradition.

All the best in 1999 --

Harry

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What a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Gustavo Schroeder A
24 May 2015

This classic continues to be one of the great films of all time. The story of a simple man who changes the lives of many people, and his journey to discover that life is a beautiful gift, is one of the best ever. James Stewart gives the best performance of his career and the movie has one of the best messages in the history of cinema. This is also one of the few movies that can actually make me cry. I like to think of this movie as something to watch whenever you are depressed or feeling low, cause it definitely helps.Not only to be seen as a Christmas movie, it shows us that anyone can make a difference. A true classic in every way, It's a wonderful life is definitely a must watch for anyone, not just movie lovers.

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My favorite Christmas movie . . .

Author: The_Film_Cricket from Birmingham, Alabama
25 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not perfectly understood at the time, It's a Wonderful Life was nearly a forgotten relic until something magical happened – it fell out of copyright and into public domain. In the early 70s, the film began cropping up on every two-bit UHF station in the country. That gave the film access to a wide audience and the film eventually became an annual Christmas tradition.

It became a tradition for me too, not just at Christmas, but anytime that I need a lift. It tells the story of a genial, high-spirited Average Joe named George Bailey who struggles his whole life to get out into the world and make a name for himself. He dreams of becoming an architect, but responsibilities at home in Bedford Falls keep pulling him back.

Far up in the heavens, George's life story is laid out by the guardians above to the angel who will step in to keep him from committing suicide. We see that, as a kid, he saved two lives; he saved his brother from drowning and later his pharmacist boss from accidentally poisoning a patient's pills. As an adult, he makes a name for himself in town and continually puts his dreams on hold so others can have theirs. He holds off on going to college so his brother can go. Then, when he finally gets a chance to go to school, his father dies and he has to take over the family building and loan. Then he survives the depression by using the money from the company to build houses for the poor folks. All the while he still has stars in his eyes, dreaming of making a foothold on the world, even after he marries his sweetheart Mary and they start raising a family together. Then his uncle foolishly loses the company's $8,000 bank deposit that could send one or both of them to jail. Deep in dispair, George briefly considers killing himself.

That is the moment that Heaven sends an angel named Clarence his way and he shows George the world of Bedford Falls had he never existed. Those he loved are either dead or in great dispair. The town is now owned by the mean Mr. Potter, whom George spent his life trying to keep from buying the town and molding it in his own image. His wife has never married and his war hero brother Harry drowned as a kid. These scenes are the polar opposite of what has come before and the polar opposite of the tone that Frank Capra always used. Where Capra puts every emotion on screen in the lighter scenes, he allows the alternate universe to have the opposite effect, not just dark but a complete hell on earth.

Yet, Capra's great achievement is in creating a film that contains multitudes of comedy, of drama, of humanity, of the composition of a life and not just the plot points. The closing passages of the despair are so strong that we forget the reason they are so strong is because we have such an emotional investment in what has come before. Scenes like the joy of the high school reunion which turns into a pool party; the immortal scene in which Mary loses her bathrobe and hides in a bush while George teases her with it; George's handling of the bank crises and how he keeps the building and loan from being swallowed up by Mr. Potter; the scene in which George tells Potter to take a flying leap after the man offers him a job so he can liquidate the building and loan and the later scene in which he has to crawl back to Potter to ask for help when Uncle Billy loses the bank deposit.

Then, of course, there is the tearful reunion when everyone in town brings him money to help refurbish the bank deposit (which turns out to quadruple the lost money). The brilliance is Capra's nerve to put all these elements into one film in a coherent, sentimental mixture. He allows the great tapestry of George's life to play out long before we get to the nightmare. When that nightmare comes, Clarence explains it beautifully: "Don't you see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it all away?" It is difficult to put It's a Wonderful Life into words. What can you say about it that hasn't already been said? This a beautiful film about the value of a single life and its positive effect on so many others. This is one of the most quoted films in history but I think the line that sums it up best comes from Clarence, and it plays to our feelings: "Strange isn't it? One man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't there it leaves an awful hole."

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Great Christmas (and all year round) movie

8/10
Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
17 January 2014

Frank Capra's 1946 drama/fantasy IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is one of the best-remembered films of all time, and it's no surprise; this moralistic tale of human suffering, poverty, greed, courage and determination is one that resounds through the ages, particularly so in our modern age of fat-cat bankers and a growing gap between rich and poor.

James Stewart gives a dependably decent turn as George Bailey, a family man who finds himself at the mercy of Lionel Barrymore's criminal banker, Mr. Potter. What follows is lengthy and often profound, an occasionally twee but ultimately moving exploration of the human character and the effect one man can have on his world.

What I particularly liked about IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is the way that every part of the narrative hangs together without any unnecessary extras. Even the little bits like the accident on the ice at the outset later come back to haunt our characters. It's very well written, and expertly directed by Frank Capra; an unashamedly old-fashioned, heart-warming and sentimental piece of movie-making on a grand scale.

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Pass the Popcorn review

8/10
Author: PassPopcorn from Osijek, Croatia
25 December 2013

It's a Wonderful Life is considered one of the best movies of all time, and also one of the most beloved Christmas movies in American cinema, even though it was a box office failure when it was released and received some negative reviews, and it won just the Academy Award for Technical Achievements, despite being nominated for five more. What I like about this movie is that it isn't a classic Christmas movie: the movie isn't about how things get better overnight for the main character just because he/she 'believes in Christmas', or some idiocy like that. Christmas just plays a small, but great role in the final part of the movie, which is, ultimately, about life.

The movie starts with God and Joseph, explaining to the angel Clarence (Henry Travers) that he has to go to Earth and save George Bailey (James Stewart), who's contemplating suicide. God then begins to show Clarence George's most relevant moments in life, from childhood till the present. Most of the movie is actually spent showing us that George always wanted to travel but decided to stay in his hometown and save his late father's business, and that he's always been a good person, who's always thought more of the others than himself and has led a good life. But when he finds out he can't pay a debt, he wishes he'd never been born – and Clarence shows him what would have become of his town, had he never been born.

As I've said before, It's a Wonderful Life is about life. When you're young you have your dreams and ambitions, and you're sure that you'll end up living an ideal life, just like the one you've always planned. But life just happens and you often can't control it, and one day you discover you're a completely different person from the one you wanted to be. Some of us can't stand this and eventually come to a breaking point: George in this movie wanted to end it all and thought everyone would have been better off without him, not realising he had done so much and that even the problems that seem insurmountable can be resolved, with help from friends and family.

Because of its simple but timeless story, this movie has aged beautifully. Add to that the great acting and dialogues, the good sense of humour, the complex characters, the great cinematography – and you get a truly wonderful movie. It's impossible not to see and feel that George Bailey represents all of us, and it's easy to share his joys and sorrows as if they were our own. Ultimately, this is a movie that truly sums up what Christmas – but also all our lives – should be about: being a good person, because it pays off and because the richest people are those surrounded by family and friends, not the ones that have lots of money. It might be a naive and idealistic message, but it works amazingly for this time of the year.

Rating: 8/10 Read more reviews at http://passpopcorn.com/

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"Good Holiday Film!"

7/10
Author: gwnightscream from United States
24 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers star in this 1946 drama. This takes place in the small town of Bedford Falls and focuses on mild-mannered man, George Bailey (Stewart) who longs to go to college and eventually travel the world. His plans change when his father passes away and he takes over his business. George also reunites with childhood sweetheart, Mary Hatch (Reed) and soon they get married. George has always put his plans on hold in order to help the needs of others. Soon, he gets down on his luck when he tries saving his father's failing company from shrewd, wealthy businessman, Henry Potter (Barrymore). George meets guardian angel, Clarence (Travers) who is sent to help him in his time of need and shows him what his life would be like without him. George learns his life is wonderful with him in it and that his good deeds will help him in return. Stewart & Reed are great in this and have good chemistry. I recommend this good holiday film.

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Unabashed Sentimental Capra

9/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
21 December 2013

George Bailey (James Stewart) is at the edge of financial ruin. He thinks his life has amounted to nothing and is about to jump off a bridge. An angel named Clarence is assigned to give George a second chance by showing him what if he was never born.

This is an unabashed sentimental tear jerker. The movie starts with George's life as it is. His dream is to travel the world, and create great monuments. He is constantly dragged back to the unimpressive little Bedford Falls and the family Savings and Loans. He is a good guy who constantly does the right thing.

This is classic Frank Capra. The nice guy struggles but always win in the end. This sentimental melodrama is especially fitting for the Christmas period, and derives its iconic status from the constant showing during those times. The failure in its original run is a long forgotten memory.

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It Truly Is A Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: bayardhiler from United States
20 December 2012

In 1946, America, and the rest of the world for that matter, had just witnessed and won the most destructive war in mankind's history. They were trying to rebuild their lives from this and the Great Depression as well and as such, Hollywood got into the act by producing a number of movies that instilled hope in their audiences. Perhaps the greatest of these movies is Frank Capra's timeless film "Its A Wonderful Life" staring the late, great James Stewart as everyday man George Bailey in small town America, Bedford Falls. George has spent his entire life in Bedford Falls, longing to see the outside world but never able to get past the confines of the small savings and loans that he is in charge of. Then, one Christmas Eve, George's Uncle, Billy (played by the memorable character actor Thomas Mitchell) makes a terrible mistake that could ruin them both forever and George begins to think that everything would be better without him. It just so happens that heaven hears his and others' prays and sends an angel named Clarence (played by the understated but talented Henry Travers) to show him how wrong he is. In a Scrooge like role, we also have the great Lionel Barrymore in an excellent performance of Henry Potter, "the richest and meanest man in town" and in her most famous role, Donna Reed as George's loving and devoted wife. This is a movie that will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, and leave you with a sense that no matter how bad things get, there is always hope. "Its A Wonderful Life" is by far the greatest Christmas movie that has ever been produced and for that matter, will ever have been produced due to the time that it was made in and its message of how we all affect our fellow man, often times without even realizing it. So, I urge you to watch this movie and take in its message of hope and also, remember, no man is a failure as long as he has friends. 10 out of 10.

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wasn't the first and won't be the last of the classic's I 'get around to', but so far, it's one of the best

10/10
Author: witster18 from United States
7 December 2012

I didn't feel comfortable in my skin a few years back. My friends and family considered me 'the movie buff'. In a way, I was. I'd seen about 4,000 movies, and covered literally everything worth watching since 1980, but I hadn't broken into the vault of classic films. I'd seen a few.

Wuthering Heights(9.5/10) and The Wizard of Oz(10/10) were two of my favorite films, both from 1939. I'd also seen 1939's Gone With the Wind(9/10), Dark Victory(9/10), and a few other classics:The Killing, King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, and some Hitchcock.

Citizen Kane, It's A Wonderful Life, and Casablanca sat embarrassingly on my watchlist. So did a litany of great classic films.

My journey to fill this void has been an exciting one.

It's a Wonderful Life is a great film for those who haven't given classic film a chance. It doesn't overstay it's welcome. The production values are strong, and the story is a template for many of today's films. Seriously, I can name 500 films from the last 2 decades that use this story/life-lesson, but I can't name one that does it quite as effectively as it's done here.

It's a film that is practically impossible to dislike.

James Stewart is fantastic, and many of the characters in the film teach us life lessons, not just the lead. Words like integrity, generosity, and sacrifice take on a whole new meaning.

The film doesn't really have the holiday vibe I was expecting until the last 40 minutes. The holiday season is nothing more than a platform to remind us of all that is important in life. That aspect of the film surprised me.

Good guys don't finish last. Why? Because when they're down, there's always someone there to pick them up.

I can see all the reasons why there are those like me that shy(d) away from Classic film. You have to take some of the customs of the day and the production stuff with a grain of salt and get past it. Or better yet, understand it. If you do - you'll find what's underneath to be fantastic. A week before the release of "The Hobbit", I think it's important to remember that as much care or more went into productions like this back in the day.

Now, I get all the references to this film that I missed over the last 40 years. I see the shots of the town and the snow that will forever be etched into my mind. It's amazing how all those "production and technology" issues from the time yield more memorable moments and shots than just about anything you'll see at the theater today.

This is a fantastic movie. 95/100

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Filmmaking

10/10
Author: Dudley
29 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra understood filmmaking. This is a movie that could be about anyone of us and a movie that might relate to the life of anyone of us.

Sadly the weak dismiss the movie as sentimentalist. I say the "weak" because they are threatened by how real and how close to life the movie actually is.

Our lives are full of sentiment and the same sentiments the movie stirs in the audience are as strong and relevant in 2012 as 1946.

Interestingly it gets pegged as a holiday or Christmas movie. I don't see it that way but maybe for many that is the time when they explore their own sentimental side.

Watch this movie in the dark and late at night. It will never disappoint the film-goer who drops there guard and believes they are a Bailey.

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An incredibly excellent classic!

10/10
Author: Antonio Ramos from United States
15 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had only heard of this movie before and knew little of it. My curiosity was piqued when learning it was in the top 250 movies of all time. I watched it not knowing what to expect and what I received was beyond anything I could have imagined. We meet George Bailey and learn of his ambitions to travel the world and do great things in life. George helps many people in his young life and soon he struggles to keep his Bailey Bros loan building. George soon dislikes his life and wishes he was never born. He learns to appreciate the value of his life and the impact he has had on the lives of others after his wish comes true and we learn the importance of life and the joy we bring into others lives, joy we never knew we were responsible for. A wonderful life is an amazing film which will surely bring tears to one's eyes. Truly, this movie will be remembered for many years to come, and it is now on my top five Greatest Movies of All Time.

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It's A Wonderful Film!!!

10/10
Author: Desertman84 from United States
27 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is a Christmas drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, that was based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", written by Philip Van Doren Stern.The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.

As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody, who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary, who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life.

What is remarkable about It's a Wonderful Life is how well it holds up over the years; it's one of those ageless movies, like Casablanca or The Third Man, that improves with age.It is due to the fact that it combines the characters, the story, the message, and the acting in one cohesive and flawless film.That is why it's easy to see why it isn't just a holiday favorite, but a great movie by almost any standards through out the decades.It is truly the epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience.In summary,this holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It's a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.

It's truly a wonderful film!!!!

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It's a Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: lizberrywagner from United States
30 December 2011

"Each man's life touches so many other lives." ~ Clarence Oddbody, AS2

I believe "It's a Wonderful Life" is a favorite of many. It is certainly a favorite of mine. James Stewart's portrayal of George Bailey is, well, wonderful, and one of his very best performances. Lionel Barrymore is perfection as Mr. Potter, the richest and meanest man in town. Donna Reed is darling as George Bailey's beloved wife, Mary. And Henry Travers is charming and adorable as Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (Angel Second Class).

In the spirit of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", this is the story of a man who gets a rare glimpse of what the world would be like if he never existed. Through the magic of Frank Capra, we take a glorious ride with Clarence, a guardian angel who has yet to earn his wings. In answer to many prayers from the folks of Bedford Falls, Clarence is assigned to help George Bailey, the town's hero, in his darkest hour.

George Bailey is a man who has positively impacted many people's lives by putting the needs of others ahead of his own; but still, he has regrets. After giving up his own career aspirations, he steps into his late father's role of running the small Building and Loan business in order to continue his father's good work to help the folks of Bedford Falls and keep it out of Potter's greedy hands. He settles down and marries his childhood sweetheart and raises a family in the same small town despite his dream to travel the world and become an architect.

Mr. Potter, the heartless villain in the story, tries everything in his power to take down George Bailey and the rinky-dink Building and Loan Company. George manages to keep the company afloat, even using his own money at times, and continues to be loyal to the people of Bedford Falls - who depend on him for a chance to own their own homes. But one fateful day, $8,000 accidentally goes missing from the Building and Loan and George fears the scandal will take them down after all. Distraught and defeated, George contemplates suicide, believing he is worth more dead than alive. Enter Clarence, the gentle and child-like guardian angel, who shows George the way.

The sentiment in this movie is overwhelming and if it does not tug at your heart, you are not human. In classic Capra style, this film offers lessons in patience and perseverance, selflessness and self-respect, loyalty and compassion and faith and forgiveness. This movie is a magical journey of pure love.

Even though I have seen this film many times over, I still watch it every Christmas. It is one of my essentials.

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More than Merely a Christmas Film – A Film for Any Time

9/10
Author: TheHighVoltageMessiah from United States
25 December 2011

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" has become a staple of the Christmas season. It will invariably be played around the holidays, whether broadcast on T.V or picked out by a family from their DVD collection. But watching it again this year, I realized just how little it has to do with Christmas. To be sure, the famous final sequence takes place around then, but the full film is a broader celebration of life, humanity, and the human spirit. Confining it to simply a glorification of the Christmas spirit seems too narrow.

Through the story of the life of George Bailey and the lives of those around him, "It's a Wonderful Life" celebrates basic human kindness and compassion. It praises selflessness and putting others above oneself, as George does time and time again – forsaking his dreams for the betterment of those more unfortunate than he in Bedford Falls. It condemns greed, heartlessness, and fierce manipulation of fellow persons on Earth through Henry F. Potter, the shriveled and devious old businessman played to malicious perfection by Lionel Barrymore. It extols the worth of the life of any living being, no matter how poor or pitiful they appear and whatever their flaws may be. Consider the way George extends a caring hand to his dearly daffy Uncle Billy or to Violet Bick when she has fallen on hard times. Think of what he saves them both from when he could have easily cast them aside on account of their vices and imperfections, turning them away.

Are these values appropriate for Christmas? Yes, of course. But they are just as appropriate for any time. Calling this "a Christmas film" somewhat underestimates the power of its themes, themes that are ageless and universal (or so I would hope). This is a film that deserves to be kept in the heart all the year round.

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It's A Wonderful Life, It's A Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: FilmFreak94 from United States
24 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's A Wonderful Life is a sort of retelling of A Christmas Carol. But instead of showing a man the joy of Christmas, it's showing a man the joy one man's life can bring to others and himself.

George Bailey(James Stewart)is going through a rough time during the holiday season. Nearly everyone in town starts to pray for him when they notice and that gets the angels attention. Joseph begins telling another angel Clarence the story of George's life. Throughout his childhood and early adulthood George made sacrifices for the good of his friends and family. He saved his brother from drowning in an icy lake, which cost him all hearing in his left ear, and stopped his boss from delivering a prescription to a child that he mistakenly filled with poison out of grief for the loss of his son.

All George wants to do with his life is to go see the world. He tells his dream to a local girl, Mary(Donna Reed) who has had a secret crush on George since they were kids. He's decided to wait until his brother, Harry graduates so he can replace him to work with their father at their Business and Loan company. On the night of his brother's graduation they find out his father had a fatal stroke. A business rival, Mr. Potter(Lionel Barrymore)sees this as the opportunity to stop loans to the poor. The only way the board of directors will refuse his proposal is if George runs the business in his father's stead.

George continues to sacrifice by letting Harry get a better job and continue to look after the family business. He eventually returns Mary's affections and they get married. Before they can leave they see a run on the bank and give everyone a piece of their honeymoon money.

These types of sacrifices go on for awhile and George continues to do things for the benefit of his community, even when he is offered a better job with Potter that would give him the opportunity to see the world. But on Christmas Eve his Uncle Billy loses money that was meant to be put in the bank for the business. Without it George could go to jail. This depresses George and takes his anger out on his family before trying to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. He's stopped by Clarence who reveals himself to be his guardian angel. George wishes that he was never born because he feels he accomplished nothing with his life. Clarence grants his wish and George sees that the town has gone completely under the control of Mr. Potter. His brother died in the lake years ago, his old boss was sent to prison for poisoning the kid, Potter owns all the stores and has turned the Bailey building into a strip club, and Mary is unmarried.

George wishes himself back to life and begins to appreciate that he has accomplished many things. The people of Bedford Falls help him by pitching in to give him the money they lost and keep him out of jail. Clarence gets his wings and George realizes that he did make a difference.

This movie is a classic Christmas movie. I may not have done the movie justice by summing the plot up but I assure you you won't regret watching it.

10/10 A+ Just perfect.

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It does not disappoint

10/10
Author: lane0065 from Australia
27 June 2011

This is possibly my second favourite movie of all time, but at Christmas it is my number one choice. I watch this film EVERY Christmas eve and will continue to do so as long as i am able.A Wonderful Life is everything a Christmas movie should be; warm, nostalgic, funny, tragic and heartfelt. One year when watching this, my dad came into the room for the ending and with tears in his eyes turned to me and said "they don't make films like that anymore". He was right. Capra is a legend because of his ability to make a lovely film which paints the world as basically good with some rough patches to be overcome. James Stewart's skill is in making this world seem realistic instead of hokey, and convincing us to care about his character with it's good soul, kind manners and bad luck.

For any person feeling glum, angry or disillusioned, this film is a direct injection of joy, love and triumph at a time when a lot of us need it most - it does not disappoint.

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This movie makes your life wonderful..i bet..

9/10
Author: guru-guru002 from India
12 June 2011

This should be the movie making approach..enlightening and educating simultaneously..encouraging and eye opening..though what ever is one's life like but still it is a gift.. Movies like this can make u feel lifted in spirit..must watch and new film makers should think about these kind of positive concepts as new times needs these kind of stories.. James Stewart is superb and so is Donna reed..

I just finished watching this movie and felt overwhelmed by it..i mean the character of James Stewart is just perfect and so is Mr. potter.. Also it shows hat whatever the case be a man should not lose hope about his life and continue to live life cheerfully..good and bad times are only transitory..

Simply great..

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It Certainly Is!!!

10/10
Author: geminiredblue from United States
26 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, loved by critics and viewers alike. Well, most. So much has been said that praises this heart-warming tale of George Bailey that I won't bother going over the same stuff. What I will talk about instead is the other side of the film. While most see it as a holiday movie, at the core is a dark and powerful story. George has spent all of his life wanting to go out into the world, go to college, do amazing stuff, travel the globe, and whatnot. However, every chance he gets, he's faced with a moral dilemma: Do the right thing, or go his own way. Inevitably, George winds up doing the right thing, which almost always conflicts with what he really wants to do. As the years roll by, we see his life develop in unexpected ways. At the heart, George is a terrific guy who has chosen to put others before himself. He's made a ton of sacrifices, but in ways he's taken his life for granted. And on one fateful Christmas day, a "monetary" bomb is dropped into the midst of his life that totally throws him off. Distressed and hurting, George feels there is no way out but to end his life. And that's where the Almighty steps in and sends down help in the form of a kindly, rotund angel named Clarence. Ultimately, what Clarence grants to George is the opportunity to see what life would've been like without him. And this is the where the movie takes its darkest turn. We see that every person's life, even the town of Bedford Falls itself, has been corrupted by the absence of George. And after George asks to live again, we begin to understand that despite whatever trouble is coming for him, it's better to face it alive. Some have complained that the bad guy, Mr. Potter, doesn't get his comeuppance in the end. But I say, Mr. Potter will one day get his own tale, in the form of "A Christmas Carol." Until then, George learns what life really means: No matter the turmoils, no matter whether you're rich or poor, life is the richest reward you can be given. And that is what makes IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE such a classic, because anybody who lives long enough must face the reality of both the good and the bad in their own lives. When they sing Auld Lang Syne at the end, it does mark a new year. It's the new year for George Bailey, and anyone else who's faced similar dilemmas in life. Plus, if ever there was a mainstream (secular) movie to convince us that there is a God and angels that watch over us, this is the movie to do it. So, keep ringing those bells every Christmas!

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Another take on this movie

7/10
Author: birdy123
26 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***This may contain spoilers*** I have to say that as more and more time goes by since the 1946 premiere of this film, the more it appears to be a naive socialist take on our society. That doesn't make it a bad film, but it does make it worthy of some alternate comments.

"The Meanest Man In Town" Mr. Potter actually makes some accurate comments about the banking industry before the "plot wave" overtakes him and tries to make him irrelevant.

The town gets together at the end of the film to save a bank in a great socialist outpouring. That's quite the opposite of the idea that bank greed is ruining us as a society, a concept that certainly existed before 1946.

Finally, I find the "wholesomeness of the human spirit" concept as it is shown to be in this movie to be quite irritating. You need to come to this movie's level in order to appreciate it, to me that's lower than I want to go.

But hey, you can just call me Scrooge.

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A Christmas classic

9/10
Author: ThreeThumbsUp from United States
13 September 2010

It's a Wonderful Life is as much a part of Christmas to me as stockings, candy, snow dusted-trees and shopping. It was a tradition for our family to watch this movie every Christmas Eve before my two siblings and I were tucked into bed in anticipation for Santa Clause to visit our front door (we didn't have a chimney). I will admit that I am not usually a fan of films from this era (I gave Casablanca 5 out of 10 stars), but this feature is different. It's long, but it has to be. The storyline truly covers the main character's entire life. It all comes together in the end in divine detail. It's uplifting and romantic. One suggestion, only watch this film in December before Christmas, it's much easier to appreciate that way.

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it's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: ashishtriple9 from India
9 July 2010

last week only I downloaded this movie as it is inspirational film. I LOVE INSPIRATIONAL film.

Though it was black and white movie but I was excited to see it.

Today only I saw the movie and believe me it is much worth worth worth watching the film.Don't think it's an old film..it will make you think that your life is worth.It's a little bit funny as well but at the end it will make you serious.

Each one of us life is interconnected with each other..if you were not here, world could have been different.This is a simple message which this film wants to give you.Don't think too much just get it from somewhere and watch it.

You are not a failure if u have a friend.

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A beautiful, heartwarming classic

10/10
Author: Rectangular_businessman from Peru
4 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This always gets to me, because in its way it seems so plausible: not the angel part, but the fact that life has some ups and plenty of downs, yet the committed goodwill of a single individual can have a cascading, snowball effect on people near and far. I guess that's karma, unadorned, and I believe that love is the closest thing to god the universe will ever know. The fact, even the possibility, that you can increase the net amount of love in the world is really about as good as it gets. No fantasy about it. It's real. It's just hard to do it consistently, and too easy to destroy what it takes a long time to build. So, building and loaning seems like a good way to go....

Of course, one could go about this in a somewhat savvier way than Jimmy Stewart's character. Still, for such an uplifting and Christmas-y film, this certainly cuts close to the bone, and fortunately in a healing way. Even if there's no snow on my desert island, I'm bringing this one along.

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It's the story about what is a successful life,

9/10
Author: heops7 from South Korea
30 June 2010

he Review of the Movie, 'It's a Wonderful Life', by Jennifer Heo

I happened to watch this movie a few months after watching Avatar, which was very controversial about adapting a new technology of 3D in film making in 2009. Compared to Avatar, which is visually colorful and dynamic but it has an almost non-existent storyline, this movie not only is well played and matched in the stars' roles but also gives us a message about sincere and happy lives.

The setting and costumes are so classic. It is a white and black movie released in 1947 right after World War 2. Each of the movie stars' costumes, the women's hairstyle in 1940s, men's suits, and settings can be boring and weird, but it can lead me to feel calm and refined.

The movie was photographed in a small village of Bedford Hill in America. It was nominated for the academy award and won the director award. It is certain that a family can enjoy it together all the time not only for Christmas. When you need some refreshment in your life, it shows you how to lead your life to be successful. Of course a successful life depends on each single person. However, I think this movie shows us true success is not how much money we own, but how we spend the money through two characters, George Baily(James Stewart) and Henry F. Potter(Lionel Banymore). In addition, Mary Hatch Bailey (Donna Reed) shows how important and helpful a lovely lover, devoted wife, and dedicated mother is for a man's wonderful life.

George Bailey is an optimistic and cheerful character throughout the movie. The man with a big dream adventuring a larger and wider world from his childhood days wants to be more educated. However, he has to choose another way that he doesn't want. It leads him to sacrifice his life for his family and some other people in the village. His sacrificial life brings about that he is well-known and respected in the small village, while he has to be against the richest and meanest Henry Potter, who lives in the same village. On the contrary, Potter without any children has over money enough to live, but he doesn't give any charity for others. He tries to take advantage of people in the village to make a fortune. He even tempts George Bailey, suggesting a job with some good conditions. That is because he thinks that George prevents him from expanding his business. However, he rejects it without any hesitation and always chooses the righteous and helpful life for other people.

What I was impressed most by in the story is the scenes showing how much he and Mary love each other. He meets Mary at school dance party for celebrating graduation. They fall in love with each other and she chooses him to get married and fully supports him whatever he wants to do. It encourages him to work harder for the people. Yet, he plunges into the depth of despair because of his uncle's big mistake on the Christmas Eve. At that time, through his guardian angel called Clarence, he finds out that the people who he loves including Mary, his eternal lover and wife, lead desperate lives in the world without him and he realizes that he leads a great life. Especially, the last scene where his friends collect money to help him in despair and he is paid back from the people who know him makes us contemplate what a wonderful life is. I could not control the tears from coming down my cheek.

The Christmas carol in the movie and the scenes of snow make us feel happy. I am often forced to grab it in the season of Christmas every year. This old classic movie adding folktale elements by an angel's appearance also tugs heartstrings and gives a profound message. Therefore, I can recommend you to watch with your family and whomever you want. I think George Bailey can surely be your life guide in a tough life.

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The Essential Frank Capra

9/10
Author: getyourdander from United States
31 March 2010

This film more than any other is the reason we still hear Frank Capra as a famous film name. In recent years it has become a Christmas movie on NBC & the exposure at the network level has given this movie the type of fame enjoyed by The Wizard of Oz.

It deserves the accolades too. Not only is this a great script with great Direction, but Jimmy Stewart is excellent & uniquely cast in the role as the hero. This film shows how good an actor he is. This film might just be the reason Stewart got the attention of Alfred Hitchcock which would lead to Rope, Rear Window, & Vertigo. It wasn't that Stewart was chopped liver before this film, but the way he carries it is a great acting job. Capra-Stewart just seemed to have the right chemistry together as they had already combined in some other roles too. It is interesting that Stewart was so good that he would work with nearly every great director of this era before he was done.

Donna Reed has her best movie screen role here too. The script is just a wonder of all time. Capra seems to always get a hold of unique & powerful scripts & this one is no exception to that. Granted Mr Smith Goes To Washington & You Can't Take It With You are good scripts too, but this is the one which still invades the National stage most often today.

This film rates a bravo from start to finish & may never go out of style. It is indeed a classic.

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An Excellent Film that Should be Enjoyed by All!

8/10
Author: conor-007 from Scotland
2 December 2007

It's obvious why when every time a "Greatest Ever Movies" type programme comes on, It's A Wonderful Life is always in the top 5. It's the perfect Christmas movie. James Stewart is a fantastic actor and one of the greatest central characters of film history.

He plays a hard working, kind family man who, after some depressing chain of events wishes he was never born. His guardian angel pays him a visit and shows him what life would have been like had he not existed. The build up to this event is a little long but that's what makes the film so successful and helps us to feel Stewart's pain.

It's a heart-warming, feel good tale which should be enjoyed by generation after generation!

Thanks for reading!

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Additional trivia for "It's a wonderful life

10/10
Author: eldberg from Sweden
24 December 2005

Some music for this film was borrowed from Alfred Newman's score written for the 1939 version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Notably the hallelujah choir which can be heard when George is running down the street shouting "merry Christmas" at everybody. This wonderful music is available on CD in a Russian recording from 1996, with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conductor William T Stromberg, on the label "Marco Polo". (disc number 8.223750) That CD also contains other interesting scores, a suite from "Beau Geste" and one piece from "All About Eve". Some music has been reconstructed by Stromberg because the original music was lost.

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Just discovered it. Can't get enough of it!

Author: Mon Theint from Singapore
19 January 2014

This is a seriously enjoyable watch for the New Year. I've been meaning to watch it for quite a few years but couldn't get my hands on the movie, living in Asia. Just watched it online last New Year Eve and it was amazing. I love how they portrayed the life's little coincidences. How little gestures can change a person's life. It's sweet and great and I don't know what else. My favorite scene is when George woos the girl. Seriously sweet how they did it in the 19s. The character of George is funny and true. I also love how they portrayed the family. Love how they dawned on the importance of loving relationships and seriously it brought me back to the innocent self I have been as a child. This is really going to make it to my next New Year's watch list.

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My Favorite Movie

10/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
25 December 2013

It's Christmas Eve in the town of Bedford Falls and George Bailey, a man who has spent his entire life sacrificing for others, is thinking of taking his life. Knowing George is in trouble, though perhaps not the extent, his family and friends pray that God help him. And that's exactly what He does -- in the form of an angel named Clarence. Throughout the bulk of the film, Clarence is brought up to date on George's life (as are the viewers). From childhood to adulthood, he sees that George has been a heroic noble soul, giving until it hurts and then giving some more. In order to save George, Clarence must show him what an impact he has had on the world and those he loves.

James Stewart's performance is flawless. One of the core strengths of the film is how it covers so much emotional ground. From happy to sad to angry to loving, Stewart masters it all. He's an actor who appeared in virtually every kind of film and that helps here as he has to handle drama, romance, comedy, fantasy...even a little action thrown in for good measure. His performance in this film is my earliest recollection as a child of being in awe of an actor.

Lionel Barrymore gives a career-defining performance here. For generations to come, he would be remembered as the villainous Mr. Potter. He had a storied career, full of so many different parts and very few of them were bad guys. One of his best roles was the gruff but lovable and wise Dr. Gillespie in the Dr. Kildare series for MGM. So it's kind of ironic that Barrymore is best known for portraying a thoroughly rotten man. But that's the talent of the man. He breathed life into Potter and made him so hissable.

Such a great cast. The wonderful Henry Travers has his career-defining role, as well. Who doesn't love Clarence Odbody, AS2 (Angel Second Class)? The heavenly Donna Reed. She positively glows in this film. As a kid watching I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I think it again every time I watch this movie. Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as the ORIGINAL Bert & Ernie. Gloria Graham as the sultry Violet Bick. Samuel S. HInds and Beulah Bondi as the Bailey parents. The amazing Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy. Who can forget H.B. Warner's moving performance as Mr. Gower? William Edmunds as Martini and Sheldon Leonard as Nick the bartender. Todd Karns as Harry Bailey. And all those wonderful child actors playing the Bailey kids as well as those in the flashbacks. Just a perfect cast.

Frank Capra, one of my absolute favorite filmmakers, does such a brilliant job at directing here. Amazing pace. The film never slows down but never feels rushed. He worked from a script that had many authors. Normally, this would be a terrible sign for a film and would almost certainly mean it was a disjointed mess. But that couldn't be further from the truth in this case. The script is tight, flawless even. Wonderful lines, memorable scenes. So many memorable scenes. It's hard to even pinpoint which to talk about because the entire movie is one classic scene after another. But I'll try. There are brilliant scenes like "George Lassos the Moon," the bank run, the childhood confrontation with a grieving Mr. Gower, or the wonderful ending. But here are two of my favorites. The phone call scene where George and Mary share a phone. Such a sensual, romantic scene as they give into their feelings. The prayer in the bar is such a moving scene. Stewart's performance is so powerful here it's criminal he didn't win an Oscar for this role. So many more unforgettable scenes I could mention.

I think of it as the greatest film ever made. I know there are some who will knock that. I realize there are all kinds of technical and cultural reasons that this film or that is the greatest. Citizen Kane, for example. While I love Kane or the Godfather films or countless other contenders, most of them are purely dramatic works that don't have for me what this film has: compelling rewatchability. It's my favorite film. It's as simple as that. I have seen it countless times. It's a beautiful story with Dickensian touches. A charming, funny, dramatic, sentimental, romantic, uplifting movie that makes me happy.

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The greatest gift of all - 93%

10/10
Author: Benjamin Cox from Hampshire, England
8 December 2013

What makes a 'Christmas' movie? The fact that it's set during Christmas or that the movie itself is about Christmas? I personally believe that the movie's message is as important as how much fake snow is laying about the set and amazingly, this iconic picture remained unwatched until yesterday. But what better film is there to get one feeling all festive? This is a heady cocktail of festive spirit, comedic satire and morality tale in the finest tradition of Charles Dickins and frankly, even a stone-hearted cynic like myself had to wipe my eyes away as the cast gathered to sing Auld Lang Syne at the end. There are plenty of reasons why this remains the definitive Christmas movie.

James Stewart plays George Bailey, unassuming everyman who can never quite live the adventurous life he wants. Cursed to living in the sleepy town of Bedford Falls, he ekes out a living at his late father's building & loan company at the expense of a more lavish lifestyle for his wife Mary (Donna Reid) and their four children while giving the townspeople some respite from the financial might of local scrooge Mr Potter (Lionel Barrymore). But when his business partner Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses their last $8000 on Christmas Eve, despondent George is tipped over the edge and he finds himself at a bridge, staring into the icy waters below with dark thoughts in his head. But when an angel with no wings called Clarence (Henry Travers) is dispatched to intervene, he shows George how life in Bedford Falls would have been if George had never been born.

Feeling like a cross between "A Christmas Carol" and "The Shawshank Redemption", "It's A Wonderful Life" is probably the most powerful fable I've seen all year. Most of the film is spent building up the goody-two-shoes nature of George and watching his inevitable decline is harrowing and heart-breaking. But the film has plenty of laughs in there as well such as the moment Mary finds herself in an awkward spot behind a bush to the Charleston that ends up in a swimming pool. The other reason you completely buy into the story is Stewart - you can see and feel the pain as his world crumbles around him and his unmitigated joy once he realises the error of his ways provides the film with one of the most uplifting endings I can ever recall seeing. Stewart is the picture, even though he doesn't convince during the scenes when George is at his high school graduation (considering how much taller he was than everyone else, you'd think he'd been held back by seven years!). And if you were being picky, you might argue that some of the characters aren't as well defined as others (such as George's co-workers) and the colourised version is apparently pretty poor as Stewart himself reckoned that it made him feel sick.

But it's Christmas and now is not the time for petty criticism - this remains the benchmark that every Christmas film since has aspired to and falls so far short that it's embarrassing. Stuff like "Santa Claus: The Movie" or "Elf" have all the jingle bells you'd ever need but none of the magic. "It's A Wonderful Life" is not just the greatest Christmas film ever made but also a fabulous movie in its own right, a fantastically inspiring film that sends you on an emotional roller-coaster before bringing a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. It might not be terribly original or even plausible but watching it warms you up like a hot toddy after trudging through the snow and surely, that's the point. Merry Christmas everybody and God bless us, one and all!

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One Life Matters

10/10
Author: hellraiser7 from United States
4 December 2013

The strangest thing about life is how much one person can really be a importantly link to a whole. Whether it's by free will alone, divine design/power, or even both it will never been known, what is known are the results that one person does which can be extraordinary and part of what creates the whole. This is a Christmas/fantasy film I really like that I can come back to every once in a while. It really is a film that actually is pretty dark but also does in a way make you feel good, but most importantly causes you at times to evaluate your own life.

There really isn't much I can really say that hasn't already been said. What really matters is the story itself which like all great stories despite how much time has passed it is timeless. The film in a way is kinda a Christian film since there are some Christian themes as well as influence that intervenes.

George Bailey is kinda a Christian hero, and like most of them you actually feel a sense of heavy pathos for the guy. The guy had to unfortunately put all his dreams on hold, all to do the right thing for others. I like that he's a bit reluctant, he doesn't really want to be selfless, nor does he even enjoy doing the right thing which I'll admit is something I can emphasize with from time to time. However all the same he does it whether he wants to or not because there is no one else that will, or is even strong enough to. Like with most of Capra's films, they have one thing in common showing that being a good person isn't always the easiest thing to be.

Even though George doesn't look like he has all the breaks, personally I think he does, his life actually is pretty good, he's got lots of friends, he's not boring, is active does things with himself, sure not the biggest adventure or exactly an event a minute. To me I always believed sometimes the smallest adventures are biggest, because of what you do during your lifetime. Unlike the antagonist Mr. Potter whom really just like his riches he holds doesn't do jack squat with himself, I can understand where the guys misery originates from but it's no excuse nor give him the right to ruin anyone elses life.

Other than the drama, I really like the fantasy aspect which was the first or one of the first times they ever constructed an alternate scenario. This is a common place format now done in many TV shows even comic books, but this film was one of the first and I feel still the best. The alternate scenario I felt was believable because it sort of plays out the notion that we all think of everyday, what if we were out of the picture, or we made that decision instead, or did that. Indeed it would of been a very different world, and of course we see this world without Geroge which is practically a cesspool as we see the blowhole Mr. Potter has fraked up bad. It really is disturbingly believable as George and we see how miserable most residents are, grungy and dirty Bedford falls is, the people that have been deceased because he wasn't around.

The film has two really good messages, the first on the importance of exercising selflessness, it not just benefits the people around you but yourself as a person. But also about valuing your life that it really does matter whether you live or die, because of how much it is connected and affect the whole.

One person does matter because one can do a whole lot in a single lifetime.

Rating: 4 stars

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Tradition movie

10/10
Author: makis_79 from Greece
28 November 2013

(spoiler alert)

I first saw this movie 5 years ago. Didn't know much, I remember an article mentioned it as the best Christmas movie ever made. I knew the director so i sat down and watch it. It was a big shock for me, the movie was the best thing i ever watched. It caught me at a time that I didn't appreciate much happy endings. I didn't want to see just a gathering of people celebrating all together in a house about how wonderful their lives are. No I'm not a misanthrope, I just thing movies with sad endings usually are more realistic and interesting and movies with happy endings are easily forgotten. That's the socking thing about "It's a wonderful life" it made me appreciate optimistic movies again after a really long time. James Steward gives an amazing performance, full of passion, comedy and drama, it's impossible not to sympathize his character. I watch this movie every Christmas. And yes this is a memorable happy ending.

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It's a Wonderful Film

10/10
Author: Collie_M from Ireland
15 August 2013

When my father proposed this black and white film about a guardian angel for me to watch years ago, as a teenager, my initial reaction could hardly have been a more overwhelming 'no.' But after persistence that for weeks was just below the surface, waiting to be unleashed every evening pickings on the television were slim, one especially uneventful night I succumbed and with a sigh agreed to watch it with mostly the intention of getting him off my case. Little I knew it would be the best film recommendation I had ever, and likely will ever receive.

Most of the superlatives have been used up when describing this film so I will not go into them in too much detail again. The term perfection is thrown around loosely but I believe this is one of the very few films that can claim wear that lofty tag with comfort. Jimmy Stewart gives a stunning performance as George Bailey, one of the most endearing characters in cinematic history. The whole cast is excellent and the on- screen chemistry between George and Mary is a sight to behold.

The true power in this film is how it manages to, almost effortlessly but with complete conviction, leave a profound emotional impact upon the viewer. It is a film that the viewer can get so emotionally connected to and can relate to so deeply that it can become part of that viewers person and change their outlook, philosophy, and indeed, their life. Personally I have seen the film too many times to remember and it still manages to leave a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

It is perhaps ironic that years after that first viewing, I mirrored my father in turning pest and badgered my group of college housemates into watching. It is perhaps the best measure of a film's greatness that six sceptical 20year old college students could sit down, abandon the alternative option of an alcohol-propelled night out, and sit in silence as the film happened and blink away tears in the semi-darkness as the bells signalling the end of the masterpiece tolled.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Life Changing Experience!!!

10/10
Author: sreenivas v (vsrini2008@gmail.com) from India
18 February 2010

Simply 'The Perfect' movie experience of a lifetime. Then again, its not just a movie, but something you can actually relate to. The fact that it was made almost 65 years ago, doesn't have any bearing on its relevance. Like the saying goes, 'The more things change, the more they remain the same'.

To be honest, I was going through a very similar situation that 'George Bailey' was in the movie, and I do have a habit of watching a 'feel good' movie to enliven my spirits whenever I am going through a bad phase. I must admit, it was one of the most sensible things I did in recent times. This movie has reinforced my belief that life is truly wonderful, and one should try to make the most of every moment. The old adage 'You reap what you sow' still holds true. Do good and no harm will come unto you.

Everything in the movie looks so believable and the performances by the entire cast so natural. It all about keeping the faith and hope, particularly when you feel you are down and out. I could watch this movie, each and every day for the rest of my life!

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An unforgettable and uplifting classic.

9/10
Author: Maddyclassicfilms from United Kingdom
29 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers and Lionel Barrymore.

George Bailey(James Stewart)is a good man who is well liked,loved and respected in his home town of Bedford Falls. After a run of bad luck he tries to kill himself on Christmas Eve, but is stopped by an angel Clarence(Henry Travers).Clarence gives George a look at what life in Bedford Falls would have been like if he didn't exist.

Filled with memorable characters and moments this is uplifting,touching and well acted. There's fine support from Donna Reed as Bailey's wife, the scene where they realise they love each other whilst both speaking to someone on the phone is beautiful, it's moving, passionate and tender. Lionel Barrymore is marvellous as the heartless Mr. Potter who has no time for peoples problems and feelings.

It's a wonderful story of love,community spirit,family and second chances. It's hard to except that when this was first released audiences found it too depressing.It's A Wonderful Life has become a part of peoples lives and a popular film to watch at Christmas time.

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If you like this film, you might want to try...

8/10
Author: academician-1 from United Kingdom
5 January 2008

I just watched the film "The Bishop's Wife" and could not help feeling the same way about it as "It's A Wonderful Life".

If you have enjoyed this film and are craving more in the same vein, you might want to consider "The Bishop's Wife".

While it is not the same film and has a different plot certainly, it shares many of the same production values and has the same sort of feel-good factor about it.

"The Bishop's Wife" is very much a Christmas film, with a lovely St. Bernard Dog that steals a couple of scenes. Another warm, fuzzy family film that was made only a year later than "It's A Wonderful Life".

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Why it's an icon

10/10
Author: escapoholic (johnconley@aol.com) from Northbrook, IL
10 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

IAWL has inspired a number of imitations lately--one I would recommend is The Family Man with Nick Cage and Tea Leoni. But The Family Man didn't really stand up all that well on second viewing. IAWL has stood up under dozens.

First and foremost, there's Jimmy Stewart. His performance in IAWL is the performance of his or anybody else's lifetime. The role of George Bailey is as demanding as any could be--everyman's life, with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I really don't think anyone else could have done it. Do you really think anyone else could have done the bit as Mary's reluctant suitor after Harry comes back to town? (Spoiler) Is there a better reaction shot than when George enters their new home/wedding suite, showing its signs of having to be prepared at the last minute and yet almost outrageously ingenious, itself a little bit (of which there are many others) of classic filmdom? There are at least a dozen others like these and contrasting with them.

Second, there's the high concept (spoiler alert)--what if you could see how life would have been if you hadn't been born? Usually, this sort of thing falls flat, but when it works it's magic, and all the required setup is here to make it work.

Third, the portrayal of Bedford Falls, achingly nostalgic for us to experience in the 21st century. So many characters in such variety who nevertheless seem to belong together, and share an experience that is more than their individual selves. I think it's here that the Christmas motif plays in.

And one more, the message, which admittedly doesn't resonate with everyone, but should, dammit! "We have to stick together." I see some have complained about too much altruism, but I think they're missing the point. In the long run, George himself is better off for having been point man in the struggle to build community.

Because in the end, although it's "friends" that George is seen to have in abundance, it's really more than that. It's all of Bedford Falls, whose existence depends on people like George, who are the difference between its community values and the values of Pottersville.

In the end, the film is perhaps an argument for a life that never really was, but the dream or nostalgia of which we should never lose.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sentimental, Heart-warming Tale

Author: George Attwood from Canada
27 December 2005

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ***** Have you ever wished you'd never been born? What if that wish were granted? That's the premise of Frank Capra's sentimental, heart-warming tale of a man (Jimmy Stewart) who has many dreams to fulfill but few opportunities to bring it into being as life seems to pass him by. Though he finds contentment through a love-binding relationship with his lover (Donna Reed), Stewart eventually spirals into a whirlwind of emotions hoping for perfection in his life before trying to cease it. A fairly simple story that remains a classic because of the realistic, poignant drama that brilliantly unfolds through its complete running time and good performances by Stewart and Reed. Highly recommended.

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Still Relevant Today

Author: Brian Washington (Sargebri@att.net) from Los Angeles, California
26 December 2004

This is one of the truly great films to have ever been released in the post war era. The themes of wondering how different the world might have been if you weren't born is still a recurring theme in many films as well as television series, but this one really does it with a even greater poignancy than most that try to imitate it. However, the film really gives a great message that no matter how unimportant you feel, your life, for better or worse, touches each person that that you come in contact with. James Stewart is perfectly cast as George really show's why he is the perfect everyman in this film. Also, Donna Reed is wonderful as Mary, the love of his life. The two of them really convey the love that George and Mary felt for one another what made the relationship between the two of them special. I also loved the fact that it pretty much pulled no punches when dealing with what probably was the touchy subject of suicide. This film is truly one of the all time greats.

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Potter probably would have won today

Author: RanchoTuVu from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
21 December 2004

This film probably ends more happily than any film in the annals of Hollywood, with that great sing a long of Auld Lang Sine as George Bailey discovers what a wonderful life it is. The drama, comedy, and heartfelt sentimentality are all woven together into a seamless masterpiece. It portrays the bitter struggle for the future of Bedford Falls between egalitarian Bailey and hard-nosed miser Mr Potter (Lionel Barrymore). One of the best of James Stewart's films, and that is saying something, and given a magic touch by director Frank Capra, with Donna Reed looking unbelievable, and Thomas Mitchell as the kindly but careless partner who manages to misplace the deposit that ultimately sends the picture into overdrive, it is the best holiday movie out there with the possible exception of the 1951 version of Scrooge.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Two Deities

9/10
Author: Angry_Arguer from Shermer, Illinois
20 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here's a movie most of the American population doesn't watch for 333 days of the year. I've found that watching this in late April is more rewarding than mid December.

This is your only spoiler warning...

That notion aside, I feared revisiting this movie because, like so many other films from this decade, I was worried it would show its age and thus kill itself in the process--fulfilling Bailey's wish.

Amazingly, that isn't the case. This is sentimentality done right in the vein of 'The Elephant Man'. Why? The frame of the story; for that reason you should see it and get some tears in the process.

First we have the setting of the world where Steward lives. Then there is Heaven. All our exposition of Stewart's world comes as a story being told to Clarence. Meanwhile, we--the audience--are tricked into accepting Stewart's life as reality until Capra slaps us upside the head and tells us "I'm not even started yet!"

When we finally do get to the plot, we have Clarence as our navigator. From God to the Angel. This is when George sees how the world would be without his influence.

Overall, skip 'Terminator' for your need to study the importance of one life. This is polarized like Capra's other works, but so interesting in the process. Can Spielberg do the same?

Final Analysis = = Learn from this...

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What happens when a film slips into the Public Domain...

Author: Matt Barry from Baltimore, Maryland
11 January 2003

As everyone as heard by now, this film slipped into the Public Domain in the early 1970s when it failed to be renewed for copyright. This was both a blessing and a curse. There are many other great films like this one which deserve to be shown more often on network TV. But they never will because of the royalties involved and the fact that they would never make that money back. But when a "forgotten" film is shown regularly on TV it can trigger a positive audience response and get a fan base for the film that it would not have otherwise had, as was the case here. But what about when there are no royalties to be paid? The film can be run over and over, into the ground, until it loses all freshness. With this particular film there seems to be people who need to watch it religiously each year, and others who get frankly tired of it. My opinion is that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a very good film. Certainly a very emotional ending. But labeling it a "Christmas" movie is nonsense and it was never intended to be shown only at the holidays. It is a motion picture, just like any other, and deserves to be watched objectively. That's what I'll do here. How does it compare to other similar films? Well, for one thing, I find that this film can convey some very strong emotions for a nearly 60 year old film. Another example is CITY LIGHTS, by Charlie Chaplin, which can still move audiences to tears 70 years after its release. I find the acting to be quite good, but it's worth noting that this shouldn't be surprising considering the first-rate cast (especially Stewart and Barrymore). I find the script to be generally rather weak, incidentally. I feel that the sheer great acting manages to overcome some fairly cliched lines and situations. Still there are also some memorably original sequences like the high school dance. The direction by Capra is excellent as always. It is not without good reason that he is considered one of America's foremost filmmakers. He definitely is not afraid to play scenes for ultimate emotional content which adds strongly to the personal and human element of his films. From a technical aspect, I find this film to be quite well made, especially given its low budget. The giant street set is quite convincing in creating a whole little "world" inhabited by the movie's characters. The location footage of the early suburban neighborhoods is an interesting record. The story itself is good but I feel that the entire concept of the angel was simply a cop-out. In earlier Capra efforts, the main character overcame adversity with effort and common sense. But this "guardian angel" device is complete fantasy. I guess it works to some extent but I found it to be an easy out. How does it rank against Capra's other films? Well, obviously nothing can touch the brilliant, landmark IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. One of the very funniest films ever made, and one of the very best. Also, I don't think IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is as successful in maintaining a theme as MR. DEEDS (1936). I would rank it after those two, earlier Capra efforts. Generally if I *have* to watch a "christmas" movie it would be Laurel and Hardy's BABES IN TOYLAND. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a very good film, and deserves to be shown. But so do many other films. I feel another release of 1946, DETOUR, by Edgar G. Ulmer, is a much better film.

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A classic

10/10
Author: preppy-3 from United States
27 December 1999

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) thinks he has a dreadful life. He runs a loan association in the small town of Bedford Falls. The company is always on the verge of bankruptcy and is constantly fighting the evil Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore). He is married to an adoring wife (Donna Reed) and has three children. One Christmas Eve he is on the verge of suicide until his guardian angel (Henry Travers) shows up to stop him.

No other word for it--it's a classic! Hard to believe this was a bomb when it first came out...it's reputation didn't even start till the early 1980s with repeated television showings. Basically, there's nothing wrong with the film. The script is well-written with realistic well-drawn characters.

What really makes it work is that the movie doesn't make Stewart a goody two shoes--he's really unhappy and mean in the first section of the film. It makes his "transformation" at the end more believable and realistic. Also it's one of the few movies that has an ending that will have the entire audience crying--out of happiness.

The acting is just great all across the board, the set design incredible (Bedford Falls was on a sound stage!) and is heart warming without getting too sentimental. I usually hate films like this but I've loved this since the first time I saw it and make it a point to see it every Christmas. A true classic. Highly recommended.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

the tale of the classic selfless man's conflicted mind-set and the town that's ingrained in his life

9/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
24 December 2006

I should be inclined to say that Frank Capra made his masterpiece with It's a Wonderful Life, and it would probably be the obvious, easy answer to make as a movie-lover. And shock of shocks, it wasn't until today (of Christmas Eve of all times, ho-ho-ho) that I finally sat down and watched it- it wasn't a 'family staple' in my house- but I knew I had to watch it, if only to see James Stewart in the seminal role of George Bailey. It is, no doubt, with enough fantastical scenes to make up a couple more movies, and the heart that sits right in It's a Wonderful Life beats with all the vigor and pride of the most schmaltzy- and rightly proud of it- American spirit. That I ended up not finding it to be a truly astonishing movie may be that I'm just a cynic deep down, or that maybe this kind of story, and how it plays out, has ended up being done so many times I practically knew what the story was before going in. It's the most amazing of credits to Capra and his cast and crew that it does hold up this well, and that the sentimentality stringing together much of what happens is actually well earned. But it does teeter on becoming a bit too dated, or rather that it's appeal of being a fable really only works best when dealing with the crux of the character George Bailey, and almost becomes weird in how it leaps from great happiness to the terrible bleakness of modern American life.

Indeed, Stewart was not only the best choice for George Bailey, but the correct one, the kind we'd probably all like to have in our town as the man who despite his better senses commits his life to being there for the ones he cares for. It almost becomes a running gag, however not really funny as much as touching, the way he puts aside his own feelings and self-wants to help save the bank and Bedford Falls from the peril that could come from the dastardly Potter (Lionel Barrymore, cast perfectly for the role as well with his sinister eyebrows and cunning attitude). I first thought it would be all about George seeing life as if he had never been born, but really this is(wisely) kept to the last twenty minutes of the picture. This works because we see how Bailey gets to that point of almost jumping off into the river, which in its selfish way would be, to him, still a selfless act (i.e. worth more than dead). Seeing George's life is like peering into one of those tall-tale American stories where the little guy gets a lot done by just being himself- or at least his better self getting the better of him. All George wants to do as a young man is explore the world, make great buildings and things. But any lofty ambition becomes squashed by reality- of his father's death, of the very sneaky attitude imposed by Potter, and by the townspeople practically needing some hope during the depression. So it's up to him to not only save the town by making a section of the town named after him for low-cost housing, but to marry a girl Mary (Donna Reed) who's fallen totally for George.

What ends up being most memorable, for me, about It's a Wonderful Life is the skill which Capra makes possibly one-dimensional figures very real and immediate, and that in this seemingly simplistic world of right and wrong and good and bad there are the slivers of gray that work their way in. I loved one scene in particular where Potter, desperate to gain back control over his possible monopoly in Bedford Falls, tries to will George away to work for him at far more an amount of money he would make on his own terms with his small bank. It's a tense scene in how devilish Potter comes off, and how Barrymore turns on the ideal of greed and necessity and the ego of a man over the higher principles that George ultimately goes for. It's always fascinating too to see how Stewart plays certain scenes and lines and inflections, moments of surprise and delight which probably hide just the bits of bitterness that build up in him. There's something about the American dream that is called into question in American life, even as Capra likes to jump from sweet touches of light comedy to stark tragedy or danger. There's a great juxtaposition that is made too with the characters of Harry Bailey, George's brother, who goes on to lead the life George might have led had he not saved Harry as a boy, and as well in a small part with Sam Wainwright.

It's through the sort of realistic groundings then that Capra is able to get away with reaching for the fantasy structure that ends up coming out of the film, the typical 'what if' nightmare scenario that has ended up influencing countless movies and TV shows. Like Christmas Carol, though sort of in reverse, it's sort of meant as a lesson in humanity, and how what is carried in a man or what is lacking in it ends up bringing it out or losing it in others. It all builds to help Capra earn the melodrama and ultra-heightened emotions brought out with Clarence the angel. It doesn't mean that, at least for me, there aren't things that end up being dated (however, scenes like the dance-hall bit in 1928, is timeless in its humor), mainly in how the idealism and old-fashioned ways come out in this day & age. But still, it doesn't stop me from saying that It's a Wonderful Life is a must see, if only once, and there's no doubt why it's been revered as one of the great films about the triumph of the human spirit. Grade: A

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Absolute Masterpiece

10/10
Author: Incalculacable (vintagous@hotmail.com) from Perth, WA
20 December 2005

'It's a Wonderful Life' is one of the best movies of all time. It is directed by Frank Capra and starring movie legends such as Donna Reed and James Stewart.

It's a Wonderful Life shows the life of George Bailey, a kind, caring man. You see him right from childhood and even then he is giving to people. As he grows older, he has dreams of traveling. However, after a series of unfortunate events, he can't go on the trips as he has always wanted and he has to look after the family business - the bank. George gets tied down with a family and feels trapped in a world in which he doesn't want to belong and he finds himself trying to commit suicide.

This is a beautiful, touching yet dark film. You see so many emotions, attitudes and values in this such as envy, love, corruption, joy, hope, faith and despair, all beautifully portrayed by the actors. It runs along at a fast pace and has a beginning, middle and an end. It also has a moral, which is lacking in so many movies today.

It's A Wonderful Life is absolutely universal and timeless (you can enjoy it whether you are 8 or 80). I watched this when I was 12 and it became one of my favorite movies, which I know watch every Christmas. It sums up everything that Christmas is about.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Ten stars

Author: sailore2 from San Jose, California
27 December 2000

This is for anyone debating whether to see this movie or not. Well don't think about it anymore! Go right down and buy this movie! don't even rent it--go right out and buy it! I guarantee you won't want to return this movie after you see it! The scenes are all memorable-- they're funny, poignant, or heartbreaking. George Bailey portrays an "everyman" so his character is easy to relate to. The plot is wonderfully complete, the acting is top-notch, and the direction is great! This is one of the most memorable Christmas movies of all time! This movie will leave you with a wonderful warm feeling of friendship and hope, and will let you see how wonderful your life is. This is one of the greatest productions to ever come out of the cinema. So don't delay--see "It's A Wonderful Life" as soon as you can, and find what may become your favorite movie of all time!

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

It Does Not Get Any Better Than This

Author: tfrizzell from United States
24 October 2000

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a super film whose impeccable timing (post World War II-1946) and outstanding story-line gave hope and joy to the whole country. Oscar-nominee James Stewart stars as a banker who has a nervous breakdown and comes to the realization that he wishes he was never born. Enter guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows Stewart how great his life has been and how his life has affected everyone else's for the better. Frank Capra's direction is, well Capra-esque. The screenplay is perfect and all the performances are super as well. Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell, and Lionel Barrymore all add great moments as supporting players. Easily one of the best ever, a treasure. 5 stars out of 5.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Rich Twin Poor Twin's View of the Movie

7/10
Author: (henry@richtwinpoortwin.com) from United States
29 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an article from www.richtwinpoortwin (dot) com I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas. It's A Wonderful Life is a good classic movie. It will always bring back fond memories. For many years since we can remember, my twin and I saw the classic movie: It's A Wonderful Life air at our old home. We switched the channel every year when the movie just started because the movie is in black and white. We just dismissed the movie and thought it would be a bore. A few years later when we were in college, freshman year…. one of our best professors we had in our academic years had this movie as part of the curriculum - where we watched the movie and did the usual analysis on the movie. I didn't know it at the time, but he was a very good professor and person. He actually was searching for a purpose, more in life, the meaning of life, happiness in life, the reason for living, etc. He was actually trying to wake us up. But I digress; we will talk about this professor in upcoming entries. Now back to It's a wonderful life. The movie is quite enjoyable.

We recently went back to NYC this Christmas and watched It's a Wonderful life for the first time in our old home. I recall the analysis we did after watching the show in college. We all came up with the all too familiar analysis of how Potter was rich, greedy, and evil. And how George Bailey was the good person, the hero who was doing what was right - he was fighting the good fight so that everyone else can have a wonderful life in Bedford Falls.

There was a common theme painted throughout the movie: being good/doing good meant sacrificing yourself - physically, mentally, and financially- George risked his life to save his brother Harry (lost his hearing in his left ear), getting beaten up by his childhood boss after saving a client from being poisoned, taking a job that was below him in order to save the Bank and the community from Potter, getting married to Mary because just to make his mother happy, turning down Sam Wayne Wright's offer, giving away 2 thousand dollars of his own hard earned money he saved for his honeymoon to others during the bank run on black Friday, and turning down Potter's offer that would have freed him.

It's A Wonderful Life enforces the idea that having money meant you are greedy, evil, selfish, lazy, cruel, racist, lonely, bitter, uncaring, and that you will lose your money as fast as you made it throughout the movie. Potter was the living symbol of this commonly accepted false idea. Potter is a "warped, frustrated, old man." He was crippled and pushed around in a wheelchair. He has no family, was uncaring - he called for a board meeting to resolve the bank after Bailey Senior's death, was a racist - he refers to his tenants as "garlic eaters", has a skull on his desk, cruel - he withholds foolish Uncle Ben's $8000 cash deposit just to get back at the Baileys, and he levied harsh rent from his poor tenants, and on the last scene where we see what would happen if he controlled Bedford falls - it would be called Potter's field where Bedford falls is just a grave yard, there would be less of the "neighborly", lots of bars, clubs, and gambling.

But when we watched the movie at home, we see that the movie: It's a Wonderful Life is nothing more than propaganda. Its message is worse than its character Potter, himself. The movie tells its audience to just Settle. That is perhaps the worst and most dangerous message of all - be a noob, don't even try to become a pwner. The movie's message tells you to just try to find the good things that you have and not to try harder, not to help yourself, not to pursue your dreams, and just help others because you are seen as greedy if you try to pursue your dreams before helping others. In short - mind others businesses, help as many as you can with what little you have and look for "the good things" that you have and you shall be happy and you will have a wonderful life. The last message of the movie was " A man is never poor as long as he has friends," which is true to some degree but the movie's bigger message and idea is troubling.

What if Clarence showed George Bailey actually achieving what he wanted?? As in showing George what he, his wife, and the rest of Bedford Falls would be if George would have achieved what he wanted to do - go to college, travel the world, build bridges, build skyscrapers, and become what he wanted to BE since he was a small boy - in short living his childhood dream. But instead Clarence CHEATED him and US by just showing how unhappy the community would be if he was not born. And it is very fascinating how Sam Wayne Wright becomes what George Bailey always wanted to be - rich, traveling the world, having a company, wives, power, fame, fancy cars and FREE from having to put his nose to the grind stone.

And that is all I have to say about that. Or what Sam would say, "Hee-Haw!"

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A true classic if there ever was one

Author: slymusic from Tucson, AZ
30 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What could I possibly write about "It's a Wonderful Life" that hasn't already been written? It is my favorite film starring my favorite actor James Stewart. Beautifully directed by Frank Capra, it is a masterpiece about the joys and trials of everyday life, and its main lesson is the fact that nobody is born to be a failure and that everybody is important. A struggling man named George Bailey (Stewart) sees life pass him by as he forgoes his opportunities to travel the world, go to college, and do all sorts of outstanding things. George considers himself a failure and never realizes what a great man he is until he meets his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him how different many people's lives would have been had George never been born.

"It's a Wonderful Life" contains such an outstanding cast that it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing these parts so effectively. Frank Capra had only James Stewart in mind for the all-American George Bailey, and he could not have made a better choice. Not to mention Donna Reed as George's sweet, comforting wife Mary; Lionel Barrymore as the cold, Scrooge-like Mr. Potter; Thomas Mitchell as the fun-loving, irresponsible Uncle Billy; Henry Travers as George's lovable, kindhearted guardian angel Clarence; Beulah Bondi as George's warmhearted mother; Samuel S. Hinds as George's caring-about-others-before-himself father; H. B. Warner as the drunken-turned-responsible druggist Mr. Gower; and on and on the list goes. Honestly, no other actors could have portrayed these roles so well.

Here are my favorite highlights from "It's a Wonderful Life," and there are quite a few. At the end, amidst all the donations and tears of joy at the Bailey residence, the one moment that almost never fails to bring tears to my eyes is George's discovery of the inscription on the inside cover of Clarence's copy of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer": "Dear George, Remember NO MAN is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence." George displays his darker side when he both yells at Uncle Billy for misplacing the $8,000 and lashes out at his family shortly thereafter. James Stewart's initial appearances in this film serve as a reminder of his prewar all-American image, particularly when George describes the giant suitcase he wants for his European tour, or when he talks quietly with his father at the dinner table, or when he confronts the scheming Potter, who threatens to dissolve the Bailey Building & Loan Association after the sudden death of George's father. Arguably the loudest and funniest scene in the picture involves the Charleston dance at the high school gymnasium, during which the floor opens up to reveal a swimming pool below. George and Mary spend their wedding night in the same dilapidated old house that they threw rocks at years ago, but the music and the candlelight dinner are just right (as actor Tom Bosley pointed out, if George has had a wonderful life in humble Bedford Falls, to a large extent it was Mary who made it so). Mr. Gower physically abuses young George (Bobbie Anderson) for not delivering a prescription, until Gower realizes what he had put in the capsules! George runs through Pottersville in shock at the unfamiliar buildings and the interesting music filtering through some of them. Upon Clarence's announcing that he is an angel second class, the night watchman (Tom Fadden) falls backward out of his chair! And finally, the film displays its sentimentality right from the opening shots, in which the humble voices of George's family and friends are heard praying for him.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a classic, no doubt about it. I enjoy it not only during the Christmas season but all through the year. James Stewart WAS George Bailey, and he has my utmost praise for such a fine performance. The film was Stewart's and Capra's favorite, and no wonder. Capra was passionate about the story, and Stewart gave it his all after five years of having not appeared in feature films. In short, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a truly remarkable film.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

An all-time classic, darker than people think for its time

10/10
Author: Captain Ed from Minnesooooooooota
9 January 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(SPOILERS - but if you haven't seen this already ...)

Before finally writing a commentary on one of my favorite films, I read through a few of the preceding comments, and I was surprised to see so many nay-sayers. Their posts were far from the usual "this film sucks" type of puerile commentary, however; it seems this film provokes intelligent discussion even from those who dislike it (or perhaps dislike the avalanche of affection it normally receives).

I won't bother to recap the entire plot blow by blow. If you've seen it, you already know it, and if you haven't there are plenty of extensive recaps already in the User Comments section. What works for me is Jimmy Stewart as Everyman, George Bailey. Unless you are very fortunate, most people wake up and find out that they have given up their dreams as trade-offs for other things in their lives -- family, friends, etc. Most of us are at peace with this. However, it's very apparent that while George has put aside his disappointment, it lurks below the surface and is the vulnerable chink in his armor. Potter (brilliantly portrayed by Lionel Barrymore) knows this and almost successfully exploits it; George stops himself just before agreeing to be bought by Potter after Potter promises him a substantial (for its time, an enormous) salary and travel opportunities.

George, having had to put his own dreams on hold or away on at least three separate occasions now, prospers modestly and builds a family, and his disappointment stays below the surface until disaster strikes. His unreliable Uncle Billy (Capra regular Thomas Mitchell) unknowingly hands Potter the bank deposit, literally putting the means for George's destruction in Potter's hands. Potter informs the bank examiner and the DA about the $8000 shortage at the S&L, and George faces ruin and prison for embezzlement. He tries asking Potter for help -- crawls for it, actually -- and Potter gleefully refuses. George, while holding onto his low-equity whole-life policy, realizes that the policies make him worth more dead than alive and plans to commit suicide. That's when an angel steps in and shows George what his world would have been like had he never been born.

Some people think that George is owed something monetary by the townspeople, but actually George has prospered modestly by helping them prosper. In terms of money, neither really owe each other anything. In terms of friendship, George has been what Potter is financially -- as rich a man as any other. But George, in his plight, doesn't see this. All he sees is financial, legal, and social ruin because he's looking through Potter's eyes; Potter has succeeded (temporarily) in ruining him spiritually. He even turns into a low-rent Potter on his initial return home, barking at his kids and his wife, smashing things, yelling at the schoolteacher, before righting himself somewhat and trying to apologize to his terrified family. He leaves for a bar, where his friends try to find out what's wrong, and he sends up a desperate prayer to God for help in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I've ever watched. (And then he gets punched in the nose by the husband of the schoolteacher, in one of the most wry moments ever on screen.)

The look at what Bedford Falls becomes without ever having a George Bailey isn't as important, although Potterville certainly is the inspiration for Back to the Future Part II's alternate Biff-run Hill Valley. George comes back to reality with his soul and his faith restored, running through the restored Bedford Falls with joy while heading towards certain ruin. His faith leads him back to his wife, who has been his support and his partner through all his setbacks. Instead of ruin, his friends -- not his debtors -- have all heard that their friend is in serious trouble and have come to help. Their faith in their friend George never wavered (they know he didn't steal anything), even if his faith in them failed, mirroring the faith that God has in each one of us even when we don't have faith in Him or in ourselves. Even Sam Wainwright, from whom he 'stole' Mary, sends a line of credit that guarantees George will be saved. His brother, a Medal of Honor winner who was to make a triumphant entrance the next day, instead comes back in time to say what George finally realizes: he is indeed the richest man in town.

At its core, then, this movie isn't about Christmas, it's about faith: faith tested, faith failed, faith restored. George loses faith in himself and God and his friends and family, and is shown why their faith in him won't completely fail. In a way, this is really more of an Easter story -- Potter crucifies George, who becomes reborn. In order to make this work, you have to see George lose his soul, as he does in those moments after he realizes the ruin that Billy has made of their lives, and that means George has to do some unsympathetic things. A couple of the actions he takes at home borders on emotional abuse, which is why his wife asks him to leave. In order for the film to work, he has to hit bottom, and Stewart masterfully portrays this.

At the same time, Donna Reed had to play her role as even-keeled as possible, as dependable and rock-solid against Stewart's agonizing emotional swings, in order to both highlight Stewart's work and to symbolize God's support and faith. Reed is absolutely amazing in this role, understating while not giving an inch to Stewart in their scenes together. Mary is a real woman, not some straw-man symbol, and without that the film would have utterly failed.

And what of Potter? Why does Potter get away with the money? In a standard morality play, Potter would get caught and wind up ruined, but this film isn't a standard morality play. Potter exemplifies the Scriptural warning, "What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?" Potter, by taking and keeping the money and later turning George in, has lost his chance for redemption. He is dead already and nothing on Earth can save him but himself. However, this is not a blanket indictment of all who have money, as Sam Wainwright gladly steps in to save his friend -- and Sam is certainly the nouveau-riche type of person that is easy to dislike in standard morality plays. Potter represents himself and the greedy avarice that has consumed him.

When watching this film at any time of year, we are reminded that while events can cause us to lose faith in God and in ourselves, we can still hope that those around us do not lose their faith in us. We are not defined by how much or how little money we have; our goodness comes through in how we treat others and how we all help along the way. All the money in the world cannot save us from death, but God (and our friends) can save us from spiritual death in times of crisis. That's why this is one of the greatest movies ever made and why it belongs in the top 10 of anyone's movie list.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Superb! Excellent! The Best movie ever!!!!!!!!!!

10/10
Author: RightWingGuy from United States
21 April 2006

Not liking this film is like not liking ice cream. The acting, the story, the directing, everything about this movie ROCKS! ***Spoilers*** George Bailey, at age 12, saves his brothers life. Several weeks later, he stops the town druggist from putting poison in some pills. We see that he accomplishes many things in his life, and he puts his dreams aside to help these people.

Even after he accomplishes many things, he begins to think his life is worthless. Especially after a horrific event one Christmas Eve, in which his uncle Billy loses $8,000. George seriously contemplates suicide, but his guardian angel, Clarence, comes to his rescue. He then learns, first-hand, what the world would be like if he hadn't been born. After he sees many changes that would have been if not for his birth, he gets his life back. He returns home, and then his friends and family come, along with money that they had collected from theirs friends in the town.

This is a great movie. Watch it on Christmas Eve. 10/10.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

"Should all acquaintence be forgot...."

Author: coverme6 from Allentown, PA
22 July 2000

Nothing makes Christmas more tender and great than a good

holiday movie, and "It's a Wondeful Life" is the quinssential

film to make the holiday mood brighter. Played by the ultimate

all-American average Joe Jimmy Stewart, his portrayal of an

honest man whose life is turned upside down by corrupt overlords

is smoldering and convincingly dramatic. It really touched my

soul. Because of financial troubles and the constant taunting of

a big time businessman Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), executive

George Bailey (Stewart) feels the world crumbling around him. As

he contemplates suicide by jumping off a bridge and onto icy

waters, Bailey is visited by his guardian angel named Clarence

(Henry Travers), who shows Bailey on how life is if he wasn't

born. To his horror, George sees how his town is in dire

shambles, and he realizes that life isn't something to be taken

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10 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

It's a good movie...

5/10
Author: thefan-2 from Detroit
19 May 1999

...but not a great movie, and certainly not one of the greatest of all time. I realize you can't say that without being accused of kicking kittens and other atrocities, but that's the way I feel. Sorry.

I mean, really: "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings"?? Puh-leez. If a Robin WIlliams movie were made today with such a line -- not to mention the cartoonish characters, the sappy plot, the false sentimentality -- it would be laughed out of the theaters. Are we supposed to make allowances because this movie was made back in 1946 when they didn't know any better? Believe me, they knew better.

The only reason to go out of your way to see this movie is that Drew Barrymore's great-uncle Lionel is in it. You should always show respect for Drew Barrymore.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This can suggest the true value of your life

9/10
Author: f-27753 from United Kingdom
25 July 2016

It's an emotional movie which gives you a chance to reconsider about your own life. Lead character is a man of hones and thoughtful. He is an earnest person toward his own life but he faces some difficulties in his business, which discourage him to live a life. As a result, he tries to take his life. Yet, he is survived by the angel with a magical power and comes to appreciate his life.

You will notice how wonderful your life is after watching the movie. You might evaluate your life by wealth. fame and success even though you well realize they can't measure the life. Therefore, you're obsessed to pursue them, sacrificing what really matters to you such as ordinal lives with your family and being in health. The main character is also one of them who miss what is inevitable in his life. However, after the strange moment with the angel,he notices the importance of his family, friends and neighbours.

In recent days, you can easily lose sight of true value of your lives because of your life's tight schedule, hence, you should watch the movie and think of your life again.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

No man is an island unto themselves!

10/10
Author: elvircorhodzic from Bosnia
23 July 2016

IT's A WONDERFUL LIFE is definitely one of the most beloved and most watched films of all time. Simply enter human warmth and kindness in the festive atmosphere. Great script and a story that follows the life of one man, his family and his fellow citizens will not leave anyone indifferent. The magical atmosphere and timeless magic simply forces us to become part of the film. Given the time period and the retrospective of life, it is hard not to find yourself in one of the situations.

Director Capra went on a series of films about the little people with real human virtues. Again, one protagonist dominant. In this case, dissatisfied with their lives. Capra wants to show something that is long lost. Family, friends and hard work are actually a wonderful life.

James Stewart as George Bailey hit the famous director. Not only because of its irresistible charm and manners that had a chance to hone working with the most beautiful and famous women in Hollywood, but for the link in the mode of dealing in the character George Bailey and the actor. Furthermore, his character, although at first glance may be too mean, really has a great depth, and excellent Stewart interpretation gives it weight. Stewart's acting phenomenon I personally never liked her, but his fantastic performance I will never challenged.

Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey is quiet and modest woman who truly loves and appreciates his wife. The character is so simple and quiet to the stunning strength has exactly the moments when it is most needed. Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter essentially it is a greedy materialist, passion for money in his being destroyed any shred of humanity, but he is not satisfied and with all his strength his personal dissatisfaction wants to convey the awareness of other people. I have to be skeptical and say that today these people are incredibly much.

No man is an island unto themselves! Globally, the story in this film does not have a universal character. However, we can hardly resist the impression that we are all part of a whole, and unbreakable bond. I am not a supporter of the belief that there is "someone up there" who maintains the world's balance. Simply have eyes and see what happens. However, I think it's Capra lukewarm fiction and mild levity created because of those feelings.

This movie is full of optimism, the story is touching. The man is an unusual way realized, despite all the problems, how is life actually delightful.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It Happened One Christmas

10/10
Author: mmallon4 from United Kingdom
22 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why yes, I do cry like a baby over It's a Wonderful Life, every time. That ending is such a huge release after such as a dark and depressing alternative reality. I'm always left shaken up by it and need a break before I can watch another movie, as well as making me want to make amends with loved ones. I'm sure everyone who watched It's a Wonderful Life thinks to themselves what the world would be like if they were never born. The struggle of George Bailey is relatable to a wide spectrum, and I know for myself it really hits home. Being stuck in a dead end town and feeling you will bust if you don't get away from it; having your life not going the way you intended it to while your siblings appear to be doing so much better than you. But in at the end George Bailey realises what he's got when it's all gone, above it all, God's greatest gift. It's a Wonderful Life takes placed in a world in which God exists (and can focus his time on this one person over the rest of the world, but I digress). I've never felt however for It's a Wonderful Life to have a religious agenda, it's merely just a plot device for the film's fantasy elements.

Lionel Barrymore's performance as Henry F. Potter I feel is a tie between his brother John's role in Twentieth Century as the best performance from the Barrymore clan. Potter is one of the biggest douche bags in movie history; the archetype evil business mogul and ripe for comparisons with real life figures. In 2012 it was Mitt Romney, in 2016 it's Donald Trump. Not only has he no charitable side, he directly steals money in order to destroy his competition. Unlike other screen villains, Potter does not get any comeuppance as the end of the film, although you could say he's destiny as a sick, frustrated and lonely man who hates anyone that has anything he can't have is punishment enough. Potter isn't a total caricature though, he is more three dimensional than that. He's a man who knows how to conduct and run a business and understands that high ideals without common sense could ruin a town. But George Bailey is no fool, he is a natural born leader, even if he doesn't realise it. He stands up to Potter without giving it a second thought, runs a building and loan which is a real estate empire itself; even his father states to him that he was born older than his brother.

Moments like the make shift honeymoon suite in the broken down house which they later make their own or the recurring gag with the mantle at the end of the stairway represents the kind of writing which elevates It's a Wonderful Life above the majority of other movies. Like the greatest of films you notice something new on every viewing. Likewise nobody can do moments of intimacy like Frank Capra, the movie is full of scenes in which it is simply two actors talking with no background music, yet creates raw human emotional like no other. Take a scene such as George and Mary walking through a neighbourhood at night while George talks about his ambitions for the future, the rest of the world ceases to exist. Many will be quick to put down Capra's work as so called "Capracorn" or as Potter puts it, sentimental hogwash. Get off your high horse and stop thinking you're above such emotion; cinema is about the manipulation of emotions.

It's hard not to feel sentimental for the representation of small town America on display. Bedford Falls itself is a town full of interesting and unique characters. It actually reminds me of The Simpsons; Potter himself is essentially the town's own Mr Burns in The Simpsons the people of Springfield hate Burns but are dependent on him for their energy needs. Likewise the people of Bedford Falls hate Potter and would be dependent on him for their housing, if it wasn't for the competition of the Bailey Building & Loan.

Due to its public domain status the film was shown on some TV networks in 24 hour marathons. I'd happily watch one of those network as I can't stop watching It's a Wonderful Life no matter what point in the movie I begin. Could you get a more perfect marriage between actor and director than James Stewart and Frank Capra? Collaborating on a perfect trilogy of films, with each one better than the last. It's a Wonderful Life? It sure is.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good movie.

10/10
Author: Takethispunch from Greenland
19 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945.[4] The film is now among the most popular in American cinema and because of numerous television showings in the 1980s has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Simply a Classic

10/10
Author: jaymie-pierce93 from United States
20 May 2016

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I watch it with my family every Christmas and still feel all the feels. It has a wonderful message and it really makes you think twice about all the things in your life that are there for your happiness. The dance scene with the swimming pool makes me laugh every single time. Jimmy is also the greatest. I am a huge fan of this actor because he brings something different to every role he plays. And his George Bailey is phenomenal. Potter is one of the best villains. I seriously can't stand the guy, so I guess he did his job well. My one and only issue with this movie is that you are guaranteed to get the song "Buffalo Girls" stuck in your head. :/

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, timeless, heartfelt classic

10/10
Author: John Brooks from France
18 May 2016

I've no great culture of the movies of that time, but I'm sure I appreciated it just as much as the next person did during 1946 when this came out. This is a timeless, beautiful film that touches the heart in a way rare for any kind of cinematic production. Everything is perfectly constructed, thought out and executed - from the the very first scene and buildup to the ending, a climax in intensity and emotion I've almost never felt in any other piece. This is what I would call a "perfect film", in that it accomplishes everything it sets out to do, and what it sets out to do is of the utmost ambition. This is, in every little detail, a magnificent masterpiece, like a modern tale that never leaves you. From its criticism of the evil ways of greedy men, its depiction of the little guy against the oppressing giant theme, the importance of the individual and the sacred nature of life, Donna Reed's natural, authentic beauty in this film... this is precious, precious cinema like it seldom ever exists.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A charming film that never strays into sentimentality

9/10
Author: jameslinton-75252 from United Kingdom
18 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Is this a brilliant Christmas film? I think it is. It's a Wonderful Life is a powerful film about a man who becomes disillusioned with life and considers taking his own life. However, Death appears before him and shows what life would be like if he were never born. SPOILER At the end of the film, the man's community rallies behind him and gives him the hope to continue living.

This is where the film is its most heart-warming. It ends with everyone singing together and this moment isn't cheesy or overly- sentimental, but rather powerful and charming. It showcases how powerful people can be if they put their differences aside and work together for the greater good.

Read my full review here: http://goo.gl/wmWbQh

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's A Wonderful Film.

10/10
Author: Python Hyena from Canada
11 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's A Wonderful Life (1946): Dir: Frank Capra / Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell: One of the all time great films that celebrates life to the very core of presenting one's meaning through interactions with others. James Stewart plays George Bailey whose desire is to leave town and explore the world. His dreams are hindered when his father has a stroke thus leaving him in charge of the bank. His brother becomes a war hero, and he marries his high school sweetheart, played by Donna Reed. This is all observed by God and an angel named Clarence who is given Bailey's background through flashback observation before embarking on the moment where discouragement reeks him leaving him saying, "I wish I'd never been born!" Director Frank Capra is famous for films such as It Happened One Night and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is his masterwork. Stewart brings out the innocence of an individual driven by good, while Reed plays off the dreamy romantic who believes that Bailey can lasso the moon with his determined nature. Henry Travers brings wholesome goodness as Clarence who is out to earn his wings. Lionel Barrymore plays the villain Mr. Potter whose greed knows no end. Thomas Mitchell plays the forgetful Uncle Bailey who misplaces a large sum of cash. It shows what life would be like without our existence. It would not be wonderful. Score: 10 / 10

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An inspiring work that can be as deep as you want it to be.

8/10
Author: ConsultingHobbitExtractors
3 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't want to say that I had low expectations going into this movie, but I was preparing myself for the possibility of a clichéd story with no real conflict, or a really lame one at that, which would leave me wondering how the heck it was a classic. Thankfully, pretty much none of that was true. I wasn't huge on the hallmark happy ending, but I don't think it was a bad idea. It fits with the theme of the story and gives a good sense of completion and is perfectly plausible considering how many connections George has. I just prefer movies to end differently than that, but I could easily tolerate it in this context.

George Bailey is, as most of us already know, one of the most likable protagonists that's ever been written. He's got some amazing and selfless qualities, but still has times when he struggles with doing the right thing, just as any of us do. I totally sympathized with his plight of wanting to go out and see the world and make a huge difference but constantly having to put that dream on hold for the immediate problems that he faced at home. It's true that some of the timing was overly convenient, namely the Wall Street Crash happening on his wedding day, but it works out nicely in terms of the theme. I'm sure that there are lots of people out there that go through similar conflicts between their work and their families and their dreams, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority of them are more influenced by selfishness than George's. Not that seeing the world is exactly altruistic, but it's a heck of a lot less greedy than some people's dreams.

Most of the people George impacts seem to be genuinely well-meaning as well, but there is something that sets George apart from them. This might just be that George's particular skills are always in demand throughout the depression, making him a little more prevalent than someone with a different occupation but equally good intentions. Of course, this is contrasted by Mr. Potter, whose actions speak louder than his mannerisms in making him a villain. Now that I think about it, I can't recall that we ever actually see him swindle anybody outside of his constant efforts to buy out Building and Loan. But somehow, these attempts at fraud are more striking than seeing him actually rip somebody off might be.

I felt like the whole sequence when George lives in the world where he doesn't exist could have been shortened a bit. It was definitely a vital part of the story as we see George fall into a state of depression that he has never experienced before, but they could have cut out a couple minutes of him seeing the alternate reality. Then again, I suppose the length is helpful in emphasizing how much difference one life can make even in a concentrated setting. I know that I would be interested to see what a world without me would look like, though I might not be quite so proud of it.

It's difficult to accurately critique the technical execution 70 years later, but it feels pretty well done. The camera-work wasn't static or boring enough that it felt "old" so that's a plus. I can't judge if the acting was realistic to the 40's, but it didn't feel unrealistic for today. We do see some '40's ideals come into play a bit with the suggestion of being an "old maid" and George's apparent disappointment at not being able to join the war effort.

I can safely call this a family film, and not just because you can show it to your kids. This is something that most, if not all, dad's should see and take to heart in some fashion. I'm sure most people have seen it before, some to the point of being sickened by even a reference to it. But if you haven't yet, please give it a try. It won't be the greatest source of entertainment and might not sound riveting, but it will likely inspire you and be more entertaining than you might expect. Overall Rating: 8.3/10.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Highly influential

10/10
Author: guillaume-miclo from France
28 February 2016

Honestly, this is definitely the movie that has affected me the most for my whole life. As a big fan of Stewart, I was really looking forward to discovering its performance in one of the most well-ranked movie on IMDb. And it was not a disappointment!

I love his performance in a difficult role. Indeed, he is playing a person who will discover what life would have been like if he never existed, the impacts he has made and find his own place. Sometimes, I could even identify myself as the main character, looking for my own pathway. I am 22 years old, and it makes me feel good to be alive and opens my mind about our environment and the actions everyone may take. This movie is appropriate for young viewers as well as older ones.

It's a wonderful life 10/10.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life!!

8/10
Author: sugiartobenny from United States
16 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Juggling with your emotions union first viewing, you really do not know what kind of film you are in for her. "It's a Wonderful Life" follows George Bailey as he starts up a banking company, get's married, and becomes one of the wealthiest men in town. What is hidden in the background is that his status is all about to change when the company loses all of it's money, right before Christmas. Debating suicide, George is then shown by his guardian angel, what life would have been like for the town if he hadn't been born. The payoff to this film is one of the most emotionally satisfying endings to any film I think I have ever seen. It really makes you appreciate life no matter how harsh, easy, brutal, or depressing it can be. Life can be happy as long as you make it that way. Terrific screenplay, amazing direction, great camera-work, and a cast that brought me to tears by the end, "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of the definitive Christmas movies. Halfway through this film, you may question if it seems worth watching all the way through, because it almost feels like a different film, but it is all worth it in the end. Brilliant film all around.

George Bailey is a man with many hopes and dreams. However, his sacrifices, economic woes, and the achievements of his brother, Harrry, get in the way. On Christmas Eve, a frustrated Geroge Bailey is visited by a guardian angel named Clarence who gives him a new, and not so pleasant, look on his life.

It's A Wonderful Life is a film that should not be missed. I found it to be a perfect movie with fantastic performances, an original plot, and awesome build up. If you haven't sat down to watch it this Christmas season, you're making a big mistake, my friend.

The film features an array of top notch performances. The highlight of the film is James Stewart in his Oscar nominated role as George Bailey. Despite his behavior in the film's third act, he is a very likable character and we learn to feel for him during his tribulations. His performance is excellent. He will have you at the edge of your seat in some moments. That is a sign of a great actor. Donna Reed, who plays George's gorgeous wife, Mary, is great as well. My favorite of the entertaining supporting cast was Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter. One of the greatest jerks to ever grace the silver screen. You're going to fall in love with Henry Travers by the end of the film. Believe me when I say that. The cast is marvelous.

Where do I begin with the script? It's practically flawless because the film features a simple story and the entire film builds up to the final act. Frank Capra's script features classic dialogue that is both heartfelt and funny. One of ym favorite dialogue sequences involves George telling Mary that he'll lasso the moon for her. How romantic. I'm probably gonna use that line when I hit on girls. Frank Capra's direction is perfect as well. I want to explore this guy's filmography.

When I finished watching this, I came to realize why this has becomes a staple of Christmas. The film shows how wonderful your life can be and I think Christmas is probably the most perfect time of year to reflect on it. We learn from George Bailey and how he values his life. When the powerful moral hits us, we learn how we can imporve upon our lives. I like to reflect on what I did over the year around Chrsitmas time and this is the movie that accommodates that. Plus, it's at the very end of the year so it works perfectly. It's A Wonderful Life is a perfect movie with fantastic performacnes, build up, a nice score, and an amazing moral. Inspirational and enjoyable. Watching this movie is something I plan to make a Christmas tradition. A truly wonderful and beautiful movie. Go watch it now! And have a box of Kleenex in hand when you do.

Merry Christmas, RT Community!

"That's why all children should be girls."

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It's a Wonderfully Boring Life

8/10
Author: PartialMovieViewer from United States
15 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I know this is an old movie and one cannot expect much from these things. I get that, and I did not expect much. Well what I got was an emotional and touching tale of good prevailing over bad. The adage that, 'they just don't make movies like they used' applies to this flick. Granted there were moments that seemed exhausting, but they were skillfully written into a script and plot that were easy to follow and intended to make you feel good at the end. I like that. Now today's Christmas Movies are so disrespectful. They either have drunk Santa's or peddling sex by notable Hollyweirdo Perves. Why even waste your money on a movie now-a-days? The production costs go towards one or two way-overpaid stars, and nothing is left for quality scripts; decent directors or is an understatement for this clap-trap. The only thing memorable about 'Life' is the stupid tinkling bell on top of the Christmas Tree. An angel gets his (or her) wings...and we will here a slight tinkle? Really? That's all. No freaking gong or a company of trumpets...just a measly little tiny bell...sheesh. What an indication of mediocrity. Ha! Donna Reed was such a beautiful woman, and she did a marvelous job along with the stellar performance of her co-star - Jimmy Stewart. Lionel Barrymore did a fantastic job and so did the rest of the crew. This is probably one of Frank Capra's greatest works. What a lifetime this fellow had. His life ushered years before the Wright Brothers' first flight; he was on the sidelines witnessing the ends of two World Wars, Korean and Vietnam Conflicts; old enough to remember the Titanic, Britannic and their sister, and yet lived into the 1990's Spectacular life. This movie is not for everyone. If you do not have a young family or if you are overly sensitive about Christmas...don't bother...you were insulted before you sat to watch. If, on the other hand, you happen to be normal, you will enjoy this movie.

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Triumph to the kindness we all posses

9/10
Author: JimTruman from Sweden
14 February 2016

It's a wonderful life is a ride of pure joy from the starting seconds to the last scene of the movie. I had been aught to watch the movie for years, but every single Christmas something had to come between "us". It's a huge pity now given a thought to it. Now I feel that this is something I would enjoy watching every Christmas with my dearest and loved ones.

Sure it has it's flaws and at times the movie feels trifling at large, but in the end movie comes through as a triumph to the kindness that lives inside each and everyone of us. An anti capitalistic movie for auld lang syne. Special recognition for this movie goes to the screenwriters - the screenplay is just marvelous and well paced.

See it, enjoy it, wipe out your tears and repeat!

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Sure beats the heck out of modern movies

10/10
Author: Andrei Cosma from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
23 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As I said before, this great title sure beats the heck out of modern movies. Why? Just because it was produced.

I never smiled from ear to ear at another movie like I smiled at this one. For those who are not yet decided whether to see this picture or not, I recommend it.

But first things first. The movie in question, It's a Wonderful Life, is an exceptional piece of 1940's way of thinking on a person who, mainly in this picture, saves his hometown from complete ruin. I guess that is the wish, the hidden wish, of the main character, George Bailey, who, at first doesn't want to be a part of this community after his college graduation.

After all the trouble of Mr. Bailey, the end of the movie can bring some tears to the viewer by showing how a close and united community can help each other out with troubles.

In the end, as I said at the beginning of this small review, this picture bring a lot of joy and smiles to the common viewer and is worth watching, rather than today's movies.

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Intrigued

10/10
Author: srikanthrey from United States
20 January 2016

I love to watch Frank Capra movies. Comes to It's a Wonderful Life, is best of Capra's movies. I will tell that it's a must watch for everyone. "It's a Wonderful Life" shows a very close match between story and visual world. And, it is an excellent social fantasy on high level. The main thing I understand from the movie is "A man's riches come not from the money he makes but from the friends and family he serves." I want to feel the same thing what world would be like if I had never lived. I am intrigued by the argument about the future of the Building and Loan. Movie clearly expressed the power of the individual by showing what a town, and a nation, would be like if one man had never lived. Kudos to Frank and James......

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One of the most beautiful films Struggle

10/10
Author: Ahmad-Mohammad from Jordan
19 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the most beautiful films that I saw the heroic role defined by the creator and the James Stewart .

such movies that leave a fingerprint in psychological heats which could not be totally forgotten movie in the splendid from the beginning to the end.

The method of events very great obstacles to the hero - and how it was always stand with the people of the region to serve and protect them from the greed of Mr. Potter .

end that characterized the this creativity my eyes became teary-eyed end of this film .

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An all time masterpiece!

10/10
Author: promitheas 2003 from Greece
4 January 2016

I have watched the movie twice. The first time i was not prepared for anything. I realized that it was not just a Christmas movie, but also a study on human relationships. It describes how the choices we make in life have an impact to ourselves and to other people, regardless if the choice is what we really want. The true value in life is having people that you love. All the other things, simply do not count, and that's why the choices we make in life, forced or not, false or not, are not so important, given that they do not concern the people we love. Only the choices regarding the people we love must be right and not forced. The second time i watched the movie i cried not only because of it's quality, but also because i had forgotten the above message, and the movie reminded it to me for second time. I decided to write this review in order to never forget it again and say to everyone "do yourself a favor and watch this movie".

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The ultimate Christmas movie

9/10
Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
29 December 2015

George Bailey lives in a small town, Bedford Falls, with his wife and children. He has spent most of his life preserving Bedford Falls' almost idyllic existence and preventing it from effectively being taken over by Mr Potter, the local bigshot. Then one Christmas Eve, George makes a massive blunder, one that has dire financial consequences. He contemplates killing himself, thinking the town and his family would be better off without him...

The Christmas classic. Yes, it's overtly and unashamedly idealistic, sentimental, schmaltzy, emotionally manipulative and a bit cheesy, but it's impossible to dislike. The movie's sheer sweetness, innocence and joyful purpose ensure it hits the spot. Very emotional.

Jimmy Stewart's signature role and the role he was born to perform. I couldn't think of anyone else who could have played George Bailey.

Good supporting cast, especially Donna Reed.

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"It's a Wonderful Life" – A Wonderful Timeless Film

10/10
Author: natalierosen from United States
26 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Turning the channels on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas day can be an unrewarding endeavor. The channels are dedicated to a great deal of silliness, infomercials and repeats of news stories seen over and over again.

As luck would have it, though, I tuned onto a film that, yes, I have seen many times before but this time I looked upon it with different, perhaps, more mature eyes. To be honest, there are times when I have not been happy with my life, not happy with the difficulties of aging, losing so many I love and surely not happy I contracted a malady at 5 years of age which no one in this nation, thankfully, need suffer from again. I am glad for them, of course, but honesty must be spoken as I admit I wish I were born a mere six months after a vaccine for my malady was produced. When I kvetch (Yiddish for complain) about it I was told by one wise person in my life that I really should view James Stewart over again as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" and that it might teach me the essence of what is so valuable about my own life. On Christmas Eve "It's a Wonderful Life" was shown again.

The film speaks to people – really most people – whether one is a believer in a supreme being or not. George Bailey, ready for suicide as his life's events spin out of his control and is ready to jump off a bridge into icy waters below. Ultimately, he is shown by Clarence, his guardian angel, why he should not cease to exist and what life would have been like had he never existed at all; had he not even been born.

George Bailey's life, despite its overwhelmingly disastrous turn of events, counts. Yes, disbelief must be suspended but if one does suspend it the film teaches us that lesson. Most all lives count because in each life a person touches others in good ways one might never have imagined. The metaphor of a pebble thrown into a lake creating ripples far off from its point of origin is apropos. It says you mean something and you change lives – hopefully for the better – simply by your existence.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a wonderful timeless film that has a message, I think, for many of us whether we get the things in life we wanted, and most especially, if we do not.

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Classic

10/10
Author: NateWatchesCoolMovies from Canada
25 December 2015

Nothing brings a hazy tear to the eye like the dulcet black and white tones of Its A Wonderful Life, starring endearing adult cherub Jimmy Stewart as the ultimate Everyman, a guy so personally beaten down that he sees no way out of the snowdrift of holiday blues that he's left stranded in. I haven't seen the film since I was a wee youngin', but here's what I remember, in images and impressions: Stewart plays George Bailey, a kindly man who's spent his life looking out for others and putting his livelihood on the line to,help those who are less fortunate. The man is a walking ode to the meaning of Christmas, but when a financial disaster ruins his outlook on life, he contemplates suicide. A compassionate angel named Clarence won't have any of it though, coming to his rescue in a sequence that's now immortalized in cinematic Valhalla. This is one I need to rematch to give you all a more comprehensive, 'Nate-ified' review, but I've been busier than Mr. C the past few days, so that'll have to wait.

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Good guy, George Bailey, explores what the world would be like if he never existed.

8/10
Author: M Kennedy from United States
22 December 2015

Revisit the classic Christmas tale: It's a Wonderful Life. This film earns a rating by offering all the traits and qualities of a great movie: humor is scattered throughout, love and affection are central to the theme of service and generosity, and the fulfillment of adventure is pleasantly summarized in the clever ending.

George Bailey, from the beginning, is one of the unsung heroes that makes America great. His life seems to be solely dedicated to the service of others. George has a passion for travel and has big plans for the future. Early on, Mary Hatch develops an infatuation for George, and they soon fall in love and get married. George assumes control of the family business, Bailey Building and Loan. The business brings financial turmoil that puts George in a very tricky situation.

It's a Wonderful Life incorporates clever humor at even intervals to keep the audience engaged throughout the film. George's honeymoon demonstrates wit interwoven into the story line. Slapstick comedy fits only a select group of films, but Director Frank Capra manages to seamlessly utilize this humor strategy along with several others. Scattered throughout the movie are iconic scenes. Perhaps the most popular, George offers to lasso the moon as a romantic gesture. The Prom Pool Party also builds catches our attention by showing George's spontaneous and contagious personality. After the gym floor divides and reveals a pool, George and Mary fall in and continue dancing. James Stewart's performance shines as he portrays local business man, George Bailey. Mr. Bailey's arguments with Mr. Potter highlight Stewart's command of the screen. Other stars, like Donna Reed, also demonstrate a mastery of acting. George's visit to Mary's home accentuates Reed's performance.

The magic of Frank Capra's film is its ability to corral the better nature of mankind and instill a desire to be a better person. James Stewart's character demonstrates selflessness and community centered focus. All audiences can draw inspiration to become a better person from watching the feel-good ending. Although the theme and acting excel in this film, the time line is a little confusing. The first half hour explains George's life from childhood to adulthood, but the last hour covers a little less than a week. Watching It's a Wonderful Life in preparation of the Christmas season is a tradition for families across the nation. Its vast popularity is largely due to its ability to inspire kindness, service, and generosity in the name of Christmas. The only Christmas story more cherished is the story of Christmas itself.

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It is a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: leosmith-11166 from Australia
17 December 2015

The title sums it all up. Sums up how life can be, anyway. It's a Wonderful Life is a very powerful and moving film that will make you cry. The plot is original and shows how making money doesn't mean you've had a "successful life. The way to have a successful life is to help others, the helpless and needy.

James Stewart is perfect as George Bailey, and is one of his finest non Hitchcock Perfromances. It's a wonderful life is a great feel good film, and is very inspiring.

It's A Wonderful Life is suitable for all ages, and older kids and adults will understand and appreciate this wonderful film.

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a truly great film

10/10
Author: michaelp-994-589491 from london
17 December 2015

I love this film, it includes everything a classic should, great storyline which takes you through every emotion, a fantastic cast and and a great ending. I m biased because James Stewart is my favourite actor but I must have watched this film 10 ten times and will watch it again this Christmas. It s not an easy watch as in several parts I get very emotional and find myself crying As I get older and have experienced life I find it more and more emotional to watch. it has a great message that every life is special and we what we do affects other people around us , sometimes in special ways and as a Catholic I find this a very powerful message. Enjoy the wonderful journey .

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What more can be said...

10/10
Author: willcundallreview from United Kingdom
14 December 2015

There is a certain way in which some movies can have a very good but not perfect first half but then they are brought up a level by its masterful ending, It's a Wonderful Life is for me exactly that. This film of course that now is a staple of some peoples Christmas viewing is a favourite for some and it is not hard to see why, a sweet story but with an emotional and pretty thought provoking in hindsight back-story. The movie is legend in senses and to be fair probably doesn't need another review praising it but I will give it a go anyway, although as I said before the start for me is not flawless. I did feel the first maybe full half of it was although great, not at a level I expect from masterpieces but this movie showed me oh it did. The film suddenly jumps up in the second half and becomes a classic through that it's hard to find anything wrong with the finish to this film, high class stuff.

The man behind this all is of course Frank Capra who directs but also co-writes this and I feel because he got to the writing of this too he creates a world that then fly's to life in his direction. Of course it's not hard to see the Judeo-Christian influences from Capra, after all he had a Roman Catholic upbringing and all the story people are praying to god and asking for help, there's even going's on that have the evident hand of god in the story but it is not a movie I would say is not for atheists. I actually think that this movie is fairly humanistic in its elements of just living on, don't think about death until it greets you, it also promotes ideas of bettering one's self and helping others in your community, not just asking god constantly, but in any case film should be able to be enjoyed by anyone of any belief.

I'll try to move away now from that religious background of the movie because to say this is only for believers or even those who only celebrate Christmas is not right; this is just an excellent story all round. Its fantasy element is what truly makes this a classic and Capra and his co-writers get a story that is as sweet as it can even be dark too. James Stewart is one of the best in classic Hollywood and here he is no different, in fact I even think his performance is much like the film as it gets better as it goes on. Donna Reed as Mary is also good like Stewart and does do a fine job of not letting Stewart steal the scenes he is in, then cast like Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers are finely cast and really the movie creates beautiful characters.

I nearly didn't label this a masterpiece, oh so close I was to saying this was although fantastic, not quite as astounding as many claim, but the more I thought back on this the better it became. Its enduring popularity I feel comes mostly from the fact that the story is simple, its very end is extremely simple and yet the movie is easily re-watchable, the kind I think you can find more things with every watch. Capra knew exactly how to get us the audience to feel for those involved and from the moment George Bailey (Stewart) gets home from a certain little chat with his Uncle Billy to his home, the whole emotional drag of the film starts to kick in and come into full throttle all the way until the final scenes.

Overall It's a Wonderful Life is one of the finest Christmas movies and is not just a top top Christmas movie, but is a top top movie period. The way in which Capra, the cast, the sets and even just the music is so well done, well it makes this movie special among many out there and it is incredibly easy to see why so many revisit this every Christmas to curse the name of Uncle Billy (or just to feel some joy)

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simple charming

Author: Kirpianuscus from Romania
2 December 2015

one of memorable movies for profound humanistic message. one of films with the gift to be experience more than memory. charming for its simplicity and for the comfortable , protective status. a Frank Capra who could be easy his the best. because entire soft atmosphere, the joy, the crisis, the values, the humor are exposed at the right moment, in the right place and measure. a film about a man and his family. his dreams, projects. and his future. nothing original. but new each occasion to view the movie. because it is a classic in a special sense. not for the taste of old moments but as a moral lesson, very useful, for the present. a film who seems be perfect for the Christmas. in fact, it remains the perfect choice for every day.

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When You Wish Upon A Star

9/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
20 December 2014

Why should any open-minded open-hearted person want to dis this particular film? The same as with millions of other people it's my favourite Christmas film, and a classic I've always enjoyed for all kinds of wholesome reasons, with a heartwarming moral I know I am and which everyone should be the richer for the experience.

James Stewart has plans to do what he wants to and travel the world but is constantly thwarted with those plans and ends up not going and staying all his life in his crummy little town as a bank manager. His is a long story of self-sacrifice until a crisis is reached and the film veers into a charming and cathartic fantasy. Everyone played their parts perfectly, but Stewart was the essential part: it wouldn't have worked as well without his usual affecting intensity, the gulping emotion he displayed was knockout. The story was an excellent All-American updated retread of Christmas Carol with the moral surely just as decent and incontrovertible. It's worn very well, and I've never needed to watch it with rose-tinted spectacles or an excess of seasonal slush – the first time I saw it UK Channel 4 showed it one July presumably after the copyright had been allowed to lapse in the 80's. On the other hand as the decades have gone by the hype has been ratcheted up to hopefully sell Christmas DVD's, streams etc; there were only about twenty people in the local cinema to see it last night – a ten-day run is probably too much.

I like slushy sentimentality with a strong and timeless moral – that is if it's handled well, as was this lovely little film. Frank Capra, I preferred your It Happened One Night, but thank you for making It's A Wonderful Life and I hope you've got your wings. Money can't buy you love but love sure can buy you money!

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Holiday Classic

7/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
7 December 2014

An angel (Henry Travers) helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman (Jimmy Stewart) by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

After almost seventy years, and getting played over and over on television, you might think people have grown tired of this film. And yet, as of 2014, it seems to be appreciated more than ever. Not that it is a flawless film. The editing, for example, is pretty rotten. And critical, it is probably not a great film, especially alongside "The Best Years of Our Lives", which came out around the same time. But this film really hits the heart.

There are some parallels here with "A Christmas Carol", only now it is Bob Cratchitt who is the one in a need of a visit from a supernatural friend. The message is different, but also very much the same.

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Inspiration

8/10
Author: Becktoria from United States
12 February 2014

I usually do not enjoy old movies but my acting coach had recommended me to watch this film as I was going to produce, write and act in my own film. This film was not only inspirational but beautifully written. It was heartfelt and was very touching. I especially loved the scenes containing conversations between the stars in the universe. That really added the comedy aspect of the film.

The message of the film was moving and relatable to life in general. Furthermore, the music composed really added a great touch to the underlying emotion and setting of the film. This was one of my favorite black and white films of all time, mainly due to the moral of the story which inspired me.

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It's a Wonderful Life

Author: childs07 from United States
22 September 2013

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) was produced and directed by Frank Apra. The film is about George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who dreams of leaving Bedford Falls, his home town, to travel around world. Unfortunately, a chain of events prevent him from realizing his dream. His father, who owned the family savings and loan, had a stroke. After the death of his father, George agrees to manage the savings and loan until his brother graduates from college. However, his brother gets married and accepts a job working with his father in law. George continues to run the family business. He eventually marries Mary, (Donna Reed) his childhood sweetheart, and they settle down to raise their four children.

On Christmas Eve, Uncle Billy, played by Thomas Mitchell, loses the $8,000 bank deposit. He absent mindedly placed the money in a newspaper, and gave the paper to Henry Potter, (Lionel Barrymore). Henry Potter was the major shareholder in the Bedford Falls Building and Loan. Potter keeps the money because he wants the bank to fail, and George to go to jail. George and Uncle Billy are unable to find the money. George asks Potter for a loan. Potter turns him down, and reports him to the authorities. George gets drunk and tries to commit suicide by crashing his car into a tree. After realizing that his plan did not work, he staggers to the town bridge. Before he can jump, Clarence, (Henry Tavers) his guardian angel, jumps in and pretends to be drowning. George rescues him and he discovers that Clarence is his guardian angel. Clarence convinces George that he has a wonderful life, by showing him what life in Bedford Falls would be like without him.

The theme of the film is that every life is important. Everyone is important, and everyone contributes to the greater good. George based his worth on the things that he did not accomplish. Therefore, he believed that Bedford Falls would be a better place without him. George was so focused on the negative that he forgot about the good things that he had accomplished; and all the people that he had helped. Through a series of flashbacks, Clarence convinces George that his life was important. Sound was used throughout the movie to provide transitions between two sequences. The actors projected naturalness, sincerity and truthfulness. Henry Potter and Clarence Odbody provided the theme of good and evil throughout the movie. The movie reminded me of Ebenezer Scrooge, by Charles Dickens. The movie shows us the importance of recognizing the good that we do in life.

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It's A Wonderful Film

Author: CinemaClown
9 September 2013

One of those rare films people like visiting on an annual basis, It's A Wonderful Life is a heartwarming look at how every person affects everyone else around him/her without even knowing it.

A look at each person's importance in this society and how everything would've been different in the lives of their dearest ones in their absence, It's A Wonderful Life works not solely because of an honest heart at its core but also because of its brilliant direction, nicely crafted script, & well, James Stewart.

With nothing to complain and every ingredient of filmmaking blending pretty well to provide a brilliant finish, I've no doubt in saying that It's A Wonderful Life is, indeed, a wonderful film.

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A really wonderful heartwarming movie...

8/10
Author: Thanos Alfie from Greece
22 August 2013

"It's a Wonderful Life" is the title of this movie and it really could not have been other because this movie show us the good and bad things in life and it also show us that life is wonderful.

This movie is not a simple old fashioned movie which is overrated, it's a movie that can learn you many things for life and not only for that, it can make you understand which are the true and more important things in life and which not. With this movie you can learn and earn very much.

James Stewart as George Bailey is really great and makes one of my favorite interpretations as well as Donna Reed as Mary Hatch.

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Wonderful Stuff, eventually

9/10
Author: Richard Alex Jenkins from Brazil
21 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After the first hour and several yawns, a toilet break and a fresh cup of coffee I forced myself to go on with the rest of the film in the knowledge that it's supposed to be one of the best films of the 1940's. I couldn't quite see how though, with only 30 or so minutes left.

It was only during the final section of the film that I finally understood that everything we've ever held dear would mean nothing if we ourselves had never existed, followed by the sudden realisation that I was witnessing something extraordinary; a ground-breaking film that's undoubtedly the cornerstone for many obscure films about the true meaning of life such as 'Groundhog Day' and 'The Trueman Show', for example.

I've also came to understand what a fantastic actor James Stewart really is, even after watching Rear Window and the magnificent Vertigo, I hadn't really appreciated this before. Stewart masterfully goes from being a believably destitute man to a euphoric lover of all things life within the swish of a lamb's tail.

I'm thankful that I didn't let my negative preconceptions get the better of me. Never have I been so initially unimpressed with a film, only to find myself spontaneously crying and laughing by the end credits.

With the exception of 'Casablanca', possibly the best film of the 1940's.

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Its Really Is,

9/10
Author: Dillon Harris from Ireland
3 January 2013

Its A Wonderful Life is a brilliant movie with a terrific,heartwarming and emotional story line and a great cast that will keep you watching all the way through,with the best performance of course being from legendary actor James Stewart.It is largely considered one of the greatest Christmas movies ever,although for the first half of the movie it isn't even Christmas,but its still great,its not a Christmas movie thats filled with love all the way through,the story is kind of dark with a very serious topic involved.

George Bailey (James Stewart) is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve,so an angel comes and shows George what the world would be like if he was never born.

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A Christmas Carol in Reverse

9/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
3 January 2013

Supernatural fantasies were popular on both sides of the Atlantic during the late forties and early fifties, possibly because the heavy death toll during World War II had made people think about the possibility of an afterlife. "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of a number of such films from this period; others include "Portrait of Jennie", "The Ghost and Mrs Muir", "One Touch of Venus" and, from Britain, "A Matter of Life and Death" and "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman".

This is also an early example of the Christmas film, a genre which has today become ten-a-penny. The main action takes place on Christmas Eve and it was first released on December 20th 1946. The film was originally a disappointment at the box-office, but quickly became one of the most loved films in American cinema, and the tradition has grown up of showing it on television during the Christmas season. The plot has something in common with that other Christmas classic, "A Christmas Carol", although it might be truer to say that "It's a Wonderful Life" is "A Christmas Carol" in reverse. Dickens' story tells the story of a selfish, greedy man who is saved from greed and selfishness by supernatural intervention. Frank Capra's film rather tells the story of a man who has tried to live a selfless life but who needs to be saved from despair when he comes to believe himself a failure. The film also figures, in Henry Potter, an antagonist who has similarities with the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge.

George Bailey is the manager of a small Building and Loan Association in the small New England town of Bedford Falls. We see his life told in a series of flashbacks. George was originally a man of lofty ambitions who, as a boy, dreamed of becoming a famous explorer and later wanted to be a great architect or engineer. The early death of his father, however, led to him taking over management of the Building and Loan, a business which his idealistic father had started with the express intention of helping the ordinary people of Bedford Falls to build or buy homes at moderate rates of interest. George, however, faces opposition from his arch-enemy Potter, a rapacious slum landlord and grasping capitalist businessman; Potter hates the Building and Loan because it can undercut the extortionate rates charged by his own bank. Potter's dishonest machinations lead to the Building and Loan facing insolvency and George himself facing criminal charges of embezzlement. In despair, George resolves to commit suicide. What saves him is the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody who, by showing George how different life in his community would be had he never been born, persuades him that he has done an immense amount of good in his life and that life is worth living.

The above synopsis could have formed the basis of a horribly sentimental story, and the film is not entirely free of sentimentality, particularly in its idealised view of small-town life and its treatment of the courtship of George and his wife Mary. The picture drawn by Clarence of what Bedford Falls would be like had George never lived also seems exaggerated; the town, renamed Pottersville, is dominated by Potter, who has filled it with sleazy nightclubs, gambling joints, pawn shops and bars. Its people are cynical, selfish and immoral. It struck me as rather extreme to suggest that the life of one good man was all that stood between Potter and his ambition of turning Bedford Falls into the Las Vegas of the North-East. (For one thing, small-town businessmen, however corrupt and unscrupulous, do not generally possess the political muscle to overturn State anti-gambling laws).

What saves the film from turning into pure treacle is the characterisation of the two main roles. Angels have traditionally been portrayed as young, beautiful, all-wise and androgynous, but Clarence is an elderly man who is not even very good at his job. He has been in Heaven for two hundred years, but has not yet earned his wings- according to the film angels are only given their wings after performing some meritorious deed- and his mission to save George is his chance to redeem himself. Although George may be an idealist, he is not idealised, and is far from flawless; he can, for example, be bad-tempered. It is the interaction between these two characters, Henry Travers' shambling, kindly, eccentric angel and James Stewart's flawed, frustrated idealist which lies at the heart of the film. Both actors are excellent, and Stewart earned a "Best Actor" nomination. Donna Reed is rather bland as the impossibly perfect Mary, but there is another memorable contribution from Lionel Barrymore as Potter. Stewart and Barrymore had earlier worked together with Capra in his "You Can't Take It with You", and Stewart had appeared in his "Mr Smith Goes to Washington".

Capra was born in Italy, but became an ardent patriot for his adopted country, and many of his films celebrate what he considered to be American values. ("Mr Smith Goes to Washington" is another example).The lasting popularity of "It's a Wonderful Life" can perhaps be attributed to its quiet celebration of small-town values, of basic decency, of friendship, of generosity, of idealism, of community spirit and of faith in a benevolent providence. Yet Capra is not afraid to criticise other cherished American values- the figure of Potter can be taken as a critique of untrammeled free-market capitalism- nor to face up to the darker side of life, to despair, to selfishness and to villainy. The false values of Pottersville may have been vanquished in Bedford Falls, but as audiences in 1946 would have been aware, those values still prevailed in many real-life communities. In the contest between good and evil, victory can never be taken for granted. 9/10

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It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful film!

8/10
Author: colm-hearne365 from Ireland
30 December 2012

I know I should probably give this movie 10/10 but the only things that I don't like about it is that it's not as Christmasy as I thought it would be and it takes a long time to get to the punch line of the film about what a miserable place Bedford Falls would be like if George Bailey was never born.But it's still a classic and it's a real heart- felt movie! And what makes it a Christmas classic is that it's all about caring for others and how important family and friends are.

James Stewart (one of the greatest actors of all time), gave a lot of classics and memorable performances in his time, and George Bailey is truly one of his best. It's a crime that he never got an Oscar for it. George Bailey, ever since he was a kid, wants to go traveling and build bridges and buildings and make something of himself. But something that had to do with either his friends or family got in the way of living his dreams. But what makes George so memorable is that he always puts others before himself.

The supporting cast like Donna Reed (Mary Hatch), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy) and Henry Travers (Clarence) all do wonderfully in their roles as well. But Lionel Barrymore as the mean and greedy Mr. Potter (who reminds me of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons) shows how despicable a person can be. And Frank Capra's directing is masterful. And the ending is what always makes me smile and feel good because George realizes it's a wonderful life after all.

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A very good family film

8/10
Author: Jose Cruz
4 November 2012

Okay, I had never seem this film until now. Well, how good is it? It is a very simple film that has a very emotionally powerful story. However, I cannot give this film a perfect 10/10 simply because of its numerous technical flaws and its simplicity means that it doesn't hold up to numerous viewings. Also, there is the fact that I had seem this story told a multiple times before in a myriad of other films and TV programs made the experience of seeing for the first time what I had already seem a million times a quite boring experience.

So, given all these facts, I would say that this well constructed and acted drama film deserves a high score, thanks to its cultural influence and its high quality. But it did not impress me, due to its already iconic status.

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Wonderful, but not perfect

8/10
Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
7 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rather late in the day - I'm 60 - I finally caught up with Frank Capra's 1946 feelgood morality tale.

George Bailey (James Stewart), after a lifetime of putting his own wishes on hold in order to do the best thing for everyone else, finally cracks one Christmas Eve when his uncle carelessly misplaces $8,000, leaving the family business facing ruin. Seeing suicide as the only way out, it is up to probationary angel Clarence to pull him round by showing him the difference he has made to the rest of the world.

Reading rather like an updated version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the first three quarters of this movie leads us in detail through George's life as set-up for the eventual climax. And the story works well, with Stewart, in one of his keynote performances, oozing decency and good humour throughout (except for the high contrast moments when he snaps).

Yet there are weaknesses. The 90 minutes spent on George's life story is, perhaps, a little too long, given that its dramatic purpose is mainly to set up the differences in a world without George - it rambles. Lionel Barrymore's Machiavellian Potter is a little bit one-note in his pantomime villainy - you get the feeling that he wishes he had moustachios to twirl villainously while tieing damsels to the railway line. And, worst of all, for me at least, the film ends without the issue of Potter's malicious retention of the missing $8,000 being resolved.

But these are minor quibbles with a film which deserves its happy reputation.

The DVD transfer I watched was beautifully crisp and sharp, with sensitive colorization (being British, I would prefer to spell that "colourisation", but I sacrifice technical correctness in favour of accuracy).

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Depressed about how your life turned out? Watch this film

7/10
Author: msaz12
1 July 2012

Reminiscent of the story of Scrooge of A Christmas Carol, the movie in itself is predictable and slightly less haunting. Similarly, the center of the film is also focused on the Christmas holiday, making it much more dramatic because contemplating suicide on a night where everyone is celebrating is such an irony. Throughout the film, you feel powerless for George, as if all the world's problems continue to fall unto him, a character that most people can relate to regardless of age or generation. Dreams come with sacrifices.

Supposedly a feel-good movie, its one of those where you are made to feel bad so you can feel better after. It has you cringing and falling flat on your face before you get picked up. Though the ending may be touching, it does not do much in terms of solving the main character's personal issues and is unconvincing in a real-world setting. Perhaps in an ideal world, that is all it takes to be happy.

A movie with a big case of 'you don't know what you have til its gone'. All it takes is an imaginary slap and you're back to accepting the life you have been dealt, only this time, you're happier about it.

From an optimistic point of view, the movie is a good reminder to everyone that happiness isn't a checklist you have to accomplish, but a state of mind you attain when you feel content.

7 out of 10 stars, because it's a classic and has a better storyline and script than most movies these days.

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Not what I expected

7/10
Author: Atreyu_II from The world of artists
8 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are movies that I like so much I never get tired of. I like old films (even very old ones from the 40's, no matter if they're colored or in black and white). This one? Not really.

After reading so much about its fame and veneered classic status, as well as seeing it so much in the lists of the best films ever and even IMDb's Top 250, I decided to give it a shot. I was lucky to find this on YouTube. Besides, its whole presentation on YouTube is terrific, with crisp image quality instead of blurry as "per common" in so many films on YouTube.

I'm not surprised why it got off to a bad start. I think that even in 1946 people already had the perception that this wasn't such a great film. Even in those days they already had much better. This one didn't age well and doesn't stand the test of time.

It was only some 30 years later that this film became the beloved classic it is today, all because it became a TV staple in the 70's and 80's Christmas seasons. It's almost as if it didn't exist before the 70's. Also, this is the film watched by the McCallisters in the first two 'Home Alone' movies, only dubbed in different languages (French and Spanish).

This is considered a Christmas film. I don't totally agree. Yes, it takes place on Christmas and you see a lot of Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, snow and such, but it doesn't feel that Christmassy. In my opinion a Christmas tale is supposed to bring joy and a "feel good" feeling. Instead, this is a bitter film with a lot of unpleasant scenes. Besides, with a title like that, I'd expect a light-hearted, "feel-good" movie in the line of 'Mary Poppins', for example.

The beginning is excellent and frankly couldn't have been better: with visually delicious details such as the opening credits resembling Christmas postcards, the town with its Christmas decorations and lights and snow, the stars's speech, a group of kids sliding on the ice of a frozen pond where little George Bailey saves his brother's life and the pharmacy sequence except for the disturbing part when Mr. Gower beats up George causing his ear to bleed after George's heroic act. Bobby Anderson does a fine portrayal of little George Bailey.

From the moment George Bailey grows up, the film slowly loses its initial greatness and excellency. James Stewart's acting is great but I think he overacts in this role. Adult George Bailey lacks the charm and sympathy of little George Bailey.

Mr. Potter, while well portrayed by the actor, is not a likable character, being a corrupt, despicable and malicious man.

To a point, George is so frustrated and desperate that he takes it all out on his family and on a teacher by insulting her at the phone and wants to kill himself, feeling he's more worth dead than alive and wishing he was never born at all. His savior, an angel named Clarence, makes his wish come true so that he sees and experiences what would the world be like without him. And that alternative reality is creepy in many ways.

To finish my long review, it's truly a pity that the rest of the film doesn't match the brilliant beginning, otherwise it could have been one of the all time greats. It had potential for that. It cost a lot to be made and it looks expensive.

After filming was finished, the director considered it the best film he ever directed and even the finest film anyone ever directed. With all due respect to Mr. Frank Capra, but I have to disagree.

Some things also don't make sense. For example, adult George Bailey is supposed to be around 18 or 19 years old but James Stewart was nearly 40 years old when he played the role. Also, when his wife announces she's pregnant, there isn't a single scene with their kids as babies or during their first years of life and all of a sudden they're already "big". Well, not "big" literally, but already quite some years older. And, after George wishes to "live" again, he wishes a merry Christmas to everyone (including Mr. Potter) like a mad man and yells «I'm going to jail! Isn't that great?» I can't see how going to jail is great, but to each their own, right?

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It's a Wonderful Life

9/10
Author: samlane86 from United States
5 January 2011

I don't know how many times I've see It's a Wonderful Life over the years. But after seeing a clip from it in The Ref a couple weeks ago and after hearing references to it in various findings on the internet, I got a hankering to watch it again over the holiday season (I was a day late for Christmas, but close enough). This was the first time I'd watched it in years, and I was amazed how much more you pick up in such a familiar film when you're older.

I was surprised by the overt sexual overtones in at least two scenes between George and Mary that I was to young to recognize in years past. And, while this was more of a reminder than a realization, the depth of darkness this film reaches is quite shocking, especially for its time. And yet there was always a shimmer of light in that darkness. I was struck by the scene (major spoilers if any of you haven't seen this classic film) when George is contemplating suicide. Even at his darkest hour, at the lowest point in his life, when he sees Clarence jump in, he doesn't give a second thought to go in after him and save him. What a testament to the ultimate goodness of man.

Not only is It's a Wonderful Life a classic holiday film, but it's also an all around great movie for anytime. It is a wonderful story filled with many great characters. It contains many thought-provoking themes on how we effect the lives of others, even if we don't realize it, and what would happen if these effects were taken away or changed.

On a side note, I was extremely disappointed to see that the DVD release of this film includes a colorized edition. It's sad that in this day and age we feel like we have to change things to make them more appealing rather than appreciating it the way it was intended, for it's original artistry.

Check out my other reviews at whatnot at: notexactlyaquote.tumblr.com

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Classic Capra-Corn

8/10
Author: sme_no_densetsu from Canada
4 January 2011

"It's a Wonderful Life" is probably the most cherished of Frank Capra's trademark feel-good movies of the 30's & 40's. James Stewart plays George Bailey, a compassionate small-town businessman who becomes despondent when faced with a financial crisis. When he decides to do away with himself for the insurance money an angel arrives to convince him to reconsider.

James Stewart, in the lead role, gives a legendary performance, one which was recognized with an Oscar nomination. That being said, the supporting cast is also well-stocked, including such notables as Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell & Henry Travers. That's not to mention some others in smaller roles like Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond & H.B. Warner.

Capra's direction is as good as always and resulted in an Oscar nomination. The editing & sound were also recognized with Oscar nominations but Dimitri Tiomkin's stirring score was not. The screenplay, based on a story by Philip Van Doren Stern, contains some quality material but the fantasy elements could be considered a bit corny by some.

Overall, "It's a Wonderful Life" still delivers the goods as a feel-good holiday classic more than sixty years after its release. It's not my favourite Capra film but it's definitely one of those films that everyone should see at least once.

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The Greatest Christmas film of all time

9/10
Author: cosmorados from United Kingdom
28 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first time I became aware of this film I must have been in my teens and it was referenced in the sitcom "Cheers" with the normal cast mocking the film's sentimentality at the end and then uniformly bursting into tears. I guess when you think about it, that's what this film does better than anything else. It takes our jaded world weary selves and reminds us that their are better things in life than money and success.

I know I won't be the only person to say that the casting of Jimmy Stewart as the perfect George Bailley maybe the most fortuitous part of casting ever, and they may well be right. He is perfect as both heroic boy to disillusioned man that has ever been portrayed on screen, and he plays these myriad of emotions with the same intensity and passion that he plays every scene in the film. The scene in the bar where he is praying for help is one of the most heartfelt moments I have ever seen in film. As you watch it you are drawn into his plight as you know that his life and soul are on the line.

The script is dynamite and like most of the best films has had scenes stolen and reworked and spoofed a thousand times over (Hell one of the best Simpson's episodes is the Leftorium for Chrissake and that's the Simpsons!) If you had to pick a downside it would be the stereotypical black woman who seems to have walked off the set of the Tom and Jerry cartoons and straight onto the screen here, but that aside, it doesn't stop this your enjoyment and as long as people watch movies it probably never well.

M

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it is

10/10
Author: Paul from USA
18 October 2007

No other film will make you feel more, or more deeply. No other film will leave you in this state. The immediate effect is something like that of a drug. It leaves you feeling very loving, and very loved, and very grateful. I don't think any other film captures what it is to live, as an emotional experience, so well. Capra was unsophisticated, we're told. His film is unsophisticated, we're told. But there is such a thing as emotional sophistication, and often the other kind serves only to render a man unable to articulate just what life is like, emotionally, how deep the despair and how high the exultation. This movie should be a book of the Bible.

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This film is as good as it gets

10/10
Author: cooked from Bicester, England
16 September 2007

George Bailey is you or me as we hope we are, therefore this story shows us what we can be and the wonderful impact we can have if we make the right decisions.

Whilst the original story is great, the screenplay to make it accessible is pure genius.

The players are magnificent, especially James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers & Thomas Mitchell.

The cynics today may well see this as sentimental, but personally I think they're missing the point, if life can be more like this then it would be a good think and worth aiming for. Upon release in 1946 the critics preferred 'The Best Years of Our Lives', which is also a great film, but which is better remembered & loved today!

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A must for every year!!

10/10
Author: Lee Bartholomew (sage_patrynxx@cfu.net) from Cedar Falls, IA
23 December 2000

This is the movie to watch the night before Christmas. Watch it on DVD if you must, watch it on VHS if you must, but it's just not the same on TV. It's hypocritical to use the term. W/O commercials that would be nice, but not with em in the middle.

I have watched this movie every year since I can remember. Dads got the colorized version that Stewart hated so much (I don't like it either) I found my mom a copy of the b/w version with a free christmas ball to put on the tree a few years ago. Last year I got a copy and and this year I bought the DVD version. Either way, when this movie first came out it's amazing people didn't see it for what it was. A masterpiece!!! It wouldn't be Christmas to me without having watched it the night before.

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A Movie To Love

10/10
Author: ltj36 (ltj36@hotmail.com) from Castle Rock, Maine
20 December 2000

It's impossible to hate "It's A Wonderful Life". Even if you hate all the sweet in the cartoon movies, you can't be of stone in the great end of this movie: it is one of the biggest and sincere moments of happiness in all the story of cinema. It's the zenith of the philosophy of a master of happy life, who was Frank Capra: a story of a good man, George Bailey, who decides to commit suicide, when the family's factory is going to bankrupt. An angel without wings, Clarence, will save him and he will show him the world without the presence of George Bailey, a world of corruption completely in the hands of his enemy Mr. Potter. George Bailey is interpreted by the man with the right face for this role, James Stewart and his wife by the sweet Donna Reed. Lionel Barrymore portrays Potter, a sort of Scrooge without possibility of redemption and Henry Travers is the old, sweet and naive Clarence, desperately seeking wings. Then we mustn't forget the contribute of a great task force of actors like Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Sheldon Leonard, H. B. Warner and the up-coming Gloria Grahame. Really the perfect story for Christmas, pure and sweet. Merry Christmas Frank and James wherever you are.

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My favorite!

10/10
Author: laurita_a from Jacksonville, Florida
26 October 2000

The only thing I have to say is that you need to watch it in black and white. No need for colorization. The movie provides that in and of itself. It is my all-time favorite movie. If I'm ever feeling down, no matter what time of the year, I can put this movie and feel better.

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It's A Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: cubiegirl from Springfield, IL
22 October 2000

This movie was one of my favorites when I was little and it's still great now that I am grown with children of my own. It's mind boggling that this movie is 50+ years old, but it doesn't show it's age. It's a timeless classic with important lessons on how one person can make a world of difference to the people he loves. There has been talk that this movie should be colorized, but I say no deal, it perfect in black-and-white.

I give this movie a 10!

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They don't come much better than this movie. Superb!

9/10
Author: Quietone from Ontario, Canada
4 September 2000

Excellently acted by all! Sets a mark for other movies to attain. A true classic, for which ~alas~ there will probably never be an equal. It's too bad we cannot turn back the hands of time and relive this era of excellence in movies; of which this film is a shining example.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant movie - an eternal classic - see it again and again and again

10/10
Author: S Srikant from Bangalore, India
14 January 1999

This is a perfect movie. An extraordinarily moving story of a man who rises from the depths of despair back to his wonderful life. Brilliant acting from all and superlative direction. A very profound message is delivered in an utterly endearing and light-hearted style. This movie will involve you and will remain with you forever.

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WOW!

10/10
Author: Sissel from Norway
4 January 1999

I've seen this movie 11 times and James "Jimmy" Stewart is one of my favorite actors. Wish he could be alive! This movie is excellent and one of my favorites. I cry each time I see it! It is just so fantastic made and, well.... It's so great there are no words for it!

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Just a wonderful movie

9/10
Author: Adriane Simo (adriane7@mindspring.com) from chandler, az
1 January 1999

Best of any year, this movie should be on everyone's top 20 list. It is on mine, next to "Godfather" and "Some Like it Hot", two of my all time favorites. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as George, if only we all had the opportunity to see what life would be like without each one of us. Good at any time of year, not just Christmas. Donna Reed is wonderful as his wife Mary, for putting up with him. You will laugh, cry and look at your own world. It is a wonderful life!!!

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It's a wonderful film.

10/10
Author: fanman from redwood city, calif.
27 December 1998

This film is one of the best ever made because of its values and directing. The cast was perfectly selected and made the plot very believable. It brought out the innounce of the human spirit and made us think of what might (theoritically) happen if we never existed, and how many lives we effect in our daily living. I would give it an eleven(11) if I could!

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What can I say?... a remarkable film.

10/10
Author: EzyRyder from Los Angeles
26 December 1998

What can I say that hasn't already been mentioned? It's a Wonderful Life is a true classic in every sense of the word. Frank Capra's directing hits dead on and moves you like any great film should, and he injects just the right amount of humor at the same time. Jimmy Stewart.... well, we all know how great of an actor he is, and in this film his performance is perfection. Every time I see him as he runs down the streets wishing everybody a merry Christmas, I can't help but cry, I cry at the sheer joy that I am witnessing onscreen. It's moments like that, moments that touch you, moments that you never forget that show how powerful film can be.

Although "It Happened One Night" is my favorite Capra film.. "It's a Wonderful Life" is without a doubt his greatest masterpiece.

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The movie about Christmas that fits any time of the year

10/10
Author: Mickey-2 from Front Royal, VA
24 December 1998

If one wants to find the perfect movie, this film could be the answer to that search. Featuring the story of an individual, George Bailey, who has spent his entire life in a small New England town helping others while letting his own needs go by, this film allows the character to see what would have happened had he not been there. Maybe George's life was not a financial success, but in the things that truly mattered, he was certainly blessed.

Jimmy Stewart turned in the zenith performance of his career with this 1947 film classic. Joined by the other cast members and the directorial touch of Frank Capra, a remarkable piece of film was given to the American viewers to be enjoyed time and time again.

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An american classic

Author: anonymous from America
20 December 1998

It's a Wonderful Life is truly a great, heart-warming, emotional film that always finds the power to make me bawl like a baby. Even as I got older and started noticing some of its interior corniness, this film never failed to touch me. It is truly an American classic, with superb acting, tender directing, and a sweet, close-to-home plot.

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George discovers what life would have been like without him.

10/10
Author: Parker Gillespie from California, USA
7 November 1998

I've been keeping a "top ten" list of movies which have affected my life for the last decade or so. The first entry I added to the list was "It's a Wonderful Life" and it hasn't moved from that #1 billing.

There is nothing complicated about this movie; it simply states in a very heartwarming and loving way that "you" matter. The visual image of George Bailey running down the street of Bedford Falls will always evoke a positive warm glowing feeling in me. No matter how discouraged you may be feeling it does help to stop and remember that you do have worth and can make a difference during your sojourn this life.

Perhaps "It's a Wonderful Life" doesn't have the pizazz, action and special effects of today's movies and may not be able to hold the interests of today's audiences but to that I'd like to say, "Please slow down and just let the story enfold you." Watch it with a friend. People matter and so do you.

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A good message film which I really wanted to like, but I just wish that it hadn't been so boring

4/10
Author: jimbo-53-186511 from United Kingdom
27 December 2014

It's a wonderful life chronicles the life of George Bailey (James Stewart) from his early childhood right through to his adult years when he ends up taking over his father's building & loan business after his father passes away.

This was a film that I really wanted to like since it does have a lot of heart & warmth to it, but the problem for me is that it was so dull and tedious. I understand that everything that is depicted in George's life did eventually serve a purpose in the context of the narrative, but if I'm being honest I found the journey from A to B to be rather uninteresting. The other problem is that this uninteresting aspect of George's life is dragged out for about 2/3 of the film (had the film been 90 minutes long that probably would have been just about OK, but in a film that is over 2 hours long it's just unforgivable). I just couldn't get involved in the story, I didn't care about the characters and pretty much lost interest in the film.

Focusing on the positives, I thought that Stewart was excellent and this is probably the best I've ever seen from him. Likewise, Donna Reed was also really good and I thought that they both had really good chemistry together.

Another big positive to be taken from this film is its message and the best way I can describe it without spoiling anything is 'Be Careful what you wish for'. The last 30 minutes of this film were excellent and if I was to rate the last 30 minutes alone I would give it a 9 or a 10. The ending of the film is particularly good and is actually quite moving and it's just a shame that the first 2/3 of the film was so boring.

Even though I've only rated this film a 4 out of 10, I would still recommend watching this film because as a 'message' film it's absolutely first rate. However, no matter how good the message is with this film, for me, it didn't make up for how tedious and boring the majority of the film was as a whole.

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Greatest Movie about life, not just Christmas

10/10
Author: amaskery from United States
24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is about life and all its aspects. The highs and lows, and it makes you realize how important the whole thing is. Not just your successes. As you follow George through his life you see a lot of yourself or people close to you that relate to him or the characters that surround him. The issues he goes through with his hearing, and saving his boss from poisoning someone. The pranks and stress that balance life. And the courtship, and the issues contained within, that bring them to the life the have. It shows every aspect from early childhood to late adulthood. I for one, use this movie as a mirror to my life and it helps me appreciate all that I have and will have.

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A Talk with Jimmy: Seeing a 'Wonderful Life' through His Eyes

10/10
Author: (g.njoseph@hotmail.com) from United States
2 July 2014

A VISIT WITH JIMMY STEWART: Inside 'Wonderful Life,' a Wonderful Life

"'It's a Wonderful Life' sums up my philosophy of filmmaking ... to exalt the worth of the individual, to champion man ... and to dramatize the viability of the individual." _ director Frank Capra

JAMES STEWART, whom Frank Capra lovingly described as being "unusually usual," the movies' quintessential Everyman, sat down to reminisce about "It's Wonderful Life" on Nov. 16, 1987, not quite 40 years after it had opened in theaters across the country. Then 79, Stewart, in his familiar crackling Indiana drawl, explained that the movie was never really intended as a Christmas film. RKO, the movie's distributor, originally planned to premiere it on Jan. 30, 1947. But its big color film set for the holidays, "Sinbad the Sailor," had to be put on hold when Technicolor went on strike. Enter black and white 'Life" instead on Dec. 20, 1946. "Christmas was just sort of part of it, and a wonderful way to end the movie," Stewart said. "The picture didn't do well when it opened because -- and I know Frank (Capra, the movie's director) feels the same way -- it was right after World War II, and the substance of the film wasn't what people wanted to see. They wanted something sort of relaxing, a rejuvenating film, a lot of comedy -- Red Skelton, Martin and Lewis, who were just coming into their own just then. The war was a tough thing to take for the people back home here. I think they wanted something sort of wilder than this." Another thing didn't help box office when 'Life' opened: a real white Christmas that year. Snow blasted the eastern U.S. Ironically, the film actually had been shot from May through July 1946 at RKO's Encino Ranch during 80-degree weather. Snow was simulated by use of 3,000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of plaster, 300 tons of gypsum and 6,000 gallons of chemicals. The "snowstorm" that occurs when Stewart's character, George Bailey, attempts suicide took three weeks to create and required the largest special effects crew assembled for a movie up to that time. "Frank didn't even have the story for 'It's Wonderful Life' on paper when he invited me over to his house one day. He told me, 'I have an idea for a picture,' and started taking about an angel named Clarence who hadn't won his wings, and that I'm gonna commit suicide, and he said, 'I'm not telling this very well.'' I said, 'Frank, if you want to do a picture about an angel named Clarence who hasn't won his wings, I'm your man." The movie was Stewart's favorite. "For quite a few reasons," he said. "Number one, it was the first picture I got to do after the war, and maybe for that reason, it's sort of a sentimental favorite. But beyond that, I think the picture had the main sort of things that mean so much to me ... an idea with two basic points: There's no man who is born to be a failure, and that no man is poor who has friends. Now, from the those two sentences, the secret of the movie is made." A number of things were improvised, like the recurrent bit where George keeps knocking off the knob on the Baileys' banister railing. "The first time I walked by, it was loose and it came off when I grabbed it. We just left the bit in. Frank and I never discussed it."

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Best Christmas movie ever made

10/10
Author: jgrivero from Asbury New Jersey
23 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is the inspirational story about a frustrated businessman named George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) who on Christmas eve wishes that he was dead because of a man who made him want to do that named Mr. Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore), then Bailey no longer exists and an angel (played by Henry Travers) tries to teach him what it feels like to be dead and how wonderful life can be. The American film institute had the perfect reason to rank this film as # 1 on their 100 most inspirational movies list because of how inspiring of a movie that director Frank Capra made it out to be and of which I consider to be the best movie of 1946.

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A classic film with a powerful message

10/10
Author: Damon Day
9 March 2014

I was never much of a fan of older movies, especially not movies as old as It's a Wonderful Life. Being the ignorant teenager I was, I was turned away from the black and white film. The only other film I had ever seen in black and white was 12 Angry Men, which I had to see for my American government class. Although I surprisingly really enjoyed that film, I was in no hurry to see another like it.

Years later, while going through a rough time in my life, I came across this movie on this very website. I had known the film existed for years, but upon reading the IMDb page I became curious. Maybe it was just because I was lacking direction in life needed an inspiring message, or the fact it was one of the most redone plots in cinema history. Whatever it was, I set all my ignorance aside, looked the full movie up online and gave it a watch.

The outcome was nothing short of life changing. George Bailey (James Stewart) was a very likable character, which made him easy to feel for throughout the movie. The other actors were great as well, making the film feel natural. Hailing from a small town myself, I could relate the family-like atmosphere of the townsfolk. Capra did an excellent job at capturing that quality.

But what truly made the film the greatest of greats was the fact it delivered a message we can all truly relate to and appreciate. It was a message that left me feeling that maybe my life wasn't so bad after all. It left me feeling I had purpose.

This film now holds a special place in my soul and I've grown to greatly enjoy classic films, possibly even more so than films today. If I were to recommend just one film for everyone to see before they died, without any shadow of a doubt my answer would be Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.

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Love this movie

10/10
Author: msmeow00 from United States
23 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my favorite movie of all time. I just saw a school do the play and they did just as an excellent job as the movie. My cousin does a radio show of this play also and thy do an excellent job. I like the message of the movie and how everyone came together at the end to help. It also shows how mean some people can be so they can get what they want, but it does not help them as people will turn away from you like what Potter tried to do to George with the missing money. I like how they brought Mary and George together and especially like the dance scene when they fell in the pool and then when they walked home and saw the house that they end up getting. How George stated home so that his brother could go to college, which meant George gave up his dreams for his brother. Showing what like would have been like without George was a scene as it shows that with you around life is good and if some of things did not happen then things and people could be worse off. I also like watching this in the black and white version vs watching the color. The color I think spoils it. The message comes out a lot better in Black and White.

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Wonderful indeed

10/10
Author: studioAT from United Kingdom
22 January 2014

Like many people I had heard about this film and seen the parodies or things inspired by it but had never sat down to watch the actual film.

However now I am pleased to say that I can understand why this film is so beloved by people and continues to stand the test of time. It's now not just one of my favourite Christmas films but one of my favourite films of all time.

It has everything. It has a strong story (inspired by a Christmas card no less), heart and mixes comedy and drama effortlessly. It's also a beautiful love story between Mary and George as well as showing us the importance of friendship and loyalty.

I can't fault this film - wonderful.

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The Great Inspirational Masterpiece

10/10
Author: cjkelley333 from United States
10 January 2014

There are some films that I have trouble writing a review of because of their greatness. Frank Capra's masterpiece It's A Wonderful Life is one of those beautiful masterpieces. It's difficult to make a normal review about a film such as this. It's rare that a masterpiece as great as this is shown to the world. Few characters and stories are as engaging as George Bailey (James Stewart) or his story. This movie deserves a commentary rather than an actual review. The movie gets everything right in telling this story. George Bailey gets an opportunity that would benefit every person who has ever lived- he gets to see what the world would have been like without him. George is the perfect character for this journey. He is the closest to being a real person out of every other character I've ever seen in cinema, even Rocky Balboa. George Bailey is full of love, kindness, and optimism, and he has dreams of going places and doing big things. However, he is unable to achieve these things, and gives them up to help his family and friends. We all can relate to this kind of disappointments, and they can make us all better people. And he is obviously disappointed when he makes these decisions, but he ultimately does the right thing. Then there comes a time where he is desperate. George is a good person, but he despairs when he has upset everyone he knows and is in danger of going out of business and going to jail. He is shattered, and decides to kill himself. George has been such an optimist the entire movie, that seeing him despair is truly disheartening, and yet it's believable when he falls apart because George is so human and capable of anger and sadness. But when his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) shows him what the world would have been like without him, he thinks. He realizes how many people he's affected, how many lives he's touched. Because he loves people so much, seeing his loved ones not recognize him is terrifying. After this night, he learns how wonderful his life is, and how much he alone has touched so many others. This message and journey is more inspirational than those of any other movie I've ever seen. Jimmy Stewart is George Bailey. He plays this brilliantly written character with absolute conviction and love. Few actors have felt as real as Stewart. He talked like a real person when he acted. He stuttered like a real person, and didn't always think through what he said, just like a real person. He gives a chilling performance, one of the greatest in any film. George Bailey is It's A Wonderful Life, just as Rocky Balboa is Rocky. He is part of this amazing story, backed up by an outstanding supporting cast, including Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter (one of cinema's greatest and most despicable villains), and Henry Travers as Clarence. No film could ask for more. A+

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See WONDERFUL LIFE on BluRay

10/10
Author: duraflex from Ohio
4 January 2014

If you want to really appreciate this wonderful film, be sure to see it on BluRay.

In 2009, the film was issued on BluRay in pristine form.

The picture and sound are both clean and crystal clear and what you get is a better audio-video experience than theater audiences had when this was first released.

I personally prefer the artfully colorized version and adjusted my TV with the color level up about 10% above normal. Film to video restoration/transfers do not get any better than this.

Frank Capra's masterpiece honors the ideal of a good man who lives a good life but doesn't realize how blessed he is until it's almost too late. Watching it anytime of the year - but especially at Christmas - is an inspiring experience.

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Good Timeless Movie

8/10
Author: LATAUNYA WINTERS from United States
29 December 2013

I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.

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Wholesome and eye opening

10/10
Author: exelmanagement from United States
20 December 2013

What would the world be like without you? A question many of us take for granted or even don't understand.

This movie not only touches on the fact that each one of our lives are so intertwined that when you remove a single link, the whole chain falls apart, but also it touches on the importance of family, caring for others, and the most important fact, that without God, our lives are meaningless.

Harry Bailey, Played by Jimmy Stewart, is feeling like hes more of a burden than a blessing, but through the grace of God, he is given a rare gift...a gift to see what the world would be like had he never been born.

This journey is guided by the often misguided angel, Clarence. Who, while he doesn't have his wings yet, is still the perfect one to guide Harry along the way. The fact that a sub-par angel can open the eyes of a 'sub-par' man, is a point that is often missed by viewers. It shows that no one is perfect, but everyone, no matter how imperfect, can still help others.

A must watch for everyone.

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Bailey Battles The Bully Banker

10/10
Author: Ryan Ellis from Toronto, Canada
19 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

George Bailey shouldn't complain. Yes, he desperately wants to get out of his one-horse town and see the world, but he's got a gorgeous wife, a herd of rambunctious kids, a big house, runs his own business, his brother is a war hero, and he even scrounges up enough time to build a model bridge in his living room. The life! It's wonderful!

Okay, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. George (played so memorably by Jimmy Stewart) must go head-to-head with bully banker Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) on a daily basis. Potter wants to own the town of Bedford Falls and it seems like he's one man away from achieving that goal. It's not like the family business (the Bailey Bros Building & Loan) would flourish---or even survive---without George. Absent-minded Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) would ruin the place within minutes if he was put in charge.

It's gotta wear on a guy to take on a money-grubbing banker when that banker's morals are at pre-redemption Ebezener Scrooge levels. After Uncle Billy stupidly puts a large sum of dollars into the hands of the enemy (on Christmas Eve, no less), George feels he'll be blamed and finds himself in a suicidal bout of depression. Along comes a simpleton angel (Uncle Billy's counterpart, perhaps?) to show him a glimpse of what the town would be like if George had never existed.

You know this story, obviously. Everybody does. Either you buy the cornpone or you don't. Some of director Frank Capra's projects lay it on too thick, but this movie balances quaint charm and epic darkness. The American Film Institute clearly loved it because it was in the Top 20 of both their 1998 and 2007 Top 100 lists. I say this one belongs in the Top 5. I may not believe in angels, but I do believe in a movie that can still wring tears out of my eyes after so many Christmas viewings. It's a keeper!

If this briefly wonderful review made you say "more!", check out the website I share with my wife (www.top100project.com) and go to the "Podcasts" section for our 52-minute It's A Wonderful Life 'cast...and many others. Or find us on Itunes under "The Top 100 Project".

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Still the best film ever made...

10/10
Author: fergee01 from United Kingdom
11 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In an era where CGI dominates and film budgets are ever increasing it's refreshing to watch a movie with heart that is uplifting, and is still as relevant today as it was when it was made in 1946.

I have watched this film countless times, both in the original black and white (which I prefer) and colour and I have to say it is my favourite movie of all time. I think it's because I believe in the innate goodness and kindness of all human beings, and the need for us all to appreciate what and who we have in our lives.

James Stuart is on fire in this film and the way the film builds up to the point of him being on the verge of taking his own life is superb. It sets the scene beautifully laying out all the traits of a good hard working honest man and the relationships he has with the people of his town, and the various crossroads in his life where he has to make life changing decisions.

Stuart perfectly portrays the desperation of a man who realises what joy he had in his life only to throw it away, and his need to get it back at all costs.

Lionel Barrymore plays Potter superbly, the man with only money on his mind hell bent on closing down Bailey Building and Loan and squeezing as much money from the residents of Bedford Falls as possible.

Frank Capra's ability to show the good in people whilst also highlighting the difficulties of life is second to none. This film along with Mr deeds goes to town, and Mr Smith goes to Washington (again starring Stuart)are essential viewing, in fact anything made in the 30's or 40's by this man is superb! All in all a truly WONDERFUL film that lifts my spirits no matter how many times I watch it. If you haven't seen it it's a must watch!

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Its a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: MsBlueKatt from United States
2 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my favorite movie of all time. I can watch it any time of year. Jimmy Stewart is perfect in his role. It gives such a unique slice of American life in the 40's. Lionel Barrymore plays the town banker and does such a good job that for years I wouldn't watch any show with him in it. Donna Reed is so young and pretty - truly the beginning of her career. Ward Bond and Gloria Grahame are outstanding in their roles. Many established character actors are in this movie (Uncle Billy, Ma Baily). The scene where George gets his ear slapped by the pharmacist (Mr. Gower) is so hard to watch - George cared for everyone in that town. And at the end when Harry (George's brother) says George is the richest man in town I always cry -- even after seeing this film over and over.

I love this movie!!

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Butterfly Effect Indeed

10/10
Author: Cyberax --- from nowhere
17 November 2013

I this this movie is one of the greatest ever.In that type of movie where a genius actor collaborates with one of the greatest directors ever ... certainly we'll have a great movie. A butterfly effect made with such realism... full of originality and a simple message presented in a complex way ...that which tattoo in in mind: "It's a wonderful life,yeah,right,your life!". If is any moment in your life that makes you fell you aren't good enough for this world ... thing again , maybe you're wrong , but if were not wrong ...you can do better , so work hard to make you life better and love every moment of your precious time that you have in this world . We all fall at some moment in life , more important is to rise again ,and the more people we helped , the more will help us to raise again. A MUST SEE MOVIE!

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The Film Is Wonderful At Least!

10/10
Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
11 October 2013

Frank Capra's perennial holiday favorite stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good man who has lived for others his whole life who has a crisis occur on Christmas Eve when Uncle Billy(played by Thomas Mitchell) misplaces the $8.000 he was supposed to deposit in the bank, which could destroy his Savings & Loan company(especially with the bank examiner visiting) Despondent,George considers suicide, but is rescued by his guardian angel Clarence(played by Henry Travers) who proceeds to show George what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born. Having been briefed about George before his arrival, Clarence reveals that hated tycoon Mr. Potter(played by Lionel Barrymore) would rule the town, which is now a sin-filled haven of uncaring people. Even worse, his beloved Mary(played by Donna Reed) would end up an old maid, and of course the children he loves wouldn't exist either...

Life is not always wonderful, it's true, but only a real-life Mr. Potter could hate this joyous film, filled with uproarious comedy and poignant drama, showing how one ordinary man can make a huge and positive difference. Unforgettable characters and a genuinely heartfelt ending that will move you to tears make this an all-time classic to be enjoyed any time of the year.

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THE Movie

10/10
Author: Mr X from Portugal
27 December 2012

This movie is absolutely fantastic! In all ways! For me, its on my top for sure... I recommend this movie to anyone! See it, you wont regret! One thing is for sure, it doesn't fit in todays society and values, for sure...

Its a shame that many think that old movies, mainly black&white movies are boring or lack quality. For them i can only say that you don't know what you are missing... As i said its a top movie, full of values, good feelings, and its amazingly actual, from all points of view... For me, its a ten, out of ten...

As you noticed this the first review that i make about a movie, and solo because these one compelled me to do it. After i saw it and experienced so many good emotions and values, i felt it was a duty to write this, to try opening the eyes of the film lovers to the quality of this intemporal masterpiece by Frank Capra.

Excellent 2013 to you all, and sorry for my bad English!

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The Best Movie Ever Made?

Author: michaelhasenstab from United States
12 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A few years ago some friends were sitting around the living room discussing movies as we like to do when there is nothing else to talk about, or even when there is. Someone asked everyone to name the best movie ever made, a nearly impossible feat to do if you have seen a lot of movies. *Citizen Kane*, *The Wizard of Oz*, *The Godfather* and other titles came up, but then I blurted out *It's A Wonderful Life*(IAWL), surprising even myself. No one seemed to take me seriously, but I insisted and explained. The original purpose of the motion picture, as I understand it to be, is to entertain, which can mean a lot of things, of course. IAWL makes people both laugh and cry. It insists on tugging at every emotion, even anger. We laugh when George and Mary fall into the swimming pool and later loses her robe, the only thing she has on. We cry when George and Mary are on the phone as he uses all of his strength to deny the fact that he loves Mary. It angers us to see George hurt Mary. They kiss. We cry. It's a victory over George's denial, also, that he is a human being. We celebrate their marriage, and are thrown into suspense when the bank is about to collapse. And we are again glad to see George be a human being, generous financially and spiritually. And we see Mary and George becoming one on spirit as she helps him save the bank with the money they were saving for their honeymoon. We hate Potter, the embodiment of evil--greed and envy. We even want to kill Uncle Billy for being so stupid, so lame brained as to lose the bank's money and cause incredible chaos and deep despair. And on Christmas Eve yet? We feel deeply for George Bailey, for Mary, for their children when Dad comes home and tears the house from limb to limb in utter frustration. The situation appears utterly hopeless.

This film has emotional ups and downs until now--it becomes bleak,dark and hardly what one would call sentimental. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed give the performances of their careers. And the camera closes in on a terrified man, alone with his worries. He gets drunk and in his darkest moment decides to kill himself. On Christmas Eve? Then Capra saves us all by introducing Clarence to George. The movie takes a refreshing break from the hell we were in, but doesn't stay there for long. George gets to see his world if he had not been a part of it. We see George Bailey as the antithetical Scrooge. Scrooge makes people miserable. George makes people smile. But without George (without each of us) we see a world that seemed to have been created by Dickens' nastiest character. This changes George's attitude and ours.

Capra's masterpiece is the epitome of entertainment--an emotional tilt- a-whirl that leaves us completely satisfied. This is why it is the best film ever made. Not one line, not one move, not one scene, not even the snow, seems artificial. Whether or not angels exist, we do have something else--hope. Without it, the earth would collapse. And without the tiniest bit of goodness we all have within us, this world would be all Pottersville, heartless and meaningless. If that is schmaltz, let there be SCHMALTZ! *It's a Wonderful Life* is indeed the best movie ever made because it is the most entertaining film ever made

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In my opinion the best movie ever made

10/10
Author: Jack Pedder from United Kingdom
15 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Without wishing to seem like some kind of overly sentimental la-dee-da type, I genuinely believe that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is the greatest movie ever made.

Perhaps if all you concentrate on is the potential sexism or the child acting, you could find shortcomings with the picture, but in the grand scheme of things, when you look at the movie as a whole, there is something so good, so sweet and human about 'It's a Wonderful Life'. The heartfelt central performance from Jimmy Stewart (I believe tipping Vertigo to be his best role) is magnificent, just by his face, during scenes like the one where he prays at the bar, Stewart sucks you in, makes you as invested in the wellbeing of George Bailey as the citizens of Bedford falls. But as good as all the performances are (Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore included) they are not the driving force behind what makes Wonderful Life great. That I don't think I can explain.

There's just something there you know… something almost mythic and beyond understanding. The tale of how good men can be made to suffer for the hatred of others, and at times how goodness seems doomed to fail, it doesn't sound that happy a concept and despite being hailed as one of the most uplifting things ever, It's a Wonderful Life does not have that happy an ending… I mean… once you really look at it… Potter is still striving towards the destruction of Bailey building and loan and will continue to haunt George's children an grandchildren, Mary is stuck at home with a load of kids who keep getting sick all the time, and George in his depression has neglected many of those who would have liked him otherwise and his childhood dreams are seemingly shattered forever… Honestly if you skip the final message Wonderful Life is depressing hell! But it's not is it? It's beautiful… a testament to the goodness of humanity…. It is a celebration of mediocrity that can not be argued with. "Yeah I'm going to jail… Isn't it great!?" Regardless of the world around, the knowledge that this moment here and now is perfect, dominates everything.

The idea that one man can change so many lives has cemented itself into the modern consciousness. It's a Wonderful life has actually managed to become a cliché in itself. A Christmas necessity… I don't really think it needs to be viewed at Christmas, it packs a punch all year round… but it has made a mark on people.

I love this movie… I love every lingering second of it… every awkward happiness, every moving sadness, everything... It… It's just… Elation… as George runs down the street yelling "Merry Christmas!" to all the random passers by, as he bangs on Potters window like a madman, as he gives Zuzu back her petals, and that final scene… God that final scene… I actually find it kind of annoying now… I really don't want to cry… every time I want to retain my manliness and just go "What overly sentimental piddle paddle" but Jesus God! The bit that gets me… every time… it's when Harry raises the glass "Here's to my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town!" Then the whole room erupts into Old Lang Zyne and you see Jimmy's face smiling, by then I'm just gone. "No man who has friends can consider his life a failure" Even though it is never spoken, Clarence still has one of the greatest quotes of all time.

So I accept this review may seem a bit bizarre and yeah… it kind of is… but I find it hard to talk about this movie without rambling a little. So, to sum up, Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a very depressing, very uplifting, screwball comedy biopic that has an inspiring moral about humanity… Yeah that sounds about right… Honestly this movie is the best. It's almost a good thing it's not perfect because then it runs the risk of seeming cold and mechanical, which Wonderful Life isn't in the slightest.

I think if aliens come to earth planning to wipe out the human race after having seen all our wars and all our suffering, but they give us a chance to redeem ourselves… I think we should show them Wonderful life.

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Much more than a sentimental film

10/10
Author: SimonJack from United States
25 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maybe it has something to do with waiting a few years between viewings of the same film. Maybe it has to do with maturing or that mysterious acquisition of wisdom that comes with years. Maybe it has to do with slowing down in retirement, paying more attention to details and people and surroundings. Maybe it's a combination of these and other things. But after going a few years without seeing "It's a Wonderful Life," I played the DVD at home just before Christmas this year and saw much more than I had remembered of the film in the past. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with the warm sentimentalism I had associated with the movie over the years. But this time I saw and heard and became immersed in a film steeped in values and development far beyond plain entertainment or of a happy story with a happy ending.

Good movies of various genres must be entertaining to be enjoyable. Comedies, romances, musicals, and others may provide good talented performances, humor, action, excitement or mystery. And some may have one or two social values or morals interwoven in their plots. But good drama demands exposition and exploration of more values and a wider range of emotions and mores. That is what we see and hear and become part of in "It's a Wonderful Life."

This film has the standard good guys versus bad guys, and the good-over- evil happy ending. But it probes and reaches much deeper into life in its many characters. It contrasts greed with unselfishness, ambition and dreams with sacrifice and kindness, disrespect with trust, arrogance with humility, lies with truth, power and loneliness with compassion and friendship, exploitation with integrity. It's about taking and giving, honesty and dishonesty, hating and loving, family and friends. And as these themes weave throughout the texture of the story, we see the emotions of love, anger, happiness, shame, fear, hurt and joy play out.

In his state of despair, George Bailey gets a chance to see his world without his having been born. We viewers share in seeing the sharp contrasts in the people, places and events that we had seen in George's life up to that time. The enduring message is the huge importance of a single life in the lives of all others. And how one person – each one of us – is so important in shaping the lives of others and the events of life far beyond our own small worlds. We have much to celebrate when we realize how wonderful life really is.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A man receives a rare gift

10/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
25 December 2009

Frank Capra's sometimes dark post-war film, "It's a Wonderful Life" was released in 1946. It was intended to be released in 1947, but when a Technicolor print of "Sinbad" couldn't be delivered on time, this film was put into release. For that reason, "It's a Wonderful Life" - possibly the most wonderful film ever made - was overshadowed by "The Best Years of Our Lives." But you can't keep a great film down, and as the years have passed, "It's a Wonderful Life" has found its place as an iconic film that means Christmas. It's survived the public domain (due to a clerical error, when the copyright was not renewed in 1974), where it was cut to ribbons and shown so often on television (and why not, networks could show it for nothing) that people were sick of it. Now that it has to be licensed again in order to be shown, the film is shown in its totality and not as often.

This remarkable story of a man who sacrifices his dreams for the betterment of his community and the business his father built resonates today more than ever, when it often seems like no one cares about anything except what's in it for them. James Stewart is perfect as a caring man who swallows disappointment after disappointment and finally is ready to give up, until he is given the gift of seeing what would have happened had he never been born. No man, he learns, is poor who has friends.

I can't think of a better message or anything more inspirational than can be found in this film. George Bailey is all of us, and his story is a reminder that we're all important and, no matter how tough it gets, we need to keep going. One of my favorite movies.

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Glorious Film

10/10
Author: Moh'd Iwina from Occupied Palestinian Territory
9 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is a Wonderful life after watching this wonderful film, a film that has changed my view about life, a film that really made me think twice before doing any action, a film that allowed me to look deep into myself, to find this thing that is called "optimism " which is really our only hope in living this life.

I have watched this movie recently, and as i remember, at the same day or the day before, i have watched a real Italian masterpiece called " La Vita E Bella " and both of these pictures are photos of the good things in life, that we some times forget because of few bad things happens to us. I don't want to talk about the artistic perfection of this film, because i think, that all of us agree about the tremendous performance of James Stewart as" George Baily" and The Brilliancy in Direction that is brought to us by Frank Capra but the thing i want to talk about is what a great deal of joy will enter your heart when you see this picture . First, the film shows us the amount of sacrifice that good men as "George Baily" do in order to see people around them happy. from the beginning of this movie, Baily starts to Sacrifice, First when he get beaten by the old pharmacist in order to prevent him from serving the wrong medicine, then the rescue of his brother, then dropping his dream in becoming an adventurer to allow his brother to study, and much more of these things, these allowed Baily to be rewarded for his acts at the end of the film, when all those people really were by his side in order to help him !

Talking about the ending of the film, there is a great moral lesson we can learn from it, it the old " Do Good things, and good things will happen" which is in my point of view, is the theme of the film. In addition, in the last scene of the movie i've cried tears of joy as if i were him, and as if those people were my family and friends, who are not always there, but the appear when i need them.

Another thing i would like marking to, is the debut of the Angel, which i see a very important thing happens at that moment, the angle throw himself at water to let George rescue him. And i think, the significance of this move, is that this Angel is trying to call Baily's Depth and reality as a good man. Also, the disappear of Baily from life is a very important thing, showing all people, that no matter how insignificant we can see our selves, but there is a whole balance in this world depending on us, and that is our vanishing from this system, could lead to a great gap in it that we cannot understand as long as we are there.

It's A Wonderful job, i can say at the end...Capra has presented a real picture , a picture that sticks at the viewers mind , and could really change their lives.

As for me, "It's A wonderful Life" helped to shape a whole new identity, an identity that is based on looking on the Bright Side of this life....and i really liked it...nowadays, every time i am about to do something that doesn't go with this fact,i immediately remember this Film, and Directly imagine a world without me...and as i said, i maybe an insignificant tiny individual....but i am a part of the balance of this huge Universe !!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Uplifting Story - Too Bad We See It Only 1 Time A Year!

10/10
Author: Jakemcclake from United States
28 August 2009

Possible Spoilers My favorite movie of all time and it has been that for decades.

This movie makes one believe in heaven, angels, miracles, the good in the world, and other things that sometimes in our darkest moments we choose to avoid. This contrast of the heavenly optimistic and the down to earth pessimistic is the point and the reason this movie works. The powerful uplifting super-climax takes place because the movie will draw the viewer into the very bad down-to-earth pessimistic view of a situation, and the wrong way of seeing things, and then the movie lifts the viewer up in a way that seems almost beyond this world! To keep with the otherworldly concept, the movie at the same time teaches the viewer an over-arching life concept of spending life cultivating friends/relationships instead of money, as if we are listening to a voice from heaven that knows all.

The movie was loosely based on the short story by Phillip Van doren Stern, "The Greatest Gift". This was the story of someone who got to see what life would have been if he never existed.

The movie's climax for 1940's was and still is powerful. If one did a remake of it, today, you could add tremendous heavenly sites/colors and music to the climactic words that end the movie, but I really do not think it would add anything of value.

I have read the negative reviews of the movie and I believe many did not get the main point or do not like a happy endings. Some people feel Peter Baily is too selfless. I am happy those views are in the minority.

I watch this movie every time it is on, which probably totals about 1,000 times to date. I'll probably watch it many more times. The ending always is an uplifting experience. If you want to feel the uplifting power of the ending for yourself, watch the entire movie and when the ending comes and people begin singing the song "Auld Lang Syne" immediately turn the volume to the max and listen to the words and sounds until the ending credits start.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

What would Nietzsche say if he were to see the movie?

Author: shutterbug_iconium from Türkiye
5 January 2006

You have ever heard of the quote by Nietzsche "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man?" Well you feel really down and you can't see a way out when you hear such a quote!

An idealist guy named George Bailey(played by James Stewart), a man who has forgone all of his dreams wants to help his town out. When he starts thinking of committing suicide, believing that he has achieved nothing worthwhile, an angel shows him a view of what the world would have been like if he had never lived when he Bailey just wished he had never been born! He sees that his wife would never marry,his brother would never get a medallion for his heroic achievement(the only thing that I didn't like in the movie it shows war as some sort of heroic achievement though it is supposed to be about hope and life all over)the pharmacist who gave him a job would go to the prison but for Bailey's help etc... The movie just puts itself right there when you are torn apart between hope and wishing you had never been born. Every one of us feels down and wishes to see something different in our life sometimes we do think that we are not worth living but each ordinary life has something to give even we're down or discouraged. A realist view like Nietzsche's could help us keep our head above the water but we need the concept "it's a wonderful life" to enjoy the every little perfection of our small lives!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

All time classic

9/10
Author: colly tum from United Kingdom
18 November 2005

I have seen this film about 5 times, I'm by no way a fan of black and white films or old films in general, in fact I would go as far as saying that i am usually put off by such factors. So why is it that this film will never feel that way to me? the answer is simple, its a superb uplifting film which can bring a tear to your eye with every viewing. I have four brothers, three of which have all been caught with a tear in their eye at the conclusion of the movie and my youngest yet to see it but I'm confident he will be the same. the ending has to be the greatest ending in the history of film making, with the songs being sang and the emotions showing, its a wonderful life is simply amazing.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

If I hadn't seen millions of remakes, plagerisms & pastiches of this, it might have been even better!

8/10
Author: Board from Denmark
4 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

* Contains spoilers * This is the movie that has that "I wish I never been born" thing, where an angel shows him how his life would have been if he hadn't been born, and before seeing this movie today, I had seen it re-done a thousand times in various (mostly lame/gross) stuff, even in "Married with children" (which was a bit funny, and quite the opposite of this movie). So when I found out that this was were it came from (unless I'm mistaken), I must admit that I felt a little grossified. But after all, I liked the movie, and the small grossification was blown out of the water by the ending. Although it was happy, preachy and so on, it impressed me and sent chills down my spine and gave me a bit of a lump in my throat. Overall, this pushed the movie up to be among the best of the old movies I've seen and I'll be a little generous and give it an 8 out of 10.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"How can anyone be cynical?"

Author: divax22 from Pittsburgh, PA
24 September 2001

Week before Christmas, 1999. I was 21, lacking a love life, and awaiting the Y2K virus to destroy us all.

My family was watching It's A Wonderful Life, my favorite movie. George had just found Zuzu's petals and I, right on cue, was crying. My brother, ever the critic of my lack of faith in humanity, turned to me and said quietly, "How can anyone be cynical after watching this movie?"

And you know what? I still can't answer that.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

For the heart

Author: christo_u from Victoria, BC
7 April 2001

"Clarence where are you?" What is so enduring about this film is its absolute sweetness. Its timeless quality is reflected in the search we all have for our personal identity and how we end up finding it through community. It's such a beautiful and authentic film and I wish more film makers would learn from it.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I'm nuts

8/10
Author: Antony-4 from Cydonia, Mars
28 July 2000

I have two competing trains of thought about this movie. One is the obvious praise/adoration/no-holiday-season-complete-without that all of the other reviews have said. The other is much darker.

Does anyone else see that the point of the movie is divine intervention from holiday suicide? Does anyone see this as a bad thing? Let's examine the facts. 1. George is unhappy with life. 2. He gets in financial difficulty. 3. Because he sees no way out, he decides to commit suicide. 4. Divine powers intervene and save George from killing himself at the last minute.

Does this happen in real life? Ya, all but #4, which never occurs. I hate to say it but this movie that we all love should be avoided by depressed people. It is probably indirectly responsible for thousands of suicides. People aren't thinking clearly when they are depressed and seeing divine intervention save someone at the last second, if and only if they are good enough, is probably enough to push people over the edge. That stupid 'Touched by an Angel' TV show is just as bad.

People have a hard enough time distinguishing truth from reality without suggesting to the weak-minded that some supernatural entity is going to come along and solve all of their problems.

All that having been said, I still love this movie.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant but hamstrung

9/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
3 August 1999

There are only two things wrong with "It's a Wonderful Life" - unfortunately, they are the beginning and the ending. (I don't reveal what happens at the end, but I do reveal something about the feel of the ending, and those who wish to come to the film cold may wish to read no further.)

To begin with the beginning ... This is the story of a man's life AND of the way the town would have been had he never existed; but the device whereby we are shown that counterfactual is the most ham-fisted and grating one Capra could have chosen. It involves a bumbling angel named Clarence who has yet to get his wings (and, if I were in charge of Heaven, never would). Heaven (or perhaps God - it's hard to tell) appears to be the Crab Nebula and it flashes whenever it utters an accented syllable. Clarence is a half-witted interstellar firefly. I'm not making fun of the special effects: I'm questioning the fact that the deus ex machina had to be made into a character at all, let alone such an annoying one.

But the ending is worse. It's clearly MEANT to be a happy ending: the trouble is that it's no continuation whatever of the preceding story. Difficulties are vanquished by being ignored. It's as if Capra visualised the scene he wanted at the end, and when he discovered it didn't fit, filmed it anyway. A genuinely happy ending would have been great - even a tragic ending would have been less painful, and depressing, to watch.

Now for the good news. Between the faltering beginning and the sour conclusion it's sustained magic - one brilliant scene after another, to the point where it's difficult to believe that so many good bits found their way into the same film. And I don't just mean that individual scenes play well, but to no purpose: there really is a fine and complex story supporting them. The ending is a genuine shame, but if you can get past it, good luck to you.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A timeless enjoyable classic

9/10
Author: John Schofield from England
27 September 2009

I have only watched this film about 3 times but I like it for all sorts of reasons. It has an extremely powerful message and for me it is delivered in a subtle way by introducing it very early on in the film. Its almost as though its a very subtle product placement during one of the external scenes. All of the cast are perfectly suited and that is rare indeed. The film is a timeless enjoyable classic and it does not pull any punches when it could have. Due to the year it was made it could have been reduced to a slick waste of money but fortunately the professionals who were responsible for making this tale had the good sense to make it right and I suspect that the actors enjoyed the experience every bit as much as most of the people who have watched this film in the sixty odd years since it was made. At the time of writing this film is at number 30 of the IMDb top 250 and in my opinion it is there on merit. I would thoroughly recommend anybody watch this film but please pay attention and you will enjoy the experience that much more.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies ever made ..... may contain spoilers

10/10
Author: melee-3 from Taiwan
18 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My girlfriend was laughing at me tonight..... and the fact that my prior critiques here at IMDb have been all negative.

So, I went to leave a positive one..... and just as I started writing on my favorite movie, Casablanca, she laughed again, and told me to write on a different film.

So now I am writing on this absolutely wonderful film, one that I have actually watched more times than Casablanca.

I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it on TV, something like 36 years ago. I watched it almost every year around Christmas time. I missed seeing it for the first three years after I moved to Taiwan, then i bought the DVD.... and watch it at least once a year.

I have introduced this film to ALL of my English students, and 9 or 10 of them have borrowed it from me. Every one of them that has borrowed it has loved it, and 3 or 4 of them ended up borrowing it again at some time later on.

This is a timeless classic, that has no barriers, be it time, age group or language (my DVD has no Chinese subtitles).

The story is absolutely wonderful, the acting is superb, and the right people were doing the right roles.

Based on my student's reactions to this film, I can safely say that this film is a must see and will be appreciated and treasured for generations to come.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Ben Parker (ben.cheshire@optusnet.com.au) from Australia
24 December 2003

A beautiful, moving movie. It takes you on the journey again every time you see it. Every scene is a classic. Jimmy Stewart is quite incredible in this movie. If you ever thought classical actors couldn't rival method actors, see how genuine Stewart's performance is. Two special moments: Stewart's tears as he sits in martinis, and the scene where Mary and George both listen to the same telephone receiver. Its such a magical scene - one of the best scenes of all time. Neither of them listen to what Sam Wainwright is saying on the phone, because all of a sudden the two of them realise they are standing the closest they've been together in twenty or so years. He can smell her hair and she can smell his aftershave. The scene is played out in expressions and movements, and you can read their thoughts on their faces. A joy.

This movie does a difficult thing, something we love to be reminded of each christmas, it makes you appreciate the important things in life. Its about falling back in love with life. Frank Capra was a master director. Not only are his movies brilliantly realised, perfectly shot and constructed, but they contain just enough awfulness to ensure that the endings do not seem corny - their positive messages do not seem contrived - they are a joy and a relief. Frank Capra doesn't pretend the world is a perfect place, but he does something many filmmakers can't - he actually provides answers as to how best to deal with the world's imperfect nature. If you're ever feeling sad and low, or too concerned with trivial things, watch Its a Wonderful Life.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film !!!!!!

10/10
Author: Samantha (sammi_bee) from Derbyshire, England
17 March 2001

I only just watched this film at Christmas but ever since then I have watched it again and again. The story line is that a Building and Loan owner is on the brink of suicide because he thinks that he is a failure however an angel brings him back. This is the ultimate feel good film. as it ends with a very happy ending the story line is simple but i think it works. It stars James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. It is directed by Frank Capra. It has a good narrative as it shows the principle actor growing up and helping everyone as he does. The musical score is also very good written by Dimitri Tiomkin it adds to the atmosphere of the film. Just remember that no man is a failure who has friends !!!

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Sentimental Hogwash!"

Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England
11 July 2000

George Bailey is a thoroughly nice guy, the backbone of the small American community into which he was born. George's story is that of America in the first half of the twentieth century - a happy childhood before the First World War, ambition growing with maturity, then trouble for the family in the wake of the 1929 crash. George and his family make it through the Depression, and are blessed with success as George's dearly-loved brother Harry wins the Congressional Medal of Honour in World War Two. From this high point, George's fortunes take a steep nosedive, and the defining crisis of his life is suddenly upon him ...

George's twin ambitions since early childhood have been to explore the world (travel has always fired his imagination) and to "build things". Events are constantly cheating him out of his travel plans, and sheer selflessness prevents him from getting an education, his passport out of Bedford Falls and into a career as an architect. Like his father before him, George is too kindly ever to advance his own personal aims.

His adversary and nemesis is Old Man Potter, "the richest and the meanest man in the county". He is as unlike George as a man can be. Immobile and with no curiosity about the world, Potter dominates the small town, and is universally feared and despised. Without family or home life, Potter has only his money, which he ruthlessly ensures will increase and multiply. George believes in the community ("we've got to have faith in each other"), whereas Henry F. Potter regards the people as exploitable "rabble". On George's study wall hangs a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Potter has a bust of Napoleon.

This famous Capra tear-jerker is a masterpiece of emotional manipulation, and incidentally a tremendous piece of cinematic craftsmanship. The film has two premises, firstly that the fabric of the nation is sound so long as Americans stick to the early settlers' values of communal mutual assistance, and secondly, an enlightened liberal doctrine of the perfectability of mankind. If ordinary folks are offered chances for betterment, by means of building improved housing and encouraging financial thrift, they will prove themselves to be sober, hardworking citizens, keen to advance the prosperity of their progeny. George is the liberal hero who embodies these beliefs. His dream is to raise "dozens of the prettiest little homes you ever saw", and when the Martini family takes possession of its property, George is on hand to see Giuseppe realise the American Dream - "I own my own house!"

The young George knows that he doesn't want to squander his life "cooped up ... in a shabby little office". However, George is the responsible type, and to protect the working people from Potter, and put Harry through college, he assumes the burden of running the family's Building and Loans business. He grows to realise that his father's legacy is a noble one, the foundation of America's future.

George continues to dream of "anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles", but the thoughtlessness of others keeps him trapped in Bedford Falls. Alone outside a house party, he reacts wistfully to the wail of a distant train. His crisis of conscience when Harry announces the marriage and the new job is a tremendous piece of cinema. Kind, decent George goes through silent turmoil as it sinks in that his hopes have been dashed again.

If the propositions on which the story rests are simple folksy ones, the story itself is a strong one, told with great zest. Pacy effervescence keeps the action moving snappily along. Mary loves George from childhood, as we see in the drugstore sequence. The prepubescent George shows the traits we come to love in him - industriousness, reliability and social conscience - and he saves Gower the druggist from committing an appalling act of negligence, at great cost to himself. The tight narrative sweeps us from the kiss to the wedding, and from the honeymoon taxi to the run on the bank. World war Two, during which "George fought the battle of Bedford Falls", is an object lesson in concise story-telling.

One of Capra's narrative techniques is to exploit clashes of opposites. We plunge from elation to despair as Harry's triumph gives way to the financial disaster. Christmas bonhomie is tainted by the chilling presence of the bank examiner. George's desperate prayer in Martini's bar is accompanied by a jolly Italian ditty. The 'drowning' drama is followed swiftly by a gentle comedy scene.

The heart of the film is the relationship between George and Mary. A silent look passes between them at the high school dance, and we know that they have fallen in love. Their charleston dance (a superbly-choreographed sequence) cements the incipient romance and is followed by a great two-handed scene in which the lovers throw stones at 320 Sycamore, the house which will one day be theirs. George's later visit to Mary's house once more blends romance and comedy with splendid success. It is a joy to watch the aching desire of each for the other as they listen to Sam's phone call.

Clarence the wingless angel offers George "a chance to see what the world would be like without you". The nightmare sequence shows Bedford Falls (now known as Pottersville) to be a seedy Gomorrah of jazz bars and strip joints, peopled by a surly, unhappy populace. George's creed is borne out - "each man's life touches every other man's life", and he sees that his patient, benign influence has worked its magic. Bedford Falls is a better place for having known George Bailey.

Watch out for a young Gloria Grahame as Violet, launching a career of playing bad girls. And is that Donna Reed in Martini's, posing as the bar girl in the peroxide wig?

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Memories are made of this!

10/10
Author: Minty-5 from Sydney, Australia
30 January 2000

Jimmy Stewart was not George Bailey. It was one of the reasons audiences of the time did not welcome back with open arms one of the stars of pre World War two. Although George Bailey was the almost perfected emotional core of every man and woman's heart, Frank Capra delivered the darkest yet of three movies featuring one of his best stars. It ruined his somewhat wholesome, small town man in the heart image that Capra had given his characters in their previous collaborations "You Can't Take it With You" and "Mr Smith Goes to Washington".

Angel, second class, is forever associated with "It's a Wonderful Life". A brilliantly silly Henry Travers as Clarence the illusive protector of a shattered man created an immortal legend. Donna Reed as Mary in her first notable role delivers on her promises, but outclassed by the deliverance of two of the most difficult roles in cinema history. Capra faves, Thomas Mitchell, as Uncle Billy and Lionel Barrymore, in a role a far cry from lovable Grandpa Vanderhoff in "You Can't Take it With You", is convincingly sinister as Mr Potter.

In its imagery, "It's a Wonderful Life" is frightening. Dark, grim, terrifying moments exceed the Capra trademarks. The comedic moments thrill, and there are plenty of them. Three viewings, the first not at Christmas, have imprinted the memory of unforgettable sequences into my mind forever.

Few films were ever designed with a message to remain immortalised through the years. It remains simple and complex on certain levels however it is viewed, but the most important two are all there in the script. "No man is a failure who has friends", and "Life is wonderful". The film must be watched until on some personal level, the viewer connects with what the film is trying to say.

The movie is the stock treatment I prescribe to others in times of depression. A decent dosage could bring a more positive outlook of optimism to even the most cynical prepared to look beyond the black and white images. There has never been a more capable Hollywood movie made to create tears and laughters in excessive amounts which makes it a masterpiece of the American cinema, and the definitive Holiday classic.

It remains the most influential of movies I have seen in my life. I was originally one of those cynical with a refusal to view any movie made in black and white. With little effort, it changed my perspective on life, but however easily I have forgotten the lessons this film teaches, it just as simply reminds me of what I need to know. It holds the record for the number of times a movie has made me cry.

"It's a Wonderful Life" was a Christmas ritual I was never dragged through when I was younger. I wish I was.

Rating: 10/10

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Great film, shame about the ending.

9/10
Author: D B from United Kingdom
9 February 2010

I realise I'm probably in the minority here, but here goes anyway.

I really, really like this film. Apart from the last bit. I know everyone likes it for it's feel-good properties and it's happy, happy, happy ending, but let's face it, the vast majority of this film is a downbeat, depressing experience. And that's why I love it.

Turn it off at the point where he's on the bridge, and this is a wonderful, wonderfully depressing tale. The way his dreams get crushed and his town becomes his prison is so well done. People have already said how well this film is written, and that includes the depressing parts as well. You have to believe in his suffering, his agony. You have to believe in his desire to jump off the bridge so that you too can be saved by Clarence in the end.

That's why I don't want the end section in there. I believe in George's suffering. If he wants to end it, then so be it. If I'm in a depressed mood, and want to watch a superbly put together sombre film, then It's a Wonderful Life is perfect.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The best of the best

10/10
Author: rtannoia from United States
8 September 2006

The best movie that has been made. Movies are a reflection of real life and there has never been a better movie to bring this point to life. Open your heart sit back and enjoy this masterpiece, there is none better. The best of the best, I've seen a million movies and this one is my favorite. I could watch this movie a million times and I would never get tired of seeing Jimmy Steward face when he realizes how wonderful his life has been. If you stop and think, beyond all our struggles, all our stress, all our worries, take a breath and for one moment know that God is in control then there is no movie that will drive that point home better. This movie will always be a ten. If they find this movie a thousand years from now it would still be a ten.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

My favorite film of all time; inspired classic Americana

10/10
Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
10 April 2003

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) **** James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond. MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FILM : Perennial Christmas classic about George Bailey (Stewart's best acting performance, one for the time capsule), an idealistic dreamer whose out-of-reach plans for himself are constantly set aside for his family and the town he helped in more ways than one. One of the best films ever made about a man's universal struggle with what he wants and what he does resulting with the immortal question: What would life be like if I were never born? Stewart's performance depicts every emotion superbly and facing suicide shows just what a complex character interpretation he has. His salvation comes in the form of Clarence, his guardian angel still trying to earn his wings, who shows him exactly how things would be had he not existed. Best scene: after Stewart is refused entrance by his mother he races into an intense wide/close-up and the registering of fear, horror and finally understanding that spreads across his face is ultimately moving, chilling and heart-breaking all at once. My favorite moment; if you're not moved by this, you 're simply not human. Dare not to sing along at the end to "Auld Lang Syne" and dare not to cry. Definitely a film ahead of its time (originally a box-office flop and snubbed royally at the Oscars losing largely to the WWII American classic "The Best Years of Our Lives"). Frank Capra's masterpiece was his and Stewart's personal favorite films.*Trivia note: characters named Bert & Ernie would eventually be paid tribute as "Sesame Street"'s immortal buddies and Stewart's and Reed's characters, George and Mary are also my parents' names.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Wish I had a million dollars. Hot dawg!

Author: ellkew from London
14 February 2003

At the heart of this marvellous Capra film is a man, who from when we first see him in Gower's store, longs to see far off places. As we all know, he never does leave Bedford Falls and it is this sadness that is at the core of the film and the main character George Bailey, a man with unfulfilled dreams. It is also what makes this film stand the test of time. The characters are believable and compared to current Hollywood heroes win hands down. They are all so well defined and fleshed out as in a Dickens novel that one enjoys spending time with them. So much has been borrowed from this film and so much written about it. Essentially it is James Stewart's central performance that is outstanding and to watch his realistic gradual breakdown is very distressing. I always find it difficult watching the scene when he goes home after realising he cannot find the money and Mary(his wife) turns to see him clutching his daughter with such a desperate look on his face. Her reaction to him is extremely moving. A man driven to the brink worth more alive than dead, this is a much darker film than people often expect. But he does get a second chance and maybe this is why we like it so much, because in real life this is rarely possible. George Bailey played by James Stewart is someone who has a great face. I like George Bailey.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Really flatters the human ego!

Author: Becca-37 from Sacramento, CA
28 December 2000

Ugh, how precious! How can the whole world go on without you??? Oh, how we all need and depend on you! How we all love each other and how we all love you and how you love all of us and how I love you and how you love me! Oh, the world needs you and it can't live without you! How women need you to give them such precious, happy children and how children need you to give them such a precious, happy existence! I need you, you need me, we need each other, we can't live without each other! The world needs you, the universe needs you, even angels need you! Needy, needy, needy! Oh, and be sure to be WHITE and that everyone else around you are WHITE, too - thanks.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Part of a staple Christmas Eve diet

Author: stewartcooper from Scotland
27 November 2002

My family's annual viewing of 'It's a Wonderful Life,' on Christmas eve, has become as ritualistic as eating turkey on December 25. With the fresh smell of the tree in the corner of the room, a flickering candle on the fireplace and a mince pie soaked with brandy butter in my hand, relishing the spectacle of 'It's a Wonderful Life' is, despite the number of times I've now sat through it, something I look forward to and treasure each year. It is, quintessentially, a Christmas movie, and I'll never be able to bring myself to watching it in the middle of an August heatwave.

I can't quite put my finger on what exactly makes this film so special. But surely the heart-warming plot, which proves to us that, us humans, we can always eventually triumph over despair, and the overall magical feel of the film, is a crucial element of Capra's masterpiece. It teaches us, as privileged westerners, many lessons about the true meaning of humanity and forces us, just as it does to George Bailey - played with relish and sincerity by James Stewart, capturing some of his finest moments - to appreciate, on reflection, just how lucky we actually are.

There are countless of our favourite films that, through sheer force of habit, we find ourselves enjoying on a regular basis. But the very fact that, on the same day each year, I ensure that I savour 'It's A Wonderful Life,' proves that this film is really something quite remarkable with an ability to make its mark.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The darkest side of humanity

Author: Matthew Ignoffo (mermatt@webtv.net) from Eatontown, NJ, USA
1 August 1998

Though this film is associated with Christmas because it has been shown at Christmas time, it is really a dark study of the insides of the human soul. George is driven to the point of wanting to die and wanting not even to exist.

Frank Capra takes us through the life of a man so that we can see why someone would be willing to choose oblivion rather than existence. Then we see that, even though life may seem meaningless, we, like George, have choices and that these choices can make a great difference in the world even though we may not realize that fact. The film helps us to realize why we are alive. That is its real enduring appeal.

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Seems overrated.

5/10
Author: Luciano Marzo from United States
22 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is depressing, which makes it quite inappropriate for a so- called "Christmas movie." I made the mistake of watching it on Christmas Day one year, and it turned out to be a damper on the whole holiday. Not just for me, but the whole family. The acting left a little to be desired. I will say whoever acted the angel was very good (I think it was Henry Travers). His character was also strong. But James Stewart's character was pretty depressing. He makes the small mistake of saying "I wish I had never been born," and shortly after, his wish comes true! He still lives in his hometown and is the same person, but all of his old buddies ignore him when he tries to talk to him. Even his family shuns him. If you are going to watch this movie, make sure it is not actually on Christmas or any holiday, for that matter.

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Average movie

6/10
Author: Rachael James from New Zealand
20 April 2006

I think it's an average movie. It's got classical Hollywood propaganda- and politics. I think people tend to ignore the undertones of trying to get people to stay in the 'homeland' of America. There's also political messages about democracy and individualism, as well as small messages about family life and propaganda about the war. It's good in that it gets people to appreciate life, yet it seems to discourage people to aim higher. For some people having a wife and kids and friends is nice, but for some they have other goals. Seeing the world and achieving ones goals is important, we can't all accept second best. We have to be selfish in some ways if we are to get what we want. There needs to be a balance, but in this movie George lives more for others.

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Attaboy, Clarence!

5/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
1 May 2004

One of the all-time Christmas classics, this excellent piece of work from Frank Capra focuses on George Bailey (James Stewart, in one of his career-best roles) who is stopped from jumping into the river in despair by a friendly angel called Clarence (Henry Travers). We then see in flashback what has brought George to the brink of suicide and key events from his life - saving his brother from drowning when the ice breaks; alerting his chemist boss to a fatal mix of drugs; courting and marrying his childhood sweetheart (the winsome Donna Reed); and dealing with the film's token bad guy, Mr Potter (brilliantly played by the crusty Lionel Barrymore). Clarence then shows George what the sleepy town of Bedford Falls would have been like without him and proves that you're never alone if you have friends around you and if you make a difference.

Interestingly, two direct influences from this film were on the poetry e-zine 'Zuzu's Petals' (George Bailey's little daughter, who leaves some flower petals in his jacket); and, so it is said, on the children's TV programme, Sesame Street (Bert and Ernie, the mad puppets, who are the names of the cop and the taxi driver in this).

And let us not forget, when you hear a bell ring, it means an angel has got its wings!

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Don't read this if you believe the title doesn't take the ending away!

6/10
Author: Mort-31 from Vienna, Austria
31 December 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't wonder why this movie is among the top 30 movies. It's an American classic, you don't need more. If this was a European movie, it would get bad critics and ratings. But with the Americans we tolerate it. They are like that. The film they like best is the film with the happiest happy-end that is so happy that it's already in the title. Where I live, they dare to show it once a year, at Christmas, and that's it. It's typical for the American people that they adore movies where someone is shown by God Himself how much the world needs him! That's what gives them hope that their own life isn't meaningless. The problem is: That man the film is about has in most cases nothing to do with them. He is an angel himself, saved two people's life and gave homes to many poor people in a small village. Who else can say that about oneself? The plot is constructed, so the film isn't valuable to give you hope and people who realize that are rather made sad then happy.

America doesn't realize and that's why it loves this movie. Fine. It's not a bad film at all! It's really enjoyable, even humorous at the beginning, and James Stewart is a great actor. But again, I'm sure this film would have been fallen into oblivion within 50 years of movie history if it was a European film. „It's a Wonderful Life` is one of many bizarre drolleries of the American kitsch society.

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8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

I beg to disagree...

5/10
Author: buiger from Monaco
9 May 2014

Now, here is one movie where I will have to disagree with almost everybody. I do not care that this film has become a Christmas staple, and notwithstanding my love and admiration for Frank Capra and James Stewart, this movie is far from even being particularly good, let alone a masterpiece. This is a movie that somehow got hyped up with the passing of time, and now exists in a universe of its own. It is telling that at the time of its making, it did not even receive a single Oscar. Apparently, at the time, nobody thought it to be so special...

Now, if you look at this picture objectively and without the typically "small-town-America do-good pink-shaded sunglasses", you will find a very simple, obvious and at times boring story. The characters are so simplified, that most are just caricatures of real people (just look at the local villain). Technically, there is nothing to write home about either. The sound, as a matter of fact is terrible, one can barely discern the (sometimes confusing) dialog.

And then we come to (according to the masses, and not only) the most important part of the movie: the message. Here is where I have another major problem... I may be cynical or stupid, but I do not see what this all-important transcendental message is; If it is simply 'be a good person', this could have been (and has been) done much better. This movie is a mix of slapstick Hollywood 'feel good' and of political correctness '1947 style'. No wonder it fares so good in our modern times...

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8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Misguided celebration of self-destructive charity

Author: Ray Girvan from Devon, UK
26 December 2002

There is a folktale concerning St Martin, who as a soldier on a mission of importance, gave half of his cloak to a naked beggar he met in a snowstorm... the moral being that there are circumstances where it isn't worthy (or rational) to be charitable to the point where you can't survive yourself. It's a A Wonderful Life, however, is the story of someone who - in effect - gives all his cloak, then complains about the consequences.

There's been a deal of revisionist criticism focusing on the political subtext, but I'm more interested in the personal angle. In my view, George's suicidal state of mind is not caused by the greedy Potter or by family mishaps, but by his invariable decision to respond to such situations by throwing away all of his own wellbeing and hopes in favour of others.

His actions are not even necessarily 'good'. At every turn, George lets sentiment completely swamp reason. What if covering up for an incompetent pharmacist led to further deaths? Perhaps Uncle Billy *ought* to be in an institution? Perhaps George should have recognised a no-win situation, made a settlement with Potter and moved on, instead of selfishly saddling his family with a company he deliberately runs so unprofitably that it hasn't the capital to ride a financial setback.

Furthermore, the alternative timeline presented by Clarence is clearly fake, concocted to justify George's failure to break out of this self-created rut. There is no reason to asssume, other than because Capra wants it so, that if George hadn't existed his wife would have remained unmarried, his brother fallen through the ice, or the town's social change necessarily proved negative in the long run (Potter after all, won't live for ever).

Sorry, but I find this film deeply exasperating. This is not, as some have commented, a modern-day Book of Job, since George's problems are not inevitable fate, but so much down to his own choice to be a doormat.

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9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Classic bit of American propaganda that never fails to warm the heart

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
8 February 2002

`George Bailey is a pillar of his community whose life has been selflessly dedicated to the welfare of others. Through the evil machinations of the town's business mogul, George is driven to the point of suicide. In answer to the prayers of the townsfolk, a missing angel comes to the rescue. He shows George what a sad and sorry place the town would have been without him. Can this life George out of his despair?'

Who hasn't seen this film? Anyone? It is an unashamed tribute to homely values and is hugely warming. The story itself is not exactly rocket science, but it is does contain plenty of nice touches as we follow George through his life of missed opportunities and sacrifice through to his marriage and eventual down fall. The world that this happens seems so distant nowadays, with our friendless society - so few people do anything for their fellow man in big cities etc. So this is very touching to see a man who serves others in such a major way. It is a story of how every little helps and how you cannot overdo friendly gestures.

Stewart is excellent with his partner Capra. Barrymore is also excellent in a thankless role - he represents all that is wrong in society and of course he rises to a powerful position. Henry Travers is good as Clarence, the wingless angel and of course who can forget the excellent Donna Reed as Mary.

It's pure hokum of course, the regular Christmas movie that lifts everyone's spirits. But isn't this what we all wish the world was like really? Why can't it be - if only for two hours. This is what Stewart and Capra do best - enjoy and forget the real world.

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42 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

It could only happen in America

1/10
Author: Rueiro from United Kingdom
1 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where can I start? Jimmy Stewart,who was a great serious actor in the Anthony Mann Westerns and the Hitchcock thrillers, here is nothing else than an idiot. And then, who can really see him as a high school boy when he was almost forty years old when he made this movie? Please!! And then when he is bankrupted by Lionel Barrymore and about to do away with himself, an angel comes to stop him and to show him how much the world owes to him ("A Chistmas Carol" updated, how nice!) and all of a sudden the whole town flows into his house to pay his debts and save the day. How nice of them too! Of course that could only happen in America, the earthly paradise where everybody loves their neighbour and life is beautiful. And they all lived happy ever after. One of the worst much-loved classics of all time.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's A Wonderful Life is a Wonderful Movie!

7/10
Author: evaneagles from United States
20 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, is a movie that creates suspense, emotional appeal and joy for all ages who intend to watch this movie. James Stewart as George Bailey, represents an average dad with average problems. At some point in everyone's life, you hit a time in your life where everything goes wrong, and you can't seem to stop the bad luck. The character George Bailey represents that. However, at the end of the movie, he realizes that he is needed in his society to not only benefit himself, but the whole town.

Due to the movie being in the 1940's, it was indeed in black and white. This creates a more unique feeling for a person who was born in the 1960's-present, but also isn't unpopular to many people in today's society as well. This movie is still watched as a Christmas tradition, and will remain that way for a very long time. 7 out of 10 stars.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"Each man' s life touches so many other lives".

10/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
18 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If there's one movie I probably haven't watched enough times, it would be "It's a Wonderful Life". The characters, the situations, the message all come together in a way that intrinsically defines it as a Christmas movie, but when you get right down to it, the film transcends Christmas in a way that's truly heartwarming and magical. Jimmy Stewart had that unique ability to put the Everyman into his roles, and this picture certainly qualifies as one of his finest performances. Donna Reed could not have been a better choice to play Mary, displaying a wholesome sex appeal to go along with those traditional home town American values that pictures of the era were so skillful in portraying. Had Director Frank Capra made only this one picture, it would have earned him recognition as one of the true masters of cinema. I could go on and on, but there's really no point in trying to heap further accolades on a picture that has earned it's place in American film right at the top. Watch it, and watch it again, and in taking the picture's message to heart, reach out and help an angel earn it's wings.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A different view

9/10
Author: tcomx from United Kingdom
17 December 2007

Firstly before everyone has a go, I am not in any way knocking the film or the quality of it. In fact its a shame films today are not made with the same love, care and attention to detail. I also agree that it is one of the greatest films ever made, its just I see the film a little different when taken as a whole.

Where most people see this film as a happy one for all the obvious reasons, including that ending, I see it as one of the most depressing and sad stories ever made. Ask yourself the question, why did he want to commit suicide in the first place. The reason is that throughout the first half of the film/story, all you see is everyone doing what they want, including his brother. Whereas he is forced via circumstance or emotional blackmail to stay and cater to the wants of everyone else. Where were the 'friends and family' when things got bad, why didn't anyone see what was going on. The main reason was cause they were more concerned with themselves. The outcome of all this is the famous bridge seen. And in my eyes, even Clarence ended up using him to get his wings.

By showing him what life for all those he has helped, would be like if he hadn't existed, is if anything, another case of emotional blackmail. He is again made to feel bad and ungrateful for his lot.

My point is, why didn't anyone ask him what he wanted and then help him go for it etc.

My final comment is, when you next watch this film, or read this comment, take a look around you and see if anyone you know and care about is quietly sinking and give them a helping hand before it gets too bad. The chances are if they are your friend or part of your family, they have already helped you and now they quietly need your help.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Uplifting and heart-warming tale

9/10
Author: vovazhd from United States
20 October 2007

It's a Wonderful Life is one of those movies that is beyond its time, especially in transferring emotions to the audience. The plot is highly sophisticated; it centers around the life of George Bailey, a successful business man that is thrown out of control when financial aspects hinder the progress of his Building and Loan enterprise. The business crisis is the focus of the story, but the majority of it is a laid-back reflection of the good parts of Bailey's life. In the end, Bailey is brought to redemption and sees the world in a new light, ultimately leading to one of the most uplifting endings in any movie.

The cast was perfect all around; there was not a single actor that jumped out as a poor choice. James Stewart shines with the critical role of Bailey. He starts off as a confident and envisioned man, but is eventually consumed by business problems and sees no way out. He completely misses the positive impact that he has made on the community, but reaches a sort of understanding by the end. Stewart is excellent at conveying this development of ideas. Even Mr. Potter, the antagonist of the film, becomes a sympathetic character. Even though he initially comes off as a selfish pest, it is hard not to respect his business achievements and feel sorry that he does not enjoy other company.

The plot is put together so well that it is impossible not to be drawn in, even for modern audiences. The idea of guardian angels watching over us might seem ridiculous, but ends up being an intriguing plot element. The mix of fantasy with reality works out. The camera work, dialog, and way the scenes were set up are surprisingly modern. It does not require the audience to watch the movie from the lens of someone from the 1940's, but rather is a timeless experience that can be enjoyed by families of any generation.

Simply put, I recommend this movie to all people, especially as a family. If you get a chance, it would be best to watch it during the winter holidays because it fits in really nicely with the atmosphere.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Movie

8/10
Author: sausagebrigade from Lockerbie, Scotland
1 August 2003

Jimmy Stewart is fantastic in his most famous movie, a charming American take on A Christmas Carol. There are some very funny and some very dark moments, and they're perfectly balanced, much like the performances. Frank Capra is a little over-ambitious (the early shots of God talking to the angels in heaven is an example) but he knows what the audience will respond to in a way like no other director. It's amazing to think this did poor box office business, but then I guess some people don't know a good thing when they've had it.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Life is Wonderful

9/10
Author: r-mcharg
26 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Director: Frank Capra Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers

Running Time: 130 minutes

If you don't know a single thing about It's A Wonderful Life then you cannot seriously call yourself a movie lover. But we'll tell you about it anyway. It's a Christmas Classic that has survived criticisms of schmaltzness. And a movie in the 40s being too schmalzy has to be a worry. Anyway heres the story. George Bailey (James Stewart in his signature role) is a man who has put his friends and family before his own happiness his entire life. Whether it is jumping into ice to save his little brother Harry, an act that cost him his hearing in his left ear. Or if it's sacrificing his dream of travelling the world to look after his late father's bank so it can stay in business or so Harry can have a bright future with his wife. He even gave up a lucrative $20,000 a year contract from local miser Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) simply because of the townsfolk he has already helped enough. After all, he built them a bunch of good quality houses, allowing them to leave Potter's slums and enjoy a good life. Whatever the deed George Bailey hasn't thought of himself once in his life. He has dreamt of leaving Bedford Falls but through his own good nature has never been able to. He has settled down with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four kids. So when his Uncle Billy `misplaces' $8,000 (Potter finds it, keeps it) George is faced with scandal and prison. He is a man at the end of his tether he takes it out on everyone, even his own family. In the end he is told he is worth more dead than alive and decides to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Only, that's not the end for right at the beginning of the story we know that an angel is watching over George and it is he who saves George from suicide. The angel is Clarence (Henry Travers) who, as you should know, shows George the good he has done people in his lifetime, starting with a trip to what should be Martini's. We discover that George wasn't there too save his old boss Mr. Gower from accidentally poisoning food through his grief. Then we find out that Harry, who is to be given a medal from the President for bravery in WW2, died when he broke through the ice, because George wasn't there too save him. Bedford Falls is now Pottersville because George wasn't there too battle Potter, Mary ends up an old maid because George wasn't there to love her, Uncle Billy went insane because George wasn't there to help with the business, it goes on and on. When George begs to live again and is re-united with his family there isn't a hard heart in sight. It's A Wonderful Life has many themes of love, friendship, kindness, redemption even just pure coincidence, but there is one clear message running through this dark but magically uplifting Frank Capra Christmas Classic: It truly is a wonderful life.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film

9/10
Author: marsman from Chicago, IL
31 August 2000

Every so often, a real gem presents itself. Perhaps Capra's greatest work, this is the quintessential "feel good" movie. A man is brought back from the brink of suicide by internal reflection on his life, pointed out by the external source of the guardian angel. One of the few films to address, albeit subtly, the power of prayer. The prayers of friends and family manifest themselves in the help of the angel. It is through the community that George had defined himself, and through that same community he found redemption. The film is very deserving of its accolades.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful and heart-warming film of immense depth

8/10
Author: Paul Maskelyne (Muttley-4) from Farnborough, England
7 June 2000

This is a fantastic film.

The fact that George is struggling so hard to get away and make something of his life that he doesn't realise how much good he is doing for the people around him, and what a success he already is.

Watch it!

8/10

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Movie

9/10
Author: princy from Australia
24 May 2000

What an absolutely wonderful movie, the first Frank Capra film I have ever seen and I am impressed. The story line is a breath of fresh air from the usual Hollywood story, and the fact that a movie that was made in 1946 would tackle the subject of suicide is remarkable. I have only seen James Stewart in a handful of movies, the last being 'Rear Window', and I have to say that he is one of the finest actors I have ever seen. This is also the second time I have seen Donna Reed in a movie, the other time being 'From Here to Eternity' and she delivered an even better performance in this film. This movie is a "Must See" for anyone of any age.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Slightly overrated, but only slightly

Author: Mike Sh. (michaelshannon123@comcast.net) from Lowell MA
31 July 1999

I love this movie. I did get a bit sick of it a few years ago when it played on just about every channel at just about every hour just about every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But I never quite got to the point where I hated the movie.

This movie, like a lot of Frank Capra's, is sometimes thought of as sentimental almost to the point of schmaltz. It is true that a first glance this seems like a "feel-good movie" to use the present-day parlance. But, again like a lot of Capra's movies, it has a dark side lurking under its sunny exterior. It's usually not patently obvious, but rather subtle. In this case, James Stewart's dark hard-edged side is most notably seen in the scene where he goes home and abuses his family before going out to get plastered. It's only a small part of the movie, but it's there, nicely complementing the sweet, nice, aw-shucks good-guy character he portrays throughout the rest of the movie. It also shows what an actor of range Stewart was.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This one is for Scrooge

Author: sidney-11 from Scotland
23 May 1999

If you know anyone who hates Christmas get them to watch this and it will melt their icy heart in no time. For best results watch on Christmas Eve snuggled up in front of a cosy fire eating Christmas food and drinking hot chocolate and you will wish Christmas was every day.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Living does make a difference

Author: Robbie Holland (robbieholland@hotmail.com) from Southampton, UK
27 January 1999

A kind man is prevented from committing suicide by an elderly angel, who takes him back through his life to show him the difference he has made but more importantly the good he has done. A sentimental comedy, fantasy, drama of the highest order. The amazing depth of character and incident are perfectly executed. The cast, direction and plot are remarkable. James Stewart is at his best as the man asked by the angel to reflect on his life. The film builds up to a real tear jerking ending. This is Frank Capras greatest achievement, and could justifiably lay claim to being one, if not the greatest film ever made. If life is not like this, then I say it ought to be. Can Cinema ever be bettered?

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This is not a Christmas movie

Author: Neil Dennis (neildennis@hotmail.com) from London, England
21 December 1998

James Stewart has long been a favourite actor of mine. Not just because of his effortless charm and wry wit both on and off screen, but because of the variety of roles he played in his distinguished career. He was the favourite actor of many eminent directors. Capra, Hitchcock and Ford all used his ample talents more than once, and although many people associate him with either westerns or sugary, cutesy roles, he was very versatile and a remarkable talent. It's a Wonderful Life shares the same misfortune - to be misunderstood. Often written off as a Christmas film or schmaltz, It's a Wonderful Life is neither. George Bailey is a complex character. He is first and foremost a man, and he feels the acute pain of bitter disappointment. He doesn't act out of love for his fellow man, he acts out of love and respect for his family. He is burdened with being the eldest son, and the responsibility that that entails, and his greatest desire, to travel, is thwarted by these responsibilities. We share his pain because George Bailey is a good man and we want to see good things happen to him. While his brother and his friends achieve fame and fortune, George is left behind in Bedford Falls, the town he grew up in and so desperately wants to escape. George is resentful of the people who put him in this situation, especially the unscrupulous Mr Potter, played by the excellent Lionel Barrymore. When $3000 goes missing from the Building and Loans, George is at the end of his tether, and Clarence the angel is sent to save him.

This really is not schmaltz or saccharine, the film is a dark study of responsibility and disappointment, and even though all ends happily around the Christmas tree, this certainly is not a Christmas movie, because by definition they have to be crap.

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A timeless Christmas classic, possibly the ultimate feel good movie of all time

10/10
Author: WalterSoprano from United States
3 December 2014

This is more than just a Christmas classic it's a classic in general and has passed with flying colors in the test of time. Even today in 2014 it is on the top 250 in the top 30 as a matter a fact and deserves its spot very much so, it may be a tad high rated but I guess in the end it deserves it.

The movie is corny and cheesy at moments but is more than made up for in its serious moments. The story is about a man named George Bailey who is probably the most unselfish and considerate person you'll ever meet. It can be tragically sad and then brings you up with a great message and warm feeling.

In my book there is three types of crying I've associated with films. These types are when something is sad, tears of joy, and crying for just the beauty of the film, and I can say I did all three. It isn't like the film was so visually beautiful that it made me tear up it was the beauty of the message and the ending. I don't think everybody will enjoy it to the same extent but it literally is for anybody kids and adults of all ages. That's all I have to say thanks for reading my review and enjoy this Christmas Classic.

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A beautiful tale of life.

10/10
Author: Danny Klema from United States
2 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a child, I grew up watching this movie. Attempting to put my bias aside, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the one of the highest quality films I have ever seen. James Stewart is phenomenal at being the ''work hard, no reward'' kind of worker who is constantly struggling and must sacrifice how own desires for the good of his home. Whether it's keeping the Building and Loan alive or fighting off Potter from controlling Bedford Falls, Georgie Baily has always done what was best for the many in place of his own ambitions. With setback after setback in Geroge's life, Stewart portrays these struggles exceptionally well, sometimes even without speaking. This captivating story can be watched countless times and still hold it's weight. With everything coming full circle by the conclusion, the audience can really share in George Baily's emotional discontent and eventually, overwhelming joy in his life.

10/10 for telling a beautiful story of life and teaching values everyone can appreciate.

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Everything needed in a movie

10/10
Author: djwise21 from United States
2 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is forever a classic due to it's holiday significance. That isn't the only reason it is a classic though, the movie begs the question all of us wonder and that is about our self worth. James Stewart creates phenomenal speeches just as he had in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and we get to feel his emotions first hand. It's a Wonderful Life contain such an inspiring story it makes it impossible not to look away. When a movie such as this can make you look into your own life and think about the others around you and inspires you to be the best you can be, there is no other greatness as big as that in film and that is exactly what this movie does. An absolute classic that will withstand the test of time.

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it is a wonderful movie for all time.....

10/10
Author: tikeswar bariha from India
29 January 2014

now it is 2014 ...and movie from 1946 a long time ......but still this movie has a special place in my heart ....i love this movie so inspirational so emotional movie......is this..James Stewart was very impressing in his acting...........all department of the movie was very well ...and i want to say this movie would receive an Oscar but unfortunately miss it... but this movie is among the greatest movies of all time....my one of my favorite movie .................................i think this is the best Christmas movie ever...the gift given by god was great ......that touch a lesion to every human being that ....life is wonderful..don't loss your hope....it is a wonderful movie ...James Stewart is my one of my favorite actor....his voice was sweet and soft.....

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swaying through the life alike

10/10
Author: eklavya cwk from India
20 January 2014

the film is a significant contribution to the cinema, the art of depicting an idea which is a reality. Really life is wonderful and this is what we find out to be the motive of this drama. more like a cinema version of stage drama this film is a must watch......not (just) to appreciate it but also to remind our self in the bad time of life that how important everything and every life is, including our self in this space-time fabric . Its like a discussion to the basic ancient concepts we find from Indian subcontinental region and also from the recent book by Rhonda Byrne "the secret". it tells you that you are ... it tells me that i am the center of this universe and at the same time it also shows the importance of being good. even a single random act of kindness will trigger the sequential chain of good things to happen with others .....and if we think over it this chain finally ends on our self

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Great Movie!!

10/10
Author: suat1479 from Turkey
22 September 2013

The greatest movie I have ever seen. I watch it admiringly. James Stewart is the best actor and his performance on that movie is brilliant!. Also I love Frank Capra's movie and I think Wonderful Life is the best one. I watch it about 5 or 6 times.

Everything about this film is well for lack of better words, perfect. No question to it any longer, the best performance by an actor I have ever seen. It's more than just beautiful, timeless or fair. All of Stewart is revealed. Everything coming together for Capra. Lionel Barrymore at his best, which seems to be his worst.

Makes me feel good to be alive. What a wonderful little world it is. And if I waited my entire life, it would not be a waste of time.

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A wonderful film at any time of the year

10/10
Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
19 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Is It's a Wonderful Life the greatest Christmas movie ever made, or the greatest film ever made, period? Certainly many people on the IMDb think so; although a strong contender for the former, I'm not sure about the latter. One is hesitant about pronouncing any film something that eclipses all others, because that means every film you watch thereafter will seem inferior somehow, and I love movies too much to be pigeonholed.

The film's genesis is an interesting one; to my knowledge, It's a Wonderful Life is the only movie in history to originate from a Christmas card. Written by Philip Van Doren Stern, and originally titled The Greatest Gift, it told the story of George Bailey, and how his guardian angel Clarence shows him a glimpse of what life would be like if he had never been born. Stern shopped the story to various studios, and many of them turned their noses up at what sounded like such a frivolous idea for a movie.

But when it fell into Frank Capra's hands, he loved it, and wanted it expanded into his first feature after World War II had put his directing career on hold. After selecting fellow war veteran James Stewart as his leading man, and a rather troubled production, It's a Wonderful Life got the go-ahead.

But the film was met with indifference, where the public seemed to share in the studio heads distaste for the source material. It wound up forgotten about for several years, until the 1970s when copyright expired and the film landed in the hands of the public domain; suddenly It's a Wonderful Life was hailed as not only a Christmas classic, but a shining icon of cinema itself.

What is it about It's a Wonderful Life that has earned it that distinction? When reading other reviews on various sites, one thing that doesn't come through about the film is how little of Christmas there is in it. The framework Capra was working from only took up the last half-hour of the movie; nearly everything before that isn't even set at Christmas. It's a long road that we're on before we even get to George on that frigid bridge, considering suicide on that dark and snowy Christmas night.

Frank Capra takes his time with the story, investing plenty of development in the character of George Bailey. George has lived his whole life in the town of Bedford Falls; he has lofty ambitions that take him far, far away from this place, but he's forever having to make sacrifices for others.

Although he puts on a brave face while giving up his dreams of travelling the world and a college education, secretly a frustration burns deeply within George. He has to take over the Bailey Building & Loan, a job he really has no love for, and he watches friends and family go off and live their dreams and even become war heroes in the case of his brother, while he feels trapped in Bedford Falls.

This type of story could easily become saccharine in the hands of a lesser director, but Frank Capra's skillful direction makes sure the film avoids all of the obvious pitfalls (something the film's imitators often fall into). If George had taken each setback with a smile and a kind word, that is unrealistic, and I'd agree the film is worthy of the term Capra-corn that It's a Wonderful Life coined.

In fact this is a dark, relentlessly harsh Christmas film. Just look at George's face fall when he knows he must take over the BB&L to thwart the ambitions of the town miser Mr Potter, or when he forces a smile at the news that his brother Harry has gotten married and accepted a job offer, meaning the burden of responsibility over the future of the BB&L now rests in George's hands.

James Stewart was never better as George Bailey; as his life snowballs into an avalanche of misfortunes, he handles the increasingly depressing situation perfectly; even he believed this was his finest role. But equally good, if not better, is the film's villain, the heartless and chilling miser Mr Potter, played to perfection by Lionel Barrymore.

Potter makes Ebeneezer Scrooge seem a wimp; this is a man with no redeeming qualities, none whatsoever. He leans on the town of Bedford Falls like the Devil atop of Bald Mountain; he has no respect for the people who live there, and crushes anyone who dares challenge him, with George his favourite victim. He delights in seeing George's ambitions come to nothing, and vindictively pockets money that if not recovered, will bankrupt the BB&L and ruin George. He doesn't even get any kind of comeuppance; Potter is one of cinema's most chilling villains.

The final 30 minutes is where It's a Wonderful Life becomes ever more wondrous, and is the film at its blackest. George's failures have finally bested him, but just as he's about to end it all, Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel falls to Earth and shows him what Bedford Falls would be like without him. The town becomes a dark, twisted shadow of its other self, with Potter as its king and the people as his subjects. It's the film's darkest chapter, and a stunningly nihilistic vision of how things might have been.

The fact that things end on a happy note is never in doubt of course, but those who say seeing the townspeople come to George's rescue is Capra giving in to the soppy stuff before the end missed the point. After such a thoroughly miserable ordeal, George deserves his happy ending, and truly earns his redemption, like all the great film heroes. It's a Wonderful Life is often thought of as an upbeat, sentimental Christmas fable. What utter tosh! This is a film that takes us on a journey fraught with raw emotion, and rightfully earns a hallowed place in the Christmas pantheon.

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The Greatest Film Ever Made

10/10
Author: donjeffries from United States
27 August 2013

Frank Capra produced a quartet of timeless films that managed to combine a heartwarming sentimentality with hard edged social commentary. "It's A Wonderful Life," which was initially a box office disappointment, is his masterpiece. In my view, it also represents the apex of cinema, the finest achievement in the history of motion pictures.

The irresistible plot borrows heavily from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," but manages to put a unique twist on it; instead of Ebeneezer Scrooge being reminded by the spirit world of just how horrible a person he's been, George Bailey is reminded by the spirit world that he has touched the lives of countless people, and that the world would be a horrible place without him.

James Stewart is perfect as Bailey, somehow 'aging' throughout the film, beginning as a believable college aged man even though he was thirty eight years old at the time of filming. Donna Reed is lovely, and the rest of the cast is filled with the type of character actors Capra's films were noted for. There is an interesting cameo from Carl "Alfalfa" Swtizer, grown from his "Our Gang" days into a gangly, rather homely teenager, whose prank sets off the unforgettable scene where Stewart and Reed Charleston their way into a swimming pool.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is that rare film that never gets old, never ages. The viewer can jump in at any point in the movie, and feel satisfied. The movie used to be played repeatedly by numerous channels during the holiday season, but in recent years copyright issues have reduced air time to only one or two broadcasts by NBC.

Everything about this movie is first rate. The dialogue can be, and should be, quoted endlessly; it is filled with Capra's trademark pro- little guy populism. The final scene, where the cast sings first "Hark The Herald Angels Sing," followed by "Auld Lang Syne," never fails to bring a tear to my eye, from the moment younger brother Harry Bailey proposes a toast, "To my big brother George, the richest man in town."

Capra's movies always inspired, but this one is in a class of its own. To watch James Stewart, cradling little Zuzu in his arms, while his friends and neighbors shower him with money and affection, is to understand how powerful this medium can be, and how in the hands of a truly good soul like Capra's, that message can be positive and uplifting. The lesson everyone should take away from this film is: "It IS A Wonderful Life."

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I want to live again

10/10
Author: elmag101 from US
14 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is by far the greatest Christmas movie ever made, and one of the greatest movies ever made. It is not Christmas until my family and I watch this. It in cases every meaning of Christmas but can, and should, be watched all year long. When I was little I thought this movie was just boring and long but now I see that the movie takes it's time so as to develop George Bailey. From the very beginning we see George (James Stewart, in a wonderful performance) saving his brother from the frozen pond and his boss from overdosing a woman. We actually care about him and feel bad when others take advantage of his kindness (his brother in particular. This doesn't happen in today's movies a lot.

In the end, after George wishes that he was never born, he sees that every man touches the lives of countless others. One of the best lines in the movie is when he begs for his life back and cries out "I want to live again". Such a simple line gets me every time.

If you have never seen this movie you may have seen a TV show that has used this story line:man gets down on his luck, worth more dead than alive and wishes he was never born and then sees how bad live would be if he never was born. This movie will make you see the good in man and the evil that tries to bring us down.

Just watch and see just how wonderful life is.

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'The Greatest Gift' that became 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE'

10/10
Author: Morgan Rhys from United Kingdom
6 August 2013

There is no film quite as fantastic as 'It's a Wonderful Life'. A beautiful script from Goodrich/Hackett and of course Frank Capra, the magician. The person who turned Phillip Van Doren Stern's short story 'The Greatest Gift' into a masterpiece. And of course lets not forget Jo Swerling for the additional scenes that made the movie an American classic. Acting was another grand part of the story. Full of great actors such as Ward Bond, Todd Karns, W.B. Warner, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame, Frank Faylen and Frank Alberson. But the performances from James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers were Oscar bound and unforgettable. Even if 'IAWL' didn't win any Oscars, it is still the most powerful and most celebrated movie of all time.

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Holy mackerel, what a film.

10/10
Author: transylvanianfairy from Spain
4 July 2013

It's been a while since I last cried so much with joy after watching a film. The last minutes of It's a Wonderful Life are so beautiful and heart-melting that you'll probably want to stand up and clap! At least I did. I can't think of any flaw in this film. The acting is perfect, and James Stewart and Donna Reed shine out with their own light. The script is funny, witty and sometimes even sad. But what's most important about this film is its message; that life is often hard, but always beautiful, and something you should never give up on. Definitely, this movie is a classic that should be celebrated for the years to come. No matter if you're an adult or a child, you'll enjoy it.

10/10.

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Simply an annual "Can't Miss"!

10/10
Author: Blind Sight from Canada
2 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The acting is what you would expect from this excellent cast and they don't fail to deliver.

This is one of those classics where the winter holiday season isn't complete without seeing this movie.

While the plot is fascinating and intriguing, the human dynamics and character complexity is what makes this film so compelling. The evolution of George Bailey - from a compassionate youth, to a bitter and broken man that cannot see any end to a dark and foreboding tunnel, is both subtle and thoroughly real. There are very few people who cannot relate to that kind of despair, and his return-trip to salvation never fails to be uplifting.

Fantastic film.

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Decent

Author: kechhh from United States
5 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While I didn't particularly like the main character, I do like the theme that the movie was trying to push that basically "It's a Wonderful Life". I do like it when movies explore how important life is. Despite this, I feel that this movie could have done it more completely and thoroughly. While I don't know exactly how, I think more could have been added.

I didn't like the temper of the main character. I feel the movie could have benefit if the main character was a bit more likable. I found him to be easily angered and temperamental. While I do see they were trying to draw a contrast to him from before the angel and after, I think that if they made him more likable throughout the movie, you would have felt more sympathy and happiness for him in the end.

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A timeless classic

10/10
Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
10 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This classic film opens with the voices of various people praying for George Bailey; it is clear that their prayers will be answered when voices in the heavens discuss how to help him. Angel Clarence will be assigned to save George but first Clarence, and the audience, must see how George came to be considering suicide. As a child George Bailey dreamt of getting out of the small town of Bedford Falls; he wanted to see the world, get an education then make his mark on the world. It wasn't to be though; he constantly sacrifices his dreams to help others. This leaves him stuck in the town running the savings and loan company that his father ran. It isn't a job he wanted but he does it anyway giving loans to people nobody else will help. This makes him popular with everybody apart from the miserly Mr. Potter who doesn't like to see the people who were paying him to rent slums buying their own houses. The years pass and George gets married and has children; he isn't rich but he is content; then one day Potter gets the opportunity to ruin George; thinking the only way he can help his family is to kill himself for the insurance we get to the point the film started. As he hits the depth of despair Clarence appears in his life and showed him just what the town would have been like if George had never been born; a miserably place full of bitter people lorded over by the odious Potter. When George returns he understands what good friends he has.

I'd obviously heard of this film a long time ago but had somehow never seen it until today. I knew the film was considered a classic and think James Stewart was a fine actor so I had to watch it when it was on television. Now that I have seen it I ban see why it is held in such high regard. I was a little put off by the opening but once we started seeing George's life from the time he saved his brother's life when he was twelve till the very end I was engrossed. Stewart did a great job as George; the man destined to miss out on his dream each time it looked as though it would come true... even the moment he was about to go away on his honeymoon was ruined meaning he couldn't go. It isn't all disappointment though; there are many joyful scenes as George helps various people and falls in love and then marries Mary Hatch. By the end it is likely that the viewer will have shed tears of both sorrow and joy. If you haven't seen it yet watch it the next chance you get and if you have seen it I'm sure you don't need anybody else to tell you how good it is!

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A fabulous ode to life, love and solidarity

10/10
Author: pedro_quide from Portugal
28 December 2012

A fabulous ode to life, love and solidarity.

It is one of the most beautiful Christmas stories, although not exactly about Christmas. It is about how real miracles happen in our daily life. It shows us how to live life in happiness, love and solidarity.

In a small town in the United States, George Bailey, a man who tried all his life to be fair, honest, caring and good, has reached the limit of its mental, physical and financial strengths. It's right on the verge of losing everything he has and leave his family destitute unless a miracle happens this Christmas. But as George does not believe in miracles, he decides to commit suicide by throwing himself to the icy river. When he is about to jump he is prevented from doing so by a stranger named Clarence, actually an angel trying to earn his wings. He will prove to George, who wished never to exist, the importance of his life and show him the nightmare that his city could have turned if he had not existed.

Technically it is a bit poor, with bad cuts inside same scenes, but we must care that this is a 1946 movie and this doesn't takes down the 10/10 rating I gave. A remake of this movie should be made in order to update such a remarkable story.

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Masterpiece, classic or both...

10/10
Author: Morgan Rhys from United Kingdom
24 December 2012

What can I say about 'It's a Wonderful Life'. I have just watched the film this evening on Christmas Eve 2012, and every time I watch the movie, it just gets more powerful and grander each year. The film is on top of thousands of peoples lists around the world as the greatest film ever made. It is definitely my favourite film. I am seventeen years old, and you would think the magic of 'It's a Wonderful Life' would die out in the older generations, but no, it gets more magical through every generation that comes.

Have you ever herd the expression, "They don't make films like that anymore." Well, the thing is, they don't. And really, there is never going to be anything in the whole history of motion pictures that will be greater than this masterpiece classic. The moral to this film is that no man is a failure who has friends (as written by Clarence inside the 'Tom Sawyer' book in the film).

The film is brilliantly casted with exceptional roles from James Stewart (who should have won an Oscar for the role, never mind just getting a nomination), Donna Reed (the smart and beautiful actress who every man would love to be an ideal wife or mother), and Lionel Barrymore (for his exceptional role as the wicked Scrooge like character, Mr. Potter). The film was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, you can thank 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946) and the film critics for that. Really nowadays, you don't hear anyone talking about that film. A lot of films that are at the top of polls have never won an award anyway, like 'The Shawshank Redemption' (1992). Both 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'The Shawshank Redemption' topped a poll in the Empire magazine for the greatest film never to win an Oscar (IAWL came second). But gladly, the film did win a Golden Globe for Best Directing (Frank Capra) in 1947. So not all was lost.

Overall, this film is a masterpiece and a classic, and for those people who have voted the film under seven, what are you thinking? 10 out of 10!!!

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I Believe in Possibilities, therefore I love this Movie

10/10
Author: BatStarIndyFreak from UT, USA
15 December 2011

I am a little shocked by the criticisms of the portrayal of George as being selfless amid so much opportunity. I'll admit that I'm nowhere near that level of dedication toward improving the lives of people in a community, but I've known several people of that caliber and have always been in awe of what they do. If you watch George at the very end and all you can think is that he short-changed himself in life, you're overdue for a thoracic stone removal. I, like many, have made "It's a Wonderful Life" a Christmas tradition. One of the bits of magic I appreciate more and more in movies is when the ending brings such a sweet atmosphere that stands as complete resolution to all the bleekness and despair that permeates the plot. In the end I have nothing but admiration and gratification for the character of George Bailey.

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Deserves its 'Classic' label...

9/10
Author: ajs-10 from United Kingdom
28 December 2010

I have heard many times that this is a classic Christmas film over the years but it has always evaded me, until now. I decided it was time I saw what all the fuss was about and took the plunge when it came up on the TV schedules recently. To be honest, it's better than what I was expecting, although still a little too saccharine in places for my taste. But I digress, here's a very brief summary before I give you more of my thoughts (summary haters please save that drowning angel while I write the next paragraph).

George Bailey grew up in the small town of Bedford Falls. He has always wanted to leave and travel the world and find his fortune but the fates have always prevented his leaving. His father runs a local Building and Loan company with George's uncle Billy and when his father dies it is George that is chosen to carry on the business. His brother, Harry, who was supposed to take over when he left college, gets a better offer. Even when he gets married himself, to Mary, and they are about to leave on honeymoon, he is drawn back to the town. When a local businessman, Mr Potter, refuses him a loan after some money is lost, this is the last straw for George and he decides to take his own life, thinking he is worth more dead than alive. At this point an Angel (second class) called Clarence intervenes and shows George what life would be like if he had never existed, and I'm here to tell you it ain't pretty. Better not say any more, don't want to give the ending away.

This is a very well made film, with excellent direction from Frank Capra and a tremendous performance from James Stewart as George Bailey. He really steals the show here and, not surprisingly, was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Honourable mentions must also go to; Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy and Henry Travers as Clarence.

As I said at the beginning, I found this film a little too saccharine in places, but it's still a great film and deserves its 'Classic' label. It is a very long film which mostly deals with events in George's life that lead up to his attempted suicide and it is all very well done. If you haven't seen it before I can highly recommend this film. I am not a religious man myself, but still enjoyed it.

My score: 8.7/10

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A powerful piece of cinema that shows how our lives are more important than we think they are.

10/10
Author: wwe7961 from United States
11 December 2010

This is a wonderful movie. It goes beyond the typical holiday special, and gives us something to think about. Rather than giving us that jolly feeling of Christmas through something visual or emotional this film gives it to us in more of a mental way. It makes us think about how important our lives really are, and that we should be glad to be alive. It makes us think about how we have changed the lives of people though we wouldn't realize it. It gives the mind a message that is received the brain and stays there. Yes it does give a heartwarming feel that I love, but I feel the main focus of the story was lesson it wanted to teach its watchers. They deliver that message stronger than any other film I have ever seen. You learn from this movie. This is really one of the best I have ever seen. The cast delivers wonderfully, the script is strong, the cinematography is excellent, and as I said the message it gives is genuine. I love this movie.

4 stars out of 4

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The Epitome of Feel Good

9/10
Author: Ziglet_mir from United States
5 January 2010

I won't write much because most everyone else has all ready said what's needed to be said. So here we go...

What a great movie! Jimmy Stewart really delivers, and Donna Reed is so very charming as his sweetheart. Henry Travers plays it up as the small time angel with big hopes, but most of all, Frank Capra was a mastermind to really give this world a movie that sincerely touches the heart in more ways the one.

This is definitely not your average holiday movie, but the spirit is their and the lives of the characters are so carefully tended to. It is one of the most wittiest and well-crafted scripts I've ever heard from a film. And it's all thanks to Capra.

This is pure cinema magic at its finest-- The Epitome of Feel Good.

The whole scene toward the end pretty much had me in tears... and that's what a great movie's capabilities should be. Something that has you ask yourself questions and really make you think. And that's everything Capra's film did to me.

If for some reason this film doesn't click with you... I hope you find a movie that makes you feel the same way I did toward this one...

Because I have never walked away from any other movie saying, "I want to really live my life."

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It's a wonderful film.

Author: (esmorr) from Melbourne, Australia.
27 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favourite movies. It took some time for me to get to the point of liking it so much though; the first time I watched it I thought it was o.k., but after subsequent viewings I now like it very much. I have always loved Jimmy Stewart's work, he's my favourite actor, so the fact that he's in it is a plus. The message of this film is that one man can make a difference, and that should never be forgotten by anyone; we all make a difference individually, but whether it's good or bad is up to us. Donna Reed is excellent as the dutiful, loving wife, and Lionel Barrymore is classic as the miserly, greedy opportunist. Henry Travers shines in his role as Clarence the guardian angel 2nd class, sent to pull George up by the bootstraps and make him see his place in the world of Bedford Falls. This is the movie which should be played every Christmas, as it engenders in the viewer the true spirit of Christmas: the joy of giving and investing in your fellow man. If you can get your hands on the behind-the-scenes extras' please do, as they contain very revealing interviews with both Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. I only wish that they still made good quality movies like this nowadays. I give it a 9 because it's a B&W; it would be great in colour, but either way 'It's a wonderful life' is indeed a wonderful family movie with a great message. Note: There is a coloured copy of this classic movie floating around, so you might like to grab it if you can.

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Nice Movie I ever seen

8/10
Author: chandrasekhar_babu from India
14 April 2008

The first half of the movie is going very good with the family background. The real twist starts in the second half and after seeing the entire movie no body wont leave until they cry. The human values is shown very nicely. And the people will learn how to lead a life with their wife and children.

James stewart done excellent in this movie. I like his character in this movie. Mostly the angle do the funny things in this movie. This movie is worth watching and You can spent for this.

I have a DVD Collection for my own and i want to keep it for a long time. wish to see this movie.

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The truest meaning of Christmas....

10/10
Author: yddsp@aol.com from Scarsdale, New York
24 December 2007

"It's a Wonderful Life" epitomizes the true meaning of Christmas. Hope, understanding, forgiveness, friendship and sharing, all of the attributes we strive to achieve the whole year through, though somehow they manage to elude most of us. However, we come closest to being all the best we can be, at least once each and every year, at Christmas time. Frank Capra struck a chord, I would hope, in every cynic, miser, curmudgeon and Scrooge among us, when this film originally made its debut in 1946. The war was finally over, those who were lucky enough to be coming home were home, and the world was struggling to get back some semblance of the joy and peace in life, much the way things were in a prewar America. Although the innocence of that generation was gone forever, great movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" helped to restore some faith in mankind, as well as joy in some of the simple pleasures in life. Films like this one are milestones in history and a credit to humanity itself.

There are a few films of this type that come to mind which epitomize the nature of the unselfish heart and giving spirit: "The Bishop's Wife", "Scrooge-A Christmas Carol, 1951", "The Bells of St Mary's", and "Going My Way" to name a few, there are others, but these along with this film sticks in my mind as being the paradigm of hope, generosity and the truest nature of the Christmas spirit. These films are precious, their stories immortal, their moral lessons invaluable, and the genius behind these films are, sadly, of a bygone era. Hollywood "broke-the-mold" with these productions offering us wholesome family fun, genuine entertainment bearing an endearing notion while teaching a valuable moral lesson. It is this type of film that truly makes the "Holidays" fun. Bravo! A perfect *10*

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it's a wonderful film

9/10
Author: guy anisimov from Austria
19 February 2007

wow how i enjoyed this! i really don't know how to start describing what i feel about this beautiful film but its just that i am in about the same point in my life as George Bailey is in most of 'its a wonderful life' so you probably understand why I'm so excited.not knowing exactly what i want to study and where and also having so many things i have to consider and so many things i have to decide if i wanna give up or keep, thats basically what is happening with the main character in this wonderful film...

the story that is told to us is about the whole life of a guy that owns a heart of gold, throughout the movie were being told about his whole life since he was a child and until a point where he's considering about taking his own life away.i really don't want to say too much because i think it will just spoil the whole experience for a first time viewer after reading this.go watch this only knowing that it is a very old film that is considered to be very good, you will never expect a 1946 film to be made like this was made just as you will never expect it to be as enjoying as this is.

i watched it by myself but i can really imagine that watching this with someone you love or someone close to you will make it so much better.it certainly deserves its spot on this site's top 250 list and i truly hope that more and more people will watch it so its recognition among top movies will be much higher.

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My Favorite Movie of All Time!

Author: hoffmankm from United States
27 January 2007

This is not only the best feel good movie of ever, but my personal favorite movie of all time. The story of the movie is great, and the moral that goes along with it is excellent. The movie makes you feel as if you are a very important person, and it is one of the very few movies that can do that. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, and didn't win any, which is a little sad considering it is an absolutely fabulous movie. In this day and age when movies are all about sex, drugs, and alcohol, I know that I can watch this and feel a lot better about cinema, and also feel better about myself. The acting in this movie was so great and the characters were so cute, sweet, and lovable. But some of the characters were mean, but were still well acted. This movie is a great Christmas classic, and in my opinion it is so completely flawless.

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It is a wonderful life!

9/10
Author: Rhiannon from United Kingdom
7 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Please note: this may contain a spoiler) This film epitomises what a good film should be - humoured, heartfelt, funny and touching. 'It's a wonderful life' is not only viewed as a classic but also lives up to the audiences' expectations - a truly satisfying experience.

Never having previously experiencing Capra's work I chose to rent this film - arguably one of Capra's finest achievements.

The film follows lovable character 'George Bailey' a man whose life is filled with love and friendship. Like many people, he does not always realise the great support and affection he holds with the people close to him. Bailey was an ambitious, determined child with hopes of building bridges and buildings, touring the world and seeing famous sights. Bailey's dreams come back to earth when his father suddenly dies and he is asked to fill his place.

Slowly, Goerge builds a new life with his family (and of course..the girl!). They don't have much - for Bailey's heart is slightly over-sized and his business makes little profit but does much good for the citizens of his town. But things don't always go smoothly and when Bailey's uncle misplaces a large sum of money, they face severe financial crisis, as well as criminal.

Bailey's life has apparently come crashing down around him..until he meets somebody - an angel to guide him on his way. The Angel shows Bailey what his life would have been like had he never been born. Bailey discovers unnerving things - his town is completely changed and nobody knows him - they shy away from him. His family doesn't exist and his wife is a lonely librarian..George Bailey's stark realisation - his life made great impacts on the people of the town..his brother didn't survive - because he wasn't there to save him. Bailey realises - his life impacts so many things - and if he wasn't there, everything would be different..much worse.

This film is perfect - not too overpowering to watch and not too bland. Stewart's character shines as a lovable and sweet man - caring, sensitive and completely selfless. Capra's ingenious movie brings to light a very good topic - how one single person's life impacts the people he/she meets and knows...how everything can be so completely different - how fate and reality go hand in hand.

The production is fantastic as is every other aspect of this picture - unique and memorable. Even in black and white! A must-see for all the family, for every film buff and cynic - children and adults alike - a truly memorable piece of cinema that will forever shine a true mastery.

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excellent quintessential film about life

Author: saimahuq from malden, ma
2 January 2003

This isn't really a Christmas movie, the story just takes place around Christmas. George Bailey has always wanted to be an explorer, but instead he lives in the same little town his whole life, marries his childhood sweetheart, and takes over his dad's savings and loan association, Now he is in danger of going bankrupt, through a mishap that is used to the advantage of the local evil codger and main competition to Bailey. Despondent, he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all.

Enter Clarence, a student guardian angel who is trying to earn his wings. Saving George Bailey will get him those wings, if only he can show George how the world would have been had he never been born. He reveals the impact George has had on others -- even saving lives --- to prove he is not a failure and very much needed and loved.

Keep an eye out for the grown-up Alfalfa (from the Little Rascals) as the jealous guy at the high-school dance who opens up the gym's swimming pool so the dancers fall in. It's priceless!

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The Best Movie Ever Made?

10/10
Author: rhythmwiz (9702702t@student.gla.ac.uk) from Falkirk, Scotland
3 April 2002

OK, it has it's flaws, like every movie ever made, but this has fewer than most, and, surely, it's the greatest feel-good movie ever made? It's simple, innocent, and wonderful. Great performances, great story - it's everything the movies should be, and it leaves you feeling good about movies, about the human spirit, and about life when you've seen it. I love this movie! Why can't they all be this good?

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A Different Take (mild spoilers)

10/10
Author: kensmark from Right Behind You
1 April 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love this movie and can watch it again and again. To me, this movie is intentionally bittersweet and ironic.

George Bailey's life is, or isn't, wonderful, depending on how you look at it, or how he looks at it. I don't think the movie's purpose is a sappy homily about how George will never be poor so long as he has friends. I think it's more like Voltaire's "Candide". Life is difficult, and often unpleasant, and you have to work to make it worthwhile, but the rewards of life are not unattainable or small.

I think "It's a Wonderful Life" makes a great companion to "Shenandoah", another James Stewart film, one which touches on the same theme from another perspective. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a happier film, and hence is easier to watch over and over, and it's one of the few holiday classics that really deserves repeat viewings.

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Nothing more to be said

10/10
Author: mfrost71w from Kent, England
1 March 2002

There's no point in commenting on this film; it's simply the best thing to come out of Hollywood. For me it's a barometer - Everybody I like seems to love Wonderful Life while the few people I dont get on with dislike it.

As for Jimmy Stewart, is it a coincidence he plays the two nicest men in the world, George Bailey and Elwood P. Dowd?

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It's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: aberry-1 (aberry@mgtrecruiters.com.au) from Sydney, Australia
21 February 2002

I gave it 10 out of 10. Seen 10 times and I still cry with joy at the end, every time! I always think the testament of the a great film is that no matter how advanced technololgy becomes( and this was in black & white!), noone can attempt to repeat the perfection of this film. Just thinking about the film leads me to reach for something to wipe my eyes, so I must go...and live life to the full.

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Still wonderful, 55 years on

9/10
Author: gaityr from United Kingdom
12 February 2002

There are many things to rave about in this wonderful classic movie: the competent direction, the detailed creation of a town on a 4-acre lot, the sheer amount of hard work, love and inventiveness that went into its conception and completion.

I wish, however, to restrict my rave to the (previously unrecognised) dramatic abilities of the lead actor, James Stewart. If there's one reason to watch IAWL again and again and again (all the other wonderful factors notwithstanding), it's for the amazing performance Stewart turns in as George Bailey. The nuance and subtlety captured in the actor's performance is wonderful, just as the desperation he shows at the end of the film when he's running through Potterville looking for traces of his old life. Watching Stewart play college-age at the beginning of the film takes a little getting used to, but it's the end of the film that truly establishes him as one of the finest actors of his generation. His performance is an absolute marvel, and just as it's a crime that Cary Grant never received an Oscar for his amazing work, the fact that Stewart didn't win an Oscar for this shows how meaningless award ceremonies can be.

A beautiful, heartwarming movie. 9/10.

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Wonderful, brings happy tears.

9/10
Author: insanitatsu from Vancouver Canada
20 January 2002

I am fall in love with this movie when I first watched it. Now,I watch it over and over. though, it brings fresh tear every single time.

Great movie to watch in the morning to have a good start for your day. It's a guaranteed happy tear movie.

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Oh! What a fabu movie

Author: Stella from Manayunk, Pennsylvania
6 January 2002

This is why I love Christmas. People gathering and renewing life with hapiness abound! Jimmy Stewart is phenomenal and this movie will send you to bed with a much improved outlook on life! I recommend that everyone watch this movie every year for life!

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I guess "Timeless" is the right word for this film.

10/10
Author: anton-6 from sweden
31 December 2001

I have heard that they show this film every Christmas in America and I can´t understand why they don´t show it every year here in Sweden.A film that makes you happy.

First off all I would like too say that the acting by James Stewart is superb and Henry Travers as the angel is very funny.The rest of the acting is also great.The cinematography is also excellent.

I would call it a masterpiece.A Sentimental tale about life that I am sure will make you happy.It has not aged a bit.5/5

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A Sidebar Point Or Two

Author: fowler1 from nyc
16 December 2000

There's no need to echo the praise this film receives from seemingly everyone, but I've always been fascinated by its continuing, if not growing, appeal to modern audiences. The Bedford Falls of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE has never existed and I think we all know that: it's sheer fantasy composed of equal portions of wish-fulfillment and nostalgia, but the type of fantasy that summons the better angels within us and ennobles us by lifting us out of the mundane and towards the ideal. Bedford Falls is childhood and innocence tucked away in the safe harbor of the past. Where this movie's immense power lies is in the Pottersville scenes...let's face it, Pottersville is what contemporary America IS. (Has anyone ever noted that while Bedford Falls is obviously a studio set, the camera pans through nightmarish Pottersville look like stock footage of any postwar American city?) That contrast, that emotional dichotomy, is what strikes such a chord within us: the idealized never-was vs the harsh, unforgiving can't-wish-it-away of grim reality. By the same token, the movie's true message - Bedford Falls is within reach of us all if we love our friends and family, stay the course despite setbacks, and treat others with kindness and respect - is even more seductive and affecting now than in 1946. It's little wonder this movie tanked on first release, as its peculiar magic needs to acquire antique status to reach its full power. I'm sure the first half of the film seemed as unbearably corny to postwar audiences as it now seems impossible to resist to audiences who are unceasingly bludgeoned with entertainment built upon callousness, carnality and levels of brutality once unthinkable. (Which is why the notion of a remake is utterly laughable: even younger audiences who don't 'get' old black & white movies are intuitive enough to grasp that this kind of heartfelt sentiment properly belongs to a different America - the America contemporary Hollywood has taught them to despise.) Though everyone focuses on the well-known plot and a truly stunning performance by Jimmy Stewart, it's worth noting that this might be Capra's most superbly directed project. There's no exotica a la LOST HORIZON or showy MR SMITH filibusters on view; WONDERFUL LIFE is more introspective and mellow a film, Capra in a minor key. But every setpiece is staged and photographed expertly, and all the big payoffs resonate with honest and powerful emotion. The scene with young George Bailey and the drunken, grief-crazed druggist is as beautifully done as any in Capra's long career, and that's just the first of many high points here. Maybe the most satisfying aspect of the film is the inability of film critics to resist taking a shot at it: you keep reading over and over how IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a 'dark' film with a pessimistic view of middle-class aspirations, despite the fact that millions of viewers, year after year, watch it as a reaffirmation of those same values. And Frank Capra made movies for ordinary people, whom he loved, and not critics, whom he tolerated.

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The best Christmas movie ever!

Author: Monika-5 from United States
9 October 2000

What a wonderful film. Sure, it ends happily but it is also a very dark, dramatic film. NO ONE could've played the unlucky hero, George Bailey as wonderfully as James Stewart did. I could never imagine anyone else playing him, and a wonderful supporting cast backs him up beautifully. Who hasn't felt like George at some point in our lives and wondered how our loved ones would be if we'd never been born? The saga of George Bailey is a wonderful story to behold. A must-see, especially at Christmas.

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If you've never seen this movie, you've GOT to.

Author: john in missouri from United States
23 June 2000

If you're one of those people who've never seen this movie -- you've GOT to. It's as simple as that.

In fact, if I were limited to viewing 3 or 4 movies during my lifetime, and could somehow make an intelligent choice of which movies to choose, "It's A Wonderful Life" would be on that very short list.

Even if you've seen it quite a few times, like I have, you can still find details you've previously missed. (Do you know what words Peter Bailey put in a plaque on the wall of the Building and Loan? Didn't think so!)

I personally find this movie so important because of what it says about such things as: the meaning of a single individual's life; the potential of an ordinary person; getting the hard stuff in perspective, etc.

Feel-good movie? Yes -- but darker moments are gripping as well; from the very beginning in which we hear (among other voices praying for a man named George Bailey) the desperate voice of his young daughter. There's a rather horrifying drugstore scene. Classic moments, however, include the touching and the funny as well, like the dance scene ("Hey, we must be pretty good!")

Writing about it all makes me want to see this movie again. If you've never done so, I highly recommend making it next on your list!

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A Classic

10/10
Author: Fran Robins (critic-22) from London
30 March 2000

It's a Wonderful Life

DIRECTION V% Directed to bring across the story in a fairly good way. Not aged that much!

ACTING †% Stewart is the centre piece of emotions and drama. Supporting performances are good as well.

EDITING/SPECIAL EFFECTS f% Edited to convey a story, showing how the past affects the present.

PLOT •% The strongest part of the movie, enough there to stop you from killing yourself even though times do really get hard.

STRONG WORDS AND VIOLENCE ETC %% There is a family argument, which is emotional and dramatic..

MUSIC e% A score fitting this style of movie.

SOUND 0% Normal everyday sounds, improving tha atmosphere of the flick.

HOOKABILITY †% Good story telling goes a long way.........

LASTABILITY %........and you won't be forgetting this tale in a hurry.

OVERALL ‘% A classic in the respects of good story telling and provides a healing process for the hurt in this world. Life is wonderful and worth every moment!

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It's a Wonderful Life!...It really is!

10/10
Author: Derek Viger (sturmvogel43@hotmail.com) from Rumford, Maine
2 March 2000

There are multitudes of Christmas films that have been made. Some are only for kids, some are more serious, and some are simply classics. It's a Wonderful Life fits under the last category. Ever since I was a small child, I cant remember one Christmas where everyone didn't cuddle up under warm afghans and watched this movie. Jimmy Stuart gives his most brilliant performance in this movie. He does a very well job of portraying a man who's down on his luck at the beginning of the movie. I can hear the frustration in his voice when the stair banister breaks. But he not only plays this one shade of a man. He plays many more. He is the sweet father who watches over little sick ZuZu, but at the same time he is the man with too many troubling thoughts when he yells at his daughter Janey for practicing the piano too loud. Then again he shows his helpful side when his old friend comes back looking for money to head out to Hollywood and start a acting career. Although this story has vast differences, I find that it contains a hint of A Christmas Carol. The underlying story is still there. A man who is heading down the wrong path and is shown how he changed the world. If you haven't seen this movie before rent it in the middle of July for a little bit of the Christmas cheer.

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One of the greatest

10/10
Author: Mike from Saginaw, Michigan
21 February 2000

It's a Wonderful Life is probably one of the most spectacular films I've ever seen in my short film experience. Every little piece that went into making this film is superb. The plot is ingenious, to actually see what it would be like if you never existed, the acting is a joy to watch, the direction is Frank Capra, what more can you say. I gave it a ten and even decided to comment on a movie for the first time in seeing that someone could brand this movie with the disrespect of a one.

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It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Gregory R. Greco (grgreco@star.net)
9 January 2000

In one of the great stories of this century, we meet George Bailey, who in a desperate moment is shown how his life touches so many others. It is a story of a man who has given up money, adventure, and excitement in favor of integrity, loyalty, and sacrifice. It is a loving tribute to everyone who knows the value of making a house a home, and making a place a community. Jimmy Stewart, as George Bailey, is able to effortlessly give us such a man, but he is also able to give us a flawed hero who is at the end of his rope. It is when he sees what life would be like without him that he truly appreciates his "wonderful life." While this film was billed as a romance, and Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart do not disappoint on that end, director Frank Capra is going for something deeper than romance. What he is aiming at, and succeeds like few have done before or since, is to demonstrate the value in placing people above money, integrity over opportunity, and sacrifice over adventure. While these values have been demonstrated in movies before, none have done so with Capra's poetry.

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Everyone loves it!

10/10
Author: lawrence-14 (lawrence@jbennie.freeserve.co.uk)
22 December 1999

Everyone loves It's A Wonderful Life, if they don't then something's up. Very influental, this is a timeless classic from Frank Capra that doesn't seem to get as much screening on TV in the UK as it does in the USA. James Stewart is brilliant and is without a doubt one of the all-time acting greats. Everyone else is great in a movie which is a true festive favourite.

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It's a wonderful movie

10/10
Author: JeffG. from Boston, MA
19 December 1999

This movie is not just a Christmas classic, but one of the best movies ever. Despite being over 50 years old, it hasn't aged at all and is just as endearing now as ever. Jimmy Stewart gives the performance of his lifetime as the selfless George Bailey. The movie also delivers an important, though often overlooked message: no man is a failure who has friends. What a wonderful movie.

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the meaning of life.

10/10
Author: moodoo from portsmouth, england
11 December 1999

Frank Capras film is the best film i've seen.The movie captures the sprit of humanity and gives us an insight in the human soul. George Baily a man who always done his best is shown what his world would have been like if he'd never been born. The film has humour and until wit and i think is remeniscent of a christmas carol to some extent. A classic christmassy film that leaves a lump in you're throat, one to watch if you're feeling low.

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Citizen Kane, Casablanca...Ba Hum bug!!!

10/10
Author: Diamond Tim T.S. Pleshaw (zzzuko78@aol.com) from Las Vegas, NV.
4 December 1999

In my opinion the greatest film ever made. Every Christmas Eve I go to my Mom's for a while then over to the Philpo's, where Mrs. Philpo makes me a batch of M&M cookies and then I go home and pop in the video with a frosty mug of milk to wash down the cookies. It is a Christmas tradition that will never die. I feel as though I've been transported to Framingham, Massachusetts where it felt like Bedford Falls in the early 70's as a kid. I guess I was about George Bailey's age when he saves his brother Harry from drowning in the pond. My Grandparents reminded me so much of Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed that I swore the movie was about us. I felt like I knew everyone in the entire movie from Nick the bartender to Clarence the angel who gets his wings! A fireplace forever warms my heart every cold December when I watch this incredible masterpiece. No matter where in the world I may be, it's home. The 20th Century is nearing it's end and with a new millennium approaching "It's A Wonderful Life" should reflect what was good about the last 100 years. So put some logs in the fire, Mrs. Philpo's M&M cookie recipe and a frosty glass of milk! "No Gin tonight son"..."Awwwww".

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Head and shoulders above the rest

10/10
Author: TheCroppyBoy from Sydney, Australia
27 November 1999

It's a Wonderful Life is, quite simply, the greatest film ever made. It deals with the theme of Each Man's Life Touches So Many Others with great warmth intelligence and humour. James Stewart's performance is flawless and he displays a range not seen up to that point. It is a beautiful, important and, yes, unsentimental film that will always have a special place in my heart.

Anyone who has ever felt worthless should see It's a Wonderful Life!

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One of the best movies ever made

10/10
Author: johncros from Rotherham, England
24 November 1999

I first watched this film as a young boy and fell in love with it straight away. I think that part of it's enduring appeal is that all audiences young and old can relate to this movie, I introduced my daughter to it last christmas and I look forward to sitting down to watch it this year with my baby boy.

O.K as you grow older you realise that some of the dialogue is perhaps a little corny but there can be no denying the strength of the acting, especially Stewart who in my opinion gives the performance of his life.

Some scenes take your breath away especially the bridge scene when George Bailey begs for his life back when the harsh wind dies away and snow starts to fall again, pure brilliance!

The ending always makes me fill up.

I don't think a movie as good as this will be ever made again

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE

10/10
Author: Ritch-5 (rich_hine@compaid.com) from PENNA, USA
11 November 1999

This is a movie that has to be experienced to be appreciated. The names may be changed, the time periods, settings, situations and places may be different, but, this is the story of every person who thought they lost everything and were given a second chance to find it. Jimmy Stewart at his usual best. Donna Reed at her most lovely. Great acting all around, especially Barrymore at his most sinister. Although this usually appears at Christmas, this is more than just a Christmas classic.

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One-of-a-kind classic

10/10
Author: RNMorton from West Chester, Pa
17 October 1999

A lesser cast would flounder with this story, about a small-town man who suffers a setback and ponders ending it all on Christmas Eve. But Jimmy Stewart and friends make the tale truly uplifting rather than sappy. The rare kind of movie that can actually influence you years after you've seen it. Supporting cast provides great backdrop for Stewart. As good viewing the tenth time as it is the first.

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Its a wonderful film too

Author: gazzo-2 from United States
2 October 1999

Like the entries for 'Star Wars', 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'The Third Man', about everything that can be said about this one has been said already. I will say that it's a tremendously affecting film, even after seeing it every year for ages-it still delivers. Watch this one after watching, say, 'You Can't Take it With You' or 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town'-you'll see many of the same faces in the cast, and a similar magic working in them as well.

Personally I have always enjoyed Sheldon Leonard (as the bar keeper) and Sam S. Hinds as the father, among many, many others.

Of course, the ending where he gets help from the Halohead, and begs God for his life back, absolutely wrenches your guts to tears every time out; no one could deliver the goods like Capra, Reed and Stewart. A film too good to see just in December, by all means see it, watch it, enjoy it. They do Not make them like this anymore; for all I know, they don't know how.

**** outta ****, as good as it gets.

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A pretty good movie builds up to the one great scene on the bridge

9/10
Author: Tommy-92 from Baltimore, Maryland
12 September 1999

This movie feels just the same no matter when you watch it, but today it's viewed mainly as a Christmas movie. Still, no matter when you watch it, you can't help but like it and get something out of it, unless you have no heart at all or have an absolute, unshakeable hatred for movies like this. Throughout the movie, you think George Bailey's a nice guy (James Stewart was great in the role). You may get a little tired of the endless flashback scenes, but you'll undoubtedly not really be that bored, especially in the electrifying telephone scene with Donna Reed. Once the flashbacks are dispensed with, you feel sorry for George as he begins a sudden downhill descent. You hope (okay, you know) his lovable, bumbling guardian Angel Second Class will be able to talk sense into him by showing him what the world would be like had he not been born. And then it all comes down to the scene where he almost goes crazy, runs back to the bridge and begs God to let him live again. That is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever seen in movies; unless you're one of the above-mentioned people with no heart, there's no way you will be able to keep at least a couple of tears from falling. You will almost certainly be pulled into the scene, right alongside George, begging God to let him live, too. But if somehow you can prevent the tears from coming, then they'll immediatly come flowing when he runs back home rejoicing and yelling, "Hello, Bedford Falls!" Yeah, it is what's come to be called "Capracorn", but it's utterly genuine and very emotional. The mood is masterfully orchestrated by Capra and masterfully performed by Stewart. It's the most, well, wonderful way to close a movie.

While that scene and the performance in it are the best things about the movie, that does not mean they're the only good things. Donna Reed makes a great companion with Stewart (witness that telephone scene), Henry Travers is a pleasent diversion as his guardian angel, and Lionel Barrymore is wonderfully wicked as the devious Mr. Potter. The whole film is pretty well-done. Even though everything seems happy, you still do get a little sad knowing George gave up everything. There is a dark edge to this film, especially when he contemplates suicide. Nothing happy there at all, but still well-performed and genuinely sympathy-provoking. While it may be at its best when viewed at Christmas, it's just as good any time of the year and should have a lot of meaning, especially to a depressed or bereaved person. It's just as wonderful as you've heard, honestly.

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Beautiful charmer, pure and simple.

10/10
Author: Charles Saint-Pierre from Montreal, Canada
31 August 1999

"It's a wonderful life" is one of those movies that is so good that it has the same effect on you even if you watch a million times. The story is brilliant and at the same time it is somewhat simple, James Stewart's performance is probably his best, and Capra's directing is excellent as well.

Beginning with God talking to one of his angels telling him that George Bailey (Stewart) wants to kill himself, the movie never drags. You then see Bailey's life and how he married Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) and why he now wants to kill himself. But when George's archangel is sent on Earth and meets with Bailey, the movie is at its best.

Keeping it simple all along, Capra made his best movie ever when he did "It's a wonderful life". It must not be missed.

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A Holiday Classic!!~

10/10
Author: Elizabeth (endofroad2@aol.com) from NY
16 August 1999

This is one of my favorite movies of all times. I love James Stewart in the part of George Bailey. I especially love the part where he's praying at the bar...that always makes me cry!!~

I also love Henry Travers as Clarence the angel. He's so funny and so sweet...I wish I had a guardian angel like Clarence!

Everyone, of course, loves the end when the townspeople contribute the money to George and Mary. And I just love Harry's toast:

"To my big brother George, the richest man in town!"

"It's a Wonderful Life" has become a Christmas tradition in my house, but it's great to watch any day of the year. I give this movie a 10!

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The best film ever made.

10/10
Author: anonymous
10 July 1999

I love today's movies and today's actors. But if I were to name my favorite movie of all time, I would have to go back to more than 50 years ago to a film called "It's a Wonderful Life". This movie has become a holiday classic, but it's much more. A movie that makes us realize the value of life, family and friends transcends any season. This film could have come off as overly sentimental had it not been for the superb acting of what I believe is the best actor of all time, namely Jimmy Stewart. His performance, along with a brilliant Donna Reed, makes this a film for all ages and all times.

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One of the all-time greats

10/10
Author: Neil Christiansen
7 June 1999

After a life full of disappointments and facing a jail sentence for fraud,a young man decides to end his life Christmas Eve.Due to heavenly interference he's given the opportunity to see what impact his life has made on his fellow man.

A great fantasy-drama which contains perhaps James Stewart's best performance.The other actors turn in marvelous work,especially Lionel Barrymore as the "Scrooge-like" banker. This movie is Capra's masterpiece,a movie which gets better with each viewing.The nightmarish scenes where Stewart is given the chance to see what life would have been without him,is so masterfully executed that you really learn at the films conclusion that: After all "it's a wonderful life"

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the top of my list

Author: Shaun Small from Mississauga, Ontario
3 June 1999

Quit simply the greatest movie ever made. No other movie captures the qualities of living and appreciating all that you do for the others around you. Great acting, direction, story and message. "No man is a failure who has friends." Jimmy Stewart gives his greatest performance and how he or this movie didn't win an Oscar is beyond me. A movie that should be watched more than once. A classic.

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I love this movie!!!

10/10
Author: Kazuhisa Tsuruta (pho_v@hotmail.com) from Kyoto, Japan
20 May 1999

This is the best movie I've ever seen. After watching this movie, I thought a lot about life, friendship, love and compassion. I tried to figure out what made life wonderful. I was not so interetsed in this movie, but my favorite actor, I knew that Chris O'donnell referred to this movie as his favorite one. Now I want to count this great movie as the favorite one, too. Life is absolutely wonderful.

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Thank God for Frank Capra!

10/10
Author: Embley from canada
10 May 1999

Capra made many films that were really good, but It's a Wonderful Life is a truly GREAT film. I have seen it an uncountable number of times and it never fails to bring a tear to my eye. The story is well crafted and the film brilliantly composed. It shows so well the dark side of human nature and also how it shines so very bright. I will watch this movie regularly for the rest of my life.

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Life IS wonderful

10/10
Author: anonymous from St.Jerome, Quebec, Canada
23 April 1999

It's a wonderful life is ,in my opinion,one of the best Christmas movie.Even if that film is over 50 years old,everybody have seen and will seen it for a long time.Those films don't seem to get old.James Stewart plays a depressed man who try to kill himself and he is saved by and angel by showing how the life would be if he never been born.The story is wonderful and the plays of the actors are wonderful.A very good movie.

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Just try to hold back the waterworks at the end, I dare you

10/10
Author: Kyle Milligan (toldyaso@planeteer.com) from Toronto, Canada
22 February 1999

To my utter dismay and disbelief, I recently discovered that a friend from work hated this movie.

This friend, whom we will call "Jean", says she saw it for the first time recently and absolutely hated it. "What a crappy movie" or something to that effect.

Not that it's important how old Jean is, but let's just say she's had ample opportunities to view the film in previous years, and by her own account she feels her parents had the good taste to protect her from this film.

I can only react in shock as one of my most beloved film experiences is torn asunder in such a harsh way. But perhaps I'm blindsided by the tradition of the film, with it being a staple for Christmas fare. Maybe I'm being merely nostalgic. Maybe I can't see it for what it is.

I tell you something dear friends, I hated Christmas this year.

It seemed to be one obligation after another that nearly stamped out any Christmas cheer I could usually muster with the greatest of ease. My beloved wife and I were busier than ever before and didn't even find the time to put up a Christmas tree, much less enjoy "It's A Wonderful Life".

You know something, I think it's because we didn't take the time to enjoy the finer points of Christmas, and part of that is Frank Capra's delightful film, which I've just acquired on DVD and plan to watch just as soon as I'm able, despite my hectic schedule.

I don't know if Jean will ever give this film another chance or not, I hope she does. Because nothing on film can compare to the touching scene at the end, where George Bailey discovers just what kind of an impact he's had on the lives of the friends around him. Just try to fight those tears, but it won't make you feel any less choked up, no matter how many times you see it, whether you start at the end or not, it doesn't matter. C'mon Jean.

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Never fails to move me to tears, the best of all films.

10/10
Author: Kenneth Wilson (wilsonk@tcnj.edu) from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
17 October 1998

Frank Capra has created a film for the ages with "It's a

Wonderful Life." The story chronicles a man, George Bailey,

who seems to have lost everything that is important in life. With the assistance of his guardian angel, Clarence (the role of Henry Travers' career), George is shown how important his

life has been to those that are dearest to him. The film

captures the true spirit of the holiday season without

appearing overly sappy or contrived. A universal story for all mankind, "It's a Wonderful Life" is the rarest of all films: a

film that improves upon repeated viewings.

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It's without doubt the ultimate feel-good movie

10/10
Author: Graham Kavanagh from Dublin, Ireland
9 October 1998

Anytime I'm felling down I'll put on "It's A Wonderful Life" and just forget about the things that were bothering me. To me that's the power of this exceptional film. It has an amazing way of putting things into perspective for me and that's why it's my favorite film. Of course the film also contains some of the finest acting I've ever seen. It's not just the entralling performance from James Stewart but the richness in depth of all the character actors no matter how insignificant their parts may seem.

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one of the best

10/10
Author: dragos_parazitever from Romania
27 June 2009

yes indeed its one of the best movies that goes down in history...yes..you're no man until you have friends....its stunning how one can change the others life by simply his presence and moreover sometimes his actions driven by his judgment of things....clearly the best part of this movie is the 4th quarter...George Bailey is a troubled man because of his current financial situation.....and the angel comes down to show him how the others life would be if he never existed....we really should stop and think what we have done in the past...and know that we've all changed the life's of others...maybe u're giving an advice to someone to go someplace and there he will meet a person who will change his life for good of that fellow...the angel is a psychological creature that we all have in mind...by reflecting on our good things that we've done in our past we should really feel better...everyone carries this angel but not everyone uses it....

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An excellent film...An outstanding film

10/10
Author: Nikji from Arabia
5 December 2008

Outstanding: Grade 1 Good: Grade 2 Satisfactory: Grade 3 Inadequate: Inadequate

Overall rating: Grade 1

This is my favorite Hollywood film ever made. No other Hollywood film has ever touched my heart the way this one did. In my opinion, Hollywood don't make films like this, and its good to have films that touch your heart. Even though, its a long film (2hrs 10mins) it is worth every second. Frank Capra managed to make it an epic film with comedy, tragedy, romance etc.

Acting Rating The acting by the actors is exceptional. James stuart acted really well, and this is one of him best films. The children acted very well.

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Sentimentality as a valid subject

10/10
Author: smile10520 from United States
9 November 2008

It's a wonderful life is a magical piece of film-making that has entertained and inspired several generations. While it is easy to be critical of technical and creative aspects of the film., anyone who thinks this is less than a classic can only be seen as a cynic and totally devoid of any heart. The inability to appreciate the warmth and heart on display here is sadly a reflection on a persons bitterness about life in general and a need to drag down anything that smacks of "sentimentality".

As a person who chose a career in film and has studied film history I stand proudly on this movie as a genuine classic. Of course this film is subject any analysis. It can even be rated a B-, but to rate it anything less than a 7 out of ten speaks volumes about the critic's lack of any true feeling for the emotion of film.

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Great Accompanying Story to My Experience With This Film

10/10
Author: Jorge Bernardo from Alexandria, Virginia
11 May 2008

Pure movie magic that has never been eclipsed before or since. The feelings one can derive from this film have no benchmark for comparison. Additionally, each and every scene is essentially flawless with regard to the movie's purity and "vibe".

Please note, when George says, "Well, how old are ya?" his lips are not moving!

You won't believe the neat experience I had with bringing the woman who played Zuzu to introduce the film at a Christmas screening in historic Greenbelt, MD a few years back. If you're a fan, do yourself a favor and read about it at http://zuzu.net/essays/wonderful_theatre.html.

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The Big-Box Swindle of Bedford Falls

10/10
Author: Andy (film-critic) from Bookseller of the Blue Ridge
22 April 2008

For many, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a staple to their holiday traditions. With all major networks vying to get their hands on this mediocre blockbuster, this little film transforms from ordinary to cult status every holiday. As a viewer, outside of the final act, this Jimmy Stewart classic is more than just a Christmas movie, but instead a powerful Capra film that demonstrates an America from long ago. It shows a small-town America, without the plowed Wal-Mart roads or big-box makeovers. For this critic, it demonstrates the power of independent business, and why we may never find this type of service ever again. As an independent, downtown shop owner of about a year and a half myself; "It's A Wonderful Life" transformed this viewing from holiday pastime to dedicated film exposing the corruptive nature of capitalism as well as the realism of independent business. With this change in tact, Jimmy Stewart's words become more emotional, Donna Reed's actions become more honest, and our little Christmas film transforms into a man's journey to search for himself. I cannot denounce that this is a holiday film, Stewart screams "Merry Christmas" throughout the entire ending, but before that final conclusion there are about two hours of small town America and one man's struggle to escape. "It's A Wonderful Life" is a powerful blend of realism and fantasy, individualism and community, dreams and truth, as well as frustration and joy. The cast is superbly placed in their respective roles and Capra's action behind the camera stands boldly in place. This is not just a movie, but an experience coupled with foreshadowing – giving George not just a glimpse of a world without him – but also a glimpse of a world without small business

"It's A Wonderful Life", the film itself, is beautifully crafted. With new editions being released each season, one can easily see the crisp beauty of Capra's image. Its characters; George Bailey, Mary, Sam Wainright, Potter, Bert and Ernie, and even Clarence seem to jump from the screen, giving us imaginative citizens to this quaint town of Bedford Falls. Capra not only gives these characters spirits and souls, but also the town. Capra built three blocks of Bedford Falls so that he could capture the honesty of the town that Stewart so adamantly wanted to leave – and upon doing this gave this little town a soul of its own. Watching this film, Stewart's portrayal of George Bailey runs the gambit of powerhouse acting. Stewart, freshly back from the war, was worried if he could carry the weight of Bailey's cynicism. His ability to care for Bedford Falls, while always dreaming of wanting to escape could only be portrayed through Stewart's Americana eyes. When he screams at Mary, denouncing his desire to be on the ground floor in plastics, or when he yells at Potter's bid to join him – we scream with him. This film works from an acting standpoint because we believe in the characters – we trust the actors to give us a slice of their souls for these roles – and they do. One cannot fault anyone in this film for their acting and that is a rarity in today's Hollywood.

Capra's eye in this film seems far more advanced than the credit he has received. His enormous sets, the birth of a new "snow", and his ability to create a world we care for without having to travel the globe. What I enjoy about "It's A Wonderful Life" is that Capra tricks you by the end. Here we believe, outside of the brief opening, that this is just your typical drama, a man's life is shown in scope so that he can see his full worth, but then sneakily Capra brings in (depending on your religious basis) a huge science-fiction element that was unheard of during the time. One cannot argue the validity of science fiction vs. religion in this film – since Joseph is portrayed by the stars and planets. Sure, Clarence was an angel, but there is this aura of the supernatural. Clarence offers no evidence that he is, in fact, sent by the man upstairs, so one has to question the time this film was released, the faith in spirituality, and the fact that Capra's Clarence could be alien, vegetable, or mineral.

Overall, "It's A Wonderful Life" remains in constant rotation no matter the time of year in my home. The acting is superb, the sci-fi element seems fresh every time, and the growing fact that George Bailey is pro-independent business means quite a bit in this rushed Wal-Mart world. Bailey, and this film, is the voice for the little man, the quiet shopkeeper who doesn't want to sell to Potter, but instead dreams of keeping their home-style values. The spark between Potter and Bailey can be seen in every facet of today's growing world, as the rich continue to get richer – the less fortunate work harder and feel more held back. Dreams are traded for jobs – communities are strengthened by friendships. This film is a time capsule for the future, as we discover convenience overcomes customer service; it is nice to look back and see a world like Bedford Falls. The science fiction element to this film, yep – that is what I am considering it – comes in sharp and remains powerful throughout. Did anyone else see Jimmy Stewart's eyes throughout those scenes? Brilliant! While this film will remain a staple through the holidays, I persist that you watch it away from the holiday to see the real message behind the film. Capra was a genius in creating this film, and subsequently crafted a cult film that will remain forever. Even today, nearly thirty years since my first viewing, I am more impressed that ever. It is a film that grows with you, and that is quite a rarity in today's cinema.

Grade: ***** out of *****

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A real jewel!

10/10
Author: pennycarrol
14 April 2008

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that you can watch over and over again. The movie makes you think about life in general and how each person makes a difference. It's about life with all its ups and downs and about how great life can be. It also entertains with many light hearted moments, particularly towards the end of the film.

The cast is excellent. I'm especially fond of James Stewart's performance, and the direction is 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!

"It's a Wonderful Life" is literally a wonderful, multi-layered, romantic, serious, funny, touching and inspiring movie--much like life itself.

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One of the best movies ever

8/10
Author: daantje_3 from Netherlands
1 February 2007

Truly one of the best movies I've ever seen. I had to watch this movie for my schoolwork, but before I had to watch it I never knew this movie was such a big inspiration for filmmakers these days. After seeing the movie I finally understood what all the fuss was about. It's quite a simple movie, and in black and white, but still really incredible to watch. And I'm so glad I did! You get sucked into the story and walk out of the cinema with a great feeling. Needless to say, It's a feel good movie you just have to see. And I believe every film fan should have seen this movie at least once! So to everybody who is reading this as research and hasn't seen the movie yet....Watch It!!!

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The Christmas habit that will never grow old

10/10
Author: (murraytheevilskull@hotmail.com) from United Kingdom
19 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm 16 and last year, my Dad (who is NOT a great film lover in any sense) bought the DVD of 'It's A Wonderful Life'. When he almost ordered us all to watch it on Christmas Eve, i wasn't expecting to be amazed. By the end of the movie, when all his friends and family come together to help him, the tears came flooding thick and fast. I think it is a sad thing that I'm only 16 and that seeing such brotherly love between him and people who barely knew him was so strange to me. I cried not only for the happy ending, but for the fact that this movie, made less than 70 years ago and that the world it shows no longer exists. From now on, every year on Christmas Eve, that movie will be brought down from the shelf, because i think it is an important and thoroughly enjoyable film with an amazing moral: Everyone will get their Just Desserts one day.

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Uplifting holiday favorite praises value of an ordinary life

9/10
Author: roghache from Canada
17 March 2006

Yes, it's indeed a wonderful movie, an old black and white classic that tells the story of an ordinary man whose unheralded life makes such a difference to his small town. This man feels that he has wasted his life, but a dramatic turn of events convinces him just how significant he has been, not only to his own family but also to so many of the town's inhabitants.

The film chronicles the life of George Bailey, who, upon the untimely death of his father, forsakes his dreams of traveling to remain in his hometown of Bedford Falls and take over the helm of the family business. George is not really content, but marries a nice, pretty local girl, embarks upon raising a family, and becomes a respected community member, especially when he refuses to sell out to the local bigwig, a rich miser named Potter, who is willing to do anything to enable a takeover. Disaster befalls George's business and he despairs, contemplating suicide. This situation calls for dramatic intervention by a particularly endearing angel...

What an inspiring theme and so well captured. The value of an ordinary life lived with decency and integrity is portrayed with quiet brilliance by that very decent actor, much respected himself, James Stewart. He masterfully conveys George's joys, sorrows, regrets, sacrifices, frustrations, all the aspects of everyday life...and that is what makes this film the classic it is. That scene where George is irritated and snippy with his young daughter, who is proudly and diligently plonking out her recital piece on the piano, what parent can't identify with that type of normal and later regretted frustration?

Donna Reed is also wonderful, both as the lovely sweetheart and later the seemingly ordinary but moral wife who supports George and helps raise their four children.

It is a timeless piece of cinema that our hearts can turn to any time for inspiration, but especially at Christmas when people tend to look for the important truths in life. It's a traditional holiday favorite with many, including myself. You just glow all warm inside like a cozy fire every time you watch it.

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Great story, great acting. . . .full of redeeming values

Author: petronir from United States
26 December 2005

this is just a note to other commenters out there who have the experience and authority to contact IMDb on items such as deaths. The IMDb shows that actress Argentina Brunetti passed away on 20 November 2005. MSN is showing that she passed away on 20 December 2005. I'm sure it is a typo and may have already been corrected. However, I could not contact IMDb to advise them of this because (as they indicated) I am not "qualified" to comment on deaths. So, perhaps one of you viewers can pass the word on to them. I only am doing this because I noticed the discrepancy and I am really trying to be helpful. However, the IMDb people have imposed some restrictions pertaining to what can be said and just how many words and lines of type can be used to communicate with them. By the way, the movie is as good now as it was almost 60 years ago.

Thanks

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Artful and Chance-Taking Film; Powerful and Well-Acted; Capra's Best

8/10
Author: silverscreen888
24 December 2005

"It's a Wonderful Life"'s storyline stamps it a socialist-Catholic European confrontation between the despised peasant class and their feudal overlords. The additional character to this class warfare, the first of a huge series of downtrodden against the uncaring films, is George Bailey. What stamps him as a democrat are two things--he does not define anything; and he wants to help those "in need"--even though what he actually does as director of a savings and loan is to invest in people he believes in--not for huge financial gain but to affect people's lives positively in the belief that a strong Bedford Falls citizenry living decently will enrich his life in the town and those of all his fellow citizens. His rival in the film, old man Potter, despises the poor and middle class and wants to keep them downtrodden and coming to him as infallible leader, to beg. The other amazing feature of the film is its flashback nature--2/3 of the film dramatizes Bailey's history; only in the last third do we see--through the bumbling agency of Clarence, George's guardian angel sent to help him on Earth--how important George's life had been to those touched by it. This was due to his work as much as to his nature; but I fnd this a difficult, jarring and very effective use of fantasy, especially in such an early film. How George got into trouble is a plot detail; he needs money, and despairs of finding it--leading to the sending of Clarence by the angel's bosses upstairs, whose voices are supplied by Moroni Olsen and Joseph Kearns. The film seems artistic to me from start to finish; its USerized and chance-taking script is also focused, purposeful and frequently very moving. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography by Joseph Biroc and Joseph Walker complement Frank Capra's very sure direction, in my opinion. The story, adapted from Philip Van Doren Stern's "The Greatest Gift' was written for the screen by Frances Hackett and Albert Goodrich, with additions by director Capra, dialogue by Jo Swerling and Michael Wilson. Art Direction was by Jack Okey, with set decorations by Emile Kuri, costumes by Edward Stevenson. Familiar faces in the minor parts include Marian Carr, Ellen Corby, Almira Sessions, Stanley Andrews, Charles Lane, Sarah Edwards, William Edmunds, Argentina Brunetti, Sheldon Leonard, Mary Treen and Beulah Bondi and Samuel S. Hinds as George's parents. Other showing well include Lionel Barrymore as Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, H.B. Warner, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, Donna Reed, Henry Travers as Clarence and Lillian Randolph as the family's black maid. The film belongs to Jimmy Stewart, however; he is always interesting in the film and is given a wide variety of moods and challenges in the piece, from rage to surprise, to persuasion to sympathy to bitter complaint. Apart from the gaps in logic noted, the film has been given a powerful plot line, good acting and a contexted set of scenes that are frequently honest and always well-considered, in my view. Not to be missed nor overrated.

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It's a Wonderful Film, The Best Christmas Movie Ever

10/10
Author: Hollywood_Yoda from Outside Hollywood
18 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story of George Bailey. But, who is he? He's a man from Bedford Falls, grew up there as a boy, took over the family business in his twenties, and fell in love there too, to Mary. Yes, it was a wonderful life, but what would happen if he had never been born? Well, that's where Clarence comes in. He's the angel sent to show George that his life has meant something to people, a lot of them, in fact. If not for George, Harry would have drown at the age of nine, and therefore, would not have been there to save men in World War II.

So you see, not being born changed many peoples lives in Bedford Falls, including his family. Uncle Billy was sent to a psychiatric hospital, and his mother was unable to trust a stranger. And of course, not being born changed Bedford Falls too. It was known as Pottersville in this alternate universe, where Henry Potter was more rich and more corrupt, and owned the town. Now you know why Clarence had to jump into the river after George to save his life, and why George had to jump in to save Clarence. Without George, what else could have possibly happened? Bedford Falls may have been in ruins. George learned his lesson, and hopefully Mr. Potter would learn his too, for stealing the Bailey's money.

This is a great story, but "don't take my word for it." Go watch this brilliant classic. It is worth the time!

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Truly one of the finest films ever made.

10/10
Author: SkysDoll from United States
7 December 2005

Truly one of the finest films ever made. It's message still resonates after nearly 60 years. It's central themes of love, appreciation, loyalty, and sacrifice are valuable reminders any time of year. I saw this film for the first time when I was about 8 years old and even then could understand why it had become a tradition in many households at Christmastime. Like many other Christmas-themed films, this one reminds us to pause and take in our surroundings. It is unfortunate that such films are only celebrated once a year, but that particular trait also adds a certain degree of rarity to its charm. The characters are well-developed and whether loved or hated, each plays a vital role in the film, as in George Bailey's life.

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A wonderful Christmas movie for the frustrated people at Christmastime

10/10
Author: Carly Vanness from United States
6 December 2005

I first watched this movie with my mother when I was six years old, and have loved it ever since. I am a fan of Jimmy Stewart, and his performance in this was wonderful. It begins when he is a young boy, and progresses as he grows into a man, gets married, and has a family. Then he gets into 'trouble.' In the beginning of the movie, you here all of the people who are close to him praying for him, and the angels talking about him, then you learn why near the end of the movie. This movie is a wonderful and memorable Christmas classic, and in the summer I can hardly wait for Christmastime so my mother will let me watch it again.

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The Greatest Film Ever Made

10/10
Author: babygrand1 from United States
6 December 2005

I have watched this film every year without fail, and I cannot watch the end without crying. AFI says Citizen Kane is the greatest movie, but it takes someone in film school to explain the techniques that make Citizen Kane great. The greatest movie should be one that anyone can see and realize that it's beyond a regular movie. This film is the greatest work of an amazing director and transcends all other films. I've heard people say it's depressing, but what movie is less depressing (as a whole) than this? There are times, yes, that are necessarily very strikingly sad, but it shows how little by little one can forget the plethora of blessings of which a modern life is composed. The entire idea of a value of a life was changed by this film, and I heartily recommend it for anyone who has missed out on this movie.

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It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: jkearns-5 from United States
6 December 2005

This story is more than about a young man, who like many young persons, are forced into their parents business. It is about the historic times he grew up in. That may be why it appeals to so many, especially older Americans who lived through the depression, bank failures and World War II. The idea of leaving the small town and getting out into the big world is one of all youths dreams. The character George Bailey doesn't want to remain tied down to his small city roots, but wants to explore the world and go to college. Fate however, draws George a terrible blow, with the death of his father. He decides to forfeit his dreams in order to help others. He marries a local town girl, has kids, sends his younger brother off to college in his place, confronts the local big money boss and fights the battle of small town America during WWII. True, in the end he is helped by a prayer, but wasn't that the thing most Americans were doing during those tremulous times. Every person should be granted the wish that was given to George, all our lives would be much richer.

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Timeless

8/10
Author: damonintheatre from Portland, Oregon
4 November 2005

My ex would coin the term. Timeless she would call it. Yes, I would have to agree with her on this one. I'm jaded, however, being so much older than when I first saw the film with wide-eyed wonder. But you have to look at the film from non-jaded eyes, from the perspective of freshness, and just observe the IDEAS as they are presented to you in the story, in the pictures, in the details. Yes, it's GEORGE's story, but it's REALLY everyman's story, and that's why my ex's idea of timelessness keeps coming back, every time I watch It's A Wonderful Life. Capra's themes come back to haunt us, much like the haunting play Our Town, where the young dead wife gets a chance to re-live one day, one easy day in the life of a 12-year old. Here, we see what life would be like without George. We all suffer our own existence, yet like George with his own personal angel, we all have our little angels ringing bells reminding us that we have purpose in our suffering. In It's a Wonderful Life, we get to see that George's simple purpose, in his small town Savings and Loan, is a kind of microcosm of the greater good, a greater good that is possible in all of mankind. This greater good and George's discovery of that greater good in himself is why the film is timeless. It's because we wonder if we have the potential to find that greater good in ourselves. Of course, then we step on the cat, or open the wrong end of the popcorn, spilling it all over the rug...

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Can One Man Really Make a Difference

10/10
Author: Kevo from Limavady, N.Ireland
23 February 2005

What can be said about its A Wonderful Life that hasn't already been printed a thousand times? I don't know why but it took me years to get around to seeing this film but finally I decided to give it a go, and how much have I missed out! The central character in the film is George Bailey (played masterfully by James Stewart) a small time dreamer who has lost his way after a lifetime of disappointment. We follow George through the eyes of his guardian angel Clarence from childhood right up to the point where he has to make his most important decision while stood on the edge of a bridge.

Copra has forged a gem in celluloid, he has been smart enough to pull the sob strings with the audience but never too much so as to go into farce or seem phoney. The film is by no means a masterpiece in terms of cinematography or musical score although these are executed to a good standard. Copra captures the close nit community spirit of the small town superbly, and focus throughout on the 'David versus Goliath' relationship between George and Mr Potter excellently.

The stars of this film are most certainly Jimmy Stewart and the story itself. Never have I warmed so much to central character, George Bailey is without doubt one of the most lovable screen figures ever written. I really enjoyed the performances of the supporting actors in the film mainly Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter and Henry Travers as Clarence Oddbody, Donna Reed also puts in accomplished performance as George's wife Mary as do the films child actors.

It's a wonderful life is a charming heartfelt film which can be enjoyed all year round but with special meaning at Christmas time, and sparks the question 'can one man's life really make a difference?

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magical

10/10
Author: dantbrooks
20 December 2003



It's A Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, an honest, hard-working resident of Bedford Falls who dreams of seeing the world. We learn in flashback how circumstance and his own good heart have prevented him from pursuing his dream until one Christmas Eve, when a dark night of the soul pushes George to the brink of suicide and he is saved by divine intervention. George gets the chance to see what life would be like in Bedford Falls if he had never been born and realizes the true importance of his life.

It would be easy for people to miss the true meaning of It's A Wonderful Life and dismiss the film as sentimental nonsense due to the corny opening scene and the appearance of a supernatural angel. However, it is hard to think of another film that examines the overwhelming complexity of one individual's life so deeply or questions how our choices affect the lives of others.

It's A Wonderful Life contains some of the most unforgettable moments in cinema. Once George is redeemed, we are treated to a moment of life-affirming splendor which suddenly lifts the spirits of the viewer after the relentless darkness and gloom that has preceded. The snow-storm that only hours earlier mirrored the bleakness of George's situation has now converted Bedford Falls into a winter-wonderland as George races through its streets with a renewed joy for life and all its miraculous beauty.

I don't think I will ever tire of seeing the truly heartwarming final scene in which George finally learns his reward for the sacrifices he has made in life. The best line of the film comes when Harry returns early and offers a toast (`…to my big brother George - the richest man in Bedford Falls') recognizing the real treasure of the friends George has rather than the superficial treasure of material wealth. An impromptu and communal singing of `Auld Lang Syne' then swells into a euphoric crescendo to close the most perfectly crafted film ever committed to celluloid.

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It's a Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: SPUTRYK (ataryk@hotmail.com) from Silsden, England
22 November 2002

This film is just an absolute joy to watch. I will not deny it, I shed a few tears at the end every time, something no other film has ever managed.

The acting is superb and the story, although dark and foreboding at times, is perfect. True, the Heaven scene effects at the beginning are lame, which is a real shame, but they certainly do not spoil the movie. Frank Capra has created a movie that tugs at all your emotions without even trying. One cannot help feeling anger when life doesn't happen the way George Bailey expects it to, or elation when life does. No-one else could have portrayed George Bailey quite like the late, great James Stewart - perfect casting. And, as for the rest of the characters, one couldn't want for anything more. Marvelous. Lionel Barrymore even manages to out-scrooge Scrooge (which is surely no mean feat!) as Mr Potter.

Overall, this is a film to watch over and over again. Full of mixed emotions throughout and beautifully heartwarming at the end. The Greatest Movie of All Time.

A true masterpiece sprinkled with magic.

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One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole

10/10
Author: joltjohn from Winnipeg, Canada
9 November 2002

There are some little gems in life that help make life pleasant. It is not officially the Christmas season without watching this little gem. The supporting cast is perfectly matched. Donna Reed is wonderful as well as all the characters of the town. This would be a great movie, even if it were not in a Christmas setting. The holiday flavor makes it even more charming and memorable. A angel trying to get his wings is a little far-fetched, but Capra pulls it off. The impact of living a good life cannot be underestimated. What would life be like for your family if you had never been born? The values of "It's A Wonderful Life" still hold true today. Yes, I'll say it, it's a wonderful movie 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. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not be touched, if you can, you have no heart!

In this film James Stewart acts so naturally you forget he's an actor playing a part, you really believe his story. "It's a Wonderful Life" details the life of George Bailey, a man who put the needs and well being of others before his his whole life. Later in the film he feels he is a failure and is on the verge of suicide. He is taken by his guardian angel in need of his wings, Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him just how important he has been. You're pulled on a roller coaster of emotions throughout this film. Ultimately, it is perhaps the most emotionally moving film ever made, and it offers insight that everybody can use about what's important in our lives. To phrase a heavily used cliche, this is one of the few movies that gets better with every viewing, and never loses any of its power. And the icing on the cake is where, after George finds that he has his daughter Zuzu's petals in his coat and runs home to his family to find how much they love him, many of his friends come to his aid to help him in replacing the $8000 that went into Mr.Potter's hands before. This part of "It's A Wonderful Life" moves me to tears and can help many people look at their own lives in a new light,especially when one is in despair and feels that their life is worthless. 10/10

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the finest movies ever - a masterpiece.

Author: (danny_g13@hotmail.com) from Glasgow, Scotland
2 May 2002

I'm not one for watching black & white movies. In face, I specifically turn off when one is on. So when I saw the tail-end of It's A Wonderful Life I quite liked it and thought I'd give it the chance when it came on at Christmas a year later. By the end I could only say it was one of the finest feel-good movies ever, and one of the finest movies ever - period. It's a simple tail of a man called George who's reached his wits end with life and feels everything is going wrong. The story is told in flashback from the point of view of an angel, Clarence, who's been sent by God to make George realise certain things, and gives him the chance to see things from a different perspective. The story is extremely well-told, and the ending will have you cheering. It's heartwarming and was recently rated as one of the top 10 movies ever made. As rated by the whole of society and not just older people this shows the broad appeal. Your life is not complete if you haven't seen this.

I challenge you not to have the tears welling up at the end.

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What a wonderful tale!

10/10
Author: Maz-28 from England
25 December 2001

I finally got to see this masterpiece today, at lunchtime on Christmas Day, and I have to say it's probably the most amazing film I've ever had the pleasure to watch.

My mum and brother-in-law have for years told me how much they loved it, so I started watching it and was totally engrossed in this story. The story of George's life (magnificently played by James Stewart) developed beautifully, as he met each situation with amazing courage and humility, putting others feelings before his, leading upto the wonderfully happy climax when all the people he's helped in the past come to his aid.

Special mention for Donna Reed as Mary, I can only imagine at the time she was a huge star, as not only did she perform superbly throughout the movie, she had the most beautiful face I can ever recall. The combination of Reed & Stewart were essential to this film feeling so warm, but the assorted cast all put in great roles too.

What an absolutely beautiful story, not only at Christmas time, but all year round, and it makes you think how even the littlest thing you do can impact on many other people.

I don't think i've cried as much over any movie ever as I did today, it was so emotional.

Thank you Capra, Stewart, Reed, et al, you made my Christmas!

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This should be part of the curriculum for the science of life

10/10
Author: Big_AL-96 from cambridge
18 December 2001

I don't know how many times I have seen this film but it never fails to twang every emotion. Anyone who thinks this is a feel good movie is wrong. You are taken on a ride of elation to despair to relief. James Stewart is one of the finest actors (Harvey being another classic example) and he shows in this film that he can be all things to all people. For all those who people who think they are hard done to but still have most things then they should be made to watch this film and thank their lucky stars. The other actors are excellent also, in particular Lionel Barrymore. He portrays greed in its most basic form and it comes through in abundance. And not least Henry Travers as Clarence the angel who is not as stupid as he looks. Please everyone watch this film and enjoy. It's not as comfortable as you think.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The dazzling masterpiece of a misunderstood filmmaker

10/10
Author: andrew-113 from Alberta
8 December 2001

This is not the "light-hearted" or "corny" film that many who haven't seen it perceive it as. It is very introspective, dark cinema, that, while classified as "fantasy", shines when it revels in the real, everyday delights of family, friends, and kindness.

There is no such thing as "CapraCorn". Capra was not a sugary sentimentalist. He was a great filmmaker who understood that life is beautiful, and just how precious the little moments that bind our existence together are.

This wonderful film, which, in my opinion, rivals Citizen Kane and Vertigo as the greatest American films ever made, is the lasting testament to a great talent, and a gift we can open every Christmas and never get tired of playing with.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Most Beautiful Film of all Time.

10/10
Author: stadium27 from United Kingdom
27 August 2001

This is Christmas,for any year,and for any age.This is the most beautiful,heart-warming film ever made.When I watch this film I can forget everything for a few hours and submerge myself in a sea of nostalgia.Who wouldn't want to live in a time and a place like this.Quite simply this film should be compulsory viewing for everyone. I dare anyone with even half a heart not to cry at the end. 10/10 without a doubt.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the greatest of all time

Author: jbkrueg from USA
18 July 2001

George Bailey never realized how important his life was until, after being driven to the verge of suicide by a sinister business rival on Christmas Eve, his guardian angel shows him the impact he had on everyone he knows and on the town he lives in.

Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore and directed by the legendary Frank Capra, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a simple tale with complex meaning.

"No man is a failure who has friends," reads an inscription in a Bible written to George by Clarence, his guardian angel. Indeed.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Frank Capra's all time masterpiece.

10/10
Author: MIKE WILSON (mikewilson61720@yahoo.com) from United Kingdom
29 June 2001

The problem is where to start. What can I say that has not already

been said, about this superb film. I can still remember the first

time , that I saw it. My mother had seen the picture several years

before, and knew that the family would enjoy it. So one Christmas,

when it was being shown on T.V. We all sat down to watch.Little

did I know , that years later this would still be my all time favourite

film. I must have seen It at least 30 times, and it is still as good as

ever. Each successive screening , I see something more , than the

last time I watched it. Reading Capra's book about its making, he

phoned Jimmy Stewart, who was just back from the war, and tried

to explain the plot outline. Stewart, who had already starred in

several of Capra's films, interrupted him and agreed on the spot,

to star in the film.Years later when asked, Stewart always said that

‘Wonderful Life' was his favourite film, and if it is good enough for

him, then it is good enough for me. One other story that I heard, is

that when asked if ‘Wonderful Life' was the best film that he has

made, Capra is said to have replied, that it is the best film that

anybody has made.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Is this the best ever made movie?...

Author: Arnaud Lefèvre from Montréal
26 April 2001

Anyone who hasn't seen that movie doesn't know anything about the movie art. This is one of its masterpiece that makes you feel nostalgic of the time we knew what was really important in a film. Frank Capra, after few tries on former films, directed what everybody who worked, played in it considers as his biggest achievment. And anyone who has seen it- even guys who are delected by the empty hollywood big productions- have been shaken by it. A must see for thousand reasons -Stewart's performance, Mary & George 's first wedding night scene, ...- but the main one will remain a wonderful lesson about people's life. To share it with your beloved friends is the best message of love you can make.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest movies ever made

10/10
Author: ClarkF1 from London, England
10 March 2001

I first saw this movie at a late night showing to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. There are very few movies which can last the test of time and which can bring warmth and unite everyone in the cinema....I was one of the 200+ who gave it a standing ovation (now how often do you see that in a cinema).

Jimmy Stewart is excellent as are all the other actors. A better cast could not have been assembled. The story is simple at that's what makes this film great....a simple device, excellently filmed. It's also a film which makes you think that no-one is unimportant and that everyone has a role in life, however little that role is. Have you ever tried imagining what it would have been like if you were never born?

As for the beginning of the film...well, no spoilers here but I've got to say that it is one of the funniest things I've ever seen....who knows....perhaps it's really like that....

Remember.....every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets its wings.

It's a wonderful life after all

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A Masterpiece

Author: Darth Sidious (darth_sidious@talk21.com) from England
25 December 2000

This is a super, fantastic masterpiece by Frank Capra! I love all Capra pictures, he always put his heart into his films.

The story is about George Baily, a guy who is such a nice man, full of warmth but once he gets involved with the dollar sign... Watch the rest.

The film's humanity is its strong point, in a world where evil and greed always lurks, it's nice to watch a picture where life can be wonderful and simple.

The performances are amazing, nuff said. The direction is perfect and the production values are amazing. Everything is perfect.

Thank you Frank Capra.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Government Warning: This Film Could Seriously Damage Your Health

7/10
Author: The_Movie_Cat from England
5 December 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's A Wonderful Life is one of the perennial Christmas favourites, a seasonal treat that has the admirable trait of being screened annually at British wintertime, along with the incongruous choices of 39 Steps and The Great Escape. Why the latter two should be used, without fail, to mark a time of religious significance has never been discovered, yet It's A Wonderful Life's winter-set, ultimate "feel good" atmospherics make this ideal for such a schedule-filling occasion. However, a warning should be issued to people that brave to see this film: it could end up making you feeling a lot, lot worse.

When I first saw this film for the first time it was indeed the 25th of December and I had split with my girlfriend just three weeks previously. I had indulged in that bizarre male ritual of "purposely losing touch with all your friends when you meet a new girl" and no buses were running that year to my parents'. Bear with me, this is no idle backstory, but did in fact greatly effect my appreciation of this movie.

Endearingly shot, it concerns, for those that don't know the famous story, George Bailey, a man on the verge of suicide. So far, so able to empathise. A wonderfully surreal opening gives us Angels that are the stars and constellations in the sky, looking over key moments in Baileys' life, like a kind of supernatural Citizen Kane. This is all carefully wrought and contains enough sense of (stylised) reality to keep it watchable. When George's guardian angel finally arrives, it is in the form of Clarence, a vulnerable angel who is so saccharine-coated and self-consciously loveable that he could have walked straight in from a Disney production. He gives us a glimpse of George's life as if he had never lived, and shows the influences he made, sort of like Quantum Leap forty years early. This segment of the film rapidly sees the invention start to dull somewhat and the film capsize under the weight of its own overplayed sentiment. Yet I'm sure it's no spoiler to reveal the picture's parting "message", (Though if it is, Spoiler Alert, Spoiler Ahead) that a man's life is always worth living, provided he is surrounded by people who love him.

I looked around my empty house and suddenly that "head in the cooker" option took on a fresh urgency...

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Over the top Americana

3/10
Author: ukiah-spirit from Toronto, Canada
25 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I understand this move is from the mid 40's, when most US American's thought the United States was the only nation on the planet. (not unlike today really) But WOW! Can this move get any more Americana? I guess the writer's felt that God prefers US American's over us ordinary people.

At the beginning of the movie some "angels" are boasting about the main characters brother, that as an US American soldier, he shot down Japanese planes saving US lives. Because that's what God would want, right? They make reference to the brother again as an "All American", as though in heaven that would really be of some significances.

If they edited out the first ten or fifteen minutes, the movie would not be so absolutely intolerable from the get go. However, half way through you might feel a little numb from all the unfiltered good will by George Bailey. If by midway through this movie you don't feel like punching George Bailey's uncle in the nose, you're a much better person than I.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Only cold hearted people will rate this below 9...

10/10
Author: Mithil Bhoras from India
1 August 2011

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is completely surprising. This is a time of Film-noir movies where there is a love in the air, mystery lures and the atmosphere is thrilling. But this movie was completely different from it's time. That's the reason why it failed at the Oscars (the same happened with Inception). The story is amazing and it is based on George Bailey's life.

We live in the age of action movies with gore and love movies with dirty scenes and all... But still this movie will get you. If it doesn't then you seriously have a problem. I won't elaborate on the story because it's a kind of a spoiler. I highly recommend you this title. Don't think twice and rent it now...

10/10.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Only a heartless person will not have a smile during the course of the movie

9/10
Author: tjsdshpnd from India
12 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart combination have given cinema lovers some great movies to cherish in the Black and White era. This movie is not only one of their best, but also one of the best of that era. Based on the basic principle of cherishing the greatest gift god has given to humans - Life, this movie takes the help of fantasy to explain this point very beautifully. The movie has a very simple story, the good virtues against the bad virtues and the triumph of the human spirit in the end. But, the treatment of the story is very fresh and it still remains evergreen. A Lot of suicides are reported nowadays due to various reasons, people ending lives without thinking of their near and dear ones. A Similar situation arises in the movie with the protagonist George Bailey (Stewart), who due to bankruptcy and other reasons decide to end his life leaving his wife and four children. He is about to end his life, when a guardian angel from heaven stops him and advises him against it by saying that every life is precious and ending it would change a lot of things around. He proves his point by showing George how his town, family etc would have been if he never existed. Seeing, the dreadful situation of his family and town if he had never being born, he understands the preciousness of his life and takes the suitable decision. The movie ends on a very happy note. Only a heartless person would not have a smile on the face or perhaps a tear in the eye during the course of the climax.

James Stewart lives the role of George Bailey. My admiration for this actor never ceases to grow. Donna Reed is gorgeous. The other actors have done a great job. Well, this is the king of feel good movies, the ultimate family movie. It can be watched multiple times without even the slightest feeling of boredom. Recommended for people who watch movies with their heart.

Rating : 9/10

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

" You called me a warped frustrated old man, well what are you, but a warped frustrated young man "

8/10
Author: thinker1691 from USA
2 September 2009

The movie is called " It's a wonderful life " and stars one of Hollywood's favorites. Frank Capra chose James Steward to play George Bailey, a young idealistic young man who believes he is destined to travel the world and make a fortune. It's a great dream, but unfortunately will never happen. Instead, George is forced into an obscure existence, as he admires his father so much it dooms him to replace the old man in Bedford Falls. The Bailey family establishes a tiny savings and loan and attempts to compete with the richest man in town, Mr. Potter played to the hilt by Lionel Barrymore. Things are bad enough when Mr. Bailey dies, just as George is about to go to college, but then he is forced to replacing him as head of the S & L. Years go by and Mr. Potter takes advantage of the 1930's depression and his domination of the town is nearly complete. The second world war descends on the town and directly after a economic calamity caused by George's uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) threatens the family business by accidentally losing $8,000. Facing bankruptcy, George panics and believes he is going to be arrested. Knowing this will destroy his family, ruin his reputation and send him to prison, George opts to commit suicide. Praying for a miracle, George is hoping his insurance policy will save his family. However, an instant before he jumps into the frigid, frozen winter waters of the river, George is startled to see a strange little man jumping in first. That is when George's life enters the world of the "What if." The stranger (Henry Travers) turns out to be an angel named Clarence, who shows him what life would be had he never been born. In this alternative world George watches with astonishment as all those he knew are changed forever by his absence. Potter is in fact the richest and most powerful man who indeed owns the town. George on the other hand becomes a total stranger and terrorizes his own wife (Donna Reed), mother (Beulah Bondi) and children. He is subsequently run out of town by his former friends Ward Bond and Frank Faylen and neighbors. Repeated yearly as one of the finest Christmas films of all time, the movie has indeed become a family Classic. One of Jimmy Steward's all time favorites. ****

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Stewart Is Wonderful

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
8 January 2009

Ever since Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' became a huge success, there have been numerous films that have borrowed its story. Though it starts off a little slow and some of the scenes seem rushed, the pace gradually picks up in the second hour. The small town is well structured and one does get the feel of it. The appearance of an angel is a little awkward but one gets used to it because of a charming Henry Travers. 'It's a Wonderful Life' tends to be melodramatic and loud at times but the lead performances somehow make up for the faults. Stewart is wonderful as an ambitious and good-hearted dreamer who loses everything and then finds his way back. Donna Reed is brilliantly subtle as the caring and supportive wife. This does not rank among my favourite Capra films but it is a good enough watch.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Holiday Classic

Author: MDC_Catalyst from Miami, Florida
27 December 2005

By Manny Castro

The movie-Gods must really love It's a Wonderful Life. This is a film that, upon its inital release, was a flop. It won a Golden Globe for director Frank Capra and received five Oscar nominations, but the public hardly noticed it until about the 1970s. During that time, the film's copyright had expired and stations like PBS could air it at no cost. It slowly began to build an audience and eventually became a beloved classic.

Perhaps the reason for this is because of the film's powerful message. Jimmy Stwart plays George Bailey, a man who spends his entire life devoted to his small town, Bedford Falls. When his life suddenly takes a turn for the worse, he considers suicide. It is up to his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) to stop George by showing him what the lives of the citizens of Bedford would have been like if he had not been born at all.

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the greatest holiday films of all time. In fact, it might even be the best. This is a wonderful film because it allows you time to discover the history of George Bailey's childhood, his romance with Mary (Donna Reed), and why he came to love his fellow townspeople. Director Frank Capra also makes the smart decision of giving many of these townspeople a good amount of screen time, so we as an audience begin to love them too. Or perhaps even hate them in the case of Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the man who wants to ruin George Bailey. If you haven't seen this film then do so because you will end up falling in love with it.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Am I the only one in the whole world?

Author: badger-37 (badger2@prodigy.net.mx) from Guadalajara, Mexico
16 December 2000

I do not like this movie, I didn't like it when I first saw it back then but I wasn't brave enough to say so! Over the years I have come to hate it, and I can't get to the TV fast enough to turn it off!

So lynch me! Well done, yes, if you like sentimental treacle!

It presents a point of view that we are all advised we should have but almost no one does. For me there is a feeling of hypocrisy about the whole thing.

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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

George is unlikable

Author: patriotssbchmp02
19 April 2004

I've seen this movie a few times and really like it. The more I watch it, the more I can't stand George Bailey. He has a frog in his throat which is annoying. He is very abrupt at times. He was very mean to that kid at the dance where he falls into the pool. They should have casted someone better for the part. Someone more likable. Someone you can root for. Of course at the end, once he realizes how lucky he is to be alive, he becomes likable.

In my opinion, Clarence the angel was the best character in the film. He was perfect for the part. Mary was very good too, and not bad on the eyes either. The maid was funny. The brother Harry wasn't too likable either (must run in the family). He seemed like a preppy snob.

Great movie and one of the best endings, but if I could change one thing, I would cast someone else for the part of George Bailey. Someone who actually seems nice, but has had a few bad breaks.

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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Rises Far Above Most Movies of Its Kind

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
21 December 2001

This movie rises far above most films of its kind. Not only are all the important aspects of the film done with care and skill, there is much more substance to it than there is to most 'feel-good' movies or holiday stories. It succeeds where many similar movies fall short, and while it is ultimately a feel-good fantasy, many viewers who don't ordinarily enjoy such stories end up liking this one.

One of the major strengths is that hero George Bailey is not a one-dimensional good-guy, but rather must combat his own weaknesses and disappointments at the same time that he is trying to help others. He has his own dreams and hopes, which never seem to materialize, and this is a genuine struggle for him. And it doesn't hurt that the character is played by a terrific actor like Jimmy Stewart, who brings out all the sides of George's character, and who gives almost any viewer something to relate to. There are many other positives as well - plenty of interesting characters, a very good cast, and a story that makes use of every available resource. "It's A Wonderful Life" is an enduring story that is still worth watching and remembering.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The most overrated film ever

Author: t-h-fields from Washington, DC
13 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This has got to be the most overrated film ever made. The plot is so corny, the dialog so trite, and the basic theme so preachy, that I cannot recommend it to anyone.

You probably know the movie's basic premise -- a banker is planning to commit suicide, proclaiming his wish that he'd never been born. An angel appears and shows him how things would be if he'd never existed.

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER!

In this alternate reality, the town is renamed Potterville, after Mr Potter, who is the villain. To be frank, I found it to be a lot better than the dull, boring town that the banker had left behind. Potterville, for a small town, has fabulous nightlife; the scene in the bar includes a really good band, and plenty of single women waiting to get picked up. I sure wish my town had a place like that. For me, that was the best part of the movie.

If you want to see a good movie about angels, see Dogma. It's far more original, more irreverent, and definitely funnier. And it's a better holiday movie.

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

If you can still dream, still hope -- this Masterpiece will Live!

10/10
Author: JoeMcCain from United States
5 January 2005

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a Work of Art and of Great Craft that will survive the eons for its many, many qualities -- acting, script, direction, details, clear commitment by all involved....and a rather 'eccentric' structure.

It careens so closely to schmaltz -- no, to pure saccharine -- that one is surprised to not find goo on the sleeve after viewing it. But it stays just inside that sugary boundary for several reasons --

The actors are absolutely committed to the truth and motivation of their characters. They don't judge their roles, they don't act at them, they strip down, then dive completely into them and make them live and feel and suffer.

There is no more well-meaning, ethical, but often disoriented character than Jimmy Stewart's 'George Bailey'. As one watches all the shifts of emotion from self-control, to whimsy, to befuddlement, to searing anger, to sweetness, it is hard to remember that this actor is a Bomber Pilot just returned from World War II, from flying deadly B-17 missions through the terrible 'black blossoms' of flak over Nazi Germany. And more, that this is his first film since he returned!

No meaner, nastier non-caricature of a horror than Lionel Barrymore's 'Potter'. The more infamous 'Ebenezer Scrooge' is a curmudgeonly, dismissive, venal and unsympathetic man. But he wants to be left alone. Potter is pure evil, while still able to remain in a society. Unlike Scrooge he is voraciously acquisitive, constantly intrusive -- an active predator and crippler of those whose shadow even falls across his view, much less his appetite. No scruples, no ethics, no empathy for anything or anyone. And somehow Barrymore and Capra make it work.

No sweeter yet frustrating relative you have tried to rely on than George Mitchell's 'Uncle Billy'. No more uncertain but determined Angel than Henry Travers' 'Clarence'. No more interesting array of people who decorate George Bailey's life -- Donna Reed, so sweet, so pretty, yet anything but naive or simple ... Gloria Grahame, man-hungry, sensual of tastes, but whose heart and hopes just keep her from being one of 'those' girls ... Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as the Cop-and-Cab-Driver buddies, who look out for George, when they can.

And of course the Center of this Life is Frank Capra -- directing, writing, bleeding, feeling, thinking at his very, very best. Clearly written, crafted, produced, directed with every cell, both cerebral and cardiological.

A lovely film become rich in its details and contrasts.

A decent George Bailey whom we assume would gave back Mary Hatch's accidentally dropped robe -- which leaves her apparently unclad in a large hedge -- is just about to, but then stops. "You know, we have a very interesting situation, here....it's not every day a man...." And actively toys with her over her desperate pleas (remember, it is the 1930's) right up until tragedy sticks a bony hand into the scene and wrenches the moment away.

George at the kitchen table talking with his Dad (Samuel S. Hinds) and sees family housekeeper Annie (Lillian Randolph) doing a little eavesdropping through the kitchen door -- "Why don't you just pull up a chair and listen...? "....to which Annie replies -- "I would if I thought there was anything worth hearing!" A family.

The film moves into ever darker hues, step by step, until plunging suddenly downward. George is pushed beyond even his elasticity, and snaps into a sequence of sudden and exploding rages, savaging even his own bewildered family, that is stunning -- the kind in real life that make you wince in embarrassment and turn away. And because the terrible moments are so very real in this film, you wince just as uncomfortably. This from the craft and the commitment of one James Stewart, the bomber pilot. Here you see the sometimes-dismissed as the "Aw, shucks" actor at an incredible artistic complexity, with a very large actor's toolbox.

The interesting thing about the structure is this –

It's a story about George's world (yours) would be like if he had never existed.

But for 1 hour and 50 minutes, we are shown the 'before' that happens, what life was with George around. Then in the final 10 minutes we are shown that world without George Bailey, and his understanding of that consequence, and his reclamation.

Life with George was complicated, often difficult, frustrating, confusing.

Without him, it is cold, harsh, cruel and dead, except for the brassy, blaring glitter of a world gone to seed and sensuality, having lost its human way without him. And when Jimmy Stewart's face turns into stone as he first sees and tries to understand this other world he cannot possibly grasp, so do we.

This is a movie about humanity challenged, of the heart being squeezed, of dreams being shattered or stolen. And yet the good in a few people – or just one -- can keep the endangered good in others alive. Alive until it can re-ignite and re-spread its warmth and light.

Unless the shade of iron reality and cynicism has rung down around you, you can hope and dream with these citizens of Bedford Falls, because Capra and Stewart and Reed and the others hope and dream so very, very well.

Oh, and if you can EVER see this in a real theater, please do so! I just did for the first time, and the silvered emotional reality that Capra paints on that big screen is almost overwhelming, it is so large.

Capra will gently squeeze your throat and your tear ducts. He did mine and a lady friend's (though she can cry at a pantyhose commercial).

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10 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

George Bailey Please Stop Complaining

7/10
Author: daveisit from Melbourne, Australia
1 December 2000

This movie is like eating your vegies. You don't like them but you know they are good.

I didn't really enjoy this movie. George Bailey gives so much in life and suffers because of it. He then starts complaining and having a cry over it all. Get over it mate. What was happening in his life happens a lot more often today, so he may have won the battle but he didn't win the war. Business is business and if you can't move with the times, you are almost bound to be unsuccessful.

I didn't enjoy it because I found his personality so annoying. What this does mean is the movie got me thinking and Jimmy Stewart played his part well. I have only kind words to say about the production of the movie and definitely recommend it to all.

7 out of 10.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My favorite

10/10
Author: andrewjllrar from United States
14 December 2014

However, after seeing this about 200 times, I've noticed this year how much the bridge attendant looks like Gary Shandling!!

Sad to think that virtually all of the adults in this film have passed away but nice to find out that virtually all of the Bailey child actors are still alive.

I see this weekend is the 68th anniversary of the film and the Its A Wonderful Life festival has just concluded in Seneca Falls New York.

However, I see little outside commentary about the fil from the actors although I read it was Stewart's favorite.

If congress can do anything, they'll outlaw the supposed mKing of the sequel of this film.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: Adam Peters from Birkenhead United Kingdom
7 December 2014

(92%) Could this be the best Christmas movie of all time? Well if it is then the fact that it doesn't stuff elves, a fat man in a Coca-cola winter suit, and endless amounts of consumer based gift buying down the audience's throat helps matters greatly. Performance wise it has James Stewart playing a big hearted everyman without it ever once feeling forced or unrealistic because it shows both the good and bad elements of trying to the right thing in life. The plot does share more than a little similar elements than "A Christmas carol", only it focuses on a good man rather than an old miser, which if anything works just as well as it doesn't pull as hard on the regret emotion which is something one doesn't really want to feel too much around the end of the year. Above all else though this is a timeless classic, with great direction, well drawn characters, a brilliant sweet ending, and best of all it actually shows, in most powerful fashion, that Christmas can be an awful time of year if things aren't running smoothly, which is something really lacking from almost every other holiday movie making this 100% unmissable for all true cinema fans.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Small town life

7/10
Author: Prismark10 from United Kingdom
27 May 2014

In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) is man who wants out from his small town life but something always keeps him from breaking out and fulfilling his dreams. Instead he ends up working in the family loan company, helping other people out. He has a wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four children in an old house which they make their home.

On Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Bill loses $8000 while he is attempting to deposit the money in the bank but loses track when he brags to the town bigwig Mr Potter. The Bailey family nemesis, Mr Potter (Lionel Barrymore) finds the cash but keeps it to himself. George realises when the bank auditor finds out that the accounts do not match he might lose everything and go to jail. George decides to kill himself However an angel Clarence (Henry Travers) is sent to save him and to show him how valuable his life is to the people around him by taking him to the time as if he was never born where he sees an alternate timeline. George discovers that he has made a positive contribution to many peoples lives.

The story has been told many times since then in television, books and films. Even the last episode of Classic Dallas was a variant of this movie based on the Ewings if JR was not around!

The film is regarded as an all time classic and it does have merits for being novel such as the beginning of the picture with a supreme being calling for an angel and the angel being one who has yet to gain his wings that is another story done many time since.

The film is charming, winsome but also a shade too long. The alternate timeline where the town becomes a cesspit looks improbable with Mary being a spinster librarian, a friend of George (Violet) becoming a good time girl and other townsfolk becoming nasty and rather brutish.

Also Mr Potter never seems to get his comeuppance, even during the days of the code Mr Potter still managed to find a way round things!

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

i think I'm in love with James Stewart

8/10
Author: nicki_in_belgrade from Mansfield, England
25 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. Just watched this for the first time and I'm totally in love with James Stewart! WHAT a great film, it still feels very fresh. James Stewart's character is wonderful. I love his enthusiasm for adventure and seeing the world, and I feel for him in the way he feels trapped in his life. I also really loved the exchanges between him and the house servant. The great thing in this film is the pure good that George Bailey shows towards everyone whilst still being completely human. The end is just a joy to watch and made me sob my heart out! Having planted all the seeds through the film, we now see the real impact he has had everyone's life. Now I just need to find a man like James Stewart - hott!

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It really is a wonderful life!

9/10
Author: Jacob Jefferson (jjgooner@yahoo.co.uk) from United Kingdom
25 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life

***1/2 (out of 4)

130 mins/ U

Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame, H.B Warner, Frank Albertson, Todd Karns, Samuel S. Hinds

Director: Frank Capra

Plot: An angel shows a charming, likable but frustrated man what life would have been like if he had not lived.

JJ's Verdict: What makes It's a Wonderful Life so special is that, although we see what the world could be like if George Bailey never lived, it is so personal. Bailey could be anyone. He isn't very successful or particularly rich, he's just your average everyday gentleman who, like everyone, has touched and influenced so many lives. It shows that everyone has worth in life and that we should never throw that away.

In It's a Wonderful Life, we have James Stewart's George Bailey who, like I mentioned before, is your average small-town American gentlemen. Kind, friendly and helpful and always looking out for others around him. This is also his weakness, because he sacrifices so many of his life ambitions like travelling the world to save the local people of Bedford Hills from the tycoon that is Lionel Barrymore's Henry Potter. Because he never reached these goals and spends most of his time fighting off the advances of Mr. Potter to seize the town, he becomes tired of life and extremely cynical. For a man so loved by the local people, George felt very unappreciated for all the sacrifices he had made throughout his life. So when his Uncle Billy misplaces an important $8,000 cheque and the bank examiner discovers this, George begins a rampage across town and finally ends up at a bridge, ready to end his life.

However, just as he is about to jump in, an angel appears, ready to show him his life's true meaning and prevent him from going through with his plan. The angel does this by showing George what life would have been like had he not existed. Of course, his family and friends all turn out worse off and the town had been fully taken over and commercialised by Mr. Potter. James Stewart, although very good as the charming but reluctant and living George Bailey, is perfect as the never lived George Bailey, and his scenes where he discovers life without him are emotionally devastating and Stewart makes you feel for his character throughout. Donna Reed is superb as George's loving and caring wife Mary as are the rest of a huge supporting cast that includes Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers and Thomas Mitchell.

Although it's ending fails to create as big an emotional impact as it promises to, (still a pretty good impact but you just expect more) It's a Wonderful Life is an uplifting masterpiece which just gets better on every viewing. Most people say this is the perfect Christmas movie or the perfect movie to watch if you're depressed, but I say the perfect movie to watch anytime and whatever mood you're in.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Best Christmas movie ever!

10/10
Author: Nikki_4284 from United States
2 July 2013

This is one of my absolute favorite classic movies. I do also like Miracle on 34th Street as for classic Christmas movies.

I loved the plot line, the setting it was perfect! Also the acting, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed were a perfect match for the film. They were the greatest actors in that time period which i wish i had lived through. Honestly some of the acting and films today aren't the same as they were in the olden days. It's one of those moving free spirited movies with no graphic violence or swearing. The type of movies i really enjoy and great for the entire family.

I recommend this to anyone who loves sitting on the couch with a warm blanket and hot chocolate during Christmastime.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Cheesy but Awesome!

10/10
Author: Frank Bell from United States
25 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Wonderful Life" is all about the story, detailing George Bailey's struggle to get out of his small town, but always putting others before himself and continually sacrificing his chance to live his own life and see the world. By the end, his life takes a nasty turn or two, and he ends up considering suicide to make available his life insurance money to help his family - until a gentle angel named Clarence arrives to show him what life in his town would be like if he was never around...

Very well acted (for its era) and very well told, 'It's A Wonderful Life' really is one of the most uplifting films i have ever seen. Frank Capra gently takes us from step to step with our subtly heroic lead, throughout the highs, the almost lows, and the real lows, and you really feel for the guy - He is never presented as perfect - he sometimes yells at his family, his friends, he gets frustrated like all of us, but always does what he can to right his wrongs, and help his townspeople. We like this guy because he's decidedly human, but a good man overall.

The films big payoff comes in its finale - after George realises how much he has to live for, he immediately sets about doing just that, embracing his family like he hadn't seen them in years, despite his financial turmoil and seemingly grim future.

If this film had been made today, no doubt the ending would be deemed cheesy and unrealistic - today it seems impossible to have a happy ending without the film being accused of taking the easy way out, which is crap - let people end their movie in the way that seems best to them. This film however, though simply shot and unremarkably acted, is truly affecting. George finally realizing that he was cherished and appreciated all along by his friends and clients is a touching moment, and to be honest, i was in tears, crying like a baby with a smacked arse by the end credits.

I really urge anyone who has not seen this film to give it a go, even if you think its way, way off your normal movie map. I like Michael Bay films for crying out loud, and i still loved this! Go watch.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A nice family film. I understand why it is a classic.

7/10
Author: richieandsam
16 June 2013

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Another classic film I dad never seen before. I liked it.

The most I had seen of this movie before was in Gremlins, when Billy's mother was watching it in the kitchen.

The movie is about a man who is completely selfless. He thinks about everyone else and other thing before himself... he gives up so much for other people. But when things start to go wrong for him, he feels desperate and tries to kill himself... until he is saved by an angel. The angel then teaches him what things would have been like if he had never been born.

It is a lovely film. It has romance, comedy and drama in it. It really is a nice film to watch at Christmas time.

The movie stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore & Thomas Mitchell. The acting was over the top a little bit, but back in the day when this was made, all acting was over the top in one way or another.

I will give this film 7 out of 10.

It is a nice family film that will have all the old women crying.

For more of my reviews, please like my Facebook page:

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the best films ever made!!!

10/10
Author: illbebackreviews from Australia
18 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Praised to death by movie buffs and critics alike, 'It's A Wonderful Life' is often considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and for certain, one of the greatest family films and Christmas films alike. As a person who is currently planning to view classic films, I realized that I had to check out 'It's A Wonderful Life' and did not regret it afterwards.

James Stewart stars as George Bailey and Donna Reed stars as his wife, Mary Hatch in this absolute family classic. The story is one of extreme depth and emotion as the film takes around three quarters of the duration before the actual plot begins, but never does the film truly bore you. Filled with amazing black and white cinematography, fantastic acting and often great humorous relief, 'It's A Wonderful Life' truly succeeds at creating such a universe and letting one immerse themselves in the story. To not care entirely for 'It's A Wonderful Life' would clearly show that one would not be human at all as this film deals with great emotion as George Bailey comes the lowest point in his life, full of struggle and frustration that he wishes he were dead so that he would not have to deal with this pain and so that his film would be happier. It is then, that George's guardian angel, Clarence, who had been paying attention to him since he were a child, arrives and gives a tour of what life would be for everyone had George not been born.

I had absolutely no idea how this film would turn out. I wasn't even sure whether this would be a film that I would enjoy very much but the film is structured fantastically and the writing and directing is amazing. The best element of the film is the attention to detail on George's character and how much backstory there is. Even the small things such as his father or his brother turn into something more important for George. The way the film depicts everything about George was fantastic. From the scene with him as a child, saving his brother, I was endeared by the character. Of course, a great character only works with fantastic acting and Jimmy Stewart delivers just this in the grandest of style! His ability to display emotion throughout the film is unbelievable, completely allowing anyone to buy the character and the performance. In fact, for much of the film, you forget that Stewart is actually acting in the film! Not only is the film amazing in terms of cinematography and depth of characters but the film offers such fantastic moments such as everything at the end of the film involving Clarence. The emotional aspect of the film is truly terrific with each scene carefully crafted, featuring just the perfect amount of emotion to it. Even the humor, which is plentiful in such a film, is done in a way that it does not overplay the humorous side of the film and unbalance the tone. These sequences are so immersive and the fact that this is a feel good Christmas film just truly ensures that this film delivers. The characters are truly unforgettable, the acting and story is amazing, written and directed intelligently,

'It's A Wonderful Life' truly exceeds at being a masterpiece in every way and it is indeed, no surprise that this film be ranked so highly on many of the top films list, most notably IMDb's infamous top 250, to which it holds a place at 29. 'It's A Wonderful Life' is truly an unforgettable classic that shall live for generations. Literally, the greatest Christmas film ever made. They don't get better than this.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Corny, predictable, poorly acted and inspiring eternal.

7/10
Author: Marc Israel from United States
1 May 2013

Frank Capra's holiday renewal works because of its' simplicity and because we love the American underdog. We all want to achieve something more grandiose than small town success while living in a fixer-upper with a growing family. We beat ourselves up over doing the best we can and spend nights worrying about how we're going to do the right thing day in and day out. We're all George Bailey in need of a kick off the pity pot. Thankfully, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed re-light the holiday fire. They really do need play against each other because if Jimmy wasn't such a malcontent, Donna couldn't be so strong and vica-versa. The first "what if" film to become Americana unto itself. Hee Haw!

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This is not a Christmas Movie

8/10
Author: david-sarkies from Australia
23 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes it is isn't it. Well, pedanticism aside, this is one fine movie. It is about a man who grows up in the town of Bedford Falls and never actually leaves it. This may not be that interesting, but when we discover that ever since he was a kid he has had dreams of going abroad and travelling and becoming rich, then it is quite different. It is considered a Christmas movie, and is generally played every Christmas, but in fact it is a far darker movie and Capra never meant it to be as such. The only thing about Christmas is that it happens to be that time when he has his revelation.

What this movie is about is shattered dreams. We watch our hero (James Stewart) as he grows up with all of these dreams, but they seem to be continually postponed as things happen. It also shows the battle inside of him as he tries to maintain his integrity, yet also tries to follow the dreams that keep him going, yet these dreams never manifest, especially since he becomes more and more fixed to the town to a point where he cannot leave.

The climax of the movie is where his wish is granted, that is that he never existed. As the angel tells him, he is free and can now do what he wants, but as he looks around he sees that he has made such an impact on the town. I don't think the point here is that he didn't realise the impact he had on the town, especially since the angel told him that he no longer has any attachments and he can do what he wants, but rather the integrity inside of him won't let him leave, especially since the town has changed so drastically. Even though he wants to get away, he knows that he cannot because the town relies upon him to stop the bad guy from taking control of the town and turning it into a cesspool.

The struggle here is between what he wants and what is good for others: a struggle between selfishness and selflessness. No matter how selfish he tries to be, he has an integral selfless nature where he instinctively puts the welfare of others before himself.

The thing is that It's a Wonderful Life is not a warm fuzzy Christmas movie, but rather a movie about a man who is fighting a constant struggle within himself and in the end accepts who he is and is joyful about the hope that he has put in many other's hearts.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life....

10/10
Author: Besart Prishtina from Vushtrri, Kosovo
25 January 2013

I watch a lot of movies, mostly classics, and to this very moment i considered To Kill A Mockingbird to be the greatest classic i ever watched, but tonight i came across It's A Wonderful Life and after i read a summary and so some of the reviews i gave it a try and i'm glad i did... what a Wonderful Life.

I honestly can't believe that i hit 20s and just now i found out about this (so far best movie i ever watched in my life)movie.

Because i don't want to spoil it (in case there is someone "like me" out there that missed it), i won't get into details, but i must say i'm touched during the minutes of the unborn George, those minutes were so emotional that i had to wipe me eyes several time during those minutes.

I also should mention that the acting was great too, James, Donna, Henry were magnificent. This was the first movie from Capra that i watched and this really made my mind to lookout for others Capra works.

At the end of my review i just want to say that this movie really brought something into me, so people out there who missed this by any chance...watch it already.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A different take on Frank Capra's masterpiece.

Author: michael thompson from United Kingdom
23 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here is my different take on Its a wonderful life.

Potter is Margaret Thatcher, is Ronald Reagen, is George Bush Jnr.

Both the UK and the USA are Pottersvill's.

Right wing Republicanism, and British right wing Tory's are both hard nosed, profit entrenched political systems.

In It's a wonderful life, George Baily's father runs a lone company, not for profit, but to help people.

George Baily's father is a Socialist, in America, a Social Democrat.

Due to decades of Republicaism in the States, millions are homeless and unemployed long term. This is Pottersville.

Due to the same system in the UK since the 80's, thousands maybe millions are equally homeless, are equally long term unemployed.

It's a wonderful life reveals what can be achieved by one person in a position to help people in his community.

And It's a wonderful life proves the other side of the coin when attitudes change at grass roots level, when the people in charge have hard hearts, just like Potter.

After George Bailey meets Clarence the Angel, and Clarence the Angel gives George Bailey his wish that he wished that he had never been born, everything changes and George Bailey's community become's Pottersville, hard harsh people, trust all gone, love all gone, the soul all gone.

Everything that happens to George Baily in Pottersville, is a direct result of not only George Baily never being born, but also of ruthless Capitalism taking root because everybody is looking after themselves, and not caring about other people.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A legend

Author: Armand from Romania
10 December 2011

A life lesson. Beautiful story. Movie as hot tea cup. Snow of Christmas Eve and porcelain angels. A legend. And a gift. Honest, delicate, picture of so many existences, American for be universal, sensitive experience and advice , family film and recipes for every form of sadness, apple pie and warm bed, hot bathroom and child song, it is a classic and more. After Cold War and fall of Communism, Flower Power and Ku Klux Klan, revolutions and few portraits of USA presidents, end of a century and beginning of millennium, fear about December 2012 and economic crisis, it is fresh , the angel is in same place, George is same good guy and his brother is again and again the shining hero, the town has old streets and the uncle loses money, Henry Potter is behind by any Harry Potter and the final has unique charm. A legend. Or a rose with each petal new and gorgeous.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I grew up in a small country town

Author: dsewizzrd-1 from Australia
25 August 2011

James Stewart's magnum opus, as Stewart plays a manager of a Savings and Loans in midwest USA, pursued by the "Big Man" of the town.

Stewart saves the institution (rather pointlessly in my opinion) from ruin during the depression but things come to a head after the War.

The morality seems confused - for instance saving a murderous pharmacist - possibly in a convoluted effort to avoid the film looking "socialist".

He decides to commit suicide for the Life insurance money, but an angel shows him what it would be like if he hadn't lived – a town full of honky tonk joints, loose women and fast living (Go knock yourself out, Jimmy !)

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
25 December 2010

A must watch, surely on Christmas Day, Capra's evergreen classic will surely stir hearts and emotions so long as there are eyes and ears and hearts and minds to drink it all in.

Incredible to think it was a commercial failure on first release and indeed was the great director's last recognised masterpiece of a long, distinguished career. The story, of course, is pure "Capra-corn", the last word in his trademark straight-guy-takes-on-big-bad-world M.O. and through sheer humanity overcomes adversity to restore our collective faith in human nature.

I've seen it many times previously, but not for a long while, yet still had to wipe away a tear at the gladdening conclusion as Everyman James Stewart's George Bailey gets his just rewards for a lifetime of good intentions and good deeds and so overturns the machinations of the grasping local tyrant, Henry Potter, played with almost pantomime relish by Lionel Barrymore.

The writing is wonderful, (people forget the playful humour which abounds in the early sections), Capra taking time slot in all the components, before the breathtaking twist which sees George's careless remark, as he turns his back on the world, fanned into flame by his angel overseer, Clarence, played beautifully by Henry Travers. As ever, Capra manages his ensemble cast of familiars with aplomb, but still leaves plenty of room for Stewart's wonderful performance to occupy centre-stage. Yes, the viewer's emotions are manipulated occasionally (for example,the heavenly choir is heard in the background, for all of the last 10 or 15 minutes), but Capra by and large reins in the schmaltz and leaves you thinking that the "wonderful town" of Bellfield falls could have actually existed in some between-wars long-ago.

Although not completely perfect (let's not forget Potter effectively gets away with Bailey's Bank's depositors' hard-earned money), Capra's universal parable will surely forever continue to maintain it's pre-eminent position as a true Hollywood classic, for all seasons.

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It's what we all would want to be like

10/10
Author: jimladdy from United Kingdom
23 December 2007

This film has been screened and looked at so many times that you would think there is nothing more to say about it. I thought the same, although I always loved it I'd gotten so used to the film that it was almost background noise once a year, until I saw it on the big screen. A local cinema screened this one Christmas and I happened past, and for some reason paid my fee and went in.

Wow!

It really is a film that couldn't be made in modern times, we are too cynical, and what a shame that is. This is a total tour-de-force of what makes a man and the events, painful and sweet, that get him there. George Bailey is the everyman, played brilliantly by Jimmy Stewart, and never has anyone been identified with so much on screen by everyone who watches it. I've heard the argument from various parties that the film is too sentimental and sickly sweet, and in any other movie they may be right. Not so here, the film works somehow, it is sentimental, but it is beautiful and moral and life enhancing. I know I haven't said much about the plot, I don't have to, just watch it and if you've got a soul you'll love it. To quote Stan Lee "Nuff Said!".

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What it is to be loved

10/10
Author: kevinmcnally06 from United States
14 December 2007

So much has been said that all I can say is this : If you can watch Geroge Bailey charge down Main Street yelling, "Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan" without your eyes filling up, you don't know what it is to be human. Well, I'll guess I'll say more, because some silly rule prevents me from being succinct. "It's A Wonderful Life" shows us that we are all heroes, in our own right. How many lives does each of our own touch? Like George Bailey, I've wondered if everyone would be better off if I'd never been born. Thanks to Frank Capra, I know what an awful, selfish feeling this is. Here's your hat, what's your hurry?

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A classic. It touches your emotions making one to learn to enjoy life, while bringing tears of joy at the films end.

9/10
Author: Danny Blankenship from Petersburg, Virginia
9 December 2007

Finally after all these years I decided to set down and watch the Frank Capra classic from 1946 "It's A Wonderful Life" and I must say overall I was well pleased a film that makes one feel down and depressed yet it touches your emotions and makes you be thankful especially the way the film ends it can bring your eyes to water up. The legendary Jimmy Stewart who performs fine here plays George Bailey a man who thru life has always seemed to have gotten the short end. From his days as a child when George felt guilty for not watching his brother to the days of never reaching his full potential and having to take over the business of banking loans once his father passes unexpectedly. It seems that George's life is problem after problem even after he enjoys life with his significant other Mary(Donna Reed) then his business sinks and the loans of bank customers turn to debt and it seems life for George is now finally doomed as if he will be broken just before Christmas. All along from the films start we as the viewer can see somewhat of a foreshadowing technique starting out with the stars in the sky of angels up above who keep a close eye on everyone including George. Then upon Christmas as in so many holiday fairy types a magical visit occurs this time it's from an angel named Clarence. The journey that George takes is even more depressing, but in the end he sees the true light and love from everyone in town. Capra really proved with this film that no matter how bad it seems or it gets in life that in the end if you have loved and given friends will turn out in the end in time of need and not let failure or darkness happen. Many times some of us aren't felt to be loved or liked, but we are fooled and surprised in the end with a little help from up above. The ending with the bell and angel is timeless and a classic well remembered by most viewers. Clearly thumbs up for Frank Capra who made an emotional and touching classic with a little help from the angels in the heavens above it touches a viewer and makes them feel loved and uplifts their spirits.

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Colorized Version VS Black & White

10/10
Author: blue-7 from Salt Lake City
9 December 2007

I picked up Paramount's double DVD for "It's a Wonderful Life" to upgrade my earlier Republic release. This two disc set comes with both the original B&W edition and a newly colorized version on a separate disc. This is not the first colorization job on this film. Turner attempted it some years back and both James Stewart and director Frank Capra were appalled at the results. They did everything in their power to discourage this practice. Well the technique for colorization has greatly improved since those early attempts and I thought it worth taking another look at the results. It is quite amazing -- yet after watching it for about one hour I changed to the black & white version and have NO desire to watch it in color. Flesh colors are on the orange side and everyone has the exact same tone of color. The beautiful shades found in the b&w version are far more effective. Let's face it -- if a film was originally designed and shot in color then it should be seen that way. It's the same with watching a wide screen film in full screen or a full screen blown up to fill a 16:9 wide screen television set. The film itself remains one of my all time favorites -- and I will continue appreciate it in black and white!

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Best film ever made

10/10
Author: laura1-07 from United Kingdom
8 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What can I say about this film that has not already been said. It is quite simply the best film ever made containing the best performance ever from James Stewart.

I love to watch it at least once a year (particular at Christmas) as the story is so uplifting and beautiful. Lets face it it's been copied enough times. It's an amazing thought to consider how many lives our lives may touch and affect and this film portrays that point perfectly.

It's one of the few films that makes me cry every time especially when it gets to part where George Bailey receives the book from Clarence which says that no man is poor as long as he has friends.

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best movie ever

10/10
Author: nayrn from United States
26 August 2007

Awesome movie! I have seen it so many times. I love it. I thought it was weird it wasn't closer to number 1.It makes me cry when I watch it. And it is just laid out perfectly. I wish people were more like this now. If you haven't seen it you really need to because you have been missing out on what I believe is the best movie ever to be made. The actors are great in it. It makes you feel like it is real. I also like that it was in Black and White. Plus this is how I feel when things seem to be going all wrong. I don't want to give away the movie though so just watch it and you will be glad you did. It makes you feel more alive when the movie is over.

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The most magical movie ever..

10/10
Author: Mr_White101 from United Kingdom
31 May 2007

It's A Wonderful Life (written December, 2006)

A film which undoubtedly receives the award for the most magical movie ever made, It's A Wonderful Life is a gem to watch on Christmas, and is a brilliant tale of life, hope, family and ultimately, happiness. It is without doubt the best movie to depict the importance of happiness, as the film actually captures happiness and gives it to us every time we are lucky enough to watch it. It is easily the most delightful, joyous piece of cinema ever, and also a fantastic story- it is truly a golden classic. I cannot praise It's A Wonderful Life enough- it is outstanding. I absolutely adore it, and all that it says to us and shows us. This is magic right here people! Frank Capra's absolute classic is, I repeat, the most magical, joyous and delightful film ever, and will remain a classic in every sense.

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Simply A Great Movie.

Author: Sarah (spacemanspiff87) from Troutdale, Oregon
16 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler!!!

The viewer learns about George Bailey as `angles' are discussing his current situation. These angels go through all of the major events in George's life. They show that he dreamed of traveling to far off lands and discovering all the world had to offer him. But, that all didn't quite work out for George. He grew up and found that business life changed him and made him feel as if he was a failure for never leaving Bedford Falls. All of it just adds up to George coming to the end of his rope and ready to jump off of a bridge. But the angel Clarence comes down and jumps in, ultimately saving George. Clarence then shows George what it would be like in Bedford Falls if George wasn't ever born. George learns that even though he didn't live out his dreams of travel and adventure, he still had a major impact on people. As Clarence the angel shows George around town, he learns how truly wonderful his life is. This movie is a favorite to many, and for good reasons. The movie (based on a book named The Greatest Gift) is such a wonderful tale that shows viewers what the really important things in life are. `It's Wonderful Life' wasn't a huge success as it was released as WW11 was ending. But as time past, it has become a classic, ranking number twenty six out of Internet Movie Data Base's top two hundred and fifty. One of the best things about this movie is the character development, with a strong protagonist and the powerful antagonist, Mr. Potter. The viewer can feel as if they are there, in the cozy town of Bedford Falls, living right along side with George and his family. There were no camera techniques or special effects that made this movie what it is. It is simply an amazing story that people fall in love with. The average user rating for this movie is 8.6/10, but this viewer gives it a 10/10.

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a movie with important morale values.

9/10
Author: Eric G Lunneborg from Fairview, Oregon
16 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey, a savings-and-loan manager, played by James Stewart, (Stewart), the , much-loved hero of Bedford Falls. As a child, George risked his life and lost his hearing in one ear to save his brother from drowning. While he was growing up he dreamed of traveling around the world and going to college.

After his father passed away, he forfeited his dreams to move away from the small town that he grew up in to stay home and manage his father's business, the Bailey Building and Loan. Throughout his life, George believe that meeting the needs of others was more important than accumulating wealth. The film has it share f romance, especially when George marries Mary Hatch, who is played by Donna Reed. On their wedding day, George ends up sacrificing his honeymoon so hat he can prevent the Savings an Loan fro going out o business.

As with many movies from the 1940's, the film has a villain. He is a is a stingy old man named Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore), who owns most of Bedford Falls. The Bailey Building and Loan Society is the one of the only businesses in town that he doesn't own, and he's willing to do anything to get his hands on it – lie, cheat, bribe, steal

Although for the most part it is a a lighthearted story, the movie does show the despair that overcomes George when his personal and financial troubles force him into a feeling of hopelessness and ultimately has him considering suicide. George is rescued by Clarence (Henry Travers), a lovable yet bumbling guardian angel, who has been given the assignment to prove to George that his life is worth living. He grants George one wish: to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. George observes how much worse off many people would be. Mary, is wife is a lonely spinster; George's brother, Harry, is dead because George was not there to rescue him when he was a child George's uncle, Billy, is in an insane asylum; and Mr. Potter owns the entire town, which has been named after him.

The reviewer would rate this movie a five out of five star rating. It's A Wonderful Life deals with the desire each of us has to feel that somehow our existence makes a difference in this world. And even though it doesn't actually say it, we can all learn not to be too confident, and that we should be careful of what we wish for.

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A movie for all seasons. WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!

Author: templer_doom (templer_doom@yahoo.co.uk)
27 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A movie that functions on the basis and basics of it's principal talents, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a movie dealing with the importance of community in society. Made at the end of the Second World War, it is hard to believe that the film was not as well received on initial release, whereas today, it would have grown through word of mouth and the power of the Internet (Mr. Knowles, your netrangers await!!)

It is refreshing to view a film where the only key optical effects are a simple starfield representation of the angels and one or two moments of illusion as Ward Bond arrives to save James Stewart from oblivion and that the true special effect is in the acting and script, still among the most essential parts of the film-making process.

In turns funny, tragic, revealing and observing, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is at first glance the tale of a man,George Bailey (Stewart) out to keep his livelihood alive against outside oppression (in this case a local businessman determined to buy out his stake in his business with a rich payoff) and to retain the dignity and trust of the township, but when pressure gets too much, the locals begin to take exception to his beliefs and manner, resulting in one of the husbands of his colleagues hitting him and him reexamining what is important in life.....

Influential to many of today's wishful thinking movies (think WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE) as well as any number of top fantasy blockbusters, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE continues to give pleasure to many and is in spite of it's Christmas setting, a movie for all seasons....

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Another Great One.

Author: fjustice1988 (fjustice1988@charter.net)
20 October 2002

Here is another good Christmas Movie. The first time I saw this was when I was in the 8th grade, and we were getting close to Christmas Break, so we watched this.

I was surprised. I figured it would be boring, but I must admit, I enjoyed it.

9 out of 10.

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The best Family/Feel-good movie ever made!

Author: Garry Abbott (Gazman01) from London, England
21 September 2002

Right, as I write this there are EIGHTY shopping days (not including Sundays) left until Christmas!

What a depressing thought, eh?

Anyway, with this in mind, I have decided to submit my review of the, and I do mean- 'THE', best Family/Feel-good Movie ever made...

Frank Capra's: It's a wonderful Life.

(Added to which, it is, by far and away, my personal all-time favorite.)

Many, many words (not all complimentary) have been written about this Classic Yuletide tale, so what makes mine any different from the rest?

In truth, probably nothing! But by damn it, I'll have my say! You hear?

This Film is a Classic, of a by-gone time, where life seemed so much more innocent, than it does today, and boy does it show! Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. Not by a long-shot! In fact, it is this overwhelming sence of innocence, which gives the Film it's undeniable charm. That, at it's best, can melt the coldest of Hearts! No small wonder then, that, after a decidedly shaky beginning, this Film has been consistently voted as America's all-time favorite Movie, and one of the best Film's ever made. To which, I whole-heartedly concur.

Best seen with all your family around, during the Festive season, this Film, in my humble opinion, can NOT be beat, and will ALWAYS be, as far as I'm c