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Reviews & Ratings for
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3 out of 6 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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3 out of 6 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 6 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 8 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 8 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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4 out of 8 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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5 out of 10 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 10 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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6 out of 12 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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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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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

One of the Most Beautiful Movies of the Cinema History Ever

10/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 January 2007

On the Christmas Eve of Bedford Falls, the guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) is assigned to convince the desperate George Bailey (James Stewart) to not commit suicide. George is a good man, that sacrificed his dreams and his youth on behalf of the citizens of his small town. He inherited the loan business of his father and he gave up traveling the world and joining the university as scheduled. Later he resisted the proposals of the evil banker Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) and has never sold his business to protect the poor community of Bedford Falls and offer a means to afford to buy their own house. He married his beloved Mary Hatch Bailey (Donna Reed) and had four children with her and a tough life with his family. When his uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses US$ 8,000.00, found and stolen by Mr. Potter, George decides to commit suicide, since he believes he worth more dead than alive. When Clarence sees that he is not able to persuade George to give up his intention, he decides to show the life in town if George had never existed. George concludes that life is wonderful.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is certainly one of the most beautiful movies of the cinema history ever. This masterpiece has a touching and moralist story, showing that the famous sentence that a man can make the difference is true. Everything works perfectly in this movie. The original screenplay develops the situation and the characters accurately, using flashbacks and magnificent lines. The direction of Frank Capra is outstanding as usual. The cinematography in black & white and using shadows and lights is fantastic. James Stewart leads an amazing cast, showing a perfect chemistry with the gorgeous Donna Reed, in the role of a compassionate and enlightened good man. Lionel Barrymore is also amazing in the role of the despicable banker. I do not recall how many times I have already seen this film, but last time was 16 Dec 2000. This is the type of movie that a lover of cinema will never get tired of watching many times. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "A Felicidade não se Compra" ("The Happiness Is not Bought")

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17 out of 34 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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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

sup

5/10
Author: sven Göransson from Sweden
12 June 2014

one years ago, I (GLS) was snooping around in the cabinets that housed the MIT AI Lab's PDP-10, and noticed a little switch glued to the frame of one cabinet. It was obviously a home brew job, added by one of the lab's hardware hackers (no one knows who).

You don't touch an unknown switch on a computer without knowing what it does, because you might crash the computer. The switch was labeled in a most unhelpful way. It had two positions, and scrawled in pencil on the metal switch body were the words 'magic' and 'more magic'. The switch was in the 'more magic' position.

I called another hacker over to look at it. He had never seen the switch before either. Closer examination revealed that the switch had only one wire running to it! The other end of the wire did disappear into the maze of wires inside the computer, but it's a basic fact of electricity that a switch can't do anything unless there are two wires connected to it. This switch had a wire connected on one side and no wire on its other side.

It was clear that this switch was someone's idea of a silly joke. Convinced by our reasoning that the switch was inoperative, we flipped it. The computer instantly crashed.

Imagine our utter astonishment. We wrote it off as coincidence, but nevertheless restored the switch to the 'more magic' position before reviving the computer.

A year later, I told this story to yet another hacker, David Moon as I recall. He clearly doubted my sanity, or suspected me of a supernatural belief in the power of this switch, or perhaps thought I was fooling him with a bogus saga. To prove it to him, I showed him the very switch, still glued to the cabinet frame with only one wire connected to it, still in the 'more magic' position. We scrutinized the switch and its lone connection, and found that the other end of the wire, though connected to the computer wiring, was connected to a ground pin. That clearly made the switch doubly useless: not only was it electrically nonoperative, but it was connected to a place that couldn't affect anything anyway. So we flipped the switch.

The computer promptly crashed.

This time we ran for Richard Greenblatt, a long-time MIT hacker, who was close at hand. He had never noticed the switch before, either. He inspected it, concluded it was useless, got some diagonal cutters and diked it out. We then revived the computer and it has run fine ever since.

We still don't know how the switch crashed the machine. There is a theory that some circuit near the ground pin was marginal, and flipping the switch changed the electrical capacitance enough to upset the circuit as millionth-of-a-second pulses went through it. But we'll never know for sure; all we can really say is that the switch was magic.

I still have that switch in my basement. Maybe I'm silly, but I usually keep it set on 'more magic'.

1994: Another explanation of this story has since been offered. Note that the switch body was metal. Suppose that the non-connected side of the switch was connected to the switch body (usually the body is connected to a separate earth lug, but there are exceptions). The body is connected to the computer case, which is, presumably, grounded. Now the circuit ground within the machine isn't necessarily at the same potential as the case ground, so flipping the switch connected the circuit ground to the case ground, causing a voltage drop/jump which reset the machine. This was probably discovered by someone who found out the hard way that there was a potential difference between the two, and who then wired in the switch as a joke.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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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:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ordinary-Person-Movie- Reviews/456572047728204?ref=hl

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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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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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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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A legend

Author: Vincentiu 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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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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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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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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A different view

9/10
Author: Peter 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 concerned, the TOPS!

"That-a-boy Clarence!"

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**** out of ****

10/10
Author: kyle_c from The Midwest
2 September 2002

An American classic well worthy of it's reputation, "It's a Wonderful Life" details the life of George Bailey, a man who 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. 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.

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The Greatest Movie Ever Made!

10/10
Author: mike841313 from Flemington, New Jersey
14 August 2002

The Greatest Feel Good Movie of all time- the Greatest Holiday Movie of all time- The Greatest ACting of all time- The Greatest Directing of all time- All 10's.....Perhaps- the greatest movie of all time!

Overall 10+/10

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Class. You need know, no more

10/10
Author: David Tilstone (dave.tilstone@btopenworld.com) from Stoke-On-Trent, England
12 July 2002

Simply the best film i have ever seen. Every cast member is perfect, the plot is faultless and the acting, (especially from Stewart, is unbeatable). I think, that in the 56 years since this film was made, only The Shawshank Redemption has come close(and extremely close at that) to equalling this wonderful film.

Some people have given this film 1 out of 10, but they are due to be released quite soon.

If you have never seen this film, do so, with no interruptions. It is nothing less than utter class.

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Too Depressing

1/10
Author: Yog Sawhaw from Ann Arbor, Michigan
15 April 2014

A lot of people love the happy ending of the movie. When I watched it, I did too. Yeah, when Harry says "A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town," I cried. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it. But, darn it, all the happiness of the last few minutes of the movie doesn't cancel out all the misery contained in the rest of the movie.

Another reviewer here called the movie "nauseating" and that is exactly what I would call it. This movie was so depressing that I was literally nauseated by it.

At the end of the movie, I just wished George Bailey had followed his dreams and traveled around the world (and, if I remember right, become an architect). So what if Bedford Falls becomes Pottersville?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought life insurance policies didn't cover suicide. George Bailey would never have been worth more dead than alive. Maybe things were different when the movie was made, though.

I know this is a classic but I strongly dislike it. It's okay for a drama to be sad but I hate movies that are depressing. I had the same problem with Fritz Lang's SCARLET STREET. And I'd say IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is worse because SCARLET STREET is a film noir. You expect films noir to be depressing. But I heard so much about IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE's happy ending and I just wasn't prepared for so much misery.

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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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Decent

6/10
Author: kchang511 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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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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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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pure magic

10/10
Author: arthera09 from United States
31 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to fill this with 10 lines, but it does not require 10 lines to say that this movie is perfect and one of my favorite movies of all time. The ending gets me every time somehow. I love Jimmy Stewart and cannot emphasize how much he makes this movie work. I think he really gets to show off both this comical skills and his dramatic ability. I saw this on the big screen at a local theater house and it really was a magical type of experience. No matter how many times I watch this movie find something new to fall in love with or just fall in love with the same thing over and over again. I will probably watch this movie at least once every year for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

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"A toast to my big brother, George: The richest man in town"

10/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
30 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why is it that I get a little teary every time I watch 'It's A Wonderful Life (1946)?' The title says it all, I suppose. Despite the film's reputation as a holiday classic, Capra's film succeeds because it doesn't forget about the other eleven months of the year – it truly is about life, and what makes it wonderful. Even the most understated moments have a tendency to expose me as a romantic: in one of my favourite scenes, George Bailey (James Stewart) offers the Moon to his sweetheart, Mary (Donna Reed). Yet Capra doesn't patronise the audience with a string of happy moments. George, at first, seems like the unluckiest person in town, a man whose big dreams never came to fruition, for reasons entirely outside his control. It is Capra's miracle that George, and the audience, ultimately realise that life's greatest wonders are not necessarily those that we had anticipated – friends we never expected to make, a girl with whom we never expected to fall in love…

On a snowy Christmas Eve, George Bailey stands on a bridge in his home town of Bedford Falls, contemplating suicide. Throughout his life-time, George's grand dreams of exploration and excitement have been repeatedly stifled by tragedy and obligation, and now he sees no future except in death. God, watching from Heaven, sends down guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers), who tries to convince George that life is something to be treasured. 'It's a Wonderful Life' was adapted from Philip Van Doren Stern's short story "The Greatest Gift," and carries shades of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (indeed, Lionel Barrymore was chosen for the role of Mr. Potter based on his much-lauded radio portrayals of Scrooge from 1934). James Stewart, who had served in the U.S. Airforce during WWII, brings a painful weariness to the role of beleaguered family-man George Bailey, and the warm, soulful eyes of Donna Reed – as George's wife Mary – are enough to remind any man that life is, indeed, wonderful.

'It's A Wonderful Life' differs from 'You Can't Take It With You (1938)' and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)' in that the film's central immoral character does not undergo a change of heart (though, admittedly, Jim Taylor in the latter film does remain a rigid villain, even when Senator Paine reveals a human streak). Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is one of cinema's most formidable villains, a heaving bulk of a man, confined to a wheelchair, who desires money and power for the sake of money and power. In the swelling emotion of Capra's final act, it's easy to forget that Potter goes unpunished for his moral crimes. Here, Capra deals in blacks and whites. George Bailey is a good man; Mr Potter is a bad man. The director's own unique brand of "Capra-corn" required that the audience's sympathies never be confused, so that they can commit themselves to a character who is destined for a happy ending. After having watched 'You Can't Take It With You,' Barrymore's role- reversing characterisation is stunning.

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It's a wonderful film.

9/10
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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Think! If George Bailey hadn't been born: Harry wouldn't go to the Ice Pond!Martini would run a Pizzeria!Gower would've sold to CVS!Violet would've married Uncle Billy.....

10/10
Author: John T. Ryan (redryan64@hotmail.com) from United States
12 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WHILE MAKING IT yet another early Winter's eve spent with the handy work of Mr. Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, et al, it suddenly occurred to us that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Liberty Films/RKO Radio Pictures, 1946) is one film that has a most checkered history. Inspite of the exalted position of preeminence that it has occupied for some thirty or so years now, as hard as it may seem to believe, the movie was not a success at the time of its original release.

WE CAN RECALL viewing it for the first time. It was while in Junior High (in the 7th Grade), circa 1958. The temperate zone setting was very appealing; rather than being set in the warm and sunny Southern California, Mediterramean clime that characterize so many cinematic works. This was a most friendly way of getting the attention of this kid, here (that's me, Schultz)! I really identified with it.

SO, WE CAN now magically fast forward our time line about 12-15 years to the early 1970's. It was during this period that our subject film was wrongly thought to be in Public Domain. Without the benefit of copyright protection,it would be open season on this or any other movie. Every and any print of it could be, and was shown over just about all of the commercial TV stations in the land; as well as those which come under the umbrella of (everybody bow their heads) the Public Broadcasting System.*

THE MEGA DOSSAGE of exposures to the Film, rather than wearing out its welcome with the Public, surprisingly served to permanently cement its endearment to the masses. In much the same manner that all the films and characters which are numbered among all that is the Walt Disney Legacy, the characters and happenings of this screen story are all second nature to us now.

HAVING SUCCEEDED IN capturing the affection and imagination of the public at large, the characters and storyline would surely invite imitation; for after all, they say that..."Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Yet, there has never been a movie which we could say with any reasonably high degree of certainty that was an attempt to emulate the story and the spirit of the film.

WE SAY THAT there was no imitation of the movie; a statement that you may well be disputing. And believe us when say we can hear you when you say, "What about that made for TV movie, IT HAPPENED ONE Christmas (Daisy Productions/Universal TV/ABC TV Network,1977), which was a starring vehicle for Miss Marlo Thomas and Wayne Rogers; with support from Cloris Leachman and Orson Wells!!

IT REQUIRED A Sex Change operation for the principals as Mary was now the main character and head of the Savings & Loan; with the Angel's role being consigned to the feminine side with Cloris Leachman (relpete with an annoying & phony Cockney accent) being called "Clara", instead of Henry Travers' name of "Clarence"! (Clever these Americans!)

WELL, WE SAID it before and we'll stick by our statement. This is not an imitation or derivative of the original. It's an outright piece of Plagiarism, plain and simple! It may have been do one all legal like and above board, but it's still Plagiarism. Just screen it and see that the script has been a carbon copy of the Capra Film.

AS PERHAPS AN unintended, though extremely beneficial, consequence of all of this super dosage of this variety of what has been described as 'Capra-corn'**,

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE eventually rose to the pinnacle of success as America's Favourite Film of the Christmas Holiday Season. In doing so, Mr. Capra's pet project managed to supplant the former Yuletide Christmas favourite, WHITE Christmas (Paramount, 1955). (Yuch!!!!!!!!!!!! But that, my dear buddy Schultz, is another story!)

NOTE: * We prefer to refer to it as the POLIT BUREAU SYSTEM.

NOTE: ** It has been said that while it was true, that the copyright to the Movie had not been renewed therefore it was legitimately considered to be in Public Domain, the Music in the Film was a different story. In this case, the impossible was accomplished, with "all the Horses being put back into the Barn!" The Music Copyright lead to having a single copyright owner (Republic Pictures). Hence, we see the movie usually twice a year on NBC.

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Must See for the Holidays

10/10
Author: jackiemariec from United States
9 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the all time greatest Christmas movies ever! Jimmy Stuart plays the roll of George Bailey with his normal genius. All of us have a little George Bailey in us and sometimes need to be reminded how we affect the world around us. Of course Henry Travers is quite lovable as Clarence (Angle 2nd Class). It brings back to memory a time much more innocent and always leaves me wishing I could have grown up in that era. If you don't feel good after watching this movie, you should watch it again. This movie is great for the entire family and is one of our Christmas traditions. It is always an event when we turn it on and officially starts our Christmas season.

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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 most inspiring movie of all time no matter what anyone says!!

10/10
Author: dan80074 from United States
7 April 2008

I feel in love with this movie the first time I have ever watched it. The first time I did watch, I was having a great experience to be watching such a milestone in cinema history. This is the movie that shows you have a purpose. It shows have important one life is to all the lives around him/her. Capra was masterful in this directing and I believe this movie was better than The Best Years of Our Lives which beat it out for all major academy awards.

James Stewart is also my favorite actor of all time and he was at the top of his game in this movie and one of the high points in his career. He gave a worthy best actor performance. This movie should inspire anyone who thinks they are worthless and don't have a meaning in the world. This is truly in the top 3 or 4 in my movies behind such classics as "The Godfather" or "Casablanca".

A true milestone in cinematic history.

10 out 10 stars without a question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I want to live in that time of 1940s.

10/10
Author: gaurav_thegreat from India
5 January 2008

I know its the 21st century and everything has changed so fast that you just can't even believe. Although I'm a teenager but watching this movie I want to go in the past & want to live a very simple life like George Bailey . During watching this movie I thought why don't that time strikes and the whole world again become simple & lovely. I rated this movie 10 on 10 I'm sure it deserves it. Brilliant acting by James Stewart, Reed & Barrymore. I loved the movie & want to at least for 1 day in that era. By watching this movie one can learn a lot about life,- that life is not just about you, its about everyone. Its not about your gratification but about how much sacrifice you can do for your loved one's. This movie is specially for our new generation, which needs to learn importance of family values and bonds.

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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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It's a Wonderful Life (1946) ****

10/10
Author: JoeKarlosi from U.S.A.
13 February 2007

An acclaimed holiday classic which took a very dramatic turn for me this last Christmas season and has finally emerged as a truly emotional and uplifting film in my eyes. To be fair, I had to ask myself if this was the same film I had tried out for only the first time three years ago and which I initially felt was vastly overrated. Back then I was expecting a completely "Christmas-y" movie and had been disappointed while missing the whole point of the story. So I satisfied my urge to give this acclaimed film a second chance and it was a completely different experience for me. Jimmy Stewart was great in the role of George Bailey, a man who gives of himself to others and puts people ahead, often at his own expense. I found Bailey to be not only tragic at times but funny too. I appreciated a lot of chuckles that I somehow missed originally. I also relished the photography and atmosphere (this being a better quality DVD than the first time I saw it).

But I think I was simply in a better frame of mind and mood this time as well, which goes to prove yet again how sometimes movies can really affect you differently at any given time, depending on whatever state you're in when you're watching them or what your expectations are. I also have to say this film touched me greatly emotionally because I just think I can personally relate to a lot of feelings in the film more today than I did yesterday. It touched a spot in me, and I spent the last entire Christmas Season feeling better about the holidays and in more of a generous Christmas spirit than I'd ever felt before. I think I've also learned a little something about life and how to better live it from this classic this time out and it was a fully rewarding experience all around. It may be required every year now to give me that inspirational kick I may need. And that is a true accomplishment. **** out of ****

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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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Thank You Magic Shadows

10/10
Author: ages_hence from Canada
22 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anybody who grew up in Ontario might remember TVO's "Magic Shadows".Elwy Yost would spin half an hour of a movie...each day for the week. Now I don't know how anybody today could watch that and even then as a kid I only watched one entire movie on Magic Shadows.That was the week he showed "Its a Wonderful Life". This was not the Christmas classic then.Mid seventies I had never heard of it and I was excited to watch every half hour of it. The audience knows there is a man who will be brought to despare and that he is a good man...well he must be because the angels are talking about how to save him.It is in this manner... how the story is set up... that there is a suspense and eagerness in watching.It almost feels like two films because you are watching the buildup to James Stewart's tragic demise all in flashback and then we are in the present and he isn't saved yet. Really well done film because it entertains and makes you feel good. Glad to see it became a classic and will always be there for us at Christmas. On the serious and dramatic side what happened to George Bailey could happen to any of us....he has the best intentions but at the end he is feeling unfulfilled and abandoned.James Stewart's acting captures this very well. Thank you Elwy Yost...Its A Wonderful Life!

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An annual must see!

10/10
Author: David Pouliot from United States
31 December 2006

This is the kind of movie that allows each one of us to put ourselves in check. To remind ourselves of putting our own wants aside and putting family and friends first. Excellently written (ahead of its time) and well casted.

In all its simplest of times this story still rings true today. It is not really a Christmas movie, but a 'Feel Good' movie and can be seen at any time.

This classic will live on and on...if you were born in the 40's and 50's you'll take exceptional pleasure in this movie particularly seeing some of the cast as they relate to TV show's of the past - Little Rascals, Donna Reed Show, Dobbie Gillis, etc. (you'll pick them out). A must have as a film treasure.

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Simply Perfect!

10/10
Author: (sylviastel@aol.com) from United States
26 December 2006

It's A Wonderful Life is about George Bailey played beautifully by the late great actor, Jimmy Stewart. It's directed by Frank Capra and it's an impressive film overall. Donna Reed plays his loving wife and the mother of his children. Who could forget his guardian angel, Clarence? and the wonderful people who make Bedford Falls, New York. The film is long but it's worth watching. Before NBC bought it, it used to be shown repeatedly around the holiday season. There was never a day without It's A Wonderful Life! Still almost every show from Married with Children to Saturday Night Live has used the story line of what it would be like if George was never born. He learns at the end that he had a wonderful life and it sends chills down your spine and tears to your eyes. It's the kind of film that you don't forget or want too. It makes us all feel important.

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Quintessentially Christmas

10/10
Author: Meaghan Edwards from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
16 December 2006

For several years, without fail, it has been a Christmas tradition of my family to sit down and watch this movie on December 24th. This year will not be an exception! Of all the Christmas movies out there, this is by far my favorite. Who could not root for poor George Bailey? Who could not have related to him at some point or another? While the movie has a happy ending, IAWL isn't made out to be sugary-sweet like many Christmas movies have a tendency to have. There are definitely Kleenex box moments, but thankfully, mostly out of joy for seeing someone so down in luck, climb back up.

Bottom line, this movie could -- and should never be -- remade. You could get the best crew together in Hollywood and they still wouldn't be able to even touch the grandeur that this sentimental, timeless classic has.

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George lassos the moon…It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: jaredmobarak from buffalo, ny, usa
16 December 2006

I don't know how I went 23 years of Christmas without having It's a Wonderful Life playing during the holiday season. Last year I saw the film for the first time on the big screen at the Screening Room in Amherst. Once again, as it seems to have become a yearly tradition there, I have found myself loving it just as much the second time this year. Frank Capra has put a masterpiece onto celluloid here, and that is quite a feat for a holiday niche film. Never dull, always heartwarming, funny, and true, It's a Wonderful Life is truly one of cinema's shining achievements.

Sure there is the whole cliché of seeing the world as though you have never existed; the waking up to show how important life is to so many. It's a rendition of Dickens yet spun in a way that makes it its own. The entire film could have run with the gimmick and created a complete story from it, as numerous reinterpretations have done—Mr. Destiny, The Family Man, etc—however, that would have been the cheap way out. Instead the filmmakers have started us at the end, a tragedy has occurred and a man's faith in life is waning. Prayers have been sent above and the Gods have decided to send down an angel to help our hero out of his predicament. Well this angel knows nothing about George Bailey, so for the first three quarters of the movie we go along for the ride to catch up on the life of this great man, just as our angel Clarence does the same. We are shown the life of a man who has given the whole of his being for those around him. With naught a selfish bone in his body, George continues to sacrifice his happiness for the joy to see his friends jubilant. Through his good deeds, he eventually wakes up to the treasures of life that have been in front of him the whole time and really takes a small town from the Depression to a close-knit, successful society. It is almost too difficult to think he could be in so much trouble that he would be contemplating suicide, but once again we see his caring nature come through in that trying, desperate moment. When the story finally catches up to itself we learn that the predicament he is in is actually one of another that he has taken responsibility for in order to see if he can't solve the town's problems again.

James Stewart is a revelation here. The self-deprecating nature is prevalent at all times, and the intellect his character contains juxtaposes nicely with the humor and goodnaturedness. Stewart is George Bailey, as the role fully encompasses his being. Every nuance of emotion is etched to his face as he goes from wide-eyed explorer to smitten lover, responsible adult, compassionate son and brother, loving husband and father, beaten failure, and finally redeemed hero and friend to all men and women he has ever come across. Of course what hero can exist without a nemesis of equal power whose immense strength comes from evil? Here we have the loathed Mr. Potter played brilliantly by Lionel Barrymore. I don't think anyone who has ever seen this film can have any real compassion for this man who is truly a scrooge to all. People are numbers and figures to him, which need to be conquered and claimed as his own. Barrymore is despicably slimy and true to his character at all times. There must also be mention of the beautiful Donna Reed as our protagonist's love interest. Her striking beauty and self-assuredness shows why George Bailey could be so taken by her, always getting distracted away from his dreams of leaving Bedford Falls. The sexual tension between Reed and Stewart throughout begins humorously at a dance and after when drenched with water and culminates in a serious and real moment as the love takes over during a phone conversation with an old friend. The relationship is believable from start to finish, portrayed even by the young actors who played their roles as children.

True there is a segmented population during Christmas time containing those who watch A Christmas Story, those with a love for Christmas Vacation, and those championing It's a Wonderful Life among many others. I must say that I have been converted to Capra's classic film and would have no problem watching it every Christmas for the rest of my life. The story means a lot of things to many people and has been remade countless times in many forms, (there are chunks of time here which show how even Back to the Future II is ripping it off completely). If you want a perfectly written and acted tale of the joy of giving and the strength of friendship to help show the true meaning of Christmas, look no further than this gem that has endured for 60 years. Yes, I will be purchasing the newly released 60th anniversary DVD—sometimes waiting half a century has its benefits as the first copy I own will be the definitive package available.

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It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: ajrtz from United States
15 November 2006

This movie outdoes them all for me. It shows that no matter how downtrodden you feel about your life, your mere presence in this world impacts on the people around you. In George's life, he felt he was a failure and didn't get to do the things that would make him happy, such as traveling, building things, etc..... However, in the end, he learned a very powerful lesson that he did a lot of good in his life and therefore, made others lives better. In the end, he saw that he was surrounded by family and friends and in reality, we don't need anything more! George has many contemporaries today that feel the same way. I, for one, feel that I have not achieved all that I have wanted to but then, I look back on my career and see that I have done my best to impact on others in a positive way. This movie impacts us all in that it shows we are successful if we do our normal jobs to the best of our ability and treat others well. We leave our mark on society without even knowing it just by "being".

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American Christmas classic

10/10
Author: Thomas from United States
18 October 2006

"It's a Wonderful Life" is an American Christmas classic. James Stewart is believable as the reliable George Bailey. Donna Reed is the angelic beauty, Mary Hatch Bailey. Lionel Barrymore is "too good" as the heartless Mr. Potter.

I've read that doctors often have their depressed patients watch "It's a Wonderful Life" to help raise their spirits and bring things into perspective. This movie certainly has that effect on viewers.

By the end of this film, there will not be a dry eye in the room. It's not Christmas without Santa, Baby Jesus, and George Bailey. This is a definite 'must have' for your Christmas movie collection.

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Cinematic excellence

10/10
Author: FreshFace from Ontario, Canada
31 August 2006

Naturally when a movie is your number one favorite, one's opinion is apt to be "biased", so I will admit right from the start that this is the case here. However, I don't believe I would be falling too short from the truth to say that this movie is an example of "cinematic excellence". I say this because the story of the main character George Bailey was quite simply done so superbly from all aspects: the writing, the acting, staging, directing, attention to detail & even the fact that this movie is much, much better in black & white than colorized. In case there is anyone out there who has not had the pleasure of seeing this movie yet, I won't go into the actual plot, but will only give my whole-hearted recommendation to watch it from start to finish with no interruptions. Enjoy!

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Treasure every frame

10/10
Author: Andy Howlett from United Kingdom
31 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film has everything going for it: A director with an unshakeable optimism and faith in human nature, a wonderful clutch of players (headed by the sure-footed James Stewart), and a great story. Synopsis: As the film begins, we see Bedford Falls through falling snow and hear the quiet prayers of the locals. They are praying for George Bailey, who is in trouble. We hear the Angels considering what action to take as George contemplates ending his life. They summon a rookie Angel - Clarence - and look at George's life. *SPOILERS APLENTY* George Bailey is a likable young man who wants to leave Bedford Falls and make his name, but every time he tries to get away something holds him back. His father owns and runs the local Building Society, which helps the poor of the area get on the housing ladder and is warm-hearted and generous to his clients. His nemesis is Old Man Potter (Lionel Barrymore), head of the local bank, who runs a hard bargain and keeps *his* mortgagees in the dirt. After George's father dies suddenly, he finds himself running the Building & Loan, unwilling to allow it to collapse and put the townspeople in hock to Potter. Time passes and George is to marry childhood sweetheart Mary (lovely Donna Reed), but then absent-minded Uncle Billy loses $8000 and it falls into the hands of Potter - and this on the eve of a bank inspection. At his wit's end, George pleads with Potter for help, but the price (all George's clients being passed to the evil Potter) is something he cannot stomach. He walks out into the night and has a drink at the local bar where he prays under his breath, asking God to get him through somehow. All he gets is a fat lip from the husband of a local teacher whom he has upset. Things can't get any worse for George, and he makes his way to the river bridge with the intention of jumping off. We are now up-to-date. Director Frank Capra has spent half the film, if not more - carefully laying out his characters: George, Mary, Potter, Uncle Billy, Bert & Ernie. We have also had a heart-rending scene showing the local drug-store owner's anguish at the loss of his son and the almost tragic consequences of his grief. We know these people - we know that George is an ambitious man who decides his own happiness must take second place behind that of his friends and clients. We know Uncle Billy has had trouble with the bottle and shouldn't really be helping run the Building & Loan. And we know that Potter hasn't a decent bone in his body - the only thing that matters to him is money, and getting his hands on the expanding Baily empire. Capra has made us care. George jumps in the freezing river and prepares for death, but now the *real* story begins! Clarence the Rookie Angel jumps in at the same time and makes a big fuss about drowning - and George being George swims over to him and drags him out. After some 'double-take' comedy as they dry out in the keeper's hut, Clarence listens to George saying he thinks the town would've been better off if he hadn't been born. This gives Clarence an idea - he decides to show just what would have become of Bedford Falls and its people if George hadn't been around. The snow stops falling. It's an awful place, dominated by Potter's bank and seedy clubs. The people of Pottersville (as it is now known) are miserable and mean, and even his mother is a cold-hearted land-lady. The small acts of kindness and generosity that George did now never happened. As they visit the graveyard, George desperately asks Clarence "What's happened to Mary?" This is somehow the emotional hub of the film, as Clarence shouts over the wind "You won't like this George, she's an OLD MAID, she never married!" Forcing Clarence to reveal her whereabouts, George finds her and pleads with her to recognise him, but of course she doesn't - he was never born. It is in this scene that the whole ghastly truth hits George. The emotional punch is terrible, both for George and the audience. Neither he nor we can take any more and back at the bridge he pleads with God to put things back as they should be. He wants to live. He wants his friends back, and it doesn't matter about the money. It begins to snow again. George races home and finds the whole town - all except old Potter - has been desperately worried about him, and the story about the missing money has spread. They realise that without George, without his tireless efforts and his repeated sacrifices, their lives would be infinitely poorer. As George hugs and kisses Mary and the kids, a few friends turn up, bringing with them the few dollars they can spare. Soon, the house is full of his friends and customers and the money begins to come thick and fast. His younger brother - whose life he saved in childhood - turns up having just arrived home from active service and an old schoolfriend wires him cash from abroad. George is back in the bosom of his family, and realises that no man is ever poor if he has friends. THE END. Sorry to take so long almost setting out the entire screenplay, but this is one film about which enough can never be said. The depth and warmth of the characters, the naturalistic acting of Stewart and his carefully-chosen cast, the roller-coaster ride of emotions and the importance of the message (which is delivered all the way through, not just at the end), come together to make the finest, most satisfying and most deeply moving film of all time. It really *is* a wonderful life, and may this film always remind us so.

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It's a wonderful movie!

10/10
Author: dbdumonteil
9 August 2006

Frank Capra's peak,this movie influenced a lot of directors and ,unlike some of his other works such as "you can't take it with you" ,it is as fresh today as it was 60 years ago.Capra's detractors criticize his eternal optimism but even that is questionable:What would have become of the town,had the hero taken his own life?Was there only one just man ,like in Sodom in Genesis ,to save the city from the impending fall?It brings into question the so-called trust Capra puts in the human race.It's not a rosy world.

The scenes between James Stewart and his guardian angel are so powerful you cannot hold back your tears.No other artist told us that ALL human beings were important in such a wonderful way.And nobody depicted the yuletide spirit like Capra.

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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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The Best Capra Movie, The Best Christmas Movie

10/10
Author: Filmmaker10 from United States
4 August 2006

This is the best Capra movie, the best Christmas movie, the best Stewart movie, the best Reed movie, and the best Liberty Films movie ever. The movie is a great story. It was a success only after it hit TV. It not only gave new visual effect ideas to the industry, it also made the inspirational characters that we see on screen. It's a Wonderful Life was not built for Film, but Capra did an excellent job adapting it to the screen. As well as the actors, James Stewart, and actress Donna Reed. They do an excellent job portraying the characters. The truth is that you cannot see anyone else with the character (George Bailey) than James Stewart himself. The same with Mary and Donna Reed, and the character Clarence. These actors can never be replaced. The writer/producer/director cannot be replaced either. (Frank Capra) If you have never seen It's a Wonderful Life you need to. My family and I see it every Christmas, and I suggest whoever reads this does that as well, it is not only a great film to watch, but its also a great experience to share with your family.

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Absolutely Incredible

10/10
Author: harleykidd55 from United States
5 July 2006

This is the most inspiring, true to heart movie that I have ever enjoyed. It is truly a work of love and passion and will be remembered throughout filming history. It has such a touching and moving storyline and catches the audience in a sort of tearful melancholy stateof mind every time it is watched. I have seen this movie no fewer than100 times and discover new idea's and encouragements from it every time I watch it.

I don't think that I can truly get into the Christmas mood without enjoying this movie each year. The funny thing about the movie is that I watched scenes from it several times, years ago, when I was channel surfing and didn't stop to enjoy it's warmth. I don't recall why i finally decided to "stop" and watch the movie but ever since that night I have been thankful for the pleasure it has brought to me and my family, friends and associates!

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Just the Greatest!

10/10
Author: scottellenwebster from United Kingdom
20 May 2006

The only movie that makes me cry every single time I watch it. Just thinking of the ending makes me tearful. What can I say about this movie. It is just perfect. Story, acting, cinematography, casting and script. Just perfect. For emotion I would say the best movie ever. When I think of Jimmy Stewart this is the movie I think of. It never bores me and is a joy to watch every single time it is shown. Due to its renaissance in recent years TV has been the medium to see the film but we make a special trip as a family every year to go and watch it at the picture house. this not only gives the movie more intimacy but also zones you into the tone of the film. It is a gem, a legend and by far and away my favourite film of all time.

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One of the greatest films of all time

10/10
Author: MCMLXXVI from Sweden
11 April 2005

It's hard to capture exactly why It's a Wonderful Life is such a fantastic film. On the surface, its sentimentality may seem overboard, its view of the world grossly idealised, but somehow it all comes together perfectly. I had for many years not bothered watching it, as it is portrayed as the stereotypical Christmas movie (not a genre I have any particular fondness for). After finally getting around to seeing this film several years ago, I went straight out and bought it on tape. Likewise, the first time I saw it on DVD I purchased it straight away. This is both an uplifting and edifying film to watch.

This film had a profound effect upon the way I see the world. If ever there was the perfect role model for how to behave like a decent human being, it is George Bailey.

This is, and always shall be one of my top ten films of all time. If you have never seen it I highly recommend doing so. Don't be put off by its age, it is one of the truly timeless works of cinema.

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As good as it deserves

10/10
Author: Ertan Asan from Istanbul, Turkey
12 January 2003

When I first saw this movie I was rather a teenage kid, I don't remember my age then, but I think I was 13 or 14. It was during the time of one channel TV days. I watched it with great pleasure, without knowing it was one of the best movies ever made. Couldn't forget it. Now I am a computer programmer of age 30, searched the net and downloaded it and watched again. Let me say that "with almost the same pleasure and tears".

I think this movie has a great effect in my good-hearted, honest, compassionate nature. I find many common senses in my general attitude with George Bailey.

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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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It's a Wonderful Movie¡

10/10
Author: Francisco Flores from Ecuador
25 December 2002

This classic narrates the story of George Bailey a businessman that after several troubles with his work and family convince himself that the world would be better if he never born, but an angel saves him and show him the reality of his wish.

I personally think that this is the best black and white movie of all times, tittle shared with DR STRANGELOVE & WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF?. Apart of the wonderful cast performance is visually perfect, it's the kind of movie that cheer you up, also is very reflective, just think about this: `How many lives we change in our road and we don't even know how precious we are'.

Celebrated all your upcoming Christmas with this classic that has become in part of the celebrations and as long as NBC keeps showing more generations will discover the value of this movie. ………. 10/10.

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It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Pimpin` Critic 69 from Your Critic of Critics
20 December 2002

Frank Capra's masterpiece picture "It's a Wonderful Life" is an amazing film which deals with such an important value in life. Life itself of course! It's amazing how George (played wonderfully by Jimmy Stewart)has affected so many lives. And his life is as simple as all of ours. So this is a movie that not only can you relate with but makes you think about how valuable life really is.

4(****)out of 4(****)stars

A MASTERPIECE!!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE:) Remember that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!

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Atta boy, Capra!

10/10
Author: gsx_tuner from TX
19 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is almost perfect. It is infinitely easy to suspend one's disbelief and be completely immersed in this movie. You forget that those are actors up there on the screen (with the exception of the young Ms Grimes. I'm afraid that I must agree with a previous comment. Surely there were better child actresses available.) Noting that exception, I must say that the rest of the casting was perfect.

I'm not going to rehash the plot. I just wanted to make some observances.

Possible spoiler:

A dissenting comment was written by a person that surely must be extremely naive. It is as follows:

"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."

Don't you know, young sir, that for those of us who attempt to live our lives correctly, there are many others living around us that get away with murder and are never punished or found out. The good people of the town of Bedford Falls didn't know what happened to the money. They only knew that they loved George Bailey and were willing to help him out of a bad situation. I wish all the miscreants of this world would be punished. Sadly, that's not the case, so you must give Capra credit for being realistic here.

In spite of the untalented young Ms. Grimes, in spite of the water that was supposed to be a rushing river looking like a studio tank that Clarence and George jumped into, I still give this movie a perfect 10.

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Absolutely fantastic, feel-good stuff!!

10/10
Author: CHRIS GREER from Newtownards, Co Down
13 November 2002

I have seen this wonderful film 11 times-this Christmas (surely it should be the law that British TV shows it every Christmas!) I will be watching it with a tear in my eye, because, at Christmas last year, I was depressed, and thought, like George, of killing myself. Then an angel-in my case a gorgeous girl- came onto the scene, lodged herself deep in my heart, and we hope to get engaged at Christmas!!! I'd LOVE to officially ask her to marry me when this film's on!! Then, it REALLY would be "A Wonderful Life"!

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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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Free-roaming Indoor Squirrels!

10/10
Author: guanoJohn from Normal, IL
7 February 2002

The golden age of Kansas City jazz enters this movie as George wanders through downtown Pottersville. Hot live music spills from every doorway, what a gas! George stops in the "alternate reality" Martini's bar, and it looks like Meade Lux Lewis pounding out infectious barrelhouse piano! To heck with Bedford Falls, give me Pottersville! Shame on Capra for slandering jazz as evil.

Does Uncle Billy keep a free-roaming pet squirrel? Is Capra using the squirrel symbolize that Billy is a nut case?

Billy loses the money, and at Billy's house George screams that Billy is going to prison. George shakes Billy by the lapels and storms out. Poor Billy collapses is despair at his desk. There is no comfort from a small Scottie dog under the desk, but a squirrel climbs up Billy's sleeve and tries to give Billy's arm a hug! Priceless!

Who keeps a squirrel loose in their home? Can a squirrel be trained to use a litter box? I am serious, IMDB fans, send me a note if you've ever heard of a squirrel kept loose indoors.

The crow in the Savings & Loan. Is it left over from a filming of the Poe's "Raven"? Awwwwk! Sit under the rafters at your own risk.

Donna Reed lights up "like a firefly" as Mary, in the performance of her career! I wish I could like the angel Clarence, but to me his part is weak. This is not a perfect film.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a sappy, corny, sentimental, mawkish old tear-jerker. It kicks my ass! 10/10 stars.

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How does this communicate to you?

10/10
Author: scream25281 (scream25281@hotmail.com) from Bristol, UK
24 January 2002

Before watching this I had the same misconceptions as everyone else about films from this golden age and especially this festive flick. The film fortunately put such doubts to rest. Many will argue it is too sentimental, while partly true, such scenes are handled with the utmost care and NEVER feel cheap. Being from this current generation of cynical drones, this film to me, was a revelation. Capra fills each scene with such feeling and character that one cannot help but feel slightly moved. The film has the perfect cast especially the immortal Jimmy Stewart and the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS Donna Reed (underrated, underrated). While labelled as a feel good christmas movie, such a label is disrespectful. The film encompasses a variety of values and emotions, from family, faith, hope, love, aspirations, despair to many others. Although it is a universal film and there are some lighthearted periods, there are also scenes of depression and unhappiness(exploiting the talent of Stewart perfectly). If this is a happy, festive film, then it is the most depressing one I have ever seen. Every scene is excellently realised by a director at the pinacle of his craft and furnished with layers of detail and feeling. The film is also complemented by the best cast ever assembled (yep beating all others I think in my opinion). Every performance is refreshing and unlike 99% of all other golden age films from this era, the acting and dialogue is wonderfully accomplished and refreshing and has not dated in the least. Many polls do not consider this to be the greatest film ever after all it has to be something 'cool' something for the 'twenty something generation', something like the Godfather or Pulp Fiction. It effortless surpasses my previous favourites: Shawshank Redemption, Magnolia, Chungking Express, The Truman Show and Memento. These films while excellent do not touch me PERSONALLY in the same way as It's a Wonderful Life. They do not ignite the same sense of joy and euphoria, that little 'magic'. This is cinematic utopia, a film which breaks free from the boundaries of motion entertainment and into the realms of your emotional senses. And it feels nice.

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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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The best filmed performance ever...

Author: Jim (js1artglam@aol.com)
4 January 2002

Interested in learning everything you need to know about film acting in just over 2 hours? Then observe the glorious Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life." It's all there. Just keep watching his eyes. Ask any actor and he/she will tell you that the secret to good acting isn't what you do when you're reciting lines - it's what you do when you're NOT saying anything. Stewart was the MASTER. Proof? Take a look at the scene towards the end when George turns away from talking to his mother (who in Clarence's world does not recognize him) on the porch of Ma Bailey's Boarding House... oh my GOD, the way he looks into and THROUGH the camera, the film, the walls of the studio, across time and straight into your soul! How did he do it? And to think he never won an Oscar - shows what a sham that whole concept is.

So I watched it again for the billionth time this past holiday (NBC actually seems PROUD of the fact that they have a lock on the TV rights and yet feel no pressure to perhaps NOT cram as many commercials as possible into a masterpiece) and a funny thought occurred to me: wouldn't it have made more sense for Clarence to simply tell George WHAT HAPPENED TO THE $8,000 ?!? :-)

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A Classic

10/10
Author: Trent_Stirling from Manteca, CA, USA
27 December 2001

The best Christmas movie ever made. A wonderful story about a man and the difference one person can make in the lives of so many people. Christmas wouldn't be the same without this classic. If you've never seen the movie (you need to see it) and if you don't own it on DVD (you have to buy it and buy it now)

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The BEST movie ever!!

10/10
Author: dadaniel1 (dadaniel1@yahoo.com) from Indianapolis
24 December 2001

This movie is now 55 years old. It is the best movie ever. All the ideals expressed in this movie are still 100% valid today. The performance of Jimmy Stewart absolutely blows me away. Even seeing it for the umpteenth time, I got choked up all throughout the movie. There is no denying the focus of the movie: life is more valuable through the people you effect than the fame and fortune you make. The idea that this is just a Christmas movie is silly; everytime I feel down or meaningless, this movie shows me exactly what life is all about. I want to be George Bailey, because, as brother Harry says "To my big brother George. The richest man in town." Anyone who has not truly watched this movie is missing out on one of the most important lessons of life.

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It's a Wonderful Xmas Movie

10/10
Author: manipool from Los Angeles
24 December 2001

Love this film and never get tired of watching it. Jimmy Stewart's performance in particular is wonderful and heartfelt, but I like most or all of his films. In this movie, I especially the love phone scene between he and Donna Reed, wow!!! I've seen it for several Christmases now and that scene still makes me cry, he exudes such tender emotion. Beautiful story, superb actors, great movie!!

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Everyone's life is important

10/10
Author: rogue719 from United States
21 December 2001

One of the best movies ever made, Frank Capra's Christmas masterpiece shows us that even in the depths of our despair, our lives mean something to the people around us. The overall message of "It's A Wonderful Life" is that all lives are interconnected, everyone's life touches so many others, that when one person doesn't exist, it leaves an "awful hole." Capra's genius was that even though he gave us small town stereotypes, they were lovingly human. The characters were nearly all likeable, even when they had problems, and you honestly feel for the misery of George Bailey and the confusion among his family at his plight. In the end, George is redeemed by the people he helped all the time, and Clarence, the guardian angel, finally gets his wings.

an outstanding film about redemption and realization.

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"Welcome home George Bailey!"

10/10
Author: midnightrane from Deep South
20 November 2001

It really is a wonderful life, isn't it? How could someone not think so after watching this? One of the few movies that is guaranteed to make a grown man cry, "Wonderful Life" is a staple of the Holiday season around my home. Truly uplifting, very nearly epic in it's message and scope and one of the few unadulterated tear-jerkers, it looks to remain a staple of every new generation. Among Jimmy Stewart's many grand performances, his every-man, uncelebrated hero in "Wonderful Life" is probably his best loved. To describe this movie is pointless--if you haven't seen it, do--if you have, see it again. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot..."

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Terrific Christmas movie.

10/10
Author: Braveheart1626 (Braveheart1626@cs.com) from Falls Church, Virginia
13 September 2001

It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie to watch, especially on Christmas. This movie is wonderful. Wonderful story and legendary actors. Although I haven't seen the movie in it's entirety, I've seen enough to be able to comment on it. If you haven't seen this movie, you've got to buy it or rent it. Chances are they'll show it on Christmas on TV. This movie inspires and encourages men, children and women.

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Pure style

10/10
Author: (highlites@lineone.net) from UK
18 June 2001

This film never fails to lose my interest every time I see it. With a moral that is relevant to anyone, anywhere whatever the time you are watching it, this film appeals to all. James Stewart brings his own sympathetic style to the role of George Bailey making the film highly watchable and appealing. This film is certainly a credit to it's director and actors. Brilliant.

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An inspirational, uplifting tale for all seasons

10/10
Author: goya-4 from PA USA
28 April 2001

Jimmy Stewart stars in this classic as a man saved from suicide by his guardian angel. The angel takes him through what life would have been like without George Bailey. A film that runs the gamut of emotions: happiness, sadness, joy, tragedy, success, failure. The acting is superb, a great script and an outstanding cast make this one of the best movies ever made. A must see must own classic for all ages. #7 on my personal all time best list. 10 of 10

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The most wonderful movie of all time

10/10
Author: (sebastian_frings@gmx.de)
14 January 2001

What a fantastic movie! All words of the world can not describe this wonderful movie. All of this movie is wonderful, especially James Stewart and Donna Reed. One of the few timeless classics of cinema history. Thanks God (and Frank Capra) for this movie which loves the whole world. A movie for everybody with a heart. A movie for dreaming. A movie for eternity...

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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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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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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: peterm-4 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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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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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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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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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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Holiday Treasure

10/10
Author: gpeevers from Canada
17 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is easily my favorite Christmas film and also one of my favorite films of all time.

The story of George Bailey (James Stewart) who as a young man dreamed of traveling the world and making a difference, until outside influences and obligations tie him forever to his small home town of Bedford Falls. While George endeavors to make a difference in Bedford Falls while raising a loving family, circumstances would once again take a hand causing George to questions what good his life has been and whether everyone would be better of if he had never been born. Thus we have the premise upon which our story will focus with some very obvious debts to Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".

While the movie wasn't a huge success upon its initial release it would still be nominated for 5 Oscars including; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Editing. And this film has a very impressive pedigree in terms of both its Director Frank Capra and its cast. So while some will see this film as a surprise belated hit I don't think it's really all that surprising.

The films cast includes five Academy Award Winners; James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame along with Ward Bond, H.B. Warner and a pair of Academy Award nominees in Beulah Bondi and Henry Travers.

The message of film along with its depictions of family, friends and small town life are the great strengths of Director Frank Capra's work perhaps best realized here. Although Capra would not win here, he would earn three Oscar's as best director over his career.

As has oft been told, the films popular revival is due largely to a lapse in its copyright in 1974 which allowed local TV outlets to air it for free which made it very popular as seasonal programming.

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Masterpiece

10/10
Author: Cosmoeticadotcom (cosmoetica@gmail.com) from United States
12 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At its center, the film works because we all have wondered what would the world be like if we were never born. Have we had an impact? After all, whether it's leaving behind descendants, works of art, discoveries, or just our name, we all want some recognition, that we mattered, or at least were here. It helps define our sojourn, and allow us to extrapolate meaning from a cosmos which is random, indifferent, and so large and eternal as to defy the meager human ability to fully comprehend. With that as a base desire, the film then goes nearly two hours showing us a life that has many tangents with ours- be you an American, Mongolian, or Zulu. We see the effect George has had, even if he does not, and know what can only await him when Clarence pulls out his life's rug from under his feet- if not the particulars, certainly the general effects, which can only be negative. Yes, George may be more involved with others than the typical person, but we are all connected, however peripherally. This film does a better job than any other film in espousing the notion of The Butterfly Effect, even more so than the recent film of that name. We all see ourselves in George Bailey, for the film does not focus on George's mere home nor business lives, but all the important moments they bound, and even fail to contain. We can easily extrapolate ourselves into his position, especially at his moment of crisis, when he literally, as Potter taunts, is worth more dead than alive- at least on a material level…. This toweringly great film is all about corralling the material instincts and aspects of the world, and using them for the right reasons, while appreciating the values that lie beneath those instincts. The cynics, dummies, and willful misreaders of this film be damned! It is not corny, cheesy, hokey, nor a mere feel good tearjerker, like its many inferior copycats are. Too often the commercials or excerpts that are shown damage the overall film's perception, for it's a synergistic film, whose whole far surpasses its parts. It is great art, period. It is defensible not only on an emotional level, but on intellectual and artistic levels. It is also testament to the fact that great art always rises to the surface, even if bad critics pummel it. This has an extra resonance for me and those who produce excellence with no immediate reward nor recognition. But, even without that, It's A Wonderful Life deserves its plaudits, and your viewership.

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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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Sublime eloquence

10/10
Author: liamcartledge from United Kingdom
23 January 2007

Jimmy Stewart's rendition as George Bailey is staunched, in a heart warming, provocative and emotive semantics, parallelled only in the sublime eloquence that the director has encapsulated an audience for over sixty years. Truly a focal point in the 'golden era' in Hollywood history, oozing and rich in sensual pros, this flamboyant director has mesmerised millions, spurned in conjunction with the diligent personification of co-star, Donna Reed. Perfection at it's best.To coin the phrase, It's a Wonderful Life,is perhaps an adequate sentiment to conclude, therefore no variety of lexical linguistics can do sufficient justice to a movie that has spurned film buffs and critics alike to hail this sublime eloquence.

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it's just wonderful

10/10
Author: a-patru from Romania
3 September 2006

What could I say more than "It's just a wonderful film." It really is. It makes cry like a woman ( please excuse me ladies), even if you are the toughest guy on Earth. It does it by taking you through all the psychological states you could imagine, in a very logical and calculated way. You just can't escape it. You cry at the end, and you understand, that Christmas isn't about gifts, it's about the people around you, the one you care about. Watch this movie! Do not expect miracles. No matter how prepared you are, it's better. What's even more wonderful, is the fact that it is in black and white. I love it that way. The shades, the photography is just great. This is one film that should never be changed into color. Thank you, Frank!, Thank you, Jimmy!

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"A life lived for others is a life worthwhile" - Albert Einstein

10/10
Author: whysoshort
3 July 2006

It's a Wonderful Life is a classic movie with a simple plot that, now in the 21st century, may seem clichéd with scenes that are somewhat corny, but take into account the year it was made (1946, making it "new" and refreshing, though not necessarily an instant classic at the time of it's release) and more importantly, the message it conveys, and you realize it's more about the message of the piece rather than (as I see it in hindsight) the little quirks that I found so "corny."

The opening sequence which turned me off at first initially left me questioning those who claimed this work a masterpiece. "Is this what everyone talked so highly about???" As the story progressed though, I began to enjoy the story more and could not help but cheer on George Bailey (James Stewart), an everyman who sacrifices his ambitious dreams to help others and subsequently, has a huge impact on his town of Bedford Falls.

James Stewart is fantastic as George Bailey! This is his first movie after the war and he felt insecure with his acting abilities, but that definitely doesn't show on screen. Instead, he effectively delivers both sides of Bailey's personality: righteous, loving, ambitious, sacrificing and confident as well as bitter, frustrated, with high temperament and vulnerability. These juxtaposed personalities show James Stewarts versatility and raw talent in one of his most beloved roles.

Donna Reed, who plays Stewart's Wife Mary Bailey, and Lionel Barrymore, who plays the wicked, monopolizing antagonist Mr. Henry Potter, both deliver fantastic performances as well. Donna Reed and James Stewart's chemistry is believable as seen in one of my favorite scenes-- the "telephone scene." I was surprised to find out it took only one take to film such passion and emotion. And Lionel exudes such evil that you cannot help but feel angry towards him.

The acting is excellent, the direction by the great Frank Capra amazing, the scenes breathtaking and set magnificent (4 acres of RKO's Encino Ranch!--see trivia). This film just wowed me on all different levels of technicalities.

But on top of all of that, this movie made me see my life in a different light. It made me want to help others more than I already do, just the small things even and appreciate the people that I come into contact with everyday of my life, learning that they have had a major or minor impact on me, an impact nonetheless, and I on them. To want to waste or give up on Life is to waste away or give up something so Wonderful.

A movie is truly great if it moves the human soul and this one is one of them. If you haven't seen "It's a Wonderful Life" ... I strongly suggest you do-- during your highest or lowest, it will only bring you up. =)

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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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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Over rated because it so darn good

10/10
Author: johno-21 from United States
13 March 2006

Once, in the mid 1980's I was visiting someone at a gated community where Frank Capra owned a home and there he was standing by the guard gate talking with the gate keeper. There was Frank Capra, the director responsible for such films as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Lost Horizon, You Can't Take it with you, Arsenic and Old Lace, Platinum Blonde and so many others but as I passed by the first film that came to mind was It's a Wonderful Life. Is this film just too indoctrinated in my mind or is it that good of a film? Well, maybe a little of both but it is that good of a film. Is this film over rated? Maybe so but even at it's critical worst it's still a great film. Jimmy Stewart shines as he leads an excellent cast of Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers, Ward Bond and Frank Faylen among others. This film was nominated for three of the major Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Jimmy Stewart. It was also nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Well photographed by cinematographer Joseph F. Biroc who would have a long career in film and beautiful art direction from veteran art director Jack Oakey with music from Dimitri Tiomkin this is a well balanced piece of American Cinema. It's amazing that Capra, who would live until 1991 would only direct five more theatrical features after Wonderful Life in his long life. My only fault with this film is of no fault of the film itself but because it has become somehow the benchmark of Christmas movies and gets too much airplay during the holiday season while other great and near great Christmas-themed movies get overlooked. It's a little sentimental but dark enough not to be a Norman Rockwell painting on film and as over rated as it has become I still can't give it less than a 10.

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It's A Wonderful Picture-"Wonderful Life" Terrific ****

10/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
7 March 2006

Who can ever imagine what life would be like without them had they not been born? A very clever idea put to the test in the classic 1946 film, "It's A Wonderful Life."

As George Bailey, James Stewart truly shined. Anytime he was about to leave his town, tragedy struck and poor George could never leave.

Lionel Barrymore steals the show as a cantankerous businessman nearly succeeding in bringing ruin to Bailey.

Donna Reed is marvelous as his George's wife. Remember that famous dance scene as the boards open and the young teens fall into the water? That scene in itself is a classic.

If we could only see what it would be like had we not been born. We could see that our beloved ones and others may have lived totally different lives with divergent personalities.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Classic

10/10
Author: kearls-1 from United States
3 March 2006

My second favorite movie of all time. It is Brilliant and heartwarming, and a movie that reminds you of the value of life and friends. James Stewart is captivating, George Bailey is the ultimate average man, but he always dreamed that he would be a world traveler, go to college, explore and know everything there is to know about life. On Christmas Eve George is struggling, he feels that he is a failure, and wants to end his life. What happens next is what we all wonder, what would life be like if I was never born. This movie truly demonstrates that we are all interconnected with each other, and can never see our own worth. A great holiday classic that reminds you how important you are to your friends and family, and how important you are to them. Heartwarming and beautiful.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie

10/10
Author: charliebradley from United States
26 November 2005

I first saw this movie during my 6th grade year. The week before Christmas Vacation was a short week and so my teacher decided to show movies that entire week and among them was this movie Its A Wonderful Life. At that time I didn't even know who James Stewart was, and only through Nick At Nite did I know who Donna Reed was.

As teenagers tend to do when teachers show movies in school, I fell asleep, but I did manage to catch a few bits and pieces here and there. Years later I saw the movie again on NBC and I was like "this is that movie I fell asleep with in 6th Grade!!" And every Christmas since then I have been hooked I urge anyone who may need a little boost to get them through the Holidays to watch this movie

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

James Stewart's most brilliant performance...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
30 May 2001

I think we could all relate better to "It's A Wonderful Life" if we lived in a Norman Rockwell type of world or small town where the George Baileys of America live. As it is, we have to take this slice of Americana as the real thing--and that's not always easy, given all the sentimentality on display here.

Don't get me wrong. I like the film, but I think it has a kind of warm, cozy, cuddly look that becomes a bit saccarine and cloying by the time the film reaches its fairytale ending. It's impressively acted, photographed and scored and definitely contains one of James Stewart's most brilliant performances. He runs the gamut of emotions in close-ups that show the real genius of this actor. Behind him is a wonderful cast that is with him every step of the way. Donna Reed is especially appealing in one of her sweetest roles.

But the Frank Capra/Norman Rockwell touch of small town lives gets a bit sticky at times--especially the falsity of the ending with everyone just opening their hearts to George Bailey. It's all a little too simplistic to swallow, like a pill that doesn't quite go down.

It makes excellent family fare and will no doubt continue to be shown every Christmas--quite a tribute to a film that was not even a box-office hit when first released but did receive glowing reviews for James Stewart's performance in his and Capra's first post-war film. Despite its flaws, it has won the genuine love and respect of fans everywhere so let's leave it at that.

I can't end this review without mentioning Henry Travers. His scenes with Stewart are the warmest, gentlest and wittiest ones in the whole movie. His Clarence, the Angel, makes the film the Christmas delight it is.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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 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:

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 7 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 7 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 7 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful film about having a go and taking a risk.

10/10
Author: micksteel86 from Australia
6 February 2007

This story and film is perfection. Anyone who has given this a lowly rating needs a good look at themselves. Seriously. I ask myself how and why could anyone rate it lower than 8. It's about loving life and the rewards of doing so.

It holds up now and will hold up as long as there is a human race.

I've seen this film many times and am always left with a lump in my throat. Great films usually have many memorable scenes and in this film they never cease. Scene after memorable scene. Donna Reed is every man's dream girl and Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey is what more people should aspire to be.

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3 out of 7 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 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film

10/10
Author: epic2k from Scotland
23 November 2004

For my generation - the MTV generation - there are certain things its cool to like and things that it isn't cool to like. We have to be able to look at the harder things in life and, if we want to be cool, take them head on. We have to be Fight Club members, listening to Jay-Z and spouting about how we're all atheists looking for anarchy. Luckily, for just 1 or 2 of us, we have a few embarrassing secrets. A few guilty pleasures in terms of music and film taste. On the music side we can see Beach Boys - PET SOUNDS and Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra (it IS cool to like the BEATLES). But, like the 1st member of a cinematic rogues gallery, ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE is the least cool film that has ever been made. BUT - No surprise - this film is magic captured on celluloid.

I adore It's a Wonderful Life. It is perhaps my single favourite cinematic achievement. It takes a writer (if I do say so myself) to fully appreciate the power of this film. Recently, I've been working on a kind of Ikiru/IWAL Christmas story and difficulty isn't the word to describe it. Every step you take you have to stop and think "this is so much better in It's a Wonderful Life". Even everything in Ikiru is at least bettered in It's a Wonderful Life if not blown out of the water (but its cool to like Ikiru). As a piece of literature, it's a masterpiece. Every character is perfect and almost Dickens-esque in their individual necessity - I actually think that it is more effective and powerful than A Christmas Carol - and not just ANY film can better Dickens in my opinion. As a film - it is so perfect that I just want to feel it melt on my tongue. I want it to destroy me, I want it to build me back up, I want it to affect me. And it hasn't let me down yet.

To conclude, It's A Wonderful Life is one of the most important and satisfying films ever printed. Fantastically abstract storytelling captures a mans entire life with miraculous ease. Barefaced and not embarrassed about any of its notions or characters, its complete lack of pretension strikes a chord with most viewers - it is the kind of movie most film makers are too afraid to make.

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4 out of 9 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 11 people found the following review useful:

Bailey v. Kane

9/10
Author: arion1 from Livermore, CA
27 December 2004

An acquaintance of mine recently commented that she thought there was an interesting correlation between this film and Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.

George Bailey was the man that Charles Foster Kane would have liked to have been. Kane's tragedy was that like a hereditary king, he was thrust into the center of momentous events, and expected to live up to the duties. Unlike George Bailey, though, he had no real nemesis whose punches he had to block. Bailey was trying to better the lives of those around him, by foiling the actions of Potter.

Also, while Kane became a more complex Mr. Potter, he never gave up the longing for a more simple life. This, of course, was personified by Rosebud; it was his Persian Flaw, but one which he never revealed to anyone lest they discover a chink in his armor. By contrast, Mr. Potter had no real longing for simplicity. He saw money and power as the only real gains in his life, and didn't care what anyone thought of him. Witness his speech in his attempt to woo Bailey to his side, "...you know I own almost everything in this town and most people hate my guts...". Potter, although powerful, like Kane, didn't have the same goals. He is very much the spider that Bailey says he is.

Conversely, Bailey probably could do the job that Charles Foster Kane did. He was capable of handling a stressful job, and once warmed to it, did a good job. Unlike Kane, however, he would use the power of the Press for the common good, since that is his ultimate goal. That's a thought I find most amusing, actually: imagine Jimmy Stewart in the Welles production!

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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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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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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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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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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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This and "The Wizard of Oz"

10/10
Author: Holdjerhorses from United States
24 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One thinks of only two films, out of the 100-year history of cinema from its earliest days, that so joyfully embrace audiences' hearts from cradle to grave, as "The Wizard of Oz" and "It's a Wonderful Life." Ironically, it took television, that trust-busting nemesis of the studio system, to permanently embed these two films in the national -- even global -- psyche.

Neither film was a financial success upon its initial release. "Oz," because it cost so much to produce, and sold so many tickets to children (at 25 cents a ticket!) . . . and "Wonderful Life" because it was so dark and complex.

"Oz" got largely terrific reviews at its release. "Wonderful Life" received more mixed reviews.

Only with the advent of annual repeated showings on television did "Oz" begin showing a real profit, and "Wonderful Life" become recognized for the multi-faceted perfect rarity that it is.

The primal emotional appeal of both these films is so fundamental to the human condition -- and so brilliantly realized in both -- that it's clear why these two works are nearly as much a part of human lives -- not just in America -- as are some of the world's major religious stories.

"Oz" and "Wonderful Life" are as much a part of our lives as Santa Claus. And our relationship to that jolly old elf changes as we grow year to year, reflecting as much about our own life adventures as those of Dorothy or George.

In both films, the archetype is the same: "I want to get home again, but look what's happening to me!" Same theme worked for the ancient Greek dramatists. The theme ALWAYS works, because it's everybody's theme.

But look at the difference in treatment, from "Oz" to "Wonderful Life" (which was made five years later, near the conclusion of WWII).

"Oz," though dark and frightening enough (thanks to Margaret Hamilton's witch) that the UK required adults to accompany their children to screenings, bounces along on the songs and music and spectacle -- and primarily 16 year old Judy Garland's uncanny performance.

"Wonderful Life" is something altogether different, more complex and unsettling. Audiences of 1944 weren't prepared for nor did they expect any of this from Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart (nor newcomer Donna Reed).

Exploring the notion of the enormous impact of one's "little" life on so many others' -- through the device of revisiting that life as if one had committed suicide -- is audacious and brilliant! A magnitude beyond the origins of the children's story that was Frank L. Baum's original intent in "Oz."

Just as Judy Garland's performance is the heart of "Oz," so is James Stewart's achievement in "Wonderful Life." Then again, one can't remember a false moment from Jimmy, in any film.

But Bedford Falls is not over the rainbow. "Wonderful Life" rather rapidly builds from young love to marriage and children to financial problems to ruin in the community to suicide.

Huh? Wasn't this supposed to be a feel-good Capra film? Henry Travers miraculously shows up as everybody's favorite personification of an Angel. A Good Guy, obviously, but he has to earn his wings by diverting George from suicide and helping him realize his own tremendous value as an ordinary human being.

So we enter the nightmare world of Bedford Falls as it would have been had George not gone on living.

And it really IS a nightmare. None of this extended sequence is made "nice" nor glossed over. It touches on the exploitation of the poor, the corruption of power, the triumph of greed and avarice over the Golden Rule and Love, hate, fear, mistrust, alcoholism, prostitution . . .

What? In a Frank Capra movie from 1944? All so economically scripted and impeccably designed, lit, photographed, acted, edited and DIRECTED . . . that the film itself becomes the REAL miracle behind the one it depicts on screen.

As of this writing, you can still watch the last ten minutes on YouTube.

Film-making doesn't get any better.

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Another "No dry eyes" film for me

9/10
Author: S.R. Dipaling from Topeka, Kansas, USA
15 December 2007

I've seen this movie at least in part or in entirety a number of times,and one thing that does not fail to happen when I do is that I am practically walloped over the head with emotion. I'm not sure if it's the themes of the movie(i.e.no man's life is a waste if he has love/friends,everybody has an impact on someone else whether they know it or not,etc.),the innocence of this movie and the era,the sincere,haunting acting or even the swelling(some might say saccharine-sweet)music score. Perhaps it's all of those elements! I'm not really sure and I don't think I really care. All I can say to this is this movie is effective and universal and well worthy of the kind of replay it gets every year(albeit before NBC bought up nearly all the rights of domestic broadcast about fifteen years years ago,this show got MASSIVE OVERPLAY on countless local affiliates and independent stations,which might test the last statement).

The life of hardworking,dutiful Savings and LOan manager George Bailey(JAmes Stewart,pretty fresh off a tour or two of duty during WWII;in arguably the more moving performances of his long and storied career)seems to amount to nothing as his work and home-life seem to be crumbling around him. Contemplating the abyss,he is rescued by a dim but lovable apprentice angel named Clarence(Henry Travers)shows him what the world around him would be like without him in it.

Memorable and effective supporting performances from Lionel Barrymore(vital and irreplaceable as mean old Mr.Potter),Donna Reed(As George's wife Mary)and various lesser roles that add to the pastiche augment director Frank Capra's most identifiable opus. As mentioned in a previous review I wrote(as well as the summary line),this movie falls very squarely in my category of films that don't fail to make me well-up with tears,and while that might say more about me than the movie itself,I happen to believe that if you take any of the messages or morals of this story to heart,you'll be moved by it,too.

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My Favorite Movie Ever, Ever, Ever!!!

10/10
Author: hobbyhob from Sacramento
14 December 2007

Bless Frank Capra for this most excellent, hopeful, hope-filled film! The themes are eternal: "Don't give up 5 minutes before the miracle," and "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem," and even, "yes, in fact, miracles do happen." I agree with another contributor's comments in that it is not Christmas until we've watched "It's A Wonderful Life!" Because, in fact, it is a wonderful life, corny as that may sound in such a cynical and treacherous time as we live in. The only part that is still so very difficult for me to watch is the scene with the druggist (when George has yet to deliver those pills). I won't spoil it for anyone who's not yet seen it, but it speaks volumes of a different time that has thankfully, for a lot of folks (sadly, not everyone), passed.

This film also cemented Jimmy Stewart as my all time favorite actor (yes, I cried when he passed). He and Donna Reed were just about perfectly cast, at least I can't think of a better pairing. And I cry every single time I see this amazing work of art. It is truly a must-see, one-of-a-kind quaintly classic movie and a priceless gem. And a real Christmas miracle kind of film. Everyone should see it, at least once, even if you must watch it chopped up by commercial interruptions on a major network (yes, I'll go even that far!!!).

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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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It's a Wonderful Movie (corny, I know)

10/10
Author: Milton Guity (glegend86-1) from United States
13 August 2007

This is now my all time favorite movie. I just finished watching this and I just wanted to say that this is exactly what a movie should be about. Story. While watching this I could tell that this came first.

As the story progresses it becomes more then a movie about a man learning to appreciate "God's greatest gift", but you realize that this isn't just a life lesson for the protagonist. It teaches us all that everyone matters in some way or another.

All the elements in this film are so well done. The performances really allow you to get in touch with each character. James Stewart was perfect as George. I could feel everything he was going through.

No other movie I've seen before has affected me in such a way. "It's a Wonderful Life" is absolutely brilliant. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes movies!

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Absolutely Wonderful!

10/10
Author: Michael Lopresto from Australia
21 June 2007

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is my favourite movie. Every aspect of this movie is brilliant, from the script to the acting. It's the ultimate feel good movie, an absolute classic. It has the best ending of any film I've ever seen, which always brings tears of joy to my eye. No wonder this movie was prescribed by psychiatrists for depression. There is something magical about this movie which has never been recreated.

I recognised lots or parts from The Simpsons, especially the scene in the bank. I also recognised the Christmas scenes from other movies, such as Die Hard where McClean's daughter is watching It's a Wonderful Life. By no means is this movie only to be watched at Christmas time. I saw it for the first time this year, and then a second time because it was so good. And I've never seen snow in my life and it wasn't anywhere near Christmas time.

I've seen the majority of movies that are consistently voted the greatest of all time, and It's a Wonderful is my favourite. It has my full recommendation to EVERYONE, no matter what time of year, and especially if your feeling down.

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Quality does not become a Cliché

Author: (futures@exis.net) from Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.
27 March 2007

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946): It's a wonderful film, and story, with wonderful acting, gorgeous black & white photography, important philosophies... it has everything. Jimmy Stewart was at his best. Donna Reed? What a girl-next-door-babe! Clarence the Angel? Perfectly innocent and effective. Bert & Ernie? I suppose they are a major realization for Sesame Street fans!! The children - fragile and pure. Sam Wainwright - the goofy, life-time friend, no matter how rich he became. Evil Mister Potter? The man we love to hate (hissss!), played by Lionel Barrymore (Drew's grandfather). The rejected kid at the dance, who opens the dance floor for George & Mary to fall in? Remember "Alfalfa" in "The Little Rascals"/"Our Gang"? That's him. You KNOW what "Potter's Field" is slang for, right? It's the generic name given to graveyards for people who died alone, broke, and unclaimed. Uncle Billy? His memory problem is easy for me to relate to, and I've always wished I had a CROW as a bird-pal. Violet? We ALL knew (or know) a Violet...the good hearted gal who relied too heavily on appearances. One of the prettiest photographic scenes is early in the film, when George and Mary are just leaving town in the taxi after their wedding - it's raining, and they stop to look back at what appears to be a "run" on the Savings and Loan. As they peer out the back window of the taxi, THAT is pure beauty. Do I still get misty with a film that I've easily seen 50 times? Yes. When Mr. Gower realizes that young George caught his prescription mistake. When adult George comes home that night shattered, and SNAPS. This film's heart is in the RIGHT place SO often for SO many reasons. I've always shaken my head in amazement at people who saw it as schmaltzy. Yes, it has those moments, but they're at a minimum (and are needed as RELIEF!) compared to the overwhelming amount of loss, frustration, fragility, anger, near & true violence, nasty characters, and shocking realizations. I see it as a TRUE spiritual journey along a suddenly frightening road. It STILL nearly brings me to tears at points, along with amazement at the story, and how it was done. This, and "Wings of Desire" are my Top Two Films of All Time.

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What's Better Than This?

10/10
Author: michaelplewa from United States
16 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are so few films, contemporary or Golden Age, so rich with morality and spiritualism as this film. Sure, it's based in Christian ideology, particularly Clarence's angelic status; but more than that, it's the journey of a man at the edge of the abyss, seeing his soul and his life, and making up his own mind. It's the ultimate challenge and the ultimate reward.

A lot of people criticize Frank Capra films for their cornball style and antiquated FDR leftwing-ery. However, no film better illustrates the basic tenets of human decency and value than this film. Its a perennial favorite at Christmas not only for its holiday-timed narrative, but its affirmation of the inviolable essence of friends and family. George Bailey, in his darkest hour, retreats joyously to the family and friends he at times was convinced had stifled his lifelong ambitions.

Some films stay with you for your entire life - this is one of them.

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Very heartwarming

10/10
Author: masterteeh from Philippines
14 January 2007

One of the best motivating and human filled emotional films I've ever seen, every moment, scenes and instances in the film are so related to each and every part of us, cant help but help the relation between the character and oneself. The film has taught me whats life one of the most important meaning is all about. Money and selfishness has reign as terror and shown its ugly side once more. A movie which in spite of the period of time it was filmed is still very much relevant and a must watch again and again film on top of my list, a movie that you can recommend to friends and persons you feel has the weight of the world carried over his or her shoulders.

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The Perfect Christmas Tradition

10/10
Author: Joshua S. Baker (redbosox@aol.com) from RAF Mildenhall, England
30 December 2006

There's a number of awesome annual traditional Christmas movies out there. As much as I love Christmas Vacation, Miracle On 34th Street, and A Christmas Story, my personal favorite movie is It's A Wonderful Life. This movie was perfectly acted by Jimmy Stewart. He did a wicked awesome job! In fact, the entire cast was phenomenal! Henry Travers was simply quite funny and grabbed my attention as the lovable guardian angel, Clarence. I certainly wouldn't mind having a guardian angel like him. Lionel Barrymore did a super job as "The Grinch" of Bedford Falls. The movie is exactly as it's titled, WONDERFUL! I'm already looking forward to watching it again next year. I leave my 50th Anniversary Collector's Set alone and in mint condition.

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The greatest movie ever filmed.

10/10
Author: Bevan Ravenswing (Bevan - #4) from Quincy, MA
29 December 2006

I was all of 31 when I first saw the movie, when my ladyfriend found out I hadn't yet seen it, and incredulously sat me down on her couch, whipped a VHS tape out, and made me watch it on the spot.

It's become an annual ritual since; my wife and I watch it during Christmas season, and I still feel warm from seeing it again just a few nights ago.

So many other commentators have lavished remarks on this film that saying much of anything else would be gilding the lily, yet two elements stand out in my mind. First off, how many actors were ever the equal of Jimmy Stewart for the depth and quality of his expressions when he *wasn't* speaking? Possibly the dramatic high point of the movie is when Ruth tells George about his brother's career possibilities, and in the moment after she leaves him you can see better than any actor has ever done the wave of bitterness, disgust, the realization that he always has been and would always *be* trapped in the stultifying small town he hates.

Secondly, I'm sorry, but any man who sees this movie who wouldn't have married Donna Reed on the spot is either gay or crazy. Her performance radiated charm in torrents.

10/10; this movie is the unsurpassable standard by which all others are judged.

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Greatest film ever...

10/10
Author: newacct124401 from United States
22 December 2006

If you are going to recommend, give as a gift, watch with your family a movie...this is the film that never disappoints. I've seen this film once a year for forty years and it stirs me to tears every year. If your going to see one movie in all your life this is it. Frank Capra's films are all positive and wholesome (something we've lost in film today). James Stewart gives one of the greatest performances by any actor in any film. Playing the tortured George Bailey in his darkest moments then showing Bailey in the greatest revelation a film character has ever achieved, Stewart creates a three dimensional everyman. He is us. Our failures and triumphs all summed up in one very common man. There should be an exception made in IMDb's rating system. This is the only film I would ever consider an 11.

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Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart's It's a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite

10/10
Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
18 December 2006

Since I first saw this classic in 1981, I've seen an episode of Laverne and Shirly with this premise (it's Laverne who imagines this scenario), a musical version on stage with Ernie the taxi driver-not Martini-owning a bar, and last year a Baton Rouge Little Theater presentation with dialogue almost taken verbatim from the movie. Nothing however compares to the original film interpretation. How can one not laugh when George (Jimmy Stewart) and Mary (Donna Reed) accidentally fall into the high school gym swimming pool after Mary ditched a potential suitor (Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer)? Or not get touched by George's speech defending his late father to Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore)? Certainly the last hour as George feels the world tumbling before him and his eventual appreciation of his life are some of the most tear-and-laugh inducing scenes I've ever seen in the movies or television. It's a Wonderful Life has always been my favorite movie and nothing I've ever seen has even come close. Kudos to Stewart and director Frank Capra for such a life-affirming project. Thanks also to Barrymore, Reed, Switzer, Samuel S. Hinds (George's father Peter), Beulah Bondi (George's mom), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy), H.B. Warner (Gower the druggist), Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick), Lilian Randolph (Annie the maid), Sheldon Leonard (Nick the bartender), Ward Bond (Bert the cop), Frank Faylen (Ernie the taxi driver), Bill Edmunds (Martini), and Charles Lane in his role as the guy who tells Potter about George's Bailey Park plans for filling the picture with, in Nick's words "a little atmosphere". Add to that all the various kid and adult actors I can't remember right now. And finally, special thanks to Henry Travers (Clarence) for making us all believe in angels. No truer words have ever been written as the one in Clarence's book gift (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) to George: No man is a failure who has friends. Though one may quibble about Harry not being saved without George despite other friends near him or Mary becoming an old maid, It's a Wonderful Life is a flawless masterpiece that has stood the test of time for the last 60 years. May it stand forevermore. P.S. Look for the Blondie movie series' kid stars Larry "Baby Dumpling/Alexander Bumstead" Simms (George's son Pete) and Danny "Alvin Fuddle" Mummert (Little Marty Hatch). And Ellen "Grandma Walton" Corby as the woman George kisses in the run-on-the-bank sequence.

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Simply Fantastic!!!!!!!!!

10/10
Author: integrityfirst from United States
18 May 2006

This movie is an outstanding achievement all around. By far James Stewarts best performance ever! Frank Capra has directed a true classic for the ages. All of the performances in this movie were great, especially from Stewart and Henry Travers. His character of Clarence was a total delight to watch, but the true triumph in this movie is Stewart. He is extremely convincing as a distressed small-town man. His performance, like many of his others, should have gotten him the academy award, and so should the movie, but it was beat in both categories by "The Best Years of Our Lives". I have yet to see this, but I doubt that it can even come close to Its a Wonderful Life.

What can I say? It truly is a wonderful life! 10/10!

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It's a Wonderful Film

9/10
Author: ashleysilos from United States
20 April 2006

When you hear 'feel good movie' about one you haven't seen, are you predisposed to expect a thin, fluffy movie? Do you expect something saccharin that will leave you feeling like a bulimic teenage girl two hours after a chocolate binge? If you hadn't seen What a Wonderful Life, and I quoted only one line for you, in the voice of a toddler girl talking to her daddy: "every time a bell ring an angel gets his wings"—what would you expect then? What a Wonderful Life has touched people. Of this I am sure because I am counted among one those it has touched. It is still meaningful to people today and on an ongoing basis. I have seen it too many times, though, and I am now ready to wait for a few years before I see it again.

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He's a wonderful actor

10/10
Author: john-gallagher69 from United Kingdom
4 February 2006

Jimmy Stewart was in my opinion the first method actor. The range of emotions he encompasses within the film elevates the film from "corny" to an outstanding study of emotions that is true today of middle America as it was when the film was made. The scene when Harry returns with the surprise wife is outstanding. You only see Stewart's face but within that shot you see the realisation that he is stuck in Bedford Falls and all his dreams of travel and adventure have gone. Only Stewart could have done that scene. the only other comment I am going to make on this film is Stewart's own theory of acting. The ability to make the small things believable; to do the things you would do yourself in the same circumstances. A good example of this is when Clarence announces to him that he is an angel. A small laugh and a knowing gesture at the bridge keeper is totally believable - the best tribute that we can pay the man. Often copied but never emulated this film remains one of the all time classics.

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Incredible movie.

10/10
Author: Jeffrey404 from United States
31 January 2006

James Stewart and Donna Reid at their respective bests. A heartwarming tale of a status we would all aspire, to be loved by many and respected by all. And, to have the ability to realize first hand, the impact our lives had in this world. I've watched this movie literally, hundreds of times and do so, every time it is on television.

Some years ago, I found a copy of this film in the bargain basket at a mall media store. Amazingly, I paid a fee of less than five dollars for a movie worth more than most of what comes out of Hollywood today. Few places can you find a movie that will make you cry as well as making you feel exhilarated and good about yourself as "It's a Wonderful Life". While it is an old cliché', it applies here that "they don't make 'em like that anymore".

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Wonderful

10/10
Author: Kieran Wright from United Kingdom
30 January 2006

It's hard to know where to start really. I could go on about the flawless attention to detail of the set, the wonderful characterisations from the actors or the direction itself. This film is really something of a miracle in that every obstacle - many of the original choices not taking the respective parts - was somehow turned into such a believable film. How amazing also that the film won no awards when it was released, and was only catapulted to stardom by virtue of a clerical copyright error which allowed TV stations to show it for free. The only sad aspect of this film for me is that, even by the time it was made, this was a world that had gone forever. If you live in a town like Bedford Falls with people who have good old fashioned values then please correct me, and send me the details so I can bring my family to live there.

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The finest American movie ever made

10/10
Author: dantown from United States
17 January 2006

Jimmy Stewart doesn't merely act this role, as a sad, yet monumentally blessed man of the people. He almost SINGS it, due to his gift for vocal histrionics. This story of one man against the planetary tides of fate is an absolutely thrilling exposition of film excellence. Each centimeter of this movie is filled with Life. That is the sly double-meaning of this movie. I command you to find another movie its equal. This is a movie even the great philosopher Aristotle, and his Poetics, would love. All film-makers, and all film-lovers should fill their souls with this great achievement. It is the archetypal story of grandeur in plainness. But not too plain. It is a Deus Ex Machina, where a little itty bitty man, struggling against evil, is suddenly and magically healed, and yet, finds himself pushing the same rock up the same hill. The Gods have transformed his struggle into a spiritual triumph. Same Old Sisyphus, same old rock. This movie collapses and conflates a monumental struggle into a warm, and sappy and beautiful Christmas card. There will be a long time, if ever, that a movie ever accomplishes as much. I approach this movie the way a grasshopper appreciates a spider's web, once his leg is fatally caught. I cannot escape it. I marvel at the art it displays.

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There's no 11 out of 10 score.

10/10
Author: steve-862 from London, England
4 April 2005

Wonderful and charming classic movie that makes you feel good to the very end.

The story is based a great deal on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, only in this case it's a guardian angel and not 3 ghosts and it's a good man he comes to visit. The guardian angel shows our hero George Bailey how life would have been without him. When George realises how much he has and how much he's done for others and on Christmas Eve no less, he understands what's really important again. It's inspiring to see George swimming most of his life against the current but always in the pursuit of doing what's right. His selflessness and understanding of others is something in modern society we don't seem to even aspire to emulate any more.

If you haven't seen this film you will find scenes you've come across in other movies and never knew where they came from. The film contains so many memorable scenes and wonderful moments that I really can't do it justice. You simply have to see it for yourself.

Make sure you have a full 2.5 hours free to watch it because it's a long movie. In fact leave 5 hours free so you can watch it again straight after.

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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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best movie ever!

10/10
Author: Rachel (Blondi85) from Oregon
16 December 2003

It's A Wonderful Life is definitely one of the best movies ever made. It is all around a great film, with great acting, great directing by Frank Capra and a very well written plot. This is what a great movie is.

The movie is about a businessman named George Bailey whose life and business isn't going so well, just as he is about to give up on things, an angel comes and shows him what life would really be like without him.

They couldn't have picked a better cast for this film. James Stewart who played George Bailey gave an amazing performance. He is a well-rounded actor, not only could he do comedy but he also does dramatic very well, and that is not easy to find in actors. Donna Reed who played Mary Bailey ( George Bailey's wife) also did a great job playing her character. Stewart and Reed had very good on-screen chemistry and worked well together. All the acting throughout the whole movie was excellent.

Not only did the acting make it a great film, the story also did. The story will make you laugh, cry and definitely think. It's nice to have a film out there that after you are done watching it, you will still think about it.

The film started a lot of trends for other films and famous phrases. For example ` Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings`. Even though this film wasn't a huge hit in the box office, it is now a legend and always will be. It is now a tradition for many of people to watch this movie during the Christmas season. You can watch this movie over and over again and not get sick of it. It is definitely a classic everyone should see.

This movie deserves 10 out of 10.

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If you don't cry during this movie, you need digitalis

10/10
Author: kmw1962 from Malvern
1 December 2003

This movie is fabulous. Stewart and Reed come across as a couple that was meant to be together and the "what if I was never born?" question proves this point poignantly when the Angel reveals what happened to Mary without George.

Great characters abound outside of these two however. George's Uncle (Billy) is as a promoter & cheerleader for everything good but seems to be good for nothing else. Ernie the cab driver and Bert the cop are the ultimate friends (even if George's trip to the world without him). Sam Wainwright, the boy done good, who needs to be forever reminded where he came from (a point often missed by even those who have watched the film ad nauseam is that George Bailey is responsible for getting virtually every man in town a job by chiding Sam to build his new factory in town ) But Lionel Barrymore steals this picture (other than the final scene) as a man so filled with hate that he willingly does everything to ruin George Bailey.

EVERYONE OUGHT TO WATCH THIS PICTURE ONCE EVERY CHRISTMAS - in black and white

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Thank You Frank Capra

Author: diane1980us (diane1980us@yahoo.com) from USA
28 November 2003

After nearly sixty years since this movie was made we still have far too many Mr.Potters in the world and not enough George Bailey's. A fairy tail? Yup, maybe but where would we be without them. It's a Wonderful Life is such a great story about good vs.evil and the simplicity of family life. Jimmy Stewart who died a few years back will never be forgotten for many generations going forward and Donna Reed playing his wife couldn't have been done better by anyone else. People who don't just love this

movie are probably decedents of Mr. Potter's As for me,

well I am a great George Bailey fan.Directed by Frank Capra>

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Close to the best

10/10
Author: pedrocy2000
27 November 2003

This is easily in my favorite top 10 list. I liked Rear Window but I didn't think Jimmy Stewart was very good. However, in Wonderful Life, he was purely magical. No one else could have done better. The 1990's- have produced so many pathetic movies. I get sick of them. The director of It's a Wonderful Life must have amazing ability because no one since the 90's has come close with the exception of Dances with Wolves and Braveheart. I don't know if there is a movie out there that can re-direct my attitude for a long period of time, but this one is the closest. This movie is the ultimate example of "good depression."

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The Greatest Feel-Good Movie of them all!

Author: Stu Chandler (chanelit-1) from London, England
26 November 2003

The greatest 'Feel-good' movie ever made and so much more beside. James Stewart gives the performance of his career in Capra's ode to the despair and triumph of humanity.

This film is actually prescribed by Doctors to treat depression in certain areas and with good reason too. Bailey's descent into despair is a perfect analogy of modern depression and well, when he finally triumphs, the rush we as the audience receive is almost too much to take.

I absolutely refuse anyone to sit and watch this without feeling emotionally overwhelmed by the end - not a dry eye in the house.

Don't just think of this as some soppy Christmas movie to flick on TV, treat it as it should be treated, a serious film, with serious and powerful messages. Really a must for everyone.

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A timeless holiday classic

Author: christopher miller (themoviekid2006@hotmail.com) from Greenbelt, Maryland
25 November 2003

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE B&W-132min****(1946) D:Frank Capra. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Henry Travers, Ward Bond,Frank Faylen, Gloria Granhme, H.B. Warner, Frank Albertson, Todd Karns, Samuel S. Hinds, Mary Treen, Sheldon Leonard, Ellen Corby. An all classic American tale with Stewart doing all the good in his small town, thinking he's made a mistake he tries to commit suicide, then a guardian angel shows all the things he's done weren't a mistake. An unforgettable film that never shows it's age. One of the great American films.

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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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It's a wonderful film.

10/10
Author: Joanne D. (genebeth67) from Oxnard, California
19 September 2003

This is my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie. It seems 1946 was a good year for movies because it made hits like Notorious and the Big Sleep, both of which are a few of my favorites as well. Jimmy Stewart is the greatest actor I've come across in all the history of Hollywood; his acting is so real and so authentic, and "It's A Wonderful Life" really shows you his wonderful qualities.

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Beautiful!

10/10
Author: jagaleigh from Austin, TX.
24 August 2003

I have watched this film once a year since I was about 7 years old, and I swear it's just as good every time I see it.

I love Jimmy Stewart. I mean LOVE HIM. His character in this film is so true to life that you feel his tension, his happiness, his pain, his hysteria, and his laughter. Donna Reed is glamorous and lovable. His children are kind of nutty and hilarious; just like most children in life.

This film truly illustrates that unanswered prayers are sometimes best, and that the life you live may not be as bad as you once thought.

See this movie at least once in your life, it is very much worth it.

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My favorite movie!

10/10
Author: joedwade from Cleveland, Ohio
7 August 2003

I am a bit of a movie buff, and enjoy asking people about their favorite movies - and at time am surprised by the responses. My favorite movie, for many reasons, is It's a Wonderful Life. No matter how many times I watch it, I still get completely drawn into the movie. Especailly the look on George's face when he pans the area leading up to the graveyard, with a look of complete hopelessness.

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One of the greatest movies ever made

Author: Danny_G13 from Glasgow, Scotland
22 July 2003

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 - of a world in which he doesn't exist. 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 by Channel 4 viewers in UK. 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.

A true masterpiece.

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Must See Christmas TV

10/10
Author: aesgaard41 from United States
31 May 2003

I just love this movie. I've seen it so many times I've got the lines and voices memorized. it just ain't Christmas unless I've seen this movie, although I still have to see it once or twice over the rest of the year. The story is sort of "A Christmas Carol" in reverse as a good man experiences a paranormal event within an alternate reality in order to make him want to live. Frank Capra once said that of all his movies that this one is his favorite and it obviously shows because of the time and effort used to bring it to life. I give this movie ten stars even if every tv series does a variance of this plot for a Christmas special.

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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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what a nice make you feel good movie!!!!!!!

10/10
Author: jimw222000 from Kitchener, Ontario Canada
26 September 2002

what a nice make you feel good movie!!!!!!!

I may be a sap, but it feels good to have the underdog win.

I wish I had friends like that!

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May be the best movie ever made

10/10
Author: Gerard J. Buchler (mrbuchler@aol.com) from Philadelphia, PA
9 July 2002

Where does one begin to comment on a movie that many people say wonderful things about?

I heard about the story that when Frank Capra was asked whether "It's A Wonderful Life" was the best movie that he ever made,he said that it was the greatest movie that anyone ever made.

I first saw this movie in college after my classes were over for one day and I went to the movie theater there to see it.I immediately fell in love with this movie and have seen it many times since then.

I will say that when Frank Capra said that he felt that this movie was the greatest movie that anybody ever made-HE MAY HAVE BEEN RIGHT!

Jimmy Stewart was one actor who fully deserves to be called "great".He carried off playing the many things about George Bailey's life in this movie almost effortlessly.George Bailey was a very interesting character in the movies with doing things for many people and making good in his home town of Bedford Falls and not thinking of himself first.

Although Jimmy Stewart won the Best Actor Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story","It's A Wonderful Life" was the movie that he SHOULD have won it for.

Donna Reed was nothing short of ANGELIC as George's wife Mary.3 of my favorite scenes with she and Jimmy Stewart in this movie are:

1) The sequence at the dance at the school where 2 guys open up the

swimming pool with the key to it and George and Mary fall into the water as the dance contest is winding down and others jump in the pool after that, 2) The scenes where Mary plays the record,"Buffalo Gals" and she and George are later in a romantically charged embrace by the telephone after Mary talks to Sam Wainright. 3) The scene where,after George deals with the panic involving the run at the building and loan and still has a

few dollar bills left over,George sees Mary after both that time and their wedding while chicken is spinning on a

rotisserie in the room.

One would have to be made of stone not to be emotionally moved by the last part of the movie where,after George's uncle Billy unwittingly puts $8000 into the hands of Mr. Potter (wonderful turns by Thomas Mitchell and Lionel Barrymore, respectively)that should have been deposited into the bank, George despairs,thinking that he has failed in his life and wants to end his own life.It is INCREDIBLY TOUCHING in the sequence where George's guardian angel, Clarence(a great performance by Henry Travers),after finding out about George Bailey's life up to that point,comes to show George what Bedford Falls and the people there would have been like had George not been born.It is certainly an indication of how one person's life affects the lives of many others and if that person was not there,it would leave a big hole in the lives of those other people.

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.

And the icing on that part of 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.

The last beautiful touch with this movie is where George,when hearing bells ring(when it is mentioned that an angel gets his wings)sees the message written in the Bible by Clarence saying that "No man is a failure who has friends." Very true and very touching indeed! "It's A Wonderful Life" was a movie where an outstanding cast,a great director,and an absolutely brilliant story came together seemingly like magic to make one movie that fully deserves the description,"classic".

This movie might be THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

I give it a rating of 10 out of 10(and could give it 10

plus signs after that 10 if there was such a rating on the IMDB).

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Its a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Jennie Parker from OBX North Carolina
25 June 2002

What a great movie! I first watched this in fourth grade and like all the movies we watched then, i never finished it. I checked it out of our library and saw it. I was crying my eyes out. I loved this movie, it is a classic, just watch a movie channel during Christmas and it'll be on. See it, you'll love it .

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This is my favourite film!

10/10
Author: Elizabeth (buzylizzy33) from Northern Ireland
22 June 2002

"It's a wonderful Life" is my favoourite film ever! I love it, I could watch it over and over again. James Stewart acts so brilliantly in it, and really brings it to life. It deserves 10 out of 10. top marks for it's brilliance! It's the BEST!!

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Surely a Christmas classic, with one minor complaint

8/10
Author: biker45 from Florida
6 June 2002

I have viewed IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE countless times over the years, and it is a true American Christmas classic. I cannot add further to the praise this film deserves and has received. At the risk of sounding Scrooge-like, I do have one complaint (and it is a minor one). I realize that Karolyn Grimes was only six years old at the time, but she delivers one of the most irritating performances I have ever seen from a child actor. Every line of dialog she delivers (with a machine-like monotony, at the top of her lungs) grates like a rasp over my nervous system. They could have used a robot to essay the role of "Zuzu" with better results. Thankfully, she is only on screen for a relatively short period of time. I still enjoy repeated viewings, but must lower the sound level whenever the young Ms. Grimes prepares to speak. Aside from that, a rewarding and excellent film.

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It's A Wonderful Film

10/10
Author: The Man Who (tommystew_uk@hotmail.com) from Birmingham, England
17 December 2001

This film is quite simply the greatest film ever made. The directing, production, acting, storyline...I would give all these 10/10. It is as close to perfection as any movie has ever been. If you are feeling low over the festive period, I urge you to watch this film and rediscover your passion for life. Forget valium, this film is all you need! I am a 16 year old male and absolutely love this film, so don't think you have to be old and past it to enjoy this masterpiece. Look out for the T.V. listings on Christmas Eve - it is bound to be on!

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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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Every time a bell rings...

10/10
Author: scottybhoy_2000 (scottybhoy_2000@yahoo.com) from Doncaster, England
31 August 2000

What can be said about this miraculous film that hasn't been said before? "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the greatest films of all time and it isn't hard to understand why. It is the type of rare film that sticks with you forever, very much like a treasured childhood memory. The film tells the story of George Bailey, a bank manager who has fallen into serious financial trouble. A culmination of all the troubles in his life leads him to pray to the heavens and wish to have never been born. Unknown to him, of course, he is being watched from on high and an apprentice guardian angel named Clarence - yet to attain his wings - is sent down to guide him. Clarence makes George's wish come true and he soon discovers what a mistake he has just made. The film poses the question - What would have happened in the lives of everyone you knew if you could see the world without you ever existing? The film gives one possible - and daunting -answer to the question and George Bailey gets the chance to see the world without him ever being there.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a truly magical film, there simply aren't enough superlatives to describe it. See for yourself if you haven't already, and experience a real gem of a film that will leave you with tears of joy rolling down your cheeks by the end. Superb.

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So pure!

10/10
Author: dreammaster4 from Montreal
31 July 2000

How can anyone describe the magic, the purity, the emotions that this movie have.It is impossible.Capra must have been real proud of this one."It's a wonderful life" was and will be always be one the few movies that have a place in my heart.And I'm not the only one.

A magical movie to see over and over again!

Simply Perfect!

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You want a classic? Here it is

10/10
Author: jtracey from Seattle, Washington
10 July 2000

All the elements come together to make this movie a must-see for anyone with a heart.

Ever wonder what life would be like without you? Frank Capra transformed a wonderful story into a moving, forceful display of the human spirit. And Jimmy Stewart was never better. Every conceivable emotion (even a little lust!) comes through loud and clear, and right on the money. His "mad" stare into the camera near the end will never, ever leave you.

This movie is a tradition for me every Christmas. It's a postcard from a different time, when small-town Christmases meant community, family, a light dusting of snow... and a reminder that the love of community and family is the reason for living. Put this in your top ten movies of all time, and it'll be up to you to put it number 1.

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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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My personal fave

10/10
Author: (lkrizel@optonline.net) from Baldwin, New York
3 June 2000

I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time when I was about 10 years old at Christmastime. I have since seen the movie about a dozen more times, and each time I watch it, it gets better. This is truly my favorite movie of all time.

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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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Perfectly Crafted, Perfectly Acted, A perfect Film 10 out of 10

Author: gordon_charles-2 from New Milton, England
14 May 2000

The life story of one man and how his life effects those of the people around him. This type of film could become sick making but a wonderful cast, a classic director and strong script mean that this film is pure perfection.

When originally released it was not a great success but has now come to be rated (rightly so) as one of the great films.

James Stewart possibly the greatest cinematic actor of all time gives a performance worthy of an Oscar but recieved no such award for this classic performance. Standing out in the cast that was put together took some doing as the performances from the top of the list to the bottom are exceptional.

If you only get the chance to see 1 film then this is it. No fancy special effects just a good plot, good acting and good directing.

This film should be screened regularly by the Samaritans as a way of inspiring people to go on with life.

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TOP FILM!

10/10
Author: ms198-2 from Soton' ENG
5 May 2000

Jimmy Stewart! Jimmy Stewart! Who else could make you buy into such a sentimental, idealistic, unrealistic pile of gooey slop? I'll tell you, no-one! And while I realise that this is exactly what this movie is, it doesn't matter to me at all. The great script and awesome performances make me believe. I cry when I watch this film, I cry and I'm proud I cry. I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not at least feel a lump in their throat. Those cynics who dismiss it stoney faced are merely afraid to show their emotions and so resent the movie for making them feel. Let go! Let it all out! George Bailey's in trouble! I have to stop, I'm filling up.

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simply magnificent

Author: kicker760 from GA
20 April 2000

This is the most warm-hearted story I have ever seen. A story that shows how much difference one person makes. A story that shows someone who is truly good-natured and saintly get something good for once. In this movie, good things happen to good people. The best Christmas movie ever and one of the best ever made.

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One of the most underrated movies of all time, upon first release.

10/10
Author: (heatherberry) from San Jose, California
5 March 2000

I will forever be astonished at how poorly this masterpiece did at the box office when it was released in the 40's. I don't know what those people were thinking but at least most of us today know how wonderful this film really is. It is my favorite Christmas movie.

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One of my favorites

10/10
Author: mdonath from Chicago, IL
1 March 2000

I watch this movie every year and never get tired of it. I think it is Capra's best work and I'm happy to see it is appreciated more now than when he made it. All of the acting is perfect.

One quirky thing to note is Capra's subjective use of time and crowds. For example when Uncle Billy is at the bank window, a crowd suddenly appears behind him when he can't find the deposit money. Similarly, when George tries to get Violet to go on a romantic (to him) romp through nature, a crowd suddenly forms when she ridicules him. Same with Mr. Gower in the bar.

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Didn't do well in the box office ???

10/10
Author: Matt-441 from New York, NY, USA
27 February 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie supposedly did poorly when it was first released in the box office. I was never a fan of films from pre-1960's, and had always thought they were inappropriately dramatic, poorly acted, and boring. It's a Wonderful Life may be one of the few exceptions to this. I thought the movie was phenomenal. The acting, script, and plot was incredible. Some of the lines were so simple and yet the acting made it all come alive. At the end of the movie, there is a featurette called "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life." It was revealed that the actor/actress forgot several pages worth of script lines in several scenes, but the acting was so great that the director decided to trash that segment of the script. This might might have been the ingredient that saved this movie from the boredom that plagues most films from this era. Without going into the spoilers, I will just say that this is definitely one of the top 5 feel-good dramas of the century, and the IMDB votes certainly reflect this. So why didn't this film do well in the box office? The featurette covers this in detail, but watch the movie and decide for yourself.

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How could my friend find it (egad!) boring, when it is my best-ever?

10/10
Author: nz man from New Zealand
19 February 2000

THIS IS MY BEST-EVER FILM, although it is difficult to compare present-day movies with the old B & W classics. Anyhow, you may imagine how I felt when I loaned the video to a friend who later said that she was BORED!!

I suppose the message here is that even an Imdb highly-rated superb film will not meet everyone's satisfaction.

By the way, my friend is 51 years old, a church-going mother with a huge warm heart and always has a wonderful smile. I am a guy who is definitely not 'churchy' and who rates the Matrix as the second best-ever film (and a Jackie Chan fan as well). Wouldn't you expect it to be the other way around, with me being bored? Ha!

If you like romance, and want to feel good about our challenging LIFE here on earth, then see this film. I've seen it six times and still love it!

By the way, the town was completely built for the movie and the artificial snow was a technical marvel of the time. Both looked authentic!

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Intense emotions

10/10
Author: thespianbabe from San Francisco, California
15 February 2000

This is, without a doubt, the ultimate Christmas classic! The holiday season would not be the same without at least one viewing of It's A Wonderful Life. I watch it year round and I always enjoy it! It makes me cry every time. Frank Capra once said true drama is when the audience cries. Ladies and Gentlemen, this film is true drama!

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The best movie ever made, everything movie making should be.

Author: RT Firefly from New York
5 February 2000

This is the standard for movie making. If you are on your deathbed and had to watch a movie, this is the movie you would want to watch. No other film has ever had such a perfect blend of all the elements that make movies great. From acting to wardrobe, from directing to script. Drama, comedy, charm, this movie has it all. The pacing is superb and you root for George Bailey from beginning to end. But best of all, it has one of the most basic and beautiful morals of any film ever made: No man's life is unimportant. It's a Wonderful Life, said by director Frank Capra to be his best work, plays to all ages and stands the test of time even with repeated viewings. This in spite of its campy 'Capra-corn' moments. A stunning dramatic performance by Jimmy Stewart, considered by many to be his best, and that is saying a lot. The scene in the bar where Stewart reaches the end of his rope and cries out in utter desperation, "Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me… show me the way" is gut wrenchingly vivid to anyone who has ever faced trials and tribulation. Stellar supporting performances, too, including the incomparable Lionel Barrymore as Henry Potter and H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower. This is in the top 10 of most every respectable 'best movies' list ever made. Watching this film will change your life, it is that good.

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Wonderful

10/10
Author: Petri Pelkonen (petri_pelkonen@hotmail.com) from Finland
10 January 2000

James Stewart plays a family man called George Bailey.Donna Reed plays his wife Mary Hatch.George is having too many problems and he decides to jump of the bridge and end his life.The angels are watching George's life from Heaven.They send a guardian angel called Clarence to safe George.If Clarence succeeds in his mission he finally gets his wings.So Clarence safes George from suicide and he shows George what the life would be if he was never born.And believe me, it's not such a wonderful life without George.The town would be very much different without Georgie boy.So George realizes the greatness of life.It's a Wonderful Life is a great classic movie, that they show every Christmas also here in Finland.I watched it the first time last Christmas, the Christmas of 1999, and I'm glad I did.It's a Wonderful Life.

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It sure is....

Author: Vice-5 from Allentown, PA
31 December 1999

You know, there are times I wish I was never born. But, after watching "It's a Wonderful Life", it made me change my views on how life can be a real b****! Jimmy Stewart plays the good-hearted guy named George who rides on an emotional roller coaster after getting his dreams thwarted by the rich jerk Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore, Drew's grandfather). But after a nightmarish visit to a parallel world thanks to his silly-but kind guardian angel named Clarence (Henry Travers). Soon, George learns to love life as it is, no matter how screwed up it is. "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the greatest Christmas flicks ever made, and a good stress-reliever, too.

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It is a wonderful woman

10/10
Author: Liedzeit from Germany
29 December 1999

Since most of the good things about this film have already been said let us concentrate on Donna Reed. Jimmy as we know wants to leave town and see the world. But if there was ever a convincing reason why not to go for your dream her name is Donna Reed. She is the perfect image of a woman, wife and mother. And the scene when she is called by her I Ah friend when Jimmy was about to leave and she comes up with the brilliant idea to call him back and then talk together into the phone is the true highlight of the film in my opinion.

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One of my all-time favorties!

Author: RosalieBustingMyBowls from U.S.A.
19 September 1999

A classic!!! I watch this movie every year at Christmas and I still love it!!! It is a wonderful film with a wonderful message! (no pun intended!) I still get goosbumps at the end of this movie, it is just so wonderful and eerily realistic!!! I really love this film, I have never heard one bad thing about it!

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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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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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Probably the best movie ever made.

Author: nono-5 from London
18 May 1999

I've seen and re-seen that movie. I try to show it to all my friends who haven't seen it yet and I always notice so much emotion in their face during and after the film. Most of the parts are pieces of art- like when James Stewart enters in the old woody house to see the feast his wife made for him. It is a real delight, an emotional show and the last but not the least, a big moral lesson that makes you really believe that "it's a wonderful life"...

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One of the BEST films ever made!

10/10
Author: (rjf279@nehp.net) from USA
17 April 1999

This has to be one of the best films ever made! It is certainly one of my dearest favorites. I never tire of watching it and I always get a little more out of it the more that I do. Perhaps as we age and mature, we see more of life's lessons through George and Mary Bailey.

We learn that sometimes when our best ambitions, hopes and dreams fail... there is more to life than what simply meets our eyes alone. We are not alone. God does move all things to our best interest, even though we don't always see the immediate results that we hoped for.

Further, it is a message of hope; nothing in life is ever so desperate that taking your life is an answer. Giving up is never the answer.

This film should live on through generations to come as one of the best classics of our time. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed have never been better. It is a poignant dramatic film, a classic portrayal of all that is good and descent and hopeful in life... surviving though all the injustices and downfalls that befall us.

This may be my most favorite film.

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Every time a bell rings I think of this movie

Author: Bill Anderson (anderson@nehp.net) from New Hope, Alabama USA
31 January 1999

Suicidal George Bailey is given a chance to see what the world would be like if he had never been born, and through his story we learn that our actions affect other people in ways we may not comprehend. The scene I love most, that still gives me chills just thinking about it, is the scene in the cemetery when George discovers that his brother Harry, whom he rescued from drowning when they were kids, wasn't the only hero who saved some soldiers on a troop transport. "Those men died! Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry!" In the 1970's, when blank VHS tapes cost $30 and I had to be selective in using them, this was the first film I recorded for my collection. It's a perfect film. I wouldn't change a frame. And I'll always get teary when Clarence gets his wings.

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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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loved it

10/10
Author: anonymous from usa
23 January 1999

It is a great movie. It shows that everyone makes a difference even if you don't think you do. And thinking that anyone would be better off if you aren't here is sooooo wrong.

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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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Brought a tear to my eye.

Author: anonymous from Daly City, CA
29 September 1998

This is one of the only movies I bought before I saw it and let me tell you that it is worth it. Jimmy Stewart IS an actor. His performance was the driving force in this picture. The story is so heart-warming that I could feel tears building up inside me. Possibly becoming one of my all-time favorite movies. Buy this movie on the THX-approved DVD.

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One of the best movies in cinema history

10/10
Author: Kelly613 from Columbia, MO
11 September 1998

I love this movie! It is my absolute favorite. It is a story about the true spirit of a person -- a person always giving of himself. And that even strong people become lost at times. It is also about true friends. This film never fails to leave me misty eyed. I hope you enjoy this movie. I watch it every Christmas. It gets you in the holiday spirit. A true tradition.

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It's a wonderful Christmas movie!

Author: 4-Kane from Arlington, MA
25 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Every December, I watch a good number of Christmas movies, and this film is no exception. It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful movie.

It tells the story of a man named George Bailey (played by the late great Jimmy Stewart). After all that he goes through, including a financial problem, he becomes despondent to the point where he wishes that he had never been born. Clarence, who reveals himself to be George's guardian angel, sends George to a hypothetical world to show him what the town of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never existed. Needless to say, this hypothetical world is far worse than the real world. Fortunately, George comes to his senses, and retracts his grim wish.

When he is brought back to the real world, he is a happy man again. He returns to his family, only to find a lot of townspeople contributing money to help get him out of a monetary crisis.

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most wonderful films of all time. Watch this Christmas classic every December.

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Gives a Heart to the Heartless

10/10
Author: StarFuture
24 December 2008

George Bailey has become an archetypal hero. He is the every day man, with every day struggles, loves, losses and desires. He wants the world and is given Bedford Falls. "It's a Wonderful Life," has little to do with how wonderful the life you aspire to have, but more about how wonderful the everyday is.

George Bailey's journey through the narrative, from that of a young boy saving people in their crucial times of need, up until the deciding factors that lead him to that bridge on the cold and snowy night, exhibit the basic human nature.

Everyone has felt at one point or another in their lives that they have hit rock bottom, what this story exemplifies is every little action has a reaction. George may have felt that what he was doing wasn't important, he was miserable to a degree and gave up much of his hopes and dreams. What he didn't realize, and what audiences have embraced for decades, is that he didn't get the dreams he thought he desired, he got the reality which made the dreams pale and weak.

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A great, big, fat masterpiece

9/10
Author: seawalker from Birmingham, England
25 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Is there anything actually left to write about "It's A Wonderful Life" that hasn't already been written? Forget all about it being the greatest Christmas film of all time ("The Wizard Of Oz" is also a great film, but it is not really a Christmas film), "It's A Wonderful Life" is actually one of the greatest films of all time, full stop.

Simply put, the film revolves around the life of a kind and caring, but frustrated man, who one night during the worst crisis of his life, is shown what the world would have been like if had he never been born. Funnily enough, the whole 'alternative reality' section of the movie takes up less than a quarter of the running time towards the end of the film, although it is always the thing that is mentioned when discussing the film. Prior to that plot turn we are treated to a master class in film acting from the genius that was James Stewart, running from goofy comedy, shyness, happiness, disappointment, frustration, despair and then the blackest dark night of the soul. It is one of the greatest performances in cinema history and I will fight anybody who disagrees with me.

In the packed cinema on Saturday I sat near a young woman who had obviously never seen "It's A Wonderful Life" before. Every now and again I picked up on her reactions to what was going on in the movie. Laughter, gasps and then, of course, tears. She was still wiping her eyes when the lights came up. Actually, so was I.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a great, big, fat masterpiece and everybody should see it.

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The Miracle at Bedford Falls

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
27 December 2006

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Liberty Films, released through RKO Radio, 1946), directed by Frank Capra, is a heartwarming story about how one man's life touches so many others, and without that one solitary life how circumstances and events could have turned out so differently. Quite an original premise that in many ways reflects the lives of every human being. In spite of some flaws (women's 1940s hair styles during the 1920-30s settings), it remains a true masterpiece, thanks to frequent revivals over the years, especially during the Christmas season from which much of the story takes place.

Story opens on the night before Christmas and all through Bedford Falls, a small town where prayers are being said for a good-natured man named George Bailey (James Stewart), whose life is in jeopardy and intends on destroying God's greatest gift, his life, through suicide. Voices are then heard communicating from the great beyond as Joseph, the head angel, proposes to answer the prayers by sending a guardian angel. The chosen one is Clarence (Henry Travers), who has yet to earn his wings. Before assuming his Earthly mission, Clarence is given an hour to learn the life story of George Bailey, beginning in 1919 with George, age 12 (Bobby Anderson), becoming a hero by saving his little brother, Harry, from drowning in frozen water, and preventing Emil Gower (H.B. Warner), druggist and employer, from unwitting making a serious mistake that would have sent him to prison; moving forward to 1928 with the courtship of George and Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), their marriage the at the start of the Depression of 1929, taking up residence in an old house at 320 Sycamore; George taking over his late father's (Samuel S. Hinds) building and loan business which millionaire banker Harry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), wants to monopolize, as well as the entire town; the birth of the couple's four children, their happy and troubled times leading to the present day of World War II where George finds himself in desperate need of $8,000 misplaced by his Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), and appropriated by Mr. Potter, or else his shortage of funds will lead to financial ruin and a stiff jail sentence.

For an American movie classic, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE has all the elements of several Charles Dickens novels combined, namely "David Copperfield" where youngster George falls victim of child abuse in the Mr. Murdstone fashion as he gets his face slapped numerous times by Mr. Gower to a point of causing his deaf ear to bleed for not delivering the medication to a customer, but unlike the evil Murdstone, Gower, a troubled old man who had just lost his son in the war, realizes his trial and error after learning the pills he accidentally placed in the order were actually poisoned, thus hugging the boy in gratitude; and "A Christmas Carol" where the adult George, the hero, not Scrooge, is given the opportunity from his guardian angel to see what the world would have been like had he never been born. Also borrowing from "A Christmas Carol" is the characterization of Barrymore's Mr. Potter in a Ebenezer Scrooge-type fashion ("the richest and meanest man in town.") Unlike Scrooge, Potter has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The only time he shows a touch of kindness is when he wants a favor from George, knowing full well that once that's accomplished, he'll have nothing more to do with him.

For first time viewers, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE comes across as dark, gloomy and depressing story, atypical for a movie categorized as a comedy, particularly with its 1940s "film noir" trend, with off screen narration and flashback sequences. Aside from these basic elements, there are many key scenes (crowds gather together singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing') and classic quotes ("Every time a bell rings, an angel gets it wings."), that make this a timeless classic. Aside from Frank Capra's commendable job with this production, the supporting players, including Beulah Bondi (Ma Bailey); Gloria Grahame (Violet); Todd Karns (Harry Bailey as a man); Ward Bond, Frank Albertson, Sheldon Leonard and many others, are also first rate. Larry Simms, best known as Alexander in the "Blondie" movie series, assumes the role as the eldest Bailey son, Peter. And who could forget Karolyn Grimes as Little Zuzu with her famous closing line of all?

The film did meet with controversy in the 1980s, falling victim to public domain, poor video transfers and shorter prints from its original 130 minute theatrical release, having every commercial and cable TV station (American Movie Classics included) over exposing it throughout the month of December, and even worse, colorization, in spite the fact that its black and white photography is so right for this film. Currently, DVD transfers have improved and television revivals became limited.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a type of movie that can be made once. Regardless of imitations as well as the 1977 television remake, "It Happened One Christmas" with Marlo Thomas, the major preference continues to be this 1946 original. It still a holiday classic that doesn't seem to ever go away, thanks to viewers and film historians who continue to find something special with a film based on a short story titled "The Greatest Gift," the gift of life. (****)

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Classic, often overlooked, film

Author: dust-7
24 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

People think of Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Oz, Godfather, Patton, Sound of Music, even Duck Soup - whatever. They forget this.

This is a witty, sharply written drama, the antithesis of socialism to answer others here, about the triumph of good over evil, of conservative stability and justice over corruption. The entire town, the whole world, has more soul, is better off, with George around to help counter gross misunderstanding and greedy manipulations of the 'the system'.

Potter doesn't believe in people. He doesn't ultimately believe his own rhetoric. But George shares his father's belief that people can better themselves, through hard work, diligence, but with the corruption of 'Potter's rules' removed as a barrier. George represents the American Dream, as always understood. Potter is the oppressive evil that imagines itself to be 'more equal' than everyone else, whether represented as the self-satisfied oligarch or the 'Barbary Coast' decadence of Potterville, with its 'workers slums'. George represents the spirit of self-sacrifice, putting his own dreams aside so that others might thrive, so that 'the system' works for people, and not against them. It's the will of the middle class aspiring not just to home additions, and third cars, but to long-lasting, just and peaceful stability and appreciation of others, shown in so many ways.

But there is bitterness. George does the right thing, but still bears a burden. And when his 'silly Billy' literally hands Potter the bank's cash, George is furious and begins to forget that he is loved and admired for putting his faith in others. The irony is that he succumbs to a host of misunderstandings, himself, which is precisely what his role in the community has tended to cure when it comes to others. At his lowest, he loses faith in them by losing faith in himself. And in that confusion, enter the angel.

Here's the twist on Dicken's A Christmas Carol. And the angel shows how people suffer, not because of a man's life, Scrooge, but if that man never lived, George Bailey. Without the need to retell A Christmas Carol in that way, they could have cut immediately to the party at the house, and the cash, all the credit, but no angel would have 'gotten its wings'.

The Christmas Carol angle is there not just so that George sees that he is loved but so that we see the same in our friends and relatives. The lesson is that even in little things, like the boring life of running some small town savings and loan (cause they still had those), not only might he be better off, but so is everyone who has benefited from being associated with him.

It's no coincidence that such a film, and such a message, is associated with Christmastime.

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The best film ever made

10/10
Author: Nigel McPheat from United Kingdom
24 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Many messages come out of this brilliant film. The one that shouts loudest to me is that our minds are so powerful. Clarence's visit changes NOTHING apart from George Bailey's mindset. He still owes $8,000 and he believes he is destined to go to jail. However, he is happy not suicidal because he appreciates he loves, and is loved by, his friends and family...and he thought he'd lost that love forever. George Bailey's paradigm shift is so powerful. There are so many memorable moments. The telephone scene (has there been a more romantic scene in the history of the movies?), George Bailey's desperate prayer in Nick's bar, 'Buffalo Gals' being sung in the leafy street of Bedford Falls following the prom and the closing shot of the film as his friends and family come to rescue George from financial ruin. If you do not cry at this film, you could not have not been concentrating or else you have no heart.

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Great complex film!

9/10
Author: Spuzzlightyear from Vancouver
20 May 2006

It's taken me a long time to see 'It's A Wonderful Life'. and here I am, viewing this for the very first time. Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a simple man who has had many setbacks in his life that would crush the normal person, but Mr. Bailey just keeps chugging along making the best of his situation, and then when life seriously has got him down, contemplates suicide. But luckily, the angels have been watching him! As much as I really don't care for Frank Capra's work, I have to say I was won over by this. Jimmy Stewart is of course, nothing but brilliant, and adds so many layers of character to George Bailey. This is a movie for all people down and out, and just don't care anymore, just think of George Bailey, and how useless he thought he was, until angels showed him what a different world it would have been if he wasn't around.

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Christmas Classic

10/10
Author: zinggothestrings from United States
4 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have never seen better movie than this one. It has everything you could possibly want: James Stewart, an angel, (or rather, an actor playing an angel) and many other things. Since I first saw this movie, I can honestly say that I will never like any movie better than this one. How anyone can not like this movie is incomprehensible.

***Spoilers***

George Bailey, played excellently by James Stewart, is a successful banker. But one Christmas Eve, his uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses the business money, $8,000. Desperate, George contemplates suicide, but before he can do it, he saves another man from drowning, who turns out to be his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence tries to convince George that suicide is not the right thing to do.

George then wishes what a lot of us wish at some point in life - that he'd never been born.

He then gets to see first-hand what the world would have been like had he not been born. It turns out that the town he lived in, Bedford Falls, would have been called "Pottersville", named after Mr. Potter, a rich and mean man, who actually was the one who found - and kept - the money that Uncle Billy had found.

George then wishes back his life, and it turns out to be better than he'd ever imagined.

This is a classic. No movie can top this movie on my list, no matter how hard anyone tries.

The best time of year to watch this movie is Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

10/10.

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Best movie ever

10/10
Author: jamesstewartfan from United States
27 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No one, I mean, NO ONE can make a movie as good as this one. It's all but impossible to remove as my #1 favorite movie.

James Steart puts on his best performance as George Bailey, a banker who wants nothing more than to leave his home town of Bedford Falls. Little does he know that while he's there, he makes a tremendous influence on everyone in his town. Even the town Grinch, Mr. Potter, can't stop George from helping others. George sacrifices most of his dreams to make others happy.

After a horrible event on one cold Christmas Eve, George contemplates suicide. He ends up "saving" his guardian angel, who tries to convince George that he had done many good things. He then shows George a vision: we see, along with George, what the world would have been like had he not been born. Through this "vision", we see that George really had a wonderful life.

What makes this movie really good is what we see in the Tom Sawyer book at the end: "Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends," with the word "no" underlined.

This is the best Christms movie. The best time to watch it is Christmas Eve, right before going to bed. If you like James Stewart, you will LOVE this movie. Don't miss it! This movie gets a perfect 10/10 from me.

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A favorite for 60 years (beginning this Christmas)!

10/10
Author: Seth Nelson from (Near) D/FW Airport, Texas, USA
20 February 2006

"It's a Wonderful Life" is my mom's favorite Christmas movie ever. In fact, this movie is a well-loved holiday movie by many people around the world, whether or not they love movies so much or that they even like such a type of movie (old movies)! I've seen this for many years also, and I didn't actually fully understand the whole premise, the whole meaning of this movie until last holiday. Oh sure, I had always known what this movie was about, but due to it being so old and in black and white and not color, I'm sure people would understand.

Actually, this is not my favorite holiday movie, but at least this is a very decent family movie!

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The perfect Christmas film that transcends being just a Christmas film

10/10
Author: Surecure from Canada
1 November 2005

It's a Wonderful Life has earned its place in film history. A beautifully shot film with grand performances and a script that has its heart and mind in the right place, this film certainly is the best Christmas film. It also ranks as one of the must-sees when studying the classics of film.

James Stewart is at the top of his game as George Bailey, the man who sacrificed his dreams because he was truly a good man and nearly gave up because he couldn't see it. With steady handed direction from Frank Capra and a host of truly fantastic performances by Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and Henry Travers, this film never weakens from start to finish.

It's a Wonderful Life offers a truly important message for all people to take to heart. It is hard to imagine that a film that centers around someone contemplating suicide could be such a perfect Christmas story, but when one takes into account how much George Bailey gives in his life, it makes sense to center it around Christmas. The film itself is a gift to any fan of good cinema.

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Timeless Magical Brilliance

10/10
Author: greg-follows from East Sussex, England
29 July 2005

What can I say about this film to do it justice? This really is a masterpiece that sadly not enough people have seen due to it's age. But this really is a story that no matter how many times I watch it, I always get lost and emotionally attached to George Bailey's story. It really is timeless and great look at all that is good and inspiring about humanity. For viewers to love a film so much can only show what genius went into making the film. Frank Capra use of the best story that i have ever come across is brilliant, with the structure and the great editing to keep the viewer on a rollarcoaster of emotions, as although this is one of the greatest feel good films, there are many dark moments to create this feeling. James Stewart also is purely acting at it's very best in this film to show why he should stand up with the great's of film acting history. Watch, enjoy and ball your eyes out again and again!!!

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The best

10/10
Author: bigwig_thalyi from United Kingdom
5 July 2005

This has got to be the top feel good movie of all time. For George Bailey ,all round nice guy and reluctantl businessman things have hit an all time low and he is about to end his life.Help comes from above in the shape of rookie angel Clarence Oddbody,played superbly by Henry Travers,who has been waiting 200 years to get his wings. George Bailey is shown what life would have been like if he had never been born and realises that every man's life touches someone else's life and that we are all here for a reason. The film is filled with great character actors from that era including,Donna Reed,Lionel Barrymore and Thomas Mitchell. This film has one thing that modern movies don't have and that is the faith factor.This the simple belief that family,friends and the supernatural do have a profound effect on our lives and that even when life is at it's lowest,faith still counts and the good guy can still win

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My all time favorite film!

10/10
Author: gglennwill from United States
25 June 2005

For my money, there is no better film that this one. Excellent acting all around, including one of Jimmy Stewart's best performances. An uplifting film and I think the most heartwarming conclusion of any film in history. Hard to believe it didn't do well when it first came out in 1946. An excellent lesson in failure and redemption. A great movie not only for Christmas, but any day of the year. Donna Reed is excellent as Stewart's wife, and Lionel Barrymore is outstanding as the greedy banker. And of course, there is an angel, but if you haven't seen it (I can't imagine anyone who hasn't) I won't spoil it for you. I have watched this film countless times and never get tired of it, and I can't think of very many films I can say that about. Not only a must see, but a must own in your library!

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Librarians, Boogie Woogie

Author: tcampbell-4 from United States
27 December 2004

I watched this again yesterday. I've been sucked into watching this (sometimes up to eight times when it was still public domain) every December for about 40 years. It's that good.

I always enjoy this movie, but there are two and a half elements that stop me cold, leave me cold, make me not like the scenes I'm watching:

1) The climactic horror that Mary is a librarian. And presumably single. And wearing white lipstick before 1964. Alternate scenarios? An early death? An an abusive marriage? At least she wouldn't be an "old maid."

2) That the music in the bar sucks because George exists. I guess the "Bailey exists" music is coming from the juka boxa of final scene fame. Martini's is depicted as a reasonably earthy neighborhood bar otherwise, with forties guys in hats ordering shots, but their audio ambiance is Deanna Durbin. If George had not been born the bar would have been a tougher hangout, but there would have been a live piano player performing good boogie-woogie.

1/2) Since it's not integral to George not being born, this doesn't divert me quite as much: Annie's idiotic line about "savi'n' up for a divorce i'f'n I ever get married" is the sort of "humor" that mars movies up to the sixties. Capra has mitigated this somewhat, it's Annie's only embarrassingly stupid line, and he shows sane African-Americans, albeit only as as extras, in other scenes. For a brief example, an attractive, not overweight/mammyish, 40's "New Negro" lady donates money to the George basket soon after Annie's "comic" turn.

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Tip toeing around a classic...

10/10
Author: Robert W. (Robert_duder@hotmail.com) from Ontario, Canada
26 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I hate writing reviews for films such as this. But I must do it, as a movie goer and fan. Whether I love it or hate, people can be very touchy when you try to critique an absolute classic. Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is definitely that.

The timeless Christmas story about a man named George Bailey who has always been handed the short end of the stick but has persevered through it and never complained. He lost his hearing in one ear, had his college dreams halted, travel plans stopped, all to help out other people. He's a good decent man but never has he been rewarded for his decency. Finally his good cheer and helping others catches up to him and in one swoop it appears his father's business, all it's clients, his family, everything is on the line and he could go to jail for losing money. It seems this time George feels he would be helping everyone by ending his life and contemplates suicide on the worst night of his life. Fortunately for George an angel-in-training Clarence must help George realize how fortunate he is in order to get his wings. Clarence grants George's wish that he had never been born and he gets a look at what life would have been like without George Bailey. By the time George realizes all he has effected in his life, he also realizes the only thing important is love, and family, and friends.

This amazing Epic as I will call it clocks in at an impressive 2 1/2 hours and doesn't apologize for it and doesn't need to. Nothing is left to the imagination as we watch the entire life of George Bailey, from beginning to his current situation. We see the major events that shaped him into a man, falling in love, his children, his job, his dreams, his aspirations. We become so incredibly attached to Bailey that we are right there with him. Capra creates a character that is unforgettable and then builds this amazing little world of Bedford falls around Bailey. The characters within George's life are no less realistic to the viewer. We feel like we know everyone, know the little town and we are right there. Jimmy Stewart, one of the all time greats is probably the best person to suck us in and make us love him even without Bailey's amazing character. Capra managed to bring on board some amazing actors for the time and it brings the film to life. I waited until I was 22 to see this movie because I was determined to watch it at Christmas to fully appreciate it and I did. It has blown me away ever since. It's heart felt realism, it's sadness, it's Christmas spirit, it's tone, it's characters. Everything is amazing. This is without a doubt, a true Hollywood Classic.

I can't find a single bad word to say about this movie. Some might find it boring but everything that is in the film is so vital to the story that it must be left in. The dark edge to the film which is necessary in order to truly scare George back to his senses gives the film a little twist to stand the test of time. I never see this film as an "oldie" because it could happen any time, any where. Go watch it right now!! 10/10

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A Timeless Masterpiece

10/10
Author: JaneSchmo from United States
25 December 2004

"It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the glories of American cinema, to be ranked with "Casablanca", "The Wizard of Oz" and "Citizen Kane", a work of art and entertainment that seems to be destined to last forever.It's a movie that not only doesn't age but gets better with age.

High praise for a (deceptively) simple three-act 1940s "Christmas movie" about an angel who comes to Earth on Christmas Day to convince a suicidal man that his life is worth living.

The movie opens with a conversation between two celestial bodies as they hear prayers for a man on Earth and appoint him a guardian angel. The guardian angel is shown his charge's life in flashback, up until he stands on a bridge contemplating suicide. Then the guardian angel comes to visit him and shows him what would have happened to his community and family if he hadn't been born. The man sees that (here comes the message of the movie) he has had a wonderful life and that the world is a better place for his being in it.

This is a virtually perfect movie. Yes, it is unabashedly sentimental but anything but corny, shameless or naive. It couldn't have been improved in any aspect-except one. The angel in this movie is the soul of a dead man from the nineteenth century. Any Christian child knows angels are beings created by God for companionship before He created humans and are not former humans but apparently the director, writers and stars did not. This movie is theologically absurd and what's worse every single crappy Hollywood movie involving angels coming down to Earth to help humans (like "The Preacher's Wife" spit, spit) has copied this!

When I saw for the first time "It's A Wonderful Life" as a 13 year old, I saw it as a lovely and triumphant movie about the difference one man can make in the world. Now, I see it more as a movie about a talented, ambitious, extraordinarily kind man of superior intelligence with big dreams who sacrificed it for a few ignorant, unintelligent, ungrateful and selfish losers. It's unspeakably sad that a man like George is forced to spend his entire life in a small town as a savings-and-loan manager and even sadder that the people of Bedford Falls have so little awareness how much he gave up for them and how much they owe him. Well, that's a true sacrifice, one that is offered willingly and selflessly, whether the receiver is aware of it or not and expecting nothing in return, not even recognition or gratitude.

In real life It's NOT A Wonderful Life. One person's life is completely insignificant in his/her own lifetime, much less on the spectrum of seven million years of human history, where it isn't even a fourth of an eye blink. Whatever you may think, you are not important, your life has less than zero impact on those around you, even the closest.

It would be a priceless gift to be able to see what you life would be like without you in it. Very likely, it would be exactly the same-the same teacher in the same classroom teaching the same students, the same neighbors, your friends would be the same, the same city. Only your parents would have one child less.

To use a line from the movie you think the whole world revolves around you, well it doesn't, in vast configuration of things you aren't a scurvy little spider, Mr. Potter and that goes for you too and for you too, George Bailey.

Is life, pointless, useless and insignificant, well living all the same? Absolutely.Life is a great gift from God to the individual and if you had never been born, you would never have been born and missed out on all of it. It Still Is A Wonderful Life.

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A Heartwarming Tale That's Filled With Love

10/10
Author: LG72387 from Riverside, Connecticut
25 December 2004

As much as I love the cinema and all the gossip that comes with the cinema, I must confess that I had never seen It's a Wonderful Life until just recently. That's shocking for me because I love movies so much and I'm a big fan of the classics. I had heard that the film was a Christmas classic and one of the most heartwarming films ever made and I must say that everything that people say about this masterpiece is absolutely true. It's a Wonderful Life is filled with so many great things that one cannot feel humbled to be watching such a brilliant film. First of all, Jimmy Stewart's performance is one of the best ever given in the history of cinema. His portrayal of a broken-down loan officer named George Bailey is profound and deeply moving. He captures the essence of the character's personality and makes the audience literally weep for this man. The character of George Bailey is written as if he was the nicest and most generous person you could ever meet in your lifetime. And yet for some reason he is never able to catch a break and every stroke of luck that he receives just vanishes into thin air. Jimmy Stewart is perfect for that part because it seems as if he is just the sweetest guy you could ever meet in your lifetime and to witness him being swallowed into an inescapable black hole of bad luck is heart-wrenching and sorrowful. We feel sorry for George Bailey because we know how great a man he is. So when Uncle Billy misplaces that $8,000 deposit and George is literally petrified of what could happen to him, he loses his mind and contemplates suicide. Without the assistance of George's guardian angel named Clarence (who is only a second-class angel because he doesn't have his wings), George would never have realized just how great a person he really is and how wonderful a life he has. Jimmy Stewart's performance is richly detailed and he plays the nice-guy level so perfectly in this film that it makes the audience cry at the very end of the film. Frank Capra's direction of the film is flawless as always. He uses many layers of film-making to tell us this imaginative story and creates a masterful work of art. There are terrific supporting performances from Donna Reed as George's wife, Mary and especially from Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter. Barrymore is perfect in this film as the villainous Mr. Potter who controls everything in Bedford Falls except for the Bailey Bank & Loan. The scenes with Barrymore and Stewart are absolutely unforgettable and you love to see Potter suffer at the end of the film because he is indeed the meanest man you could ever meet in your life. The writing is masterful and imaginative and gives the film its heartbeat. It tells the story of a man who deserves to be rewarded in life but instead stands aside and cares for the welfare of others. He doesn't realize that his life is worth something until the very end of the film when everyone in Bedford Falls (except Mr. Potter) bails him out of his problem. It is then that he realizes that his ship has come in and he is now being rewarded for all the good deeds he has done. The film is inspirational and makes us realize that we should always have hope because without hope, we can never be able to realize just how wonderful life can truly be. "No man is a failure who has friends" That is the basic moral of It's a Wonderful Life and it teaches us that you don't need money to be happy. The film is not necessarily a Christmas movie but it still preaches the ideology of the holiday and that is what characterizes it as a Christmas film. Indeed, it is perhaps the greatest Christmas movie of all time and one of the best films ever made in my opinion. Thank You Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart for giving us this masterpiece of the cinema.

Lenny's Grade: A+

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Loved It

10/10
Author: mikex5
16 December 2004

I haven't watched this film in about 4 years. But I love the film. Sure, there are things borrowed from previous stories, but there are certainly things unique in this film. Jimmy Stewart was great in his role as the troubled George Bailey. He was not the typical "good-guy." He has flaws. The subject matter is dark which may be the reason the film didn't hit well after WWII. If you look at the movies that were made in that time period, they were upbeat and musicals were hitting their stride----again.

I had a problem with the film, though.....When Bert is going after George, why did Bert shoot at him with innocent bystanders in the way? Could you imagine the lawsuits had he hit one of the pedestrians?

I thought Capra did a wonderful job with this movie. Geroge has dreams of travelling the world but the death of his father postpones his plans. Then he falls in love with Mary and they get married. On their way to the honeymoon, George is sidetracked again, by the crash of the market. Then George is ready to leave again to fight in WWII and he's sidetracked---again because the army can't accept him the the hearing problem. All the while, George is helping people. He just doesn't realize his contributions until a hapless, wingless angle named Clarence shows him just how meaningful his life is. The end of the movie IS uplifting. It's a fantastic movie with a fantastic cast.

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Best Movie Ever!!!

Author: jhtphanatic225 from USA
28 November 2004

Best Movie I have ever seen! Jimmy Stewart is great!!! Donna Reed is Fantastic!There's one word to describe this movie-classic!!!Nothing beats this movie! Best Movie!!!! Jimmy Stewart was the best in that! He made you really think that he was gonna kill himself!!! I would give it the Highest rating for a movie ever!!! If you are thinking about watching this movie or buying it then take my word for it! It's the best movie!!!! There are only a handful of classics and this is the topnotch one! Buy it!! It's the best movie!It's so great that they got the best actors, script and director! Big ups Frank Capra really the greatest! The best line in that movie is "Merry Christmas" when George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) gets so happy that he's alive that he jumps for joy and yells "Merry Christmas". Best line, Best actors, Best script, Best director and Best movie!!!

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A Timeless American Classic

Author: CurtMan@LVCM.com from Las Vegas, NV
17 November 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS*** I honestly cannot conceive how anyone who possesses a heart, mind, and soul can detract from this wonderful, brilliant, classic piece of American cinema. Aside from being THE movie to view over and over every Christmas season, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a fantastic celebration of the human soul, and how sometimes when we find ourselves at the brink of disaster, it is crucial to realize that miracles can definitely happen, as George Bailey discovers in his guardian angel Clarence. This is a whimsical, endearing, and somewhat somber story about life in America, and how accumulating enough fame and friends can salvage you from any financial burden which may befall your life. George Bailey is a simple, gregarious, and even pompous figure whose inherent responsibility is to retain his father's banking company and to ensure that his life-long nemesis, the wretched, sinister Mr. Potter, does not succeed in taking over the business and eventually the town of Bedford Falls. We soon learn that an egregious and critical error has been committed which has plunged George's bank into potential bankruptcy and what's worse, possibly jail time. All of this despair and turmoil befall the typically fortunate Bailey and dangerously consume him to the extent that he silences his daughter's playing on the piano, relinquishes his distress upon his loving wife and children, and storms out of the house to get dazed at a bar, and eventually, find himself at the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide. The story follows George Bailey through times of good and times of despair, so that we get the sincere impression that suicide was once the very last intention on Bailey's spirited and ambitious mind. At an early age, he proclaims to his lover and future wife, Mary, "I'm shaking' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world", and pleases Mary with such charming gestures as "You want the moon? I'll throw a lasso around it for you". We learn that he has had quite a fortunate and prosperous life, and before his recent downfall, could be said to be the happiest man in Bedford Falls. However, it takes a whimsical and vivacious guardian angel named Clarence to really remind George of his wonderful and important existence, as in reflection, he not only prospered in bliss in his personal affairs, yet also impacted the lives of countless acquaintances throughout the town, some of whom wouldn't even have existed without him, if that is too marvelous to conceive! This is the quintessential American classic, most enjoyed around the reflective, cheery holiday season, that reminds us about the riches we enjoy in life, how we can easily be bereaved of them, and how we might possibly salvage whatever losses we encounter in life. George Bailey eventually learns that it is not the present, mundane, or even discouraging details which define our lives, but the whole of our existence: our contributions, successes, fortunes, possessions, and impressions we achieve throughout our time upon the earth, and to simply enjoy everything we are so very blessed to receive. This is a brilliant, timeless film, featuring wonderful direction, superb acting by James Stewart, an incomparable screenplay, and is just an overall priceless experience to behold. It's one of the most endearing, heartfelt, and important films you will ever have the privilege to view, particularly around the holiday season, when you are reflecting upon what you should be thankful for, and forgetting as best you can, any negative details which try to diminish your happiness. George Bailey: "Isn't that wonderful, I'm going to jail!" This is the kind of happy, fearless spirit we should all aspire to achieve! "It's A Wonderful Life" is a truly wonderful movie. **** out of ****

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It's a Wonderful Movie

9/10
Author: little_lover666
1 October 2004

Sweet. So very very sweet. The quality and style of James Stewarts performance in this movie cannot be underrated. His quick wit and dry delivery are perfectly coupled with Capra's directing style and the result is a magnificent piece of artistry that has withstood time and critics alike.

The scene where Mr Gower smacks a young George round the head and makes his ear bleed, for me, provides the most insight into his true character. Trapped in his little head, George faces yet another taste of the constant battle between right doing and wrong doing. A way of thinking that embedded itself into his character and ends up being his greatest strength, and paradoxically, his greatest resentment.

But he wears it well.

I was given a copy of this film as a gift from a dear friend 9 years ago. Sadly this friend is no longer in my life. But I remember unwrapping my Christmas present at the time and thinking "why'd you give me this? Musta been on sale at Woolworths".

Today i know. My friend was George Bailey.

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It's a wonderful film...

8/10
Author: Stevie Pollock (stevieheuge@hotmail.com) from Glasgow, Scotland
19 September 2004

Well, to kick off, i had never seen this film before this afternoon (Im 21), when i decided to grab my mothers copy off the shelf and stick it on. Everyone saying that this was one of those 'must see classics' finally got to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I must admit i tend to favour more recent films - these days i like to look out for groundbreaking acting, superb camera movement, stunning cinematography etc , but 'It's A Wonderful Life' just goes to show that all that does not make a good film. Its the story, its the characters.

Released in 1946, a whole 36 years before i was born, i thought this would just be another film that the oldies loved, but is just no match for todays masterful film-making techniques. I was wrong, and that makes me happy...

The film is all in 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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Truly wonderful.

10/10
Author: colonel_green from Charlottetown, Canada
19 August 2004

I was in elementary school when I first saw "It's A Wonderful Life". My teacher (or perhaps a substitute) had little to do in the last day before the holidays began, and so she decided that the class would spend the entire morning watching "It's A Wonderful Life". I had, of course, heard of the film, and seen several parodies and takes on its ending (on Tiny Toon Adventures, for example), but I had never seen the film itself. Seeing that movie was a life-changing experience. Simply put, "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the greatest movies ever made, and one of the few black and white films that can hold my attention. Jimmy Stewart gives the performance of his life as George Bailey, the humble man from Bedford Falls who sets aside his life's ambitions in order to help others. Stewart is truly phenomenal, even if the spectacle of him playing the "young" George is a bit difficult to accept. Also in fine form is Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, the nastiest and richest man in town. Mr. Potter is the very embodiment of the self-satisfied aristocrat, and an easy man to hate. Donna Reed is great as George's true love, Mary, although (like Stewart) her unchanged appearance despite the passage of many years requires some creative disbelief. Particularly heartbreaking is Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, the good-natured but forgetful man who nearly ruins the family. The plot of "It's A Wonderful Life" is well known, and has been frequently imitated, but never surpassed. George Bailey decides to end his life, and God sends an angel to help him. George then becomes convinced that the world would have been better off he had never been born, so the angel Clarence transports him into an alternate timeline where he did not exist, and shows him how George's selfless life altered so many people's lives for the better. George returns, and is greeted with the results of his compassion. I watch "It's A Wonderful Life" once a year, when it aires at Christmastime, and it always brings me a great feel of renewal. This is a true classic, one that all people should watch, regardless of their faith. 10/10, and a cheer for all those involved.

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A wonderful film!

9/10
Author: Shannon from So*Cal
4 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

This is what I call classic Capra and classic Stewart. This is a great film to watch with your family during Christmas time. It makes you think about the things we take for granted everyday and for those who don't have it so good. This film shows how God works in strange and mysterious ways. This film should be in every Christian's video/DVD library.

My favorite character besides George Bailey is Charlie, George's guardian angel. He truly does steal the show as George's voice of reason and logic. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a timeless classic that should be seen by all.

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Holiday Classic!

10/10
Author: Christopher (mrcaw1@hotmail.com) from New York
27 April 2004

It's A Wonderful Life (1946- Directed by Frank Capra) I suppose most of us are familiar with this holiday classic. It's hard to believe that on it's initial release the movie didn't really do well at the box office. Jimmy Stewart plays the Job-like George Bailey who gets taught the lesson of a lifetime by friendly angel Clarence Oddbody played by Henry Travers. With Donna Reed playing his wife Mary and a host of other familiar character actors, Capra weaves a tale of the importance of a single human life. Old timer Lionel Barrymore (great uncle of current Charlie's Angel, Drew) gives the quintessential performance of a rich soulless banker.

What's so great about this movie after repeated viewing is how well the story is constructed. Every scene ties so well into the overall plot and gives information about the action about to take place or explains events in the past. So many lines from this movie are quotable that it's hard to chose one for inclusion here. Although one of the sweetest is early on in the movie, when our heroine Mary, as a child whispers into her already man of her dreams, George's bad ear, "George Bailey, I'll love you till the day I die."

Don't rent this video. Buy it.

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The best movie ever!

10/10
Author: clarinetgirl25 from Gresham, Oregon
29 January 2004

If there is one movie that viewers need to see during the holidays it is `It's a wonderful life.' George Bailey gives up his dreams for a family and his family business. One Christmas eve he becomes short 8,000 dollars, and considers suicide. Clarence an angel with ` wit of a rabbit, and the faith of a child' is sent down from heaven to help George. He then shows George how he has impacted a countless number of people's lives. The real meaning of life is shown through George's experience and is a message to all people. America today is described as being selfish or greedy. In `It's a Wonderful Life' Mr. Potter represents this idea of America, because he is the business man that does not care about people, only money. This is the complete opposite of George Bailey, who even loaned out his honeymoon trip money to save his business and friends. Mr. Potter is America as the world views it, selfish, unkind, and greedy. But many do not think about the individuals of America who care and love this country and others who live in it. Though Mr. Potter owns most of the little town of Bedford falls, George is responsible for the happiness and lives of its citizens. Many people forget this as they think about America outside or inside of the United States. The acting of `It's a Wonderful Life' is wonderful, the sweet love, and simple mind of Clarence could convince any scrooge to love life. As he takes George through scenes of his life there is never an unkind word and always patients. James Stewart however makes this movie come to life for the viewer. He is a man with a wonderful home, family, and job, when everything seems to go wrong he wonders what good he has done for the world. Every person has asked this question one time or another, this relates the viewer to the movie and its actors. The holidays is a time for love, excitement, and family. This movie emphasizes this concept in such a way that all who watch it are effected. There are many people out in the world that are feeling down or lonely during this time of the year. They may wonder what they have really done, or who they have impacted. `It's a Wonderful Life' demonstrates that everyone is important and needed. It is a message of hope, of which people can look to and remember their worth as individuals.

Rating of 1-10 is a 10

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An enjoyable family film with a wholesome message.

8/10
Author: CyndiReynolds4 from troutdale
25 January 2004

`It's a wonder life,' is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film! There is no doubt that this movie is made for any stressed out, overly depressed and wants to give up on life too soon, kind of person. Don't be scared though, this movie isn't depressingly sad or makes you want to go home and slit your wrest. `It's a wonderful life,' is quiet happy and funny for the most part. The film is very straightforward and doesn't leave a complicated mess for you to figure out. `It's a wonderful life' stars, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra, the director and producer of the film, does a great job getting the point of the film across to audiences. The title describes itself fully, `wonderful.' The film takes place, for the most part during the great depression and takes you through many time periods. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is an upbeat, funny character, for the most part of the movie. George is known by everyone in the town and is well respected. Since growing up there is whole life, it was natural for him to want to get out. Traveling from place to place without a care in the world was his dream. Until he met his future wife, Mary Bailey (Donna Reed). At a school dance, Mary and George instantly fell in love as they spotted each other from across the floor. Though it wasn't until three years later when they got married. They went on to have a family and live in a big and beautiful house, though George wasn't too happy. Things weren't going too well for him, one Christmas eve night. I guess you could say things took a turn for the worst and it took one big wish for him to realize, what he had was what he needed! Released in 1946, right after WWII, `It's a wonderful life' was a nice family film everyone could enjoy, especially after such a tragic time in history. Its message gave such a positive outlook on even the most bittersweet events in history. By taking a regular guy, in a little town and giving him problems most people could relate to, the film adapted well with audiences. Besides the fantastic story line, the cast added an amazing appeal to the film. This is a cast that complements each other easily. Jimmy Stewart is a profound actor. He sucks you into the movie so well and brings George Bailey to life. Donna Reed is a delight with her performance. She plays the perfect part as George's wife, Mary. This reviewer loves the cast ensemble and the chemistry flows great on screen. `It's a wonderful life' gives a good look into what Christmas should be about. It's about family and appreciating what you have. It's an old classic with a lot to tell. This movie is an enjoyable family film for all ages. This review gives `It's a wonderful life' an 8 out of 10.

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"It's a wonderful life" is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film.

8/10
Author: CyndiReynolds4 from Troutdale, OR
20 January 2004

`It's a wonderful life,' is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film! There is no doubt that this movie is made for any stressed out, overly depressed and wants to give up on life too soon, kind of person. Don't be scared though, this movie isn't depressingly sad or makes you want to go home and slit your wrest. `It's a wonderful life,' is quiet happy and funny for the most part. The film is very straightforward and doesn't leave a complicated mess for you to figure out. `It's a wonderful life' stars, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra, the director and producer of the film, does a great job getting the point of the film across to audiences. The title describes itself fully, `wonderful.' The film takes place, for the most part during the great depression and takes you through many time periods. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is an upbeat, funny character, for the most part of the movie. George is known by everyone in the town and is well respected. Since growing up there is whole life, it was natural for him to want to get out. Traveling from place to place without a care in the world was his dream. Until he met his future wife, Mary Bailey (Donna Reed). At a school dance, Mary and George instantly fell in love as they spotted each other from across the floor. Though it wasn't until three years later when they got married. They went on to have a family and live in a big and beautiful house, though George wasn't too happy. Things weren't going too well for him, one Christmas eve night. I guess you could say things took a turn for the worst and it took one big wish for him to realize, what he had was what he needed! Released in 1946, right after WWII, `It's a wonderful life' was a nice family film everyone could enjoy, especially after such a tragic time in history. Its message gave such a positive outlook on even the most bittersweet events in history. By taking a regular guy, in a little town and giving him problems most people could relate to, the film adapted well with audiences. Besides the fantastic story line, the cast added an amazing appeal to the film. This is a cast that complements each other easily. Jimmy Stewart is a profound actor. He sucks you into the movie so well and brings George Bailey to life. Donna Reed is a delight with her performance. She plays the perfect part as George's wife, Mary. This reviewer loves the cast ensemble and the chemistry flows great on screen. `It's a wonderful life' gives a good look into what Christmas should be about. It's about family and appreciating what you have. It's an old classic with a lot to tell. This movie is an enjoyable family film for all ages. This review gives `It's a wonderful life' an 8 out of 10.

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smorgasboard

10/10
Author: sbamp49 from bridgend, wales
20 January 2004

not often i give full marks to any film but this film outweighs any expectations.in terms of character study even the minor players give their all.including her from the waltons(ellen geer i knew that lol).. what i love about this film is it shows,knowingly admitteddly,both sides of the human charcter.heck there was even a rock band called "zuzus petals". how many of us have not thought what this world would be like without us in it.you will miss me when i am gone is the phrase.well this is vividly put to the test when george does just that. maybe the outcome of a world gone to hell might be over the top but that was surely to reinforce the message that we need each other. especially after the hell that had just gone in the real world. in conclusion any film that shows the worst of this world and ends up coming out best deserves a thumbs up...

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This guy finds out what the world would be like if he was nver born.

10/10
Author: equinox042
16 December 2003



It's a Wonderful Life.

This movie is about a man named George who, on Christmas Eve is shown by his guardian angel what the world would be like if he had never been born. The movie follows some of the high lights of George's life in order to gain a perspective on what kind of person he is.

It is said that this is one of the greatest movies of all time for a reason. Because it shows us what really matters in life. For example family and friends. And being civil to our fellowman even when the chips are down and the going gets tough.

Its a Wonderful Life has a very well thought out plot line without those annoying useless scenes that only complicate the film with their stupidity. It also has great acting; it is not like other old movies that have a tremendous amount of over acting. Instead the characters are developed.

The setting in which the movie took place fit perfectly into the storyline. A quaint little town where every body knows every body. Exactly what a person might expect from Hollywood, only this did not look fake like it does in some movies, this actually worked. And it looked good, it looked believable.

This movie gets a rating of ten.

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There's no way this movie will ever be topped, it's the king of its genre.

10/10
Author: Ingrid
16 December 2003

With many movies around winter coming out, the usual standard is the persona of a feel-good movie with a smiling Kris Kringle and a happy, married, Caucasian, job-holding man. "It's A Wonderful Life" throws that stereotype out the window. It's a movie relating to the Christmas season, but the only reason that is true is because Christmas occurs in the movie. This film is one of the best movies a person of any age could watch, with an easy plot, and lovable characters.

George Bailey, a small town boy with big plans, runs out of his luck. Seeing the world and bringing down the moon are dreams that could come true in his eyes. Full of spirit and charm, the character of George Bailey brings tears and laughter within an hour. Going through tough times, George and his family struggle to keep away from the evil Mr. Potter, and can't seem to float.

The aspect of a wonderful life is in the perception of the living. George Bailey not only had troubling seeing the amazing parts of his life, but also felt guilty and incomplete when material possessions were unavailable. The morals and finesse of this story shows that not only is a movie a movie, but it's an act that can alter moods, and really express a certain value to the viewer. "It's A Wonderful Life" is a great movie and will indefinitely be enjoyed by many viewers to come.

On a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) this movie is rated a ten. Not just for its ability to move emotions, or its great roles, but the idea that the public is so busy, it forgets to look at the good things. Even something as small as a first ride on a bicycle, or the scary feeling of a bloody nose. "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the best movies of all time, and isn't about to be shown up.

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It's A Wonderful Movie

Author: Chris_Cadatal from Gresham, OR
16 December 2003

Stepping away from the holiday clichés attached to holiday movies, Capra delivers It's A Wonderful Life, an original and heartfelt piece easy on the eyes, and entertaining enough for the whole family to enjoy.

Focusing more on the ups and downs of life and a the value of having a little bit of faith, rather than Santa Claus and Jingle Bells, this film exposes the audience to a much more realistic Christmas environment, filled with laughter, tears, and heartache. We're not all Barbies and Kens living in a dream house with smiles painted on our faces, we're real people who deal with real problems and this is a movie anyone can relate to. The acclaimed director shows us another side of Christmas, which at times are a little rough on the edges. From financial problems to suicidal tendencies, Capra really knows how to bring the heat to the viewers! One would think that this movie would be a downer since it's plagued with trials and tribulations, but the goal is not to focus on the negative things happening to the characters' lives, but more on how the characters deal with these hurdles in their lives and what good or bad emerge from their actions.

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a down-to-earth family man who, along with his eccentric Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), runs the town's Savings & Loans, which was left to him by his father. George fights many uphill battles. One of which are financial problems and the other is one that has lasted ever since he was a boy. Mr. Potter, the richest and meanest man in the town virtually owns everything, except of course, George Bailey's little bank. Refusing to be bought over by Potter, George bailey is content with working hard in order to keep the last honest business around to serve the public. But when George's dimwitted uncle losses a large amount of money they owe to the government, tensions rise which drives George to question the value of his life. He gets an answer, but in the form of a wingless cross dressing angel named Clarence with an eerie revelation...

Stewart definitely did an excellent job at portraying both the good and bad sides of George Bailey. You could feel his excitement and joy as well as his heartache and pain. The despair of this broken man really came through when he allowed the audience to see his morale dwindle down to nothing during all of the yelling, binging, and overall decay of the blissful character we first saw. This is hands down Stewart's best performance.

It's A Wonderful Life is the epitome of the perfect Christmas movie. Without getting too tacky, the obvious ending is forgiven by this reviewer since it produced a very important message pertaining to the significance of human life and a strong faith within you and God. This movie is highly recommended for anyone who's up for a little uplifting in their spiritual and/or emotional lives.

Grade: A-

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Seriously...it's unreal

10/10
Author: April Johnson (imahottieandahalf) from Oregon, USA
16 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Spoiler* When most people think of Christmas, they think of Santa Claus, lights, presents, Christmas trees, Jesus Christ, Mary, Joseph, etc. But, do you ever stop to think of the things that you're given? How much you're blessed? Not often. Yet, `It's a Wonderful Life' isn't like the common `happy go lucky' Christmas story. It brings out the fact that you should maybe stop and think of what you've been given…how much God blesses your life, no matter how `rich' you really think that you are.

The main character in the movie `It's a Wonderful Life,' George Bailey, grew up in a small town with his father and little brother. Ever since he was a small boy, he'd wanted to get out of that town, so he got a job and saved up enough money to go to college, planning to travel the world. Yet, unfortunately, his father ended up dying around the time that he wanted to go to college, forcing him to take over the building and Loan Company that his father owned. So, he gave the money to his brother who then went to college instead. Eventually, he married his wife, Mary, and had four wonderful children. But, as he found out that $8,000 was missing and he could possibly go to jail, he kept thinking about how horrible his life was…how his house was drafty, he had too many kids that he couldn't support and give wonderful things to, he didn't have a lot of money, he never went to college, etc. So there's an angel who comes down to get his wings and shows George what his life would be like had he not been born. Needless to say, he realized that he touched a lot of people's lives and also realized how much he loved his family, how wonderful his children were and how grateful he was for his life as it had previously been.

Clearly, this movie is very wonderful, because it was voted #26 of 250. It takes a lot to jerk emotions out of the audience and that's exactly what this movie did. It made you a variety of emotions.

This movie not only found every emotion that it could, but it has good plot and a good moral. It contains every aspect that a great movie should possess and watching this movie would be worthwhile to anyone of any age.

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It's a Wonderful Life is smart, legendary, and inspiring.

9/10
Author: Ryan (ryancrazylegsmcgee)
16 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life

The snow falls on a dark winter night, and lands on even darker waters. A lone man stands on the bridge above a swirling black river, at the end of his rope. He feels like he would be better off not born at all, so it becomes up to a goofy, guardian angel to show the hopeless George Bailey that the world needs him.

George Bailey is played by Jimmy Stewart who is brilliant. The audience follows him through his whole life of dreaming about the outside world, being held back in Bedford like a prisoner. Years later, an unfortunate mishap brings the strong George to his knees. `I'm worth more dead then alive,' George says when he hits rock bottom. On every line, it sounded like Jimmy Stewart believed it. He showed a range of real emotions from love to anguish, and he nailed each one of them. He delivered legendary lines masterfully like, `You want the moon? Then I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down for you.' Jimmy had a supporting cast that told the beautiful story like it was meant to be told. George Bailey's rival, Mr. Potter, was perfectly evil. He had the whole audience grinding their teeth with indignation every time Mr. Potter appeared on the screen. Because every great protagonist needs a great antagonist, Mr. Potter was perfectly cast and perfectly acted.

And what would genius acting be if we the audience couldn't see it? Because the photographers of `It's a Wonderful Life' captured all the great moments very smartly. It showed the story and brought the pages of the screenplay to life, with close ups of George in tears, and wide shots of the quaint Bedford Falls. The sets of Bedford falls were all very charming and a good representation of the times. A time when whole towns were owned by corporations or old men in suits.

The suits and dresses of all the characters were real and didn't take any attention away from the story. The aging make-up on George's friends in the future was believable on everyone except on Marry Bailey. She still looked young as an `old maid', and all the make-up in the world couldn't hide how hot Donna Reed was. Musically, `It's a Wonderful Life' was perfect and timeless. The director (Frank Capra) chose to use a beautiful orchestra with arrangements that matched every mood of the story.

Once in a life time a story like `It's a Wonderful Life' comes along, and when Frank Capra held the pages of this tale in his hands, he didn't let go of it. Frank once said, `I've been waiting my whole life for a story like this.' In fact, he took full advantage of the situation and he made this film into the work of art that it deserved to be. The poignant tale of a man finding hope at the end of a long and hard road, was nothing less then heart warming. This poorly written review isn't worthy to analyze such a masterpiece of the cinema. And a masterpiece can't be enjoyed by reading about it, so I recommend everyone to see this A+ film, `It's a Wonderful Life'.

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Terrific

10/10
Author: Daniel (DocD456) from Portland, Oregon
16 December 2003

People often forget the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about getting presents or going shopping; it's about what God has gifted you with. Not taking things for granted and appreciating what someone already have. Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful life is a masterpiece reminding the people who watch it to think twice about what they've received. The characters are lovable and anyone could fall in love with this movie.

This film was made post World War II and the American people really movies that touched their emotions and made them feel good.

The story starts with George Bailey (James Stewart) who has had anything but a good time and things aren't exactly going his way going down hill. Everyone in the town of Bedford Falls is praying for George to make it through his dilemma. Angels who are represented by constellations of stars or galaxies get together to talk over what they should do. Clearance (Henry Travers) who is an angel who has yet to get his wings is called and is informed about George and is then told of his life. The movie cycles through his life as you watch George and his family struggle to keep their business afloat from the corrupt Mr. Potter. George never seems to be content with his personal possessions but always longs for materials. George has always had the big dreams to travel Europe and the rest of the world his whole life but are all crushed when his father passes away. He is the only left to keep the building and loan running and he is made to see that you don't need all the money in the world to be rich. George struggles to see this until his guardian angel is sent down to help him. This movie will make a person feel things that most films would never make them feel. It really makes a person think of how much movies can sometimes be a work of art, molding and shaping characters and putting you on an emotional roller coaster. This movie gives an awesome life lesson and I would recommend it for all ages.

This film gets a 9.5 out of 10 because it has to be one of the best movies ever made. The casting was terrific, the plot and storyline were absolutely wonderful. This film plays with your emotions and touches your heart. Brings up good points about how the world is so stuck on itself.

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GOOD MOVIE!

Author: Sarah (JoeysGirl4Ever) from Troutdale, OR
16 December 2003

A true Christmas classic, `It's A Wonderful Life' is a poignant, heart-warming story. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed have great on-screen chemistry, which helps the audience to get involved. Not that it's a hard story to get involved in, it's written well and has a really well thought out plot. There are a few rough spots in editing and one scene that could use a little improvement, but the positives outweigh the negatives and leave the audience mesmerized.

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George Bailey and Mary Hatch the lovers of the story. They have such strong chemistry it's almost hard to remember that it's a movie not real life. To watch the pair grow-up together and to see him reunite with her at a party and suddenly see `Little Mary' in a new light, builds up the romantics and tension until the fateful long awaited kiss. Ah yes, the kiss, which is supposed to be one of the most romantic and emotionally involved moments in a movie turned out to be a dud. Being of the female mind and body, this reviewer was starting to really feel the anticipation of the kiss. There they are, George and Mary, huddling close to the phone, both trying to listen to what the man on the line is saying to them. George smells her hair discreetly, Mary looks longingly at George and they both grow ever closer, closer, closer …WHAM, a hard kiss on the cheek/lips and a strong hug, talk about the perfect example of anti-climax. Yes, kisses at that time were the strong kiss, sway your head side to side and hug, but this was a little ridiculous for words, this reviewer was truly disappointed.

The only other part of this movie that got this reviewer down was the bank scene in which Uncle Billy and Mr. Potter run into each other and have a brief conversation. The problem in this scene was simply editing; it was choppy they would change the camera angle for unnecessary reasons or just cut to the same angle which served no purpose. It was a bit distracting, a little annoying, and gave the impression that the actors may just have had a hard time delivering the lines in this scene so the director had to `cut and paste' to make it work.

But that's where it ends; those are really the only things that would be irritating to the audience if they were picked up. The story is wonderful, no pun intended, and tells more of than just Christmas spirit but of appreciating what you've got and who you are because you do make a difference and matter in this world. This reviewer gives this movie top honors and believes that every person needs to watch this movie, especially if they're having a downer day and just need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. As dumb as this may sound `It's A Wonderful Life' really does help you to appreciate that it truly is a wonderful life.

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Darkest holiday fantasy since Dickens

10/10
Author: kintopf432 (kintopf432@hotmail.com) from St. Paul, MN
15 December 2003

For all its reputation as one of the greatest feel-good movies of all time, `It's a Wonderful Life's' main strength comes from its expression of pain. After a long and charming (but not overly sentimental) buildup, the dark final act of the film comes as a terrific surprise. This isn't a didactic but fundamentally kind object lesson like `Miracle on 34th Street'; instead, the moral gets delivered to us via a much crueler narrative turn. Indeed, the last 45-minute stretch is a spiraling nightmare, with jovial angel Clarence teaching his suicidal charge a lesson by showing him a sick, inverted caricature of his world. It's like a perverse version of `A Christmas Carol' imagined by Rod Serling. Of course it has a happy ending, but make no mistake, the genius of the film is that Capra is not afraid to hurt George Bailey (and by extension to hurt us)--often quite badly. Perhaps the most painful moments happen even before Clarence steps in; the last scene at the Bailey house is one of the most emotionally excruciating scenes in film history, with all of the technical elements (the witty dialogue and camerawork, Jimmy Stewart's dazed, crazed performance and Donna Reed's understated one, and perhaps most important of all, Janie's incessant rendition of `Hark! the Herald Angels Sing') combining to get us gritting our teeth and clutching our armrests in agony. After all that, the resolution comes as one of the most deserved, redeeming happy endings of all time--the audience feels as liberated and transformed as George does. As I mentioned, the sentiment never really overwhelms things; Capra and his (credited and uncredited) screenwriters inject enough darkness into the script (beginning with the Mr. Gower scene), and enough sharp and self-deprecatory humor, too, but most important the director never lets the plot stand still long enough to get treacly. His oft-imitated style looks to modern eyes not to be cheesy or dated, but remarkably elegant. It doesn't really matter how often we see this film; it still hurts, every single time, and in this case that's a beautiful thing. 10 out of 10.

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The Best Movie Ever Made!!!

10/10
Author: jillsy from New York State
14 December 2003

This is the greatest movie ever. Jimmy Stewart is the absolute best! I first discovered this movie as a junior in high school; it was actually part of a school assignment. I was hooked! Back then, it was shown on several stations throughout each day around Christmastime because its license had run out. I drove my family crazy watching it so often. I still love it. I watch it every year around Christmas and once in awhile at other times, too. I finally bought a DVD player this year and, of course, bought It's A Wonderful Life on DVD right away. I can't wait to watch it during my Christmas vacation. Everyone should watch this movie and pass it on to their friends, relatives, children, etc. It's a great movie with a great message. It leaves me feeling all warm and tingly every time I watch, even after all these years.

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Fun!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Author: mellissa (marykateandashleyarebeautiful415) from Portland, Oregon
14 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life is a extremely good movie, it starts the movie off by telling a story of a little boy named George Bailey. Of how when he was a little boy and he saved his brothers life, and how he lost his hearing in his left ear. Then it shows him growing up and how he worked at a little shop with this older man and how he was going to give this kid some pills that had poison in them. The only reason this older man was going to give this kid these pills with poison was because he was very upset that his son had died and he was trying to take it out on other people. George stopped him and in return the older man hit him on the bad side of his head making his ear bleed. Then as he gets older works for his father at the building and loan place, until he saves up enough money with his fathers help to go off to college. Because his brother was more interested in playing sports for school, and also George was the oldest son. Well he sort of likes this younger girl Mary but ends up ignoring her as he gets older only because he ended up staying home instead of going to college and he sent his brother. He stayed and worked with his father, because he and his brother made a pact that one would go away for college for four years and then come back and the other would go. By the time George was ready to leave his father had a stroke and died which George could not go to college he must stay home and help his fathers business. As then movie goes on he has some problems but he ends up falling in love with Mary the younger girl from earlier in the film. They have 3 kids, and something happens, his business is short money. He gets so worked up that he walks to the bridge and is about ready to commit suicide, but this other man was already in the water drowning. So George jumps in and as he is sitting talking to this man who's name he finds out is Clarence and that he is an angel with no wings here to help George. Though George has a hard time believing this and he is so frustrated that he wishes he was never born. Clarence grants this wish and as George goes around town he slowly figures out what life would be like with out him. Then he realizes that he had a wonderful life before and he just never saw it, because he was to worried about money. At the end of the movie George returns home to his wife and kids. Then the door bell rings and all of the town people come in and donate all the money they could just to help George out. George got a Mark Twain book from Clarence and it said `No man is a failure, If that man has Friends'. This is a wonderful movie and im glad that I now own it in my movie collection. I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in a very good story. Not only does it show that good people do succeed in life but that no matter how things happen you always have your friends and family. It has a romance, comedy, drama, and once you start it you must finish. Though I am not a very big black and white fan I am becoming more of one from films like this.

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Think About It

9/10
Author: Bill Campbell from Williamsburg, VA
13 December 2003

I am sure that the younger generations consider this film to be hokey, but one day, one day soon, they will realize that there is more to life than dollars, ball caps worn backwards, and rap music. Then they will appreciate this film. Let's just hope that it won't be too late.

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Is it Really?

Author: Eric (ezdub27) from P-Town
12 December 2003

What comes to mind when you think about wintertime holidays? Family? Friends? The endless airings of `It's a Wonderful Life' on television? I personally tend to think of the third choice, but that's just me, one-track mind and all. Anyhow, there's good reason for the constant showings of this movie during the holiday season. It has become a staple of the American holiday tradition. It's like having 4th of July without fireworks. Unthinkable!

Over the years, Frank Capra's masterpiece has gained popularity and has now become a classic piece of cinema. It's a story that's timeless and well crafted. Much like a modern day version of Charles Dickens' classic work of literature, A Christmas Carol. The story could take place even during a different season; it's not just about Christmas. The thoughts about the value of human life reach everyone young and old. A perfect plotline for this type of movie.

Jimmy Stewart is the real prize in this movie. He's just one of those undeniably good American actors. He does great work here as the down and out George Bailey. A man forced to find himself and the values for which he stands. Should he follow through with his dream or is everything he wants right in front of him in his hometown? He tries valiantly to save the morals of society from the corporate America symbolism of the rich old Mr. Potter. Things eventually work out, with a bit of outside help.

This movie has some definite symbolic themes to it. Personal adversities, how people take their lives for granted, and what good can come from standing up for what you believe in. These themes are very important and not to be overlooked in this movie. Look past the façade of the average Christmas feel-good movie and see what this movie really represents. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Even if you're not a big Christmas fan, such as myself, you'll still enjoy this movie on some level.

Overall grade for `It's a Wonderful Life': B+

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Jimmy Stewart is God...

10/10
Author: Dereksdontrun from London, England
13 August 2003

What a film. I came to this film late partly, I guess, because I was under the impression it was OTT Hollywood schmaltz - the "Happy Christmas everybody!" running through the streets is the bit they always show. But the way George's life unravels and his ambitions are thwarted at every turn breaks my heart everytime. The speech (which Stewart did in one take) in which he shouts "I don't want plastics!" gets me crying (a bit) every time.

First time I saw this movie was at the Hyde Park cinema in Leeds, England (Gawd bless it) and I was blown away. I came out into the afternoon sunshine in an amazing mood - full of the joys of life - and bumped into some friends who had been fellow volunteers during a short stint I spent working with Bosnian Muslim refugees from the then on-going war in former Yugoslavia. The film: Welcome to Sarajevo. I decided to acompany them.

Two hours of reliving bad memories and being reminded of the truly horrific stuff that I was lucky enough not to see saw my euphoric mood in tatters.

The most bizarre double-bill ever. The SHOWING TODAY board outside the cinema might as well have read "It's a Wonderful Life" and then, underneath, "Oh no it isn't".

Still, thank God for Jimmy Stewart.

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A True and Timeless Classic. It Can and Will Endure the Test of Time.

10/10
Author: ivony from United States
17 May 2003

It annoys me to no end to see movies like "My Cousin Vinny" depicted as a "new classic" on certain cable stations. I mean, no way can that movie hold up to TRUE classics such as It's A Wonderful Life. Sure, I can understand certain films being deemed "new classics" considering times change and so do our interests in movies and their plots. But It's A Wonderful Life can and does withstand the test of time and will forever be a True Classic. Very few movies can surpass generation after generation and still hold up as one of the all time best movies ever made. This movie certainly accomplishes that...and this is after watching it 9.2 million times a year around Christmas time for the past 20+ years (only a SLIGHT exaggeration).

The acting is phenomenal, and throughout the sometimes depressing story there are bits of humor sprinkled in...simply perfect! Clarence is one guardian angel I would LOVE to have for no other reason than his humorous outlook and childlike demeanor.

The storyline depicts a real man struggling to maintain his values and responsibilities all the while putting aside his own dreams, only to find that all he wants and needs he already has before him. He is a real hero in a realistic world and can still be identified with today...even though times HAVE changed.

I watched this film time and again growing up and it has become a tradition...like with many families. Now, my husband and I enjoy this movie with our kids and they love it as much as we did. This is definitely a movie the ENTIRE family can watch and enjoy...from the oldest to the youngest.

Few movies are able to be so profound, entertaining, and yet still reach out to all audiences. It's A Wonderful Life has done that time and again.

A definite 10 stars out of 10 and a must see.

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It's a wonderful film

8/10
Author: joseav10 from Spain
17 April 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a classic with capitol letters. Here, in Spain, Every year, at Christmast broadcast the film in some public channel. Wonderful film, unforgettable characteres, and overall, in my opinion, the most beautiful ending. Impossible contain the tears of emotion and happiness at the end of the film.

SPOILER!!!!!!!!

The power of gratitude.

END SPOILER!!!!!

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Fantastic portrayal of what everyone should be able to experience

10/10
Author: Eva (evabuzo@hotmail.com) from Sydney, Australia
7 April 2003

Some may call it sentimental, but I believe it to be one of the greatest films ever made. This film explores a theme which everyone should be able to experience: what life would be like for others if they had not existed.

This film conveys the idea that love, family and friends are the most important aspects of life. So many films are about going out and achieving success in greater things then what they have and do not show the importance of home and the things that complete a person. This film shows exactly what a person needs to live a successful life- family, friends and love, and I don't believe that a person could watch this movie and not be at all touched by it.

Furthermore, a wonderful story is followed up by a stunning cast including James Stewart with his simple-man modesty, Donna Reed with her girl-next-door beauty and Lionel Barrymore with his tyranical glare, all compliment each other fantastically.

All in all, this movie is flawless in its casting, direction and story. I would find it very hard to believe someone who claims they were not at all touched by this story, because it really is a special and wonderful movie which everyone must see, if not for the sheer joy of watching Jimmy Stewart on screen for an hour and a half, then for the appreciation of the values this film is trying to encourage- family, friends and love.

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It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Chris Smith (JohnLennon1985@aol.com) from Artesia, California
29 January 2003

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." An angel certainly DID get its wings. It's a Wonderful Life is a beautiful Christmas classic that stands the test of time.

James Stewart of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington fame paired up with Donna Reed. A very nice casting decision by Frank Capra.

The reason this movie is so great is the fact that it shows us that life without us isn't exactly what we THINK it would be.

If you are depressed or are contemplating suicide, this movie will somewhat cheer you up.

Yes, sir. An angel got its wings. A perfect 10/10.

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It's a wonderful film!!

Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
19 December 2002

I watched this, believe it or not, for the very first time this week. I usually find it difficult to watch old films, some of them don't have the sheer timelessness that films like this and Citizen Kane do. I don't like those old films where people burst into song at the drop of a hat either, its not my cup of tea.

Anyway, this was put on in my film studies class and I have to say that it was a fantastically made movie, you rarely see films of this nice natured ilk anymore. It is basically about a guy called George Bailey who feels like he has failed and wasted his life, he figures it would be better if he had never been born. The start of the film introduces us to an Angel called Clarence who hasn't got his wings. He is given a brief recount of Georges life, from his childhood to his adulthood, full of lost ambitions to travel and create. Having been told of Georges life, Clarence must now save him and make him see how important his life is.

I think the key thing in this film is the real Christmassy spirit it has, you don't get that anymore, even in real Christmassy movies, that's because in the last ten years in particular, the Christmas spirit has been falling with the dramatic rise in commercialism and broken families. The performances are great too. James Stewart really does shine here, it is one of the great performances in movie history, from what I have seen, he is really likeable and he is just fantastic in his role, its a real lesson for wannabe actors.

Overall I would say that this is worthy of its classic status and I will certainly watch it when it is on at Christmas. 10/10

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It Ain't Such A Bad Life!

Author: (robocoptng986127@aol.com) from U.S.A
16 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

[CONTAINS SPOILERS]

Christmas Eve night in the town of Bedford Falls, everybody was saying their prayers and praising George Bailey. The heavenly angels heard them and they knew that night George was planning to commit suicide and he had to be stopped so they sent for Clarence, who was new at this so they showed him George's back story beginning in 1919 when George was 12-years-old. He, his little brother Harry and their friends were sledding down a hill on shovels, but when Harry tried he went on thin ice and fell in the frozen river. George jumped in after him and saved Harry's life, however George caught a nasty cold that rendered him deaf in his left ear. Soon the cold went away and George returned to work at the corner drug store. Two girls, Mary Hatch and Violet Bick, were often in there flirting with him. One day, he got word his boss, Mr. Gower's son had died so Mr. Gower wasn't concentrating on his work and accidentally mixed poison pills with regular ones. George quickly noticed this error and corrected it. George's father, Peter, ran the family business: Bailey Building & Loan, which was constantly trying to be bought out by Henry L. Potter, the richest and meanest man in town. Peter refused to sell to him, but Mr. Potter badgered him and made him look like a fool infront of his son. George's uncle Billy was Peter's partner.

Some years later when George is graduating high school. He had big dreams and ambitions. He wanted to see the world and build houses. He attends Uncle Billy's party that night and is reunited with Mary and Violet. He and Mary dance and soon become very close, but then George got word that his father died of a stroke. Mr. Potter tried once again to buy the building and loan, but the board voted him down and wanted George to run it. He had to or else Potter would take control so now George couldn't go to college. He sent his brother Harry though. Mary went too and they returned four years later. Harry had married! George went to see Mary, they fought, made-up and got married and on the way to their honeymoon, there was a run on the bank. Mr. Potter had promised to give everyone their money anyhow but George successfully convinced everyone to stick with this bank and they did! Soon, World War II began. Harry joined the navy. George couldn't participate because of his ear. Harry performed a major act of bravery and was commended. As for George, Mary soon gave birth to a little boy. Soon three more children were born. Things were going pretty good until the present day: December 24, 1946. Uncle Billy was going to make an $8,000 deposit in the bank when he misplaced the money! He couldn't find it anywhere. George heard and freaked out. The loss of that money could mean bankrupcy! They looked and looked and couldn't find the money. George, distraught and disgruntled, went home where he shouted at his wife and children for almost no reason then he went to the one man who could possibly help him: Mr. Potter. Not only did Potter deny George the $8000 loan but said George was to blame for the money's disappearence and called the police. George wandered through town, suffering more misfortunes and everyone seemed like an enemy. He came to a bridge overlooking a roaring river. It was snowing. George considered jumping in and ending all this fuss when someone else beat him to it. It was Clarence! George dived in after him and saved him. Clarence tells George he's his guardian angel and George thinks he's nuts. George says he wished he was never born so Clarence shows him what the world would be like if there was no George Bailey. It was a world George didn't like. First of all, Bedford Falls was called Pottersville, the house George lived in with his wife and kids was a run-down old shack, his friends Burt the cop and Ernie the cab driver didn't recognize him, nor did his own mother! He also learned that his brother Harry had died in 1919 because George wasn't there to rescue him from the ice. George then saw Mary who didn't recognize him. George had had enough. He returned to the bridge and asked to have been born again. Soon, everything goes back to normal. George was born again. He raced through town screaming, "Merry Christmas!" to everyone, including the movie house. When he returned home, he found a wonderful surprise: everyone in town had collected money when they heard George was in trouble. George decided not to kill himself and it was a merry Christmas after all.

A pretty good movie. Good to watch around the holiday season. Jimmy Stewart was good, Donna Reed was good (and beautiful), Lionel Barrymore was good, everybody was good!! I don't think any of the cast members are still with us today, but we will always remember them for their brilliant performances in this movie. Anyway, this Christmas, make this one of the films you watch along with Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch and Ernest Saves Christmas. All you Jimmy Stewart fans out there, be sure to see this one if you haven't already! You'll enjoy it! I recommend it!

-

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you don't know what you've got til it's gone.

10/10
Author: TheShadow22
7 December 2002

I just finished watching this on NBC, and I was surprised how good it was. Most movies in black and white bore me, but this movie was different. It is about a man who has many obstacles in his life. He has dreams of traveling the world, going to college,and having a nice career, but it all shatters when he has to take control of his family's business. The man tries his best to support his family and business, but after some money is lost, he becomes desperate to the point of being suicidal. The ending is interesting; I'm not going to tell you what it is, (you can probably just look at another summary to get it) but in the end he realizes that he really did have such a "Wonderful Life".

10/10

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Return to Hollywood

Author: jyoung-11
15 October 2001

The first thing that Stewart on his return back to Hollywood after the Second World War. If he left Hollywood in 1941 to join the Royal Air Force as a gangling boy, then he returned to Hollywood in 1946 as a grown man. His experience of being near death and witnessing attrocities gave him a new sense of fear and depth of emotion. So much so, that he wasn't just the gangly idiot who couldn't speak properly, he was now a man with emotions that we could connect with and care about. This all began with his first film after the Second World War. It's A Wonderful Life is about a man who's desire is to get out of his home town to see the world. His dream is to move away from the small town that he grew up in to see what the world has to offer. The sad reality is, he never makes it. He is prevented from leaving the town because of his inheritance of his father's business, and goes on to become the town hero. This was a profile that would stick with Stewart for the rest of his career. By staying in his home town, he becomes a small town man with family values and is loved by his contemporaries for that purpose. When he loses the money to pay off the debts of his father's business, Stewart is driven to suicide, and it is at this point in the film (and in his career) where we identify with him emotionally, care for him enough to join him on his emotional and psychological journey, and become a fan of the post World War Two James Stewart. As with fiction, Stewart receives his salvation in the form of an angel who decides to commit suicide in his place (the Christlike figure who dies for our sins in our place), but is rescued by Stewart and they begin develop an intimate acquaintance. The angel reveals to Stewart what life would be like without him, and we experience the haunting reality of a world without James Stewart engaging with the characters of the story. This, more than any other point in the film makes us connect with the whole narrative of the plot, lifting Stewart to a higher level of creative potential. He is no longer the gangling idiot of the pre-war years. He is now the serious actor with a depth of emotion that everyone can connect with. This is the point in the film (and Stewart's career) where James Stewart becomes an 'everyman' in all of his subsequent films. The resolution comes when Stewart pleads with the angel to bring him back to the world that he knows and loves, and when his wish is granted, he appears back into his world (and home town) a renewed and refreshed person. He becomes the 'small town man' for all of his fans with 'family values' at the heart of his character, and every other role that he plays after this film is a progression from the person that he became at the end of the film. Truly, for Stewart, and his fans, it all becomes a wonderful life.

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A Wonderful Film with a Cutting Edge

10/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
4 October 2001

Once again, my two cents' worth of a film that is the darling of so many people, myself included. It has its uplifting conclusion, and the theme that every life has its purpose in the great scheme of things. George Bailey is in trouble. He has decided to end it all. The thought of jail and disgrace is more than he can handle. George's life has been a continual parade of missed opportunities. There is a layer of pain just above the surface of nearly every scene. George is a victim and this series of disappointments takes its toll. He eventually becomes hardened and frustrated, but because he is honorable, he goes about the business of living. He has gifts he doesn't realize. He has family. He has status, and while not often appreciated, he is. Unfortunately, we don't always share our love and admiration with those who deserve it. His sense of adventure from birth has been clutched from him over and over. His bad ear makes the army an impossibility, his father's death forces him to run a business he wants to run away from, and even his honeymoon money is used to prevent a run on the bank. George never knows his importance until Henry Travers' well meaning angel comes along.

I love this movie, but I also take it seriously. It can be painful to watch sometimes. The best scenes are the ones where George never existed. His despair is evident and the tension builds higher and higher. When he comes back, such a weight that is lifted. Jimmy Stewart is at the top of his acting form; I loved him as a living human being and as an actor; he portrays the kindness I believe the world should have.

And then there is Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, and all the others. They are superb. It's a question all of us have wrestled with: "What if we had never existed?" There is no peer in Capra's canon. I truly believe that this is a necessary part of our heritage. We need to see things as they should be. I love Christmas because it at least portends to be the time we all look at our gifts. This movie is a gift to the world and one we can learn from over and over, even if the events never took place.

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lives its story

9/10
Author: dgoesq (dgoesq@mdo.net) from Baltimore
17 July 2001



This film lived its story. If a film did have a soul this film would certainly have fealt the way George did on that dismal Christmas Eve in 1945. It was at best a moderate box office success but it would suffer obscruity for many a year. Indeed it was so obscure that the holders of the Copyright never sought renewal. One could buy it on 8 Millimetter film for peaunuts.

The film woud gradually develop a cult folowing and would be seen on countless occasions during Christmas week. Two of the fims most important forces, Director Capra and Leading man Jimmy Stewart would make frquent talks show appearances and each would name it as their favorite film.

Capra would be so linked with the film that his Baltimore Sun

Obituary would read "Its a Wonderful Life Director has Joined the Angels"

The film would like the hero would come to be recgonized for its outstanding contribution . For just as George Bailey provided Bedford Falls citizens with "a few rooms and a bath" Mr Capra warms our souls every Christmas and will do so as long as the world has souls that seek warmth.

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A perfect 10/10

10/10
Author: Jedi2 from Massacutes, MA
30 June 2001

This is about as close as one can get to the "perfect movie" as hollywood, or anyone in that case will ever get. Jimmy Stewart's performace was flawless, and was well matched by Donna Reed. Yet while there are some stereotypical things in the story, it's still an excellent film, a holiday classic, and I'd rather take my kids to see this (if i had any) rather than that bulls**t called "Pokemon".

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Its a Wonderful Film....

9/10
Author: noledge (leon@residentevil2.screaming.net) from England
22 June 2001

I'm going to cut straight to my main point here. Although Its a Wonderful Life is a great film, with wonderful preformances, especially from James Stewart, his portrayal of the young George Bailey is the Forrest Gump of the 40's and from Donna Reed, there is something lacking behind this film. It starts off with Clarence the second class angel being given a briefing by God on a man called George Bailey. The film then goes through certain stages of Georges life. This is all very well, as many of the situations are interesting and amusing. But suddenly, George changes from being a kind and warm hearted man, into a cold and bitter person. This transition happens way to quickly, and does ruin the film. Clarence only appears about 20 mins before the ending, shows George what life in his town would be like without him and then George begins to enjoy life and everythings all right. From reading the plot summary e.g. 'An angel shows George Bailey what life would be like without him', this is totally misleading. Its a Wonderful Life is about George Baileys life and not about how wonderful life is. This final moral only comes at the end and doesn't totally convince, as it people just can take in that for about 70% of the film, George Bailey is a kind person, then all of a sudden he wants to commit suicide. This film should have been longer, showing Georges gradual decent into bitterness, then the other 50% with Clarence showing George how wonderful life really is.

I usually feel this way about 'Great Classics' the first time I watch them. You know, I just can't see what makes them so special. I expect after another two viewings, my opinion will have changed completely and Its a Wonderful Life, will be one of my favorite Wonderful Films....

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My all time favorite movie

9/10
Author: tufftexan from Dallas, Texas
16 May 2001

Not too many movies come along that I can enjoy watching over and over again. This one ranks #1 on my list as such a movie I must see every year. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE embodies all that is good and wonderful about life and friends and why we exist in my opinion. Long live Jimmy!

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Beautiful movie

9/10
Author: moviewiz-4 from New Zealand, Indonesia
28 April 2001

What's a story, the screenplay is very good and the story is perfectly done.

Although it is black and white, it is the most wonderful movie beside "Psycho(60's)". The beginning and the ending match perfectly. Also, it is quite a memorable to show audience from the movie that life is precious and should be treasure.

Too bad it is B&W and it is good if the movie can be in colour, probably a nice one will be.

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Everything that a movie should be

Author: Doriano from Atlanta, GA (USA)
22 January 2001

Yes, It's a wonderful Life has become a Christmas classic and millions of people have fallen in love with it. I know this, but this movie became my all-time favourite long before the rest of the world finally took notice of its greatness. I was merely a teen when I was stunned by Frank Capra's magical film. It was about dreams, friends, family and most of all, love. They called it Capra-corn or as Mr. Potter would say "Sentimental hogwash!", but I say so what! It is perfection! The irony is that if it wasn't for a screw up with the film's copyright registration, then this wonderful masterpiece might never have been discovered! So, I am very happy that my personal favourite has become the favourite movie of all-time for millions of others too. Way to go, Jimmy and Frank...way to go!

Doriano "trying to earn his wings"

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The most wonderful movie of all time

10/10
Author: (sebastian_frings@gmx.de)
14 January 2001

What a fantastic movie! All words of the world can not describe this wonderful movie. All of this movie is wonderful, especially James Stewart and Donna Reed. One of the few timeless classics of cinema history. Thanks God (and Frank Capra) for this movie which love the whole world. A movie for everybody with a heart! A movie for dreaming! A movie for eternity...

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This movie changed my life

10/10
Author: the narra?or from Sydney, Australia
1 January 2001

If you are ever feeling down, watch this movie. It is not only a perfect example of powerful, witty, intelligent cinema, but it is also thought provoking on more than one level. After you see you will be jumping for joy. 10/10.

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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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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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

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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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the All Time Greats

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
29 December 2008

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

**** (out of 4)

This timeless classic has James Stewart playing George Bailey, a frustrated businessman who gets the chance to see what the world would have been like had he never been born. I've lost count of how many times I've watched this film over the years but it keeps getting better with each new viewing and I can't help but notice new things each time I watch it. There's really nothing I could add that hasn't already been said about this movie but it's certainly one of my all time favorites and I'd argue that it's one of the greatest ever made. This movie has been called timeless by many people but I really can't think of too many movies where this is more true. I can't possibly see how this movie would ever grow old fashioned or out of touch because there's always going to be people who feel like the main character here. The most amazing thing to me is that the film perfectly captures how someone might begin to feel that they're worthless and I can't help but think that anyone who watches this movie will have a better look on life or themselves after watching it. I really can't think of too many movies that contain as much power as this one but I'd say that's why new fans are gained each and every passing year. The greatness of the film is certainly its heart but Stewart also deserves a lot of credit for his marvelous performance, which is certainly one of the best of his career. There are countless scenes in this movie where Stewart just nails it and I'm sure everyone knows the praying in the bar scene but there are many other great ones as well. On this viewing the scene on the bridge when Stewart begs for his life back hit me unlike any other time. There's also the scene in the bank where George has to bargain with the people not to take all of their money. Lionel Barrymore was always great playing bad guys and I can't help but think he's one of the greatest villains in movie history. The evilness that Barrymore is able to get through this character makes it among the actors best work. Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Harry Travers also add great support. Every inch of this movie works flawlessly and that includes the sequences where George gets to see things as if he were never born. I think these moments contain Capra's greatest work as a director as the darkness and atmosphere he creates is so think and depression that it perfectly puts you in the mind frame of George. Then you've got that priceless ending, which ranks right up there with City Lights and Psycho as being the greatest for any movie.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Pefect for Christmas Eve

10/10
Author: disneyland_200 from United States
3 March 2006

No other movie is better to watch on Christmas Eve than this movie. It's full of laughs, cries, and other things. Only a person who has no life wouldn't like this movie. It's appropriate for children, unlike most movies being made today.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

George Bailey, played by my favorite actor, Jimmy Stewart, the one and only choice of Frank Capra, is a banker who stays in a town called Bedford Falls his entire life. He never once leaves Bedford Falls, in an effort to save his father's business.

Near the end, after George gets to see for himself what the world would have been like had he not been born, he discovers that life really is wonderful.

THe message of this movie is what you see in the book that Clarence gives George: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!" I truly love this movie, and would recommend it for all ages.

My Score: 10/10

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

My All Time Favorite Movie!!

10/10
Author: abrafocus from United States
23 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***Warning!!! Spoilers are ahead!!!! Do not read if you have not seen this movie!!!***

James Stewart plays a banker named George Bailey. The main part of the movie is a flashback, where we see the main part of his early life. We see him grow up from a small boy of 12 to when he's in his 40's. James Stewart is the best actor who has ever lived. This is my opinion, and you can have yours, but I still LOVE this movie, even though I only watch it 2 times a year at the most. I would watch it every day if I could. If you love Jimmy Stewart, you will love this movie. SHAME on all those who don't like this movie. It has zero profanity, zero inappropriate scenes, and ZERO violence. This kind of movie is appropriate for ALL ages. It is pretty sad that this kind of movie can rarely be found being made today. Watch this movie. You WON'T regret it! : )

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the best films ever made

10/10
Author: rebeljenn from Bath, England
31 December 2005

'It's a Wonderful Life' is quite simply one of the best films ever made. It's emotional and insightful, and it is everything that a good film should be. George Bailey is the main character in this film, and the film follows his life and the sacrifices that he has had to make to benefit the common good of the people. Without him, everyone around him would suffer. However, George Bailey gets into some trouble, and it takes a quirky little Guardian Angel without wings to sort George out. It's an emotional and sad little story that is sure to put you in the right frame of mind for the holidays. I think that everyone should see this film as it certainly is a classic.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful

10/10
Author: Dangerous_Mynds from United States
14 December 2005

this is a great movie and is fun for the whole family. From beginning to end this movie is an emotional roller-coaster of happiness , sadness, joy , regret , and fun. After watching this movie you too will notice what a wonderful life you truly have. You will love the characters , love the plot and love this movie. Sure it may start slow but I think people should go see this movie expecting a bad movie because you will be surprised how AMAZING it really is. My favorite character is George. You sympathize for him and want to be him. He is the greatest actor and in my opinion the greatest movie character EVER ! This is my #1 favorite movie. I give it a 11/10

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life!

10/10
Author: jordy_fish from United States
12 December 2005

I'm still young, in teenage years, and this is probably one of my favorite movies! It really is a must see film, and this will definitely change your outlook on how valuable a man's life really is. This movie, just prepares you for the holiday season, and makes you cheerful, and want to spend time with your family. From beginning to the end, you will not be bored or disappointed with this movie, it's just a great-family movie to watch. It has wonderful actors/actresses in it, and they fit the roles of the characters perfectly well. With a little comedy, romance, drama, it makes it one of the best movies you will ever see! This movie is absolutely a great movie, and you should really take the time to watch it, even with the black and white (if that bothers some people) you just get so involved in the movie, you don't really notice this. This is a wonderful story about how important our lives can be, with angels, and God, it brings you faith, and once again sets you up for the Christmas spirit!

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Film With A Christian Message

Author: de_niro_2001 from scotland
3 January 2001

I was first drawn to this film after reading about it in one of Norman Vincent Peale's books. One can see the influence of previous Christmas stories like "A Christmas Carol" on it and one can also see its influence on more recent films like "Jumanji" (the cut lip and the family get together singing "Hark The Herald Angels Sing"). In his book Dr Peale mentions how critics were divided over on it on its release- some loved it others said it was "too Pollyannaish". However it was released into a world cynicised by the Second World War and the subsequent austerity. It shows that if we care about people, people will care about us. George Bailey is a great guy but not without his faults. He will seek comfort in alcohol when things get very bad and he reduces his children's teacher to tears with an angry phone call (so much that her husband punches him in the bar giving him the aforementioned cut lip). Still, nevertheless his values remain unaltered. He is willing to give up opportunities he has wished for all his life to help others. From an early age he has known right from wrong. This film also shows that as well as people caring for us God also cares for us no matter what our faults and will help us in our deepest moments of despair. Although it was made in the 1940s its message will be contemporary for all time, like that of the Bible. It was James Stewart's favourite of all the films he made and one can see why.

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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:

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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3 out of 8 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 12 people found the following review useful:

The closest thing to a perfect movie yet

10/10
Author: Rb Davidson
30 December 2001

There is nothing bad about this movie. Every performance is stellar. Not one second of the film is wasted or redundant or unneccessary. It is brilliant from beginning to end. I've seen it at least a dozen time and am always willing to watch it again.

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6 out of 14 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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7 out of 16 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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0 out of 3 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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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Inspiration or horror film?

9/10
Author: lastliberal from United States
14 December 2007

This piece of Capra-corn certainly inspires a lot of thought. many of us watch it over and over every single year. It's an institution.

But, there are rumblings that it really is a horror film.

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) tells his fiancé Mary (Donna Reed), "I'm shaking' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I'm gonna see the world, Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long."

Mary wishes that he would stay, and he ends up in the Building and Loan with Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) trying to hold off Old Man Potter (Lionel Barrymore). Why didn't he just run off with Violet (Gloria Grahame) and have some fun? Maybe if he had traveled like Harry (Todd Karns) and Sam (Frank Albertson), he might have learned some things that would have helped the whole country instead of just Bedford Falls.

Oh, well, that wouldn't have worked for Frank Capra, but it's fun to dream. While I'm dreaming I just sit back and watch it again.

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Makes You Glad To Be Alive

Author: marvel88 from United States
21 June 2007

The year was 1946 and soldiers were just returning to the states from the war. Among them was James Stewart, an actor who had delivered a knockout performance in 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' and won an Oscar for 'The Philadelphia Story.' But after 5 years, Stewart planned to take a break because he thought he was rusty, and Lionel Barrymore convinced him to do this film. Thank God he did.

This was the first older film that I watched back in December and now I have seen well over fifty classic films. This movie is amazing. As you watch the movie, you will begin to truly embrace Bailey. You feel for him in his highs and lows. Stewart gives the ultimate performance, he greatest of his career. Henry Travers and Barrymore are also phenomenal. Frank Capra created a true masterpiece here filled with emotion that will truly get to you. After you have watched this film, you will be glad you're alive, and don't be surprised if you're in tears as well.

A true gem of cinema that you do not see often, filled with heart and emotion that is just as rare. I love watching the film at Christmastime, but there is no question in my mind that this movie can work magic any time of the year. So if you're feeling down, or just want to watch one of the greatest movies ever filmed, watch 'It's a Wonderful Life.' An easy 10/10, higher if possible.

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Excellent Movie, entertaining, endearing...

10/10
Author: charlene-29 from United States
17 January 2007

This movie is my favorite of all time! It's reflects on what this LIFE here on Earth should be... Full of true love - in all types, shapes, and sizes... Shows kindness in every sense of the word... from young children being true forever friends... to grown men doing without to help their fellow man out... Demonstates unselfishness, perseverance, dedication, loyalty, never giving up even in the midst of evil (Mr. Potter, life itself & hard luck)... It shows us all that our lives are so very valuable - even tho we may not see it, hear it, feel it... it shows we all are a most important piece of many lives/many puzzles... and if we always try & keep on trying - no matter what... Goodness will prevail... It's shows us to forgive, not sweating 'the small stuff', really appreciating & loving those who are near & dear to us... see Life thru GOD's eyes... All our lives are truly an incredible journey... so, let's all Enjoy our Journey's... amen.

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It's A Wonderful Film

8/10
Author: hall895 from New Jersey
1 February 2006

Heartwarming, uplifting, and entertaining...quite a combination for a film and that is what It's A Wonderful Life delivers. It's a terrific story, performed wonderfully by a terrific cast. It is easy to see why It's A Wonderful Life has become a Christmas staple and one of the most beloved films of all time.

Following the life of George Bailey of small-town Bedford Falls, It's A Wonderful Life actually begins at the end with George contemplating suicide. The angel Clarence is to be sent to persuade George to go on living but first Clarence must understand exactly who George Bailey is. So he, and we the viewers, are shown the life story of George Bailey. We see that young George was a man with big dreams, planning to go off to college and see the world. Then we see the twists of fate which will leave George forever trapped in Bedford Falls and finally we see what has led him to the darkest moment of his life. Through it all, James Stewart is brilliant in the role of George. This is a character who really evolved over time and Stewart's performance is terrific in conveying all the necessary emotions in tracing George's journey. And even when George is at his most desperate and not acting particularly nicely Stewart has been so charming, so likable, so seemingly good-at-heart, you can't help but root for him and that is key to the film's success. When George opines to the angel Clarence that the world would have been better off had he never been born we know how wrong he is before Clarence even gets the chance to try to convince him of just that.

While Stewart's George is obviously the key figure the supporting cast is also top-notch, led by Donna Reed as Mary, the love of George's life. Wholesome yet positively radiant and endlessly charming, Reed makes it very easy for the audience to fall in love with her just as George has. Lionel Barrymore gives a memorable performance as the film's one true villain, the rich and rather obnoxious Mr. Potter. Barrymore proves the perfect foil to go up against the basic goodness we see in Stewart's character. Thomas Mitchell as the bumbling Uncle Billy and Henry Travers as the angel Clarence also do fine work. Bringing it all together, director Frank Capra really tugs at the heartstrings and ultimately delivers one of the most uplifting films of all time. Some of the situations and dialogue in the film may seem a little dated, perhaps even a little corny, by our modern standards. And some may feel It's A Wonderful Life is a little over-the-top in its goodness, almost too good to be true. If those are the worst things that can be said about a film then it must be quite a good film indeed.

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common bond between '40s movies and '80s songs

8/10
Author: egling from United States
31 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of my favorite holiday movies,despite realizing that it was popular twenty-nine years before I was even born. That can also be a movie to think about any other time of the year besides Christmas. I'm saying that because recently, I've been doing some personal research on a bond between that movie and the lyrics from a song from 1985 by Corey Hart entitled "Never Surrender". I know it seems strange to think that there's a common link between an old holiday movie and a song that won't be heard on the radio for nearly forty years after that film's popularity, but I think there is something symbolic between them. I tell you how some of the lyrics goes:

Just a little more time is all we're asking for

Cause just a little more time could open closing

doors

Just a little uncertainty can bring you down

And nobody wants to know you now

And nobody wants to show you how

So if you're lost and on your own

You can never surrender

And if your path won't lead you home

You can never surrender

And when the night is cold and dark

You can see you can see light

Cause no can take away your right

To fight and to never surrender

If anyone reading this knows that song, you might find the reason why I think it's symbolic for other George Baileys out there.

Edward G. Lingvai

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It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
15 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the best Christmas film ever made from Golden Globe winning, and Oscar nominated director Frank Capra. The film begins with seeing most of the past of George Bailey (Oscar nominated James Stewart), before going to the present day, Christmas Eve, where he, as a businessman is losing the plot of life, including living with his wife Mary Bailey (Donna Reed) and his kids. Also, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is threatening George with asking for money and trying to tempt George into buying the Baileys business. When money goes missing, Potter won't help him (for being rude) and he has a fit with his wife and kids, he soon thinks about ending his life. Until he meets Clarence (Henry Travers), who calls himself an angel without wings, he can only earn them by helping George. To prove himself, Clarence grants George the wish that he never existed. When George goes back to town everything has changed, the twon is called Pottersville instead of Bedford Fals, members of his family are no longer around, and nobody recognises him, not even his wife. When George discovers how much of a difference he makes to the city he wishes to be back again. It is heart-warming when he is so happy to be back to normal and he ends up as a millionaire, and Clarence got his wings. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Picture. James Stewart number 12 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, he was number 3 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Men, and he was number 13 on The World's Greatest Actor, George Bailey was number 9 (Hero) and Mr. Potter was number 6 (Villain) on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains, the film was number 4 on The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers for the happy ending, it was number 8 on 100 Years, 100 Passions, it was number 37 on The 100 Greatest Family Films, it was number 10 on The 100 Greatest Christmas Moments, it was number 11 on 100 Years, 100 Movies, it was number 1 on 100 Years, 100 Cheers, and it was number 7 on The 100 Greatest Films. Outstanding!

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The best of the best!

10/10
Author: Maz5 from Sydney, Australia
4 February 2005

What a Wonderful Life: A movie about a man, George Baily(Stuart)who grows up with big dreams but when his father dies, he is pressured into taking over his company, 'Building and Loans'. While doing this he meets up with an old friend Mary Hatch(Reed) and marries her... still not being able to do what he has always wanted to do, leave Bedford Falls and invent things and become rich. The story goes on with a beautiful ending. I thought this movie was truly amazing! I'm only 13 years of age but I love the movie to bits, I just watch it over and over again! The chemistry between James Stuart and Donna Reed is spine tingling... it's like they were made for each other. They both do incredible performances and make the movie even better. A wonderful story and a wonderful cast create a wonderful movie! I recommend this to everyone, both young and old!

Maz

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A Timeless American Classic

10/10
Author: curtman2 from United States
4 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I honestly cannot conceive how anyone who possesses a heart, mind, and soul can detract from this wonderful, brilliant, classic piece of American cinema. Aside from being THE movie to view over and over every Christmas season on television, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a fantastic celebration of the human soul, and sends volumes of universal hope: that when we find ourselves at the brink of disaster, it is crucial to realize that miracles can definitely befall us, as George Bailey discovers with his guardian angel Clarence. This is a whimsical, endearing, and somewhat somber story about life in America, and how accumulating enough fame and friends can salvage you from any financial or personal burden which troubles you. George Bailey is a timeless American icon: ascetic, gregarious, and pompous- a character we can all relate to. His inherent responsibility is to retain his father's banking business and to ensure that his life-long nemesis, the squalid, sinister Mr. Potter, does not succeed in taking over the business and eventually the town of Bedford Falls. We soon learn that a critical error has been committed which has plunged George's bank into potential bankruptcy and what's worse, has possibly landed him some serious jail time. All of this despair and turmoil befall the typically fortunate Bailey and dangerously consumes him to the extent that he silences his daughter's playing on the piano, relinquishes his distress upon his loving wife and children, and storms out of the house to get dazed at a bar, and eventually finds himself at the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide. The story is atmospheric of George Bailey, following him through times of good and times of despair, so that we get the sincere impression that suicide was once the very last intention on Bailey's animated and ambitious mind. At an early age, he proclaims to his lover and future wife, Mary, "I'm shaking' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world", and woos Mary with such romantic and cocky gestures as "You want the moon? I'll throw a lasso around it for you". We learn that he has had quite a fortunate and prosperous life, and up until his recent downfall, could be said to be the happiest, most important man in Bedford Falls. Hardly a blessing in disguise, it takes a whimsical guardian angel named Clarence to really remind George of his wonderful and important existence, as in reflection, he not only prospered in bliss in his personal affairs, yet also impacted the lives of countless acquaintances throughout the time, some of whom wouldn't have even existed without him, if that is too marvelous to conceive! This is the quintessential, seminal American classic, most enjoyed around the cheery, reflective holiday season, that reminds us about the riches we enjoy in life, how we can easily be bereaved of them, and how taking a good, hard look in the scope of reality, we can realize the true importance of our wonderful existence. George Bailey eventually learns that it is not the present, mundane, or discouraging details which define our lives, but the whole of our existence: our contributions, successes, fortunes, possessions, and impressions we achieve throughout our time upon the earth, and to simply enjoy everything we are so very blessed to receive. This is a beautiful, timeless film, featuring wonderful direction, superb acting by James Stewart as the protagonist George Bailey, Donna Reed as the love of his life, and Lionel Barrymore as the emblematic "scrooge" antagonist. It's one of the most endearing, poignant, and important films you will ever have the privilege to experience, particularly around the holiday season, when you are reflecting upon what you should be thankful for, and forgetting as best you can any negative details which may diminish your joy. George Bailey: "Isn't this wonderful, I'm going to jail!" This is the kind of happy, fearless spirit we should all aspire to become! "It's A Wonderful Life" is a truly wonderful movie. **** out of ****

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It's a Wonderful Movie!

10/10
Author: miken-3 (kataman1@verizon.net) from United States
27 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This rates up with my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I grew up on the Donna Reed show and remember that this was the movie I always saw her in and she was a lot more beautiful then. James Stewart is great as George Baily, the guy who wanted to help everybody and sacrificed his own financial success.

The idea that one doesn't realize one's worth until you are removed from the equation has been copied hundreds of times since but never as well as this movie.

Clarence is probably the most enjoyable bumbling character that I have ever seen. There is a cameo by an adult Alfalfa Sweitzer (for the Our Gang series) and the characters of Bert and Ernie later were immortalized by Sesame Street.

The ending of this movie is the "feel good" ending of all-time!

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A true masterpiece !!!!

10/10
Author: prashant-sharma04 from Gandhinagar, India
15 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now finally when I have watched this movie , I must say that this is an absolute MASTERPIECE !! I celebrates and reinforces the very existence of life and what will it be without each one of us !! IT CLEARLY REITERATES THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL. I could not help an emotional outburst on this movie. It is clearly one of the best movies that I have ever seen.

The very fact that each one of us at every point of time feels dejected over some of the events that occur in our lives and begin to take this priceless life lightly has been struck upon with amazing skill and that is the USP of of the movie...

It surely deserves a 10/10 from every sensible and mentally sane clear headed guy on this earth !!!!

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it is a wonderful life

10/10
Author: gill gill
24 December 2004

It's dark, it's uplifting, it's melancholy, it's got a trainee angel, (his name is Clarence) it's got an obvious goodie, it's got an obvious baddie, it's got attempted suicide, it's got alcoholism, it's got Jimmy Stewart! It's the only film (other than The Matrix) i've watched more than twice. It's to be recommended; it's a wonderful life. Wha'd'ya people want? Watch it. You know you want to. How many times has someone said to you, "it's a wonderful life", great film, you should watch it? Why don't you listen? It's only going to take 130 minutes of your life. Frank Capra directed it. There'e no schmaltzy music or cheesy lines. Quite frankly - It's a Wonderful Life.

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what more can be said?

Author: vironpride from Morgantown, West Virginia
15 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't think that I can say much more about this all-time classic than the others here have said. I remember when "It's a Wonderful Life" would be listed in TV Guide on several channels at the same time, with the same description. The casting is inspired, from Jimmy Stewart, wonderful Thomas Mitchell, nasty Lionel Barrymore, "Violet" (what a hot number!), down to the smallest roles. However, and I hope this is not a spoiler, the shared telephone segment with Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart is one of the most erotic scenes I have ever seen in all my years of motion picture viewing. Nothing is happening, but EVERYTHING is happening! Back then they didn't have to hit you over the head with a club to get the point! Jimmy Stewart has never been a special favorite of mine, as Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Rudolph Valentino, and James Cagney have been, but at the very end of "It's a Wonderful Life" I suddenly noticed something--God, Jimmy Stewart was so good-looking! That million megawatt smile! Yes, IaWL is corny, mawkish at times, but it delivers a powerful lesson, for Christmas and any time. Watch it!

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The role of alcoholism in this great movie

10/10
Author: Doug Thorburn (DougThorburn@mindspring.com) from Northridge, CA
10 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the greatest movies of all time. The story is one that answers the age-old question, "Why are we here?" by offering a tour of an alternate history of a world in which we were never born, in this case a visit to George Bailey's Bedford Falls without Bailey. Upon seeing the calamities befalling his town without his efforts at protecting the drunk pharmacist from filling a prescription with poison, saving his brother from drowning, and defending the town against the evil Mr. Potter, a humble George Bailey slowly begins to realize his own self worth. The observation by the tour guide, Angel Clarence, that "each man's life touches so many other lives" was a poignant precursor to the barely six degrees of separation we have between us.

For the alcoholism-aware, this movie may seem a bit confusing. Alcoholism appears in the very beginning, when Mr. Gower, the pharmacist, is shown drinking behind a door as 12-year old George comes to work. While young George merrily whistles away, Gower, who is so drunk he's almost slurring, yells, "You're not paid to be a canary," in classic nasty alcoholic style. But George shows understanding as he reads the text of a recently delivered telegraph bearing news that Gower's son has died of influenza.

Although Gower is a sympathetic drunk, death is just another excuse to drink for the alcoholic, while it is a time for sober reflection and mourning for the non-alcoholic. It is also a time when errors are more likely to occur. Gower slaps George's ears for failing to deliver a prescription, but shows genuine remorse when he realizes he had accidentally filled those particular pills with poison. But even an alcoholic might apologize to an employee for saving his hide. Gower's addiction becomes obvious when, in the alternate universe of a world without George Bailey, he is portrayed as a panhandling street drunk, having served 20 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

The real alcoholic story, however, is one unrecognized in the movie. Crusty old Mr. Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore (ironically, one of many actors in the Barrymore family, which included a long line of alcoholics), is never once shown drinking. Yet he engages in power-seeking behaviors, doing anything to gain control over everything in Bedford Falls (which, in the alternate universe, becomes Pottersville, complete with sleazy bars, strip clubs and pawnbrokers). Conniving to keep $8,000 that was intended for George Bailey's building and loan company is just the culmination of a number of nefarious misbehaviors in which Potter engages. Because alcoholism best explains the conduct, the only flaw in this great movie is the omission of even one scene showing Potter drinking heavily, or one in which he might be shown hiding his stash. Perhaps such a scene ended up on the cutting room floor, edited out by a real-life alcoholic.

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It is a great lesson.

10/10
Author: Clay Man from Alberta, Canada
25 November 2004

The movie "It's A Wonderful Life" is and example of excellence. Not only is the acting perfect the back ground, script, plot and basically everything about this movie is great.Even though Frank did not intend this movie to be a Christmas movie(tradition)it is, and it is about love and the gift of life.I first heard about this movie from my sister and as soon as she said it was in black and white I thought it would not be any good. Then in school my teacher showed it to the class just before Christmas and I have loved it ever since. I could watch this classic over and over again.Even thought its black and white its still perfect.If it was in color it would not have near the same affect on me.The things that happen to George Bailey after he wishes he was never born are horrible and he is some lucky he's got Clarence.

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Should be in everyone's top-5-movie-of-all-time list!

10/10
Author: nomatterhowminor from in a chair
7 October 2004

It's amazing how a movie which ultimately has nothing to do with Christmas, is believed by everyone to be a Christmas movie. The only thing about Christmas in this movie is that Jimmy Stewart's revelation about his life happened at Christmas time.

What I think I like most about this movie, besides the awesome plot and acting, is the banter between everyone in it, even the silent banter. If you haven't seen this movie yet, even though you've lived this long, you need to rent it or just buy it because I know you will love it. If you still don't want to see it, feel free to take a hammer and break all your fingers AND toes.

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Brief

10/10
Author: Thomas Sandlin (tomsandlin@excite.com) from Louisville, KY USA
11 June 2004

It's A Wonderful Life is a must see for anyone who has ever thought that their life is going nowhere because it gives you a chance to see how many lives can be affected by just one person. You should see the original B&W version because it is the best.

George Bailey is is a wonderful character because you really get to know him. His hopes and dreams, his aspirations, even the way he hates his small town existence. You really get to fall in love with this character and root for him to succeed. It reaffirms to us that one life can make a difference. It is a must have for anyone who calls themselves a film buff. Also if this film doesn't bring tears to your eyes by the end you better see a doctor because something is wrong with your heart! That is my opinion anyway.

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A Classic Holiday Movie!!

10/10
Author: GMNL89 from Staten Island, New York
13 March 2004

This movie is a classic holiday movie starring two of the biggest names in Hollywood: Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed! Besides A Miracle on 34th Street, this movie has to be the best Christmas film of the 40's! The most famous scene in this movie is when George(Stewart) wishes he doesn't want to live anymore, and his wish is granted, when everyone doesn't know who he is. That scene is the most famous because it has been made fun of a couple of times. Also, this movie is the inspiration for two of the most famous Muppet characters: Bert and Ernie!

I recommend this movie to everyone! When it's Christmas time and you don't know what to watch, watch this movie! It's a classic and very entertaining.

10/10

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The Greatest Emotions ever evoked!

Author: vetsclub from Bettendorf, Iowa
7 March 2004

I think this film shows what most of us never see.................. The impact we ALL have in life..................................... Sometimes we just have to sit back and think what we have done in our lives to help others. ............................................................Jimmy Stewart showed us all that in a unique way with this Capra film. I know as long as I live this will always be my personal favorite, only because it doe's show WE ALL CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE................................Frank McNeil Jr.

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Capra at his best!

10/10
Author: Shawn O'Connell (kingofalldogs@comcast.net) from United States
20 February 2004

One of my all time favorite films. James Stewart and Donna Reed were perfect together. James Stewart's character was truly a "Wonderful" person and learned just how great life is when you have people who love and care for you. Lionel Barrymore's performance as Mr. Potter truly showed what a great actor he was. This is a movie everyone should see. If you see it once, you are bound to see it again. A truly remarkable directing job by Frank Capra!

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Hits the Heart and makes us realize we do matter!

10/10
Author: dstar28ent from Douglasville, GA
17 February 2004

Simply outstanding. This classic is above all my favorite. With Comedy, Drama, Action, and more this movie captivates you. It hits the heart and makes you realize that one person matters in this world. From the technical aspects to the acting aspects, this movie meets the criteria of the perfect movie.

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great

Author: ben_yocom from troudale
5 January 2004

It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie that touches on a question that everyone has asked themselves at one time or another. This question is "what would the world be like with out me?" The answer for this question is explored through the main character that because of his lack of achevements in his life feels that he has done more harm then good. This movie could be divided up into three parts the first part is when he is a child the second part is when he is an adult but a younger adult and the last part is when he is an older adult.

This movie is about a man who thinks that because he didn't do any thing he wanted to do when he was a kid that his life is a failed one. This movie follows him from when he was just a child up until he wants to commits suicide in when he is about thirty or forty years old. The movie does this in a rather clever way by an angel telling the story of his life to another angel that is to protect George Baily from himself. The viewers first introduction to George is when he is just a child and is sleding in this scene George's brother falls through the ice, George jumps in after him and save his life. This scene was done to introduce something the George that was good and that at the end of the movie would be brought up. The next scene is George a little older and he is at work talking to two girls about what he wants to do when he is older. It apears from this scene that George has a great imagination and also at this early age he relises that he doesn't want to stay in his home town. This scene also is one that ties in to the end for in this scene George prevents his boss from delivering pills that were inadvertently poisoned. Scene continue like this for a little while showing good things that he did and expanding on his dreams.

When he s a younger adult he is confronted with a problem, either he goes off and lives his dream and fathers life work and the last chance most of the people in his town to live a decent life goes down the drain or he can stay and work a job that he hates in a town he has wanted out of since he was just a young boy and help those people in his town who need it and further his fathers work. This decision does not come easily to him though he makes it time and again. He ends up helping hundreds of people in his town start business and build houses much to the dissatisfaction of the villain of this movie who is a greedy stubborn old man who would not give loans to any of the people that George and even if he did the people would not be able to afford them. George is given several opportunities to get out of his town and to leave his job but chooses to help his family and friends instead.

The third part of this movie is when George is on the verge of committing suicide and is saved by his gaurdian angel and is shown how the world would be with out him. The scene of the world without him is not a pretty one all his friends are poor and have horrible lives and his brother whom he saved as a young boy is dead drowned at the age of eight. George is greatly affected by this vision and changes his out look on life. He is now happy about the choices that he has made and acts as if he wouldn't change them even if he could.

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There are rare movies that make me cry , but this is one of them , great one !

10/10
Author: zacce from Finland
1 January 2004

There are rare movies that make me cry , but this is one of them , great one ! It's great that almost 60 years old movie can make man cry in this century, where movies are full of unsentimental stuff, cold violence etc. STORY is important... this has been found in some movies.

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Merry Chhristmas

Author: (willrams@earthlink.net) from Santa Maria, CA
24 December 2003

I have seen this movie many times since I was a child, and it is still an awe inspiring comedic drama, and really the spirit of Christmas! Despite the holiday it is good for any spiritual faith to grow. Frank Capra was at his best for direction; the acting was superb with James Stewart and Donna Reed, and many of the old-time favorites including Lionel Barrymore, H. B. Warner, Henry Traverse, Beulah Bondi and Ward Bond. 9/10

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A worthy Christmas classic

Author: Nathan (psionicpoet) from Troutdale, OR
21 December 2003

When it comes to Christmas classics, "It's A Wonderful Life" is probably at the top of the list, and with good reason. Rising above the clichés of the Christmas genre, the movie stands on its own two feet as a good film, through and through. It's director Frank Capra at his best, and Jimmy Stewart in one of his best roles as George Bailey.

The story is this: George Bailey is in trouble. Years upon years of dashed hopes and abandoned dreams have slowly weakened his spirits, and the threat of closing the Bailey Building and Loan – the institution he's sacrificed everything to save -- finally breaks him down. He contemplates suicide to save the Building and Loan once again with his life insurance policy. Providence intervenes, however, and uses an angel (Henry Travers) to show George just how much of a difference he's made when he declares "I wish I was never born".

"It's A Wonderful Life" is much more than just a Christmas movie; it's a movie that's ultimately about everyday life. Not everyone may lose $8000 and worry about bank foreclosure every day, but everyone can probably point to a time when they felt like George Bailey.

The movie shows George's transformation from a hopeful young man who dreams of seeing faraway lands into a pragmatic adult who has been forced so sacrifice his dreams so that others might follow theirs. He sacrifices his honeymoon time and money to save the Building and Loan from closing. George works for years to pay his brother's way through college n hopes that later he will be able to attend himself – only to have his brother return married with a job and a good future already lined up. Time and again, George willingly steps into the background, shelving his dreams, in order to serve others.

George is finally able to see how much his sacrifices have meant when the angel Clarence shows him how the world would be different had he never been born. His brother would have died as a child, because George wasn't there to save him from drowning. Mr. Potter, the local land tycoon, would have taken over the town after the Building and Loan shut down when George's father died. When he realizes the impact his life has made, he returns to the world he knows only to find the people who he's helped through the years come back to save him and the Building and Loan.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the few Christmas films to hold more than simple holiday cheer: it seeks to enlighten the viewer to appreciate the impact their sacrifices have made. This message would have been especially relevant when the movie was released in the post-WWII United States, where so many had sacrificed time, resources or their lives to help the war effort.

"It's A Wonderful Life" remains relevant today by virtue of its thoughtful message and skillful crafting in directing, writing, and acting, that all lend its message all the more weight. This movie is one that truly deserves to be thought of as "classic".

Grade: A

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One of the true classics

10/10
Author: John from New Mexico, USA
20 December 2003

I just had to give this movie a 10. Could it have been better? Of course it could. The acting was campy, the plot was ridiculous, and the storyline is full of holes.

But still ... what would the holidays be without watching Bill Bailey fight the evil forces and ultimately winning our hearts over and over again?

This is what movies are all about - touching our emotions so deep and so firmly that we can never let go. We all cry when he cries, laugh when he laughs, and cheer at the end of the movie. It's the quintessential feel-good movie of all time!

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One person really can make a difference...

Author: Brandon Holbrook (Histrymaker@AOL.com) from Troutdale, OR, USA
17 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It really is a wonderful life

Most Christmas movies we see can be recognized around the world, especially those secular, seasonal films relating to the adventures of annual jolly gift-givers, magical beings made of snow befriending children, and peculiar deer who have the gift of a shiny nasal cavity... But this movie showed the reality of the holidays and life in general. It's a wonderful life is a genuinely good film that show's that even the most simple of people can make such large differences.

Good spirited George Bailey is the man we pay attention to, as we watch him grow up as a boy and meeting the special people in his life. As he grows older, we see an impetuous person with high standards in life and plans for the future, but a flexible and labored person in the same when such adverse events such as *SPOILER* when his father dies and leaves the bank to him, and his brother serve in the war in Europe. We see our impetuous George go through life as a banker with his uncle, when somehow all the money that the bank owned dissapears, meaning the destruction of Bailey's career, and his familiy's well being. Suddenly, we watched the young, happy man slip into anger and fear, and the only way he believes to counter it is to end his life. Here is where the immature angel, Clarence Oddbody enters, and grants Bailey's wish of never being born. We follow the two through the town of Bedford Falls in a journey to see the many lives he touched in his real life, and how his absence afflicted with what he knew. Bailey changes his perception and returns home to live out his days happily with his wife and children.

This movie shows how the real world and the holiday season conflict with each other, and how one person can make a difference in the lives of everyone around him. It truly is an inspiring film, and encourages the mind to believe that it can also do great good to the people and things that it cherishes most in life.

I believe that this film deserves a place as one of the most influential and best films of our time. If only we could take the time out of our lives to imagine what good we do unto both ourselves and others.

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A classic

Author: Megan Ward from Troutdale, OR
16 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life makes us think about our own life and how we shouldn't take it for granted. It makes us realize what the important things are around the holidays. The movie is about George Bailey (Jimmy Stuart), a business man who takes over a bank after his father, the previous owner dies. What he really wanted to do with his life was get out of Bedford Falls, the small town he grew up in, and make a name for himself. After misplacing an $8,000 loan, he contemplates about committing suicide, but instead saves his guardian angel when he falls into a river. Gabriel, the angel, gives George a look at what life would be like if he had never been born. I thought that this was a great movie. The acting was great, and the love story wasn't corny. Stuart could portray so many different types of emotions that made the story seem real. You see his character develop from being an optimist, wanting to get out and see the world, to a desperate business man confused about what the real meaning of life is. Donna Reid played her character well also. She was Mary Bailey and always was by her husband's side being very supportive. At the beginning of the movie she was portrayed as a young girl in love with George and as the movie progressed she matured and became a loving wife and a mother. Reid and Stuart together made the movie as memorable as it is. They had great chemistry onscreen, which made the movie real and not corny. I liked how it was still in black and white and not colored and taken away from its original form. The colored versions of black and white movies just don't look as good as the originals. I would recommend this movie to almost anyone, especially those who think that they don't have anything to be grateful for or who can't seem to get into the Christmas spirit.

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I'll probably be flogged for saying this, but.....

Author: tmk001 (tmkeenen@rcn.com) from New Haven, CT
9 September 2003

It's a Wonderful Life is a well constructed old fashioned Hollywood movie that I care less if I ever saw it again.

What turned me off was the whole divine intervention plot device. It's a blatant escape valve that allows Capra to be very cruel to George Baily and get away with by saying "Oh don't worry, God will save him in the end." (Note: Capra does the same thing to both Jefferson Smith and Longfellow Deeds). My goodness, think if someone used that as a plot device in a movie coming out today. The audience would laugh the pic off the screen.

So, I have no desire to see this hunk of schmaltz and mediocre acting. If you want to see a really good message pic about helping your fellow man, watch Sullivan's Travels instead.

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A must see (but do try & save it til Xmas!!!)

10/10
Author: (ditzydramatic@hotmail.com) from Wolverhampton, England
9 July 2003

This is, without a doubt, the best family film EVER. I don't think it's dated and i think that it's something you could watch annually. The best time to watch it is with the family around the tree on Christmas Eve.

There isn't anything else I can say about the film apart from the fact that it's truly a magical piece.

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Dormant for decades before it became a classic

Author: Jeff Hill (jeffhill1@hotmail.com) from Sapporo, Japan
16 March 2002

I first saw "It's a Wonderful Life" when baby sitting at my cousin's

house on New Year's eve of 1962-1963. For almost 20 years after that,

whenever asked what my favorite movie was, I responded, "It's a

Wonderful Life" and saw blank faces which said, "Never heard of it."

Later in 1963 I saw a special hour-long interview with James Stewart on

television in which he was asked which of his movies was his favorite.

He drawled, "Well you know, until recently I didn't have one. But now

when I look back on it, I do. And it is a little embarrassing to

mention it because it is a film nobody saw. It is called, 'It's a

Wonderful Life.' It is what we called in those days a five

handkerchief picture. And there is a scene in it that I now think of

as my favorite scene. It's when I say a kind of prayer."

I started living in Japan in 1971. During the Christmas season of

1984 I was in Hawaii for a business convention and was quite surprised

to turn on the hotel television and see not only the film but a report

on the advent of "It's a Wonderful Life" as an American classic.

Now, both the title "It's a Wonderful Life" and the character name of

George Bailey are metaphors for family values and the scene of George

Bailey cheerfully running down the street of Bedford Falls seems to pop

up in other movies whenever there is a scene of a housewife watching

television at Christmas time.

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Sappy this is NOT

Author: Cbak from Sutton, UK
28 November 2001

I've just looked back at comments made by Becca37. I think she is completely off the mark. If this film can be criticised it is for espousing material values, ie owning your own house. Playing the sex and race cards misses the point completely, and bearing in mind that the main character is driven to the point of suicide, and is forced to realise that his brother would be dead without him should be enough to show that this is not a sappy film.

This is one of my favourite films of all time, and the ending is worth all the pain of getting there.

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'It's a Wonderful Life' defines the word 'escapism'

Author: Andrew Hutchings from Calne, England
17 September 2001

I have never met anyone who does not treasure this film, and if I ever do, I will truly feel extremely sorry for them. I believe that this is the greatest movie ever made. It stands head and shoulders above anything else I've ever seen. It's not simply the best movie, but also an amazing lesson in what life is all about, especially for those of us who sometimes have to ask ourselves that question. Although the entire cast is strong, it is James Stewart's finest hour. I remember an interview with him some years ago, in which he said that, to him, a good movie was all about 'moments'. He recalled the scene, in Martini's bar, where he says a prayer. This is my favourite scene in the movie, and is just one of the many such 'moments'. If ever I'm not sure whether I really liked a film or not, I can usually work out the answer by this 'moments' theory. Unfortunately, few movies can deliver the goods, and none match Frank Capra's masterpiece. 10 out of 10 does not tell the whole story. My advice to anyone who has not seen this film, is make sure you do see it before you die - it may even prolong your life!

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This is a wonderful movie.

10/10
Author: Christopher Buckley from Michigan
13 July 2001

This film truly stands the test of time. After 50 years, this film still delivers that emotional message it did when it was released. This is perhaps one of the best films I've seen, nevertheless, Frank Capara's. And I will be the first to admit... I cried my heart out at the end. I havn't cried after seeing It's a Wonderful Life since I was a kid. Anytime a film can be that emotional, well, you certainly have to give all props to 'em. It's a Wonderful Life will make you happy, sad - laugh, cry - and in the end, you will love it!

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Need you really have to comment on this one?

10/10
Author: Barry Lyndon-3 from LA, CA
28 February 2001

Simply put, I don't like anyone who doesn't like this movie. This film has perhaps the greatest climax of any film ever. It's so rewarding. I'm in the minority that hates the fact that NBC bought the rites and now only airs the film twice during the holidays instead of having every channel air it every hour on the hour like before. I was the kind of guy that would watch it fifty times and still not be bored.

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My All-Time Favorite Movie

10/10
Author: Gilligan Bixby
23 February 2001

I won't go into too much detail about how good this film makes me feel everytime I watch it, because I could fill three or four books on the subject. I just want to quickly say that it's one of the few films I can watch a couple times in a row, a dozen times a year. No matter what season it is, this film always leaves me feeling better about my life and the world around me, and God bless Frank Capra for bringing it to the world. Geez, that sounds hammy... Anyway, that's all I'll say.

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My Favorite Movie

10/10
Author: captainlou from Colorado
19 February 2001

As with all things in life, movies are to be observed and reacted upon by the human mind. This movie goes beyond that and touches the human soul. If it doesn't do that, at least take one thing from the movie. Since you can not chose to be unborn at this stage in your life, the next time you have to make a decision in life, (without getting on the right/wrong soap box) YOU decide if hurting someone for your own gain is who you really are about, or if sharing or helping or even not involving someone if it has potential for hurting them, is more about who you are. Something as simply and basic as that is the message this movie sends and yet we all tend to forget it. My favorite movie of all time!

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Majestic beyond words

10/10
Author: Eddie Hand from Dublin
8 February 2001

The film is beyond superlatives, quite simply, for my money the best film ever made. It is a precursor to many 'feel good' movies and spawned many more movie makers using similar sentiment for effect including Spielberg. Frank Capra's masterpiece will stand the test of time for many generations to come.

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Best movie to this date!

10/10
Author: luvlife01 from United States
2 July 2000

This movie brings tears to my eyes each and every time watching it! We watch it not only during the holidays, but when I am feeling down. It makes you realize that every person touchs peoples lives in one way or another. This did not get the publicity it deserved when it came out, and thank the Lord that it is around today! I recommend this especially if you are feeling low about your life, it is a real soul booster. James Stewart is one of the better actors to this day, even though he is not with us. At least we have his great movies captured on film. Thanks and God Bless

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it IS as good as they said.

9/10
Author: Jay Alan from Columbus, Oh
8 April 1999

I kept putting this movie off, every year cursing it for being on the TV, didn't watch it front to back til this past Christmas. I'd seen bits and pieces of it and thought it pretty predictable, but to watch the whole thing....it really made me think. I'm glad I finally watched it.

9 out of 10

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Well, didn't see that coming!

10/10
Author: Zombie-Kermit from Australia
31 March 2009

I never expected to love this movie as much as I did! I basically bought the movie because I found it real cheap and was curious, and because I'm trying to get every movie on the Top 250. I didn't expect to get much out of it, since it didn't really seem like my kind of movie. After watching it, I realised how wrong I was. It was an absolutely beautiful movie, and really pulled at my heartstrings (although, as I've said in one of my other reviews, I'm an absolute sucker for emotional stuff like this). I won't go into too much detail about the plot, in case you don't know what it is, since it's a great experience going in not knowing about the plot. I'll simply say that it is a great portrayal of what one man can do without even realising it. Jimmy Stewart is in the starring role as the lovable George Bailey, a role that he is charming in. Some of the movie may seem a little corny by today's standards, but don't let that turn you off! It is also probably one of the most thought provoking movies I've ever seen as well. After watching it, I found myself thinking of what effect my own life has had on others, whether I could make a difference in anyone's life. It's the sort of movie that makes you want to be a better person. The movie is brilliant, and I'm glad I gave it a chance. It currently tops my Top 50 movies list, which is funny, considering how it doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of them. I've even been accused of faking my love for the movie! This is definitely a movie that needs to be seen. I've never seen anything else like it.

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2008 needs this film

10/10
Author: elgronko from United Kingdom
10 February 2009

Like many people, I go to the cinema every year at Christmas to watch this film. This film is over sixty years old. The cinema's packed every time. It gets a standing ovation every single time. Enough said.

This year I took my dad with me. This year, like every year, I left the theatre walking on air. But this year I wandered to a pub near Trafalgar Square, had a drink with my dad and looked around at the other punters, wondering how many would be facing financial problems in the coming recession - and if I would be one of them.

This film is not far-fetched. People kill themselves over money all the time. In fact this film has never been more relevant. To top it all off, it's very, very funny.

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Perennial favorite has worn well with time...

8/10
Author: MrGKB from Ohio
10 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and remains one of the few film classics that absolutely, in my mind, should never, ever be remade. The reader may wonder why I don't rate it higher than "8" if I feel that way, but I have reasons.

One, the story relies on various conceits to make its point about George's importance to the people around him. Take, for instance, the opening sequence in which George saves his little brother, Harry, from drowning. Later, we learn that Harry grows up to become a WWII hero, winning the Congressional Medal of Honor by saving a troop transport from a kamikaze attack. In Pottersville, however, George's non-existence translates to an unsaved Harry and a transport load of troops sent to Davey Jones' locker. All well and good, but this scenario ignores two things: someone else might well have saved Harry's life, and even more significantly, without George, Harry might well have never fallen into the icy pond in the first place. Similar arguments can be made for virtually every other character whose future in Pottersville is radically altered by George's non-being.

Two, the film is rife with a certain nostalgic myopia, painting a vision of American life that really never existed outside of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Three, it overtly reinforces supernaturalism and irrationality, depending on heavenly intervention to remedy human error. This is, however, no surprise given the tenor of the times in which it was produced, as well as the very human tendency toward superstition that has been with us since longer than we've been able to write, let alone make movies.

However, none of these flaws can overly tarnish what Frank Capra himself identified as his favorite movie that he made. "It's a Wonderful Life" remains a rare gem in the treasury of American film-making, an unabashedly sentimental fable about the worth of the individual and the value of hearth and home, family and friends. It is a fairy tale meant for adults, yet accessible to children. Its language is sweet and simple, based primarily on the vocabulary of love and friendship. Its technical aspects are noteworthy (the fake snow, the elaborate Bedford Falls set, the superb use of Dmitri Tiomkin's score and other music, the fine camera-work), the casting is impeccable (can you possibly imagine anyone besides Jimmy Stewart playing George Bailey?), and of course, the direction is top grade.

Scene after scene burns itself into the viewer's consciousness: Mr. Gower's gut-wrenching realization that George has saved him from poisoning an innocent; a grown-up Violet sashaying past George and the boys; George and Mary's first date, and a number of years later, their first kiss (perhaps one of the greatest screen kisses ever consummated); George's breakdown, both at home and at Martini's pub; a callous Nick in Pottersville, banging on the cash register and cackling, "Get me, I'm handing out wings!" The list goes on and on, and no doubt every viewer has his or her own favorites. Myself, I'm still partial to "Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?" followed by "Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people!"

It's incredibly rare to see such a film rated highly by the IMDb crowd, young and male as it is. 50k+ voters and a 42% "10" rating. Astounding! Even the usual gang of pessimists, cynics, and naysayers couldn't rack up better than 5% poor ("1," "2," or "3") votes. Amazing! The one anomaly that intrigues me is the relatively low vote of the sub-18 female cohort. I can only speculate that they had a hard time identifying with Mary, the one character they perhaps recognize as having had more direct impact on George's "failures" than any other. Could it be they are somewhat embarrassed by the machinations of their own gender?

All in all, "It's a Wonderful Life" works because we want it to work. It embodies a timeless appeal to humankind's better side, the side that wants to do the right thing regardless of the cost. For that it will always remain a top-rank film to be enjoyed year after year.

One small side note: I recently completed a two-month stint in a musical version of "It's a Wonderful Life" in which Clarence getting his wings takes on far too much import. The cast almost unanimously disliked the script we had to perform, primarily because the songs, although pretty enough, failed by and large to advance the plot, reducing the story to its bare bones, discarding or horribly distorting scene after favorite scene, and reducing many characters to barely recognizable caricatures. I won't say which musical version it is (there are several), but I will advise you to avoid it at all costs if you are any sort of purist about the film. You won't be glad you saw it, no matter how well it's performed.

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Tears in laughs

9/10
Author: kevin shi (shihaijiang142@msn.com) from ShangHai, China
9 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

George saved his younger brother when he was a child. The incident led to the loss of hearing for his left ear. When he grew up, he planed to leave the town but failed. He inherited the job in bank from his father. He turned down the attractive offer from the local tycoon and served for the poor. One day his bank lost 8000 dollars. That was a big number of money at that time. He was in despair. Everything changed.

Although George was talkative and quick-tempered, he was a kind and generous person. He did not realize his worth until an angel helped him. The most touching scene was his reunion with his family. The following donation from the people transformed my tears into laughs.

Sometimes we cannot see clearly ourselves. If we can change the angle and think, the situation will be different.

A touching comedian classic. 9/10

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Man, this works!

9/10
Author: BadWebDiver from Perth, Australia
26 September 2004

This is absolutely top class story telling at a magnificent level.

I get the impression that the attitude in the 20s-50s wasn't that much different that the general attitude today. People were rather cynical about cute fantasy, were out trying to earn a quick dollar, and pined for the simpler times of "the good old days", without quite knowing how to achieve it.

There's an old public speaker saying that a good communicator need to "reach people where they're at in order to lead them to where he wants them to go". Frank Capra seems to have developed this knack to an admirable degree. His style of so-called "Capracorn", has this amazing ability to present a strong emotional idea without going **too** over-the-top. Just when you think that a film is starting to get very sentimental, maudlin or "corny"; then up pops a good comic relief moment, or a bit of sharp drama - just to ease the schmaltz back to an acceptable level. It's a real shame that most film directors haven't managed to quite get the knack of knowing when to say an idea, and knowing when to NOT say an idea. When to state the theme, and when to infer it.

This technique really works to best example in Capra's top three masterpieces; MEET JOHN DOE, MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, and this movie - IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Anyone who dismisses this story as pure cornball holiday sentimentality really needs to play close attention to how the story actually operates.

Lionel Barrymore has for a long time been one of my favorite character actors from the classic Hollywood period, and here he plays the main antagonist with just the right mixture of spite and comedy. And quite frankly, the scene where James Stewart's George Bailey loses it in front of his family is actually quite gut-wrenching stuff; almost on par with the standard hard-hitting scenes of modern dramas. It's just the right amount of dramatic force to stop the story from getting "too cute".

Of course there is also the scenes that have now become classics, which occur mainly in the climactic third act. George losing his identity, seeing a new and different Bedford Falls - or "Pottersville" - then regaining his identity and finally wishing everyone a "Merry Xmas". (I was actually quite amazed that most of the film is actually a narrative back story, leading up to the memorable classic moments; and it does in fact work very well in that way.) Combine this with the great fun gym/pool dance sequence and the subsequent bush scene, and you've got the makings of a top-notch storyline; that totally deserves its current status as a perennial classic.

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The other side to this film...

Author: Frank Taylor (behind_a_mirror) from Oregon
16 December 2003

Coming from an era of post World War the world was happy. People needed a `positive' reminder to love themselves. Around comes a flick to inspire this intrinsically need for happiness. Directed by Frank Capra is a movie focused to tough the heart at the average white Christian American.

The film in retrospect is about a man George Bailey (James Stewart) going through a really bad time, and chances of going south arise. In the opening scene their was a panel shots of houses with people saying a pray for George. Resulting from this was a shot of two cluster of stars representing two biblical characters, who call for an angel without wings Clarence (Henry Travers). From here most of the movie is shown about George's life and what led him to the now.

I felt the movie was great on the acting, sound, and directing. However, I detest the subliminal propaganda conveyed in the story. The movie was definitely intended for the Christian audience by all the good that it brings, when times are hard. The message was good in the interpretation of that one person can effect a great number of people in life, and should be humble, when times get you down. The bad message was that if not for Christianity people in hard times would just die and have no guidance.

Now comes my decent. Most people would quickly say this film is the best; I would have to disagree. On the sense that the directing was down rather well. I can't get over how exaggerated it was imposing on Christianity being good. There was no truth except for the simple message purposely link together to mislead the common people. I would never watch this film again, and hope that whomever reads my review sees another side to not just this movie, but the U.S. society. The U.S. has two parts: The majorities opinion on what it should be like, and the minorities opinion on the realities. Though, I will admit that the world is not black and white. There is a lot of shades of gray on both sides, and the majority wins out in the end.

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Was it a wonderful life?

Author: Christina (Cwoods04)
15 December 2003

"It's a wonderful life" is about a man that had good things for him

growing up for the most part. When George Bailey (James

Stewart) he did some heroic things, he saves his little brother from

drowning, saved Mr. Gower (H.B Wamer) from poisoning children,

took over his dad's business when he died, and saved the

business when it was into trouble with George and his new wife's

honneymoon money. Later in the story the company get's into

trouble again when Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) goes to the bank

and Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) took the money that Uncle Billy

was going to deposit and when he was looking for it Mr. Potter

never gave it back so now the company is out eight thousand

dollars. That's when George was sucidal and didn't know what to

do because he was going to jail. His Gardian Angel, Clearnce

(Henry Travers) wanted to get his wings and if he saved and

helped George then he would get his wings, came in to his world

and saved him George still didn't know what was going on. When

Clearnce told life he wished his he was never born so his wish

came true and realized that so many bad things would have

happened. Does Clearnce get his Wings? Does George get his

life back?

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An absolute, no doubt about it, great movie!!!!

10/10
Author: Sarah Bright (Blondeatheart56) from troutdale, OR
15 December 2003

"It's A Wonderful LIfe" has to be one of the best movies ever made!

In fact, it could be the best. Some teenagers say that it is a boring

movie, that it's too long, or that they just don't like it, but not this

teenager! This teenager loves this movie! This is one of those

movies that can and should be watched over and over again.

Every time it is seen it gives the viewer the feeling of christmas and

hopefully, it helps them to realize that they should be thankful for

what they have and just be happy with their life.

The acting in this movie is actually really good considering the

time when it was made. It doesn't come off as cheesy or corny at

all. It's believable and it's like you almost can't tell that it's just

acting. The casting director picked some great actors/actresses

for this movie.

Jimmy Stewart is absolutely great as George Bailey. "It's A

Wonderful Life" wouldn't be as good as it is without Stewart playing

the main character. Stewart can portray all kinds of emotions and

actually make the viewer believe that that is what he is feeling. He

can be enthusiastic, sad, happy, or really mad and the viewer won't

even know he is acting.

Donna Reed made a wonderful Mary Bailey. She plays one of

those wives that sticks by her man no matter what. And she

makes a really believable mother.

Stewart and Reed together make a great acting pair and they are

part of the reason that "It's A Wonderful Life" is as great as it is.

The setting in this movie was all the little town of Bedford Falls.

There was no fake backgrounds, everything was real, real

buildings, real cars, real trees etc. The only wierd thing that wasn't

real was at the beginning of the movie when the angels are like

galaxies up in the sky. That whole scene wasn't very realistic and

it was kind of odd, but despite it's oddness this movie is still great!

The music was all background except for when the characters in

the movie sing. The music was nice and it really adds to the

movie.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a great film and this reviewer will never be

convinced that it isn't. It is a classic and it is one that should never

be forgotten.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A sentimental masterpiece

9/10
Author: RadicalTintin from Glasgow, Scotland
1 February 2003

Post-war America may not have been ready for Capra's delightful

feel-good epic, but the history books will record this seasonal gem

as one of the best movies ever made. James Stewart could do

very little wrong, but this performance is simply compelling as the

small town guy with a worldly outlook. The film tests the strength of

the human spirit, and revels in sentimentality, that is not at all out

of place. Barrymore is excellent as the cold-hearted Potter, oozing

contempt and bitterness. Travers is faultless as the heavenly

scene-stealer Clarence. This is not a film about religion, it is a film

about hope, truth and the depth of the human heart. Expect a stray

tear to blur the sight. A masterpiece.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Christmas Favorite

10/10
Author: maxndano (maxndano@bellsouth.net) from Millbrook, Alabama
7 December 2002

It's a Wonderful Life ranks at the top of Christmas favorites along with Christmas Carol, Holiday Inn and Miracle on 34th Street. A movie the whole family can enjoy together each and every Christmas. A movie made from the old Hollywood Americana. A movie I enjoyed growing up and continue to enjoy with my family.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a family tradition

Author: JanuaryRain
5 December 2002

This movie is one of the most endearing portrayals of the human spirit and the good in all of us. Of course, some of it is unrealistic...it is a fantasy film. But, the message it sends is pure and good hearted for all ages.

Out family watches this film every Christmas Eve and we never tire of it. You can't help but fall in love with George, Mary and Clarence!

And although it may seem a little sappy at times, isn't that what makes us feel good and wish we could asertain even SOME of that goodness in our lives?

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful movie!

10/10
Author: econchie from Ontario, Canada
4 December 2002

A true classic. The best movie ever made, in my opinion. Even after innumerable viewings, the final scene still brings a lump to my throat. If you can watch this movie and not be moved by it...you better check to see if you still have a pulse.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies ever made

10/10
Author: zapdude from Calgary, Canada
18 November 2002

It's incredible to me that this movie was panned by critics when it was first released. Apparently, all the junk that was rated higher has NOT stood the test of time.

This is a squeaky-clean story about a man who has given up. Maybe the source of his turnaround is a little cheesy, but he turns it around anyway.

If you don't get a little choked up while watching this, then you have NO CLUE what life is about. Life is about these moments.

When I was younger, I didn't like this movie because I thought it was stupid. An old black and white movie with old-fashioned ideals and values. Now, however, I watch the colorized version every year at Christmas time, and I get a tear in my eye.

I have made it a life goal to try to be half the man that this character turned out to be.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

My mothers favorite movie!

7/10
Author: Kiki (myalynn) from Washington State
30 October 2002

This is the movie my mom will not stop talking about until you say something like "You need to shut up now" no kiddin. Every Christmas we sit down and watch this movie at least once together as a family. It's a great story and has a wonderful lesson. I actually got to meet the lady that played Zuzu at a mother daughter lunchion my mother dragged me to when I was 15. She was also in The Bishop's Wife, which is my father's favorite movie, so it was such a big deal to her. Now that I am older I have taken to heart the great meaning of this story and I think it keeps people alive even today around the stressful holidays.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Should be compulsory to watch.

9/10
Author: Cissy-Fairfax from London, England
1 February 2002

Most of the IMDB Top 30 I disagree with. The majority I find either a)awful or more often b)Good, but certainly not great. After an hour or so, I started mentally making notes to classify this as the latter. It was good but sort of plodded along with no great direction. Suddenly, the last third of the film arrives, and everything that went on before fell into place brilliantly. I've never before come across a film where the ending added so many extra marks on, thus making the whole film amazing. Only this & the Great Escape I can truly say have evoked every emotion possible in me from high to low, and I dare I say don't even like James Stewart that much either, but he's brilliant & suited here unlike Vertigo.

Everyone in the World should watch this film.

Not quite a 10/10 but a very very high 9.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Too much politics

Author: ivan-22 from Los Angeles
29 December 2001

What bothers me about Capra is that seemingly all his movies have the same vague political message, vehemently delivered, a kind of New Deal digest: thin cats of the world unite! The fat cats are giving you a bad case of Great Depression. That's too simplistic! Think about it: if the powerful are invariably evil, maybe there's something wrong with the system. This movie could be seen as nothing but political allegory disguised as sentimentality. But it succeeds despite itself. The cinematography is stunning, the acting inspired, and it has one of the most wrenching scenes on film: when Stewart meets his wife in the street, a spinster who never met him and who runs away in horror. Overwrought? Perhaps. But also effective. At least two Capra films mention suicide, a most unusual topic in films. The unrealistic happy ending isn't really unwelcome. Who cares about realism? Movies tell us how things should be, not only how they are.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

My all-time favorite!

10/10
Author: Seattle_Slew from Yakima, Wa. U.S.A.
17 December 2001

I love this movie and it's a Christmas tradition to watch it with as many of my five kids as I can get together. It has helped me through some pretty tough times.

As a young boy in the 50s and 60s I grew up watching old movies on television with my mother. Jimmy Stewart has always been my favorite actor, not in any small measure because of this movie. It was my mother's fondness for him that initially led me to this great discovery. Having my own roots in a small community of western Pennsylvania, only 60 miles from Jimmy's hometown, helped to cement my affinity for him as well. I'm such a big fan of both him and this work that a copy of an original poster for this film hangs in my living room.

One of my greatest regrets is that, despite my exposure to what were even then "old" movies during my youth, I hadn't yet seen "It's a Wonderful Life" when I had the opportunity of meeting both director Frank Capra AND actor Jimmy Stewart on separate occasions while in college. I would have liked to have told them how much the movie meant to me. (As if they hadn't heard that before!) I found great pleasure in later learning that both Capra and Stewart said of all their movies, this one was their favorite.

Moving and inspiring the film is a human drama that touches my funny bone and my innermost senses in ways few movies ever do. It's an all-American classic with a message of personal struggle and hope. In all it's simplicity it is simply great entertainment while at the same time leaving us no doubt as to the essential truth of what's *really* important in life.

Yes it's a bit sappy, certainly sentimental. Yes it's in black and white (unless you happen to see the "colorized " version) and granted it's an "oldie," but if you don't like this movie I can only have pity for you.

We all matter. We all have purpose. Despite what we might think at times, it IS a wonderful life and we have much to be thankful for.

"Each man's life touches so many other lives. If he wasn't around, it would leave an awful hole." -- Clarence

At least that's the way we should all live and hope it shall be.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A marvelous and uplifting film

9/10
Author: jeremy-96 from Marshfield, England
5 December 2001

When your parents tell you "they don't make 'em like this anymore", this is the film they are talking about. IAWL combines a simple story told around a character made for James Stewart. A great script and near faultless direction make this a benchmark for timeless classic movies.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I love It!!!!!!

10/10
Author: TwinkleLtleStar
30 November 2001

I think that this is my all time favorite Christmas movie...It's so good. I think that Jimmy Stewart was great in it and it's such a touching film. Every year I have to watch this movie along with The Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph, and Frosty.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I'd like to give it 20 stars out of 10 - it's a 200 per cent Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: Olga Levina from Moscow, Russia
2 November 2001

It has been one of my best-loved films for years. It never fails to move me, I'm never tired of it, I want to watch it every Christmas (and oftener)! For the first time I saw the film (only the part of it) by mere accident: I just switched on TV, and there was some old black-and-white movie. I always was unusually fond of black-and-white cinematography, so I became interested. At the moment George was about jumping into the water, but Clarence jumped in advance, and George came to rescue instead of committing suicide. The twist intrigued me. And when Clarence explained that he was a `second-class angel', who haven't got the wings, I actually lost my breath. The very idea of that absurd guardian angel seemed amazing. By the end of the film I absolutely loved it (and James Stewart)! Later I saw (and not once, of course) the whole movie and appreciated it better. It's so fascinating, nice and charming! The plot is very clever, combining drama and humour, tension and fun, reality and fairy-tale. Cinematography and music are beautiful. The cast is splendid. Everyone is convincing, but James Stuart is best of all. I can't help considering him and Gregory Peck as the GREATEST American actors EVER (sorry, all the other…). I'm really grateful to Frank Capra for the film. It teaches us true values without being preachy, boring or sentimental. It makes us understand and admire what is really good and worthy. After all, it explains that ordinary everyday Life Is WONDERFUL!

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

...and a wonderful movie with some wonderful quotes

Author: Jeff in Fort Worth
28 December 2000

First, not sure what Becca37's problem is but she has some issues that need to be dealt with - by a professional.

With that said,this movie is perfect for Christmas. What made it so unique was during the 80's when the copyright to the movie expired and it was shown 24/7 by every channel in the area. Now NBC shows it once a year but even then, I will sit and watch it. We'll often just throw the tape into the VCR and have it playing in the background.

I can only echo the positive comments made by other viewers. No matter how many times I watch it, I still get teary-eyed when Harry toasts his brother - the richest man in town. Also, I can't sing "Hark the Harold Angels" without first saying "Mr. Martini, how 'bout some wine?" That raises a few eyebrows in church.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

why its not a classic to me

Author: jdmxrain from United States
10 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So the premise is that one person's life affects dozens of people, far more than we could ever imagine and that all of us have value and purpose, and there are some religious aspects thrown in. I do agree that we affect people even when we don't think we do and even when we don't even want to.

I used to love this movie as a kid but I don't love it anymore as an adult. I don't respect George anymore because in my honest opinion, I think there should be a balance between helping other people and following your dreams. Making yourself a martyr at the cost of your life is not altruistic. At least not to me.

Also the movie seems to imply that if the right people don't show up to encourage people that people will give up. Like George is shown that Mary would have become a spinster without him being born. I believe that we should always be our best friends, because someone can't always be there to encourage us.

We really carry ourselves through life even though we may have family and friends in our lives, but we really do carry ourselves through life and we just can't give up on ourselves and our own lives just because the right person didn't show up to encourage us. Its great when others encourage us but all of us have been through horrible periods in our lives when no one was there.

Sometimes you have to be your own best friend. I don't believe that another human can be everyone's martyr and they show that its okay with the character of George Bailey. Sure its wonderful to help people but to be a martyr? I don't think so. No way. Also its implied that rich people are evil.

Why couldn't they have shown another rich person that was nice and decent, to balance out the point of view? Its not wrong to want to be wealthy and a lot of wealthy people contribute to charities. I mean look at Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and others like them. The wealthy contribute far more to charities than any income bracket. Not all of them are evil. There are good wealthy people too.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fantasy Americana (with a somber undercurrent)

7/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
29 March 2006

Heartwarming Frank Capra film which has become (quite unintentionally, I presume) a Christmas perennial. Set in small town America, James Stewart stars as a discouraged and suicidal banker who learns a lesson about life from an angel anxious to get his wings. Fantasy with a holiday theme took many years to garner its classic status, yet it's a shrewd mixture of comedic, dramatic, and emotional elements. Capra's direction is quite sensitive, creating an evocative overview of middle America and the struggling working class. Stewart gives his usual sterling performance, and Donna Reed is a good romantic screen match for him; Henry Travers is the perfect twinkle-eyed old angel. Capra also co-adapted the screenplay based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" (which seems to have a touch of Dickens as well). Later remade as the 1977 TV movie "It Happened One Christmas", which featured Marlo Thomas in the lead. *** from ****

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Not just a Christmas movie; the best movie ever made!

10/10
Author: pnorris from Texas
28 March 2004

I just read some of the comments on this movie and I can't believe that anyone can watch this and not be emotionally moved. They need to see a shrink and to stay the hell as far away from me as possible. About 20 years ago I watched IAWL with a girl I was dating and she had no emotional response at all-- I dumped her immediately. It always makes me cry even after several dozen viewings. I don't wait until the end like apparently a lot of folks, I'm already into it in the scene where Mr. Gower hits George on his bad ear. This movie has been #1 on my personal list for as long as I can remember. Unbelievable that the critics panned it and Jimmy Stewart did not win the Oscar. Another reason I always avoid that annual Hollywood farce.This is absolutely the best movie ever made!

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2 out of 7 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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2 out of 7 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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3 out of 9 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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4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

meh not so great.

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 Frank Faylen). His character was also good. But James Stewart's character was very depressing. He just made this small mistake of saying "I wish I had never been born" and then he really was never born! He still lived in his hometown and was the same person but all of his old buddies he tried to talk to ignored him. Even his family shunned 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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4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A perfect Christmas Film that reinforces core values

10/10
Author: David Daniel Ball from Sydney, Australia
17 June 2006

It isn't shown at Christmas time in Australia on free to air anymore. This film is underrated by those who feel it is very good.

Jimmy Stewart's distinctive, whimsical voice conveys the emotions that hit viewer buttons on many levels. Loss, love and worth are examined for the viewer.

Capra has told this story simply and well, and one doesn't need to be an adult to appreciate what drives the characters.

The community is comprised of people who are basically good.

The special effects were very special for the time, and convey much that is lost by a drop of ink in milk.

I've seen angels. They come to life in this movie.

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4 out of 11 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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5 out of 13 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 17 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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16 out of 35 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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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The original feelgood Christmas film

8/10
Author: Framescourer from London, UK
20 December 2008

Let's be fairly clear here. This is a good film which unashamedly aims to lift the spirits at Christmas in the manner of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It is a rather unconventional film though. The story is of a man whose fortunes force him to consider the possibility of doing away with himself, until salvation comes in the form of an angel who shows him his self-worth. Yet Capra spends more than half the two-hour running time simply showing us this life - and a wonderful one it certainly is.

The point here is that Capra has clearly set out to make the film that so many have come to love, even if they don't remember it particularly well... there's really no need for the third act, as Clarence drags Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey around a sour, alternative world in which he hasn't featured. Capra is determined to hammer the point home though.

He also takes the opportunity to leaven even this most desperate sequence with the easy humour than runs through the whole film. It's a Wonderful Life is a hectic film that careers past with episodes, exchanges and asides that builds up a mountain of character rather like the mountain of cash that crowns the denouement. Jimmy Stewart is the progenitor of all this, driving the pace of the film with his mercurial repartee and Michael J Fox-like perpetual motion acting. All the other parts, well-taken in this film, may be said to be reflected glory as this must be Stewart's defining film - he is the hero by virtue of his recurring averageness and the role sits with him very well.

An unusual movie then, familiar and lovable both despite and by itself - rather like having the relatives round at Christmas, in fact! 8/10

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

THIS IS CHRISTMAS

8/10
Author: kevin c from HERTFORD, England
25 December 2000

The greatest Christmas film ever. It does exactly what it says on the cover. But it also is a film with a dark undertone. Something that Hitchcock would utilise to greater effect from Stewart. So many standout scenes and characters that will go down in cinematic history. The 'Pottersville' scenes are especially good. Brings a tear (or 10) to my wife's eye every December 24th.

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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

No matter what others say, I still DON'T like sappy flicks!

Author: Becca-37 from Rochester, NY
4 February 2001

I don't like sappy, soggy lovey-dovey pro-family flicks, that's all. That's not the very end of the whole world, okay? I'm quite entitled to my own personal opinions, thanks very much. I don't think I have any real problems at all. No, wait...my real problems are all those smart-alecks who make leery suggestions that I see a professional. Okay, now I can off the soapbox, thank you.

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4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Walk On The Wild Side With Frank Capra

8/10
Author: Harv Spangle (content@rimnod.com) from Over the mountains of the moon
8 February 2005

A glance at the calendar tells me that we are now safely into February - Christmas and New Years have retreated back to wherever it is that they go to.... and the large balance of the year lies before us until they will intrude again. The smell of holiday ham and homemade pumpkin pie has been extinguished like a used up candle and the strains of Yule melodies have fled the air. Just the perfect time to take a look at "It's A Wonderful Life' from a different perspective and at an angle which is free from the traditional Christmas messages of redemption and human charity that the movie is usually seen to offer. What I am talking about here is...lechery.....lechery and lasciviousness pure and simple. I am referring to sexual degradation not only in the speculative chimera of Pottersville but also in that great American expository small-town oasis of Bedford Falls.

If Frank Capra bothered to read the reviews of "It's A Wonderful Life" at the time the picture was first released at Christmastime in 1946--there is little doubt in my mind that he would have been at least slightly disturbed by the assessments made that his new movie was nothing more than just a slight variation from his past efforts. His penchant for fashioning heartwarming films that championed the individualism and strong character of the "little man" against the vagaries and injustice of the "system" had, after all, given rise to the pejorative term "Capra-corn". By 1946, however, it appears that Capra was working hard, if not to change his modus operandi, then to at least "spice it up a bit". That is part of the reason he gave us a view into the "dark side" of American society by highlighting the filth and sordidness of Pottersville. What few people remark on, however, is that dribs and drabbles of the parallel universe represented by the cesspool of Pottersville can be whiffed every now and then in Bedford Falls itself. You don't believe me? Well let me give you an example.

Do you remember the scene in the movie where George Bailey is standing on a street corner shooting the breeze with his pals, Ernie the cab driver and Bert the cop? Yes --another nice sunny day in Bedford Falls. Then Violet Bick strolls by. She is accosted by George who has the impertinence to remark: "Say Vi that is some dress you got on there." Violet puts her hand on hip and protests: "This old thing--I only wear this when I don't care what I look like." She then shimmies across the street.... the camera following her receding wiggle for almost a good half block. Capra provides some cover for this ogling by having a middle aged bank clerk type pass by and then crank his head around to closely inspect her saunter. He, in turn, is almost flattened by an automobile that is crossing the intersection in the other direction (the sex as death ethos). But this exercise in venality is not finished. The camera then switches back to George and the boys still staring at Violet....... who at this point must be nearing the edge of the horizon. Ernie pipes up: "How would you like to.....?" George cuts him off by blurting, "Yes!" The trance is broken and Bert stumbles away commenting that he has to go home and see what his wife is doing. Sly and sick Ernie then sarcastically cracks "family man". This is a scene fraught with sexual tension, voyeurism with masochistic tendencies and it is occurring in real time in broad daylight on a street corner in Bedford Falls.

O.K.--want another example? One without that sexpot Violet Bick---who some reviewers have painted as the "Mary Magdalene" to George Bailey's suffering "Jesus". Well how about that virgins of virgins--little eighteen year old Mary Hatch? Everyone has witnessed the famous high school dance/pool scene where George and Mary end up soaking wet. The next scene shows them walking home in the dark--George is wearing an over-sized football uniform in lieu of his wet duds and Mary sports nothing more than a robe. This sweet couple gets right down to business by breaking out the windows in a neighborhood house. Then George tries to put a move on Mary at the instigation of a peeping-tom yelling from a nearby porch. Mary jumps out of her robe in the ensuing mêlée and is left shaking and naked in a nearby hydrangea bush. The use of the hydrangea represents, of course, only the most demented form of erotic symbolism. I always send my kids out of the room in anticipation of this scene.

I could go on and give more examples --but I think you get the point. Even "old Annie" the house-maid is not immune from this carnival of lust and immorality.

Please don't misunderstand me- here. I am not condemning the whole picture. I do indeed accept that "It's A Wonderful Life" is the "American Christmas Carol". It echoes the central idea of the Dicken's tale that we are all responsible for each other and it also adds to that idea the very American conception that "no man is a failure who has friends." Wonderful stuff really. But be aware when admiring the glitter of this holiday gold that it also contains the base alloy of sex and sin. Or put another way--it's o.k. to enjoy the rustic pleasures of walking across a beautiful, green farm pasture ----- just be careful to hold your nose and watch your step along the way.

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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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Limits on infinity...

Author: derekcreedon from United Kingdom
20 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I never saw it on the big screen. I was ill in bed when it first came out but like thousands of others picked up on it much later via television, which had transformed a half-forgotten curio into a Christmastime classic. A good man, worn down by vicissitudes, is rescued from the abyss and restored to self-worth when the community he's supported rallies round to bail him out of his troubles. Capra's orchestration of human joys and sorrows, of frailties, frustrations, dilemmas and temptations is extraordinarily, dazzlingly, powerfully good. But his tacked-on fantasy elements become irrelevant to a point of annoyance.

His 'hereafter' is a cosy extension of Bedford Falls, just dial a prayer to the Chief who can preside with perfect equanimity over World War II and so on but moves heaven and earth to reclaim one random individual from the (pertinently Catholic) sin of trying to do away with himself. This goes directly to the heart of all that's wrong with organised religion. It's partisan and self-serving. The world-without-George would have been better dramatised as a straightforward nightmare from which he awakes with relief to be saved by his friends. Same story, but without the guardian angel who belongs in a lighter-based film. This alternate world is like a scripting equivalent of trick-photography, a leaf through the family album from which all images of George have been carefully snipped while leaving the space around him intact. He still exists along with his memories and he can interact with other people but he's no longer RECOGNISED by his peers, even his loving mother doesn't accept him. In effect he's been blackballed from the club, his achievements stricken from the record. His ultimate oblivion is that of social exclusion, possibly reflecting the deep-seated fear of a good loyal assimilated immigrant like Capra, the American Dream turning to dust.

This fear induces conformity, the need to stand with the crowd and to view with prejudice the stranger, the outsider, those who don't fit the frame, young girls who become old maids, wear glasses and work in libraries. It's not enough for a man to be heroic he needs a medal to confirm it like little brother Harry who gets to meet the President. Everyone must shape up and show their credentials (even Clarence the trainee angel). Bert the cop and Ernie the cab-driver also went to war, we're hurriedly told, though when we see them at the end they don't really appear to have gone anyplace. The point is well taken - hilariously by some posters - that Pottersville seems more fun (dancing girls and sinful jazz music !)- a welcome relief for many from all that overbearing apple-pie surveillance (guardian angels and nosy neighbours). Paradise, like perfection, is relative. And personal. But the truly great Jim Stewart (not Jimmy, he hated that) triumphantly transcends the naffness and the gimmickry to give us an Everyman for the ages. He's the real classic here.

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Magical.

9/10
Author: commandercool88 from United States
1 January 2009

If 'It's a Wonderful Life' were released today, it would surely be targeted for being overly cheesy and schmaltzy. And there really is no arguing with that. It is a movie rife with sentimentality and a sugary touch by the great Frank Capra. But if that's a crime, so be it. If this holiday classic doesn't pull at your heartstrings, I can't help but feel a little sorry for you. For if you let it, 'It's a Wonderful Life' will whisk you away on an unforgettable journey.

This perennial classic is often immortalized every year with an annual television special. It takes us through the life of George Bailey, from seemingly unimportant childhood events to a family man struggling in the midst of the Great Depression. It's a world where the universe is alive with angels watching over us, and each of us has their very own guardian angel. All of this will become of dire use to Bailey after his father's death leaves him in charge of a business he never intended to work for. A life full of dreams and aspirations have, quite suddenly, been extinguished.

It really is Jimmy Stewart's wonderful portrayal as Bailey that lifts this entire film. He is a respected man, a character we come to care deeply about. Bailey is compassionate, selfless, uncorrupt. But despite a beautiful wife and loving children, he is never completely satisfied with the life he's made for himself. 'It's a Wonderful Life' revolves around the historically tumultuous times of the Depression and World War II. During these troublesome years, Capra conveys the thought that it is our loved ones who remain the most important and stable part of our lives.

It runs a little long, but 'It's a Wonderful Life' builds to an ending that's as cheesy as it is powerful. When Bailey sees a world without him, and the true impact he had on the lives of others. These are touching scenes, not only for this season of giving, but it's a film we can embrace any time of the year. George Bailey was no exception to the rule, because as a certain angel tells Bailey during a highly emotional conclusion, "no man is a failure who has friends." This is a great film, one that has lived on through the years to represent a belief in hope and the power of one man's impact.

More reviews: rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=219276&view=public

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If you haven't seen it,what are you waiting for?

10/10
Author: SmileysWorld from United States
29 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is another one of those films that has had so many good things said of it that it leaves you not knowing where to begin a review of your own.I won't spend a lot of time pointing out this film's good qualities because you have either seen it for yourself or you have heard it countless times.I will just say that if you have not seen it,you need to.Not only because it's a great film,but it's one of the best,if not the best acting performance Jimmy Stewart ever gave.He literally took his character from one aspect of life to another with an unbelievable deftness,from the typical guy next door charm that we already knew him for to the look of horror in his eyes when none of his family,friends,or neighbors knew him or recognized him.It was one of the first,if not the first time he ever showed his amazing versatility as an actor,and this could be the one film that made Alfred Hitchcock want to work with this man so much in the years that followed.And it has a happy ending!That's something we don't see often anymore in this "Shades of gray" age we live in now.See it already!

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It's A Wonderful Stewart

9/10
Author: jcholguin (jcholguin@lycos.com) from los angeles
7 June 2003

This film is one of three Christmas time classics, with the other two, The Bishop's Wife and Miracle on 34th Street. James Stewart is at his best in showing to us a life of happiness and great desperation. As George Bailey, a man that had many dreams but sacrificed them for his many friends and family by staying in a small town. Finally, reaching a point of asking "WHY" am I even alive? Henry Travers is truly gifted as Clarence the angel that is sent to help George and appears at times so human. Poor George gets his wish, of never having been born and is given a gift of seeing just how a world "without" him would have developed. Such pain is seen in George as he sees that in life he "DID" make a difference to others. Many people were influenced in the positive because of his life and sacrifice. This is what sets this film above so many, how many of us when in a deep depression wish that we could just disappear also. Maybe an angel named Clarence could visit us also?

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It's a wonderful film

8/10
Author: AKS-6 from Sweden
20 August 2000

So, I was finally able to watch this classic. Haven't been able to find it on video anywhere (not even at the library!) but just a couple of weeks ago a Swedish TV channel aired it and I taped it mainly because I have almost heard as much about this film as "Casablanca" and other classics. Also, I really like James Stewart and always appreciate him in a film.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is certainly a wonderful film! It's cleverly made and the acting is brilliant. A pure joy to watch. However, it is no masterpiece according to me because the ending is just too much, the film would have been perfect if they hadn't added so much sugar in the end. Also, I do feel that despite the fact that Stewart's character should find joy in his friends, that he does have the right to feel somewhat disappointed about his life. I mean, he has the right to wish that his dreams could come true. I hope I don't sound too cynical, but the thing about "everything is wonderful as long as you have friends" is kind of true, but not the truth, why couldn't he have friends *and* a nice career? Oh well... A brilliant film nevertheless. (8/10)

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Endearing Treasure

10/10
Author: vindog
14 January 2000

A film with the traditional values that Jerry Falwell can

only mock with the innocence that can only be portrayed by the

late great Jimmy Stewart. If any film will please the Moral

Majority and the Academy alike it's this film. I can think of no

other film that best exemplifies in a non-hypocritical way what the virtues of charity and faith actualized are. A classic in any age but a reminder in this age of gracelessness and a politically correct but civilly inept soci

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Offcorse it's a wonderful life...

Author: Alfabeta
8 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...if God himself (!) helps you in your tough moments.

SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE. READ AFTER YOU'VE WATCHED THE MOVIE.

This is a movie with an excellent idea and terrible execution. Instead of profound soul searching story we get a tearjerker filled with crowd-pleaser, cheap (in depth and in realism) sentiments and soapiness.

This is also the evidence of how a sentiment can make a movie "classic".

How would you measure importance of your life for your surrounding if not to see the world in which you never existed.

George has all the similarities to an Angel on Earth. He is beyond good, although it's never cleared is this because he is good in heart, or just can't say no. Like an Angel he (apparently) has no free will and takes the roles, others (or God) give him. Therefore he has a lot of dreams he never got to accomplish, although it seems to him that everyone else did. Clarence is an Angel who waits to get his wings. George is an Angel that doesn't understand that that's his role. When in the end he does (by accepting his old life), he gets the debt settled, and Clarence gets his wings (for accomplishing his job). This could explain why would God himself influence George's life directly (through Clarence).

George's town is a Heaven on Earth. A place where everyone live their lives in content. Where there is no evil people. There are few who are weak and therefore do wrong. They are helped and looked at with compassion. The only really bad man is nothing more then cartoons money-hungry villain who will (as is implied) get his in the afterlife.

In the first 78% of the movie we see whole George's life until the point he decided to end it. Then the real plot comes in front.

This movie is too serious for the children (directing, not the screenplay), and it's too cartoons for actual adult (screenplay, not directing). That's why this is a fairytale for adults (NOT adult fairytale like for instance Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World). It's a fairytale because of unrealistic depiction of George's life, not because of Angels.

When George starts to think, about the world in witch he was never born, Clarence takes him to this world. This is another fault for the movie. Instead of an objective view, that George would get, by being a part of this world, he is thrown in it, and has a shock after shock while finding out about his friends, family and job in this world. He becomes a rat in a labyrinth, instead of getting a chance to stand on the outside, like Clarence. This way he could see all the crossroads that changes in his life would make. Somewhat like Scrooge from "A Christmass Carol", a far better developed and made Christmas (and life) story classic.

This Georgeless world is Hell, where are no George (Angel(s)) to make it better. People here are wicked, angry, lustful, envious, cruel and hateful. It seems George got a small shot of the real world.

The main reason why George wants out of it is not because he hated it (he was there just a couple of minutes), but because of rat in the maze shock. He suddenly has no past, friends, family, job or I.D. Offcourse he wants home. Clarence tells him of the people's fates made by his absence, but the shock for George is too big to objectively see the whole situation and he wants home by default.

Donna Reed in this world is a lonely unmarried old librarian... This is ridicules. Donna Reed is NOT a lonely unmarried old librarian in ANY town, world, or universe...

Finally George goes back to his old life and is finally satisfied with it. So the point is that if you save people's lives, leave your dreams, so you can live your dad's dream by running the firm, and not fire your employees with alcohol problems you'll get what's most important in life, and then you'll get the knowledge of what is most important. OK. Everyone, raise your hands if you fit this common life description. Ah... Anyone?

Anyone who thinks this movie or it's writers have anything to do with socialism, should read their Byble again. Religion and fate in this movie are all over the place, symbolically and openly, however they have a subjective tendency and are used very simplistically.

George and his town represent Good, and town without him is next to a cradle of sin. There, talk about angels means you're insane, and compassion is weakness.

There is a strange feeling of flock philosophy somewhere along the movie. George is "at home" with his people, where his smile reflects in others and "out of home" without them, where George is nothing but a rambling lunatic. If he goes after his dreams, he'll end up disappointed, and "his people" "at home" will suffer. His town represents the good old days, and the own without him stands for the bad new days (cabarets and striptease in theaters for example).

Everyone who likes fairy tales, feels like a child at heart or just likes to see what Heaven on Earth could look like, try this movie, and you'll probably be satisfied.

Cast and director are well known and they do their job accordingly. That doesn't change the undeveloped plot. The movie is more interesting for analyzing then watching.

Maybe once the new generations of movie makers will make a grownup story (not remake) out of this excellent idea for soul searching movies.

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This world needs this measly, one-horse film if only to have someplace where people can come without crawling to jaded, cynical hard-heartedness and despair

9/10
Author: stephen_thanabalan_fans from Australia
7 February 2006

By Stephen Thanabalan

In a George Bailey-esquire manner of speech, I say: "This world needs this measly, one-horse film if only to have someplace where people can come without crawling to jaded, cynical hard-heartedness and despair." And that's not sentimental hogwash.

Frank Capra's 1946 initial RKO Pictures box office flop really has become a must see film, might well change one's outlook on how valuable a man's life really is, and is a wonderful story about how important our lives can be, with the blend of human tribulations, angels, and God- bringing faith, and an endearingly effervescent message of putting others beyond oneself that still resonates after exactly 60 years.

Polished as a both moving character study of one man's life story (like Citizen Kane), as well an overwhelming combination of emotional reality that will gently tug at your heartstrings, what makes this film stand the test of time and remain uplifting is that it celebrates triumphantly that 'NO MAN is a failure who has friends.' It then wraps this in a most touchingly dramatic story that at times veers into borderline 'noir' about the trials and unrequited dreams of a common man's life, with believable main characters instead of outlandish heroes, dealing with the harsh realities of giving up Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles for commitment and love, and exploring the psyche of a human's grasp of the meaning of life.

Yet, the greatest aspect of this plot about George Bailey (played by James Stewart with relish, sincerity and an emotional range of characterization that will enthrall), is that it does not drivel to get to its climax- of Heaven sending a guardian angel, Clarence (it helped that Travers seemed like a Disney fantasy character) to goad him to appreciate on reflection, his wonderful life as a result of being given the chance of looking at an alternate universe if he didn't exist (in a fantastic sci-fi twist). Instead, it takes the viewer on an enchanting journey of the protagonist's life in order to allow one to feel his pains (father's stroke, Building & Loan payouts, Mr Potter's insults); romance (with beautiful wife Donna Reed complete with Charleston dances and a humble dilapidated house); share his disappointments (contrasts with Sam Wainwright and Harry); and understand why eventually having to come to the crossroads in facing the insecurities and issues of having believed he had wasted potential, he was willing to choose oblivion rather than existence. Most effective of all, whilst weaving the tale in lovely cinematography, it crosses the various eras that audiences all identify with (Depression, War), helping it strike chords all over.

Stewart's and Capra's favorite, this film boasts some incredibly emotional scenes that linger in film history, including the best one-take embrace scene by the telephone (Rob Reiner cries watching it every time!). The Casting (even Billy & the Raven) was magnificent: the otherwise unknown Reed has a chemistry with Stewart that conveyed a love of the purest kind that really epitomized that George didn't need to build airfields to have been a hero to the ones who mattered in his life, that he'd, albeit unwontedly, already lassoed the moon.

The main qualms with the show lie mostly with people upset at its moral/religious tones due to unrescinding belief that no such good character exists, exacerbated by the fact that its rerun prior to Christmas engenders a huge misconception that it is a festive movie per se (giving it some innuendoes that are as boring to hear as the perpetrators claiming the very film supposedly is). It is cynical ignorance neither to contextualize this film nor to even bother to understand the purpose, approach and point of this film without even the slightest vestige of educating oneself about what this film stands for. Some critics have not even watched it in its entirety! A cyclical corollary of finding it boring in the first place- disconcertingly hypocritical!

Now, critiques of its kitsch over the top 'Capra-Corn' Americana or even its 'subversive' political agendas bearing the peasant class and their feudal overlords may find their cases warranted to some degree. Even so, in the end, these critics are actually forgetting the deal. Who cares if Stewart's character reeks of being a democrat? That's missing the dish!! Why? Well, to find out you've got to discover the film's purpose.

Capra wanted to blaze positivity when he released this right after traumatic WWII (using his new soul-searching company aptly called 'Liberty Films') in an upheaval climate of fear and anxiety to discuss life and meaning out of hardship. Themes of commitment, hope, ambition, depression, loneliness, loyalty, sacrifice, love, pain, despair, insecurities, hurts, and forgiveness and ultimately, redemption are the under girding basis for its purpose. The very point was to prove that life was not about mercenary gain, worldly status achievements or success by anyone's standards- it was and is about the true joys of life if we open our hearts and minds to realize what we have: contentment, and simple childlike love. It's about the greater purposes beyond our own. As for the film being depressing, only those who fail to believe in its very message will find it as such. Plus, it was not meant to be a quintessential 'feel good' Christmas movie, it was only as such because years later a network aired it seasonally- cruelly ironic in that that very gesture was a complete and injudicious affront and lack of appraisal for the film. However, again, the film doesn't need anyone's approval, ratings, or Oscars to prove its value. Anyone who can breach the cynical ignorance and enjoy its message can enjoy it because the film, albeit non-esoteric or 'film school technically gifted', was nonetheless intended for that very lot of people who got it, who understood its magic- people who could appreciate its true meaning of being a crescendo of an affirmation of life, for auld lang syne.

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Where you are affects how you see a movie

Author: AEBarschall from Tarrytown, NY
31 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Possible spoilers -- ending discussed in vague, general terms

This movie is a moralistic one with a lot of important messages, but, dominantly, that it is important to learn to take satisfaction in a life that may not seem as glamorous or as exciting as the lives that others lead.

In this movie, George Bailey (James Stewart)learns that lesson. He isn't as wealthy as some. He's never gotten to travel, BUT he has done a lot of good. He has a home. He has a family. He has lots of friends. And he has helped many, many people to live better lives. He comes to appreciate himself and appreciate what he has.

This was not a fun movie for me. My husband is in the process of suing me for divorce and breaking up our family, precisely because he has failed to learn the lesson that this movie shows George Bailey learning, the lesson that life is not perfect, but it is still a blessing, and you can learn to take joy in something that is not everything you dreamed of. I don't think this movie is going to shake him out of his dogged determination to break up our family, either. As a result, the movie seemed pretty empty to me. There is no angel coming down here to set things right. There aren't hundreds of eager friends rushing in and trying to help.

Moreover, it's a little hard to imagine a real person who has had as much positive effect on the world as George Bailey did. I mean his character is a real angel. How many people saved the lives of two others when they were just children? This just isn't very realistic.

On another topic, my son, who is 10, had a really hard time with the part of the movie where George Bailey is shown how horrible his hometown would be without him. My son found this part too upsetting and demanded that we fast forward through it to get to the happy ending. People had told me that this was a suitable movie for children, but I don't agree, based on my son's reactions. This movie lacks sex (the bedroom scenes are filmed in PJs) and has very little violence, but that doesn't mean that it is suitable for children. It's really an adult movie. It shows real, adult suffering. The period of suspense is too long for a child.

Moreover, the kinds of social interactions that are shown are much too sophisticated for a child to understand. My son just couldn't follow it without a lot of questions answered -- and that was a problem because the sound quality on the video we rented was really lousy, so we couldn't hear even with the volume turned up on max, especially when my son asked questions.

Now for some trivia

I can't help noticing in these old movies that people talk with an odd lilt. The only person who seems to talk normally is James Stewart. Does anyone know, do the other actors talk the way they do because American English has changed with time? Or do they speak the way some Hollywood acting coach taught them to speak to meet studio expectations?

Another thing that I notice about this film is that they have Jimmy Stewart playing George Bailey from high school up through middle age -- and also Donna Reed playing the same range of ages. They just don't do the very young ages convincingly.

Another thing I notice about these older films is that there are a lot more roles for older actors. More modern films don't seem to show very many people with grey hair.

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Best Movie Ever, Period.

10/10
Author: DonutLover from United States
19 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What can be said ill of this lovely movie? This is one of my all time favorites. I love seeing all of the old things that people used to be able to do, before political correctness, and before parents threatened to sue anyone who owned a tree, or a curb, or lived on a street, if God forbid little Johnnie got hurt by not watching what he was doing. Remember the pool scene in this movie? That is such a great part, and shows old fashioned American high spirits, and fun. Nowadays, everyone would be wearing helmets, life jackets, and the pool would have barbed wire, laser beam censors around it. ( not that I'm against pool safety for children, I am completely for it! but remember this is a "high school" dance here, in the movie ). Also, the little dog barking in the house when George and his brother are all rowdy; the good humored teasing between friends throughout the movie; little touches like these remind us of what it used to be like, to live in America.

I love the Christian message, most of all. I love the scene in the graveyard, when the angel tells George, "Harry Bailey died because YOU weren't there to save Harry!" So many tearjerking, beautiful scenes like that really run this movie's message home, and it's an all around winner, for the holidays. I'm not quite so sure it's appropriate for little kids though; George's anger on Christmas Eve could be a little scary, or disturbing, for some youngsters. Frank Capra deserves to get several jewels in his crown for this one, for bringing the spirit of Christmas, and a reminder of the importance of life long friendships, to so many of us at what can be a lonely, and stressful time of year. If we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and wish that we were part of a community like that, then we can go out and start to build that kind of life for ourselves. It's a good ideal to live up to. Basic, good people working hard, and finding the treasures of life along the way.

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A brilliantly made film about a truly disgusting character

5/10
Author: kpw-5 from Canada
19 July 2010

The James Stewart character is self-centred, obsessed with money, rude, short tempered, and regretfully drawn into his father's business, a housing and loan company favouring working class people by giving them mortgages they can manage, only because he feels obliged to do what his dead father wanted him to do (instead of racing off to Europe to play the university game). He does not manage things well, and is financially wounded (accidentally) by the villain (played by Lionel Barrymore: the dynamics are a lot like You Can't Take it With You, in that sense.)

Failing at everything, he goes to jump off a bridge, is saved from suicide by an angel (not at all clear why heaven wd want to save this dreadful person), continues insanely, declares he wishes he'd never been born, is then thrust into a sort of non-identity existence by the angelic intervenor, finally does his one good deed and is returned to humanity (gratefully, God knows why). Capra! Awful, though very well made. Gets huge approval from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. I just don't get it. Patrick Watson, Toronto.

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Let Him Who Retains Nothing Of The Child Cast The First Stone

10/10
Author: writers_reign from London, England
16 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's almost impossible to imagine that this movie opened to ho hum box office and didn't make a cent for anyone involved creatively - which is not the same as saying those 'creative' accounts who can prove Gone With The Wind lost money didn't ensure that some cream found its way into the coffers of RKO - and it took several years and TV to turn it into an international favourite. I saw it myself first on TV knowing very little about it other than the names Stewart, Capra, etc and I was totally blown away. I bought the DVD two or three years ago but didn't get around to watching it until now, and you know what, it STILL blew me away, me who likes to think he's streetwise and has a healthy does of cynicism in his make up and objects to being manipulated but with quality like this you just have to roll over and play dead. EVERYTHING about it works, it's like a symphony with not one bum note. What more can anyone say about the story, the writing, the direction, the acting, all beyond superlatives. Right up there with Citizen Kane though light years different. A ten going away.

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Can I give this 10.5/10?????

7/10
Author: Gaurang Khetan (grkhetan) from California
20 April 2002

I feel this is going to change my life from now on.

Who does not like feeling good? And this is one of the best movies to be made in the feel-good category.

I think that everybody in the world should see this movie. All of us, 6 billion people, should see it together - on one large screen. That would be just wonderful.

Well, nuff said, if you havent watched the movie yet, make sure this is the next movie you watch.

I think they should make more of this kind of movies. These films are a lot better than the best dark ones like A Clockwork Orange, Requiem for a Dream, etc.

Should be in the IMDB top 10, I wonder why its not. Deserves higher than 10 out of 10.

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1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

socialism gift wrapped in holiday cheer

10/10
Author: postmanwhoalwaysringstwice from usa
4 December 2006

Though only modestly received in its initial release, as "It's a Wonderful Life" has aged the film has shown itself to be one of Frank Capra's crowning achievements. It follows the life of the good natured and highly philanthropic George Bailey, who yearns for what the world offers outside the boundaries of his small town of Bedford Falls. It's a sad tale of a middle-aged man full of regret, jaded by years of disappointment and dreams that never took shape.

Told mostly through back story, much of the narrative takes place between the two world wars, and exhibits a full emotional range, as it tells its highly moralistic tale of a dreamer beat down by the demands of reality. Shot in brilliant black and white, often with film noir style lighting and composition, Capra presents a story mostly about the plight of the working class, as they struggle against the repressive forces of capitalism. The fact that such a dark human drama can succeed at being simultaneously realistic and uplifting has made "It's a Wonderful Life" such an enduring film around the winter holidays, but it's far from being just a mere holiday morsel.

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5 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Warning! Spoiler!

3/10
Author: ahinz2000
21 May 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Spoiler, for the most part* While Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart did some of their best acting with the amazing telephone scene, the movie can only be deemed "classic" because of its subject matter. Frankly, this movie is puzzling, and I can see why it was a "box-office flop" upon its original release. Considering it was just after WWII, it could have done a far better job of lifting people's spirits.

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12 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Wasn't What I Expected

5/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
12 October 2006

I've only watched this revered classic film one time. It was okay but disappointing. I expected more after hearing of its great reputation. True, it was interesting but it had too many frustrating and annoying parts for my tastes. It was not the feel-good film I was expecting.

I admit the ending was terrific and brings a tear to one's eye with an inspiring message but much of the film deals with tough breaks that "George Bailey" (Jimmy Stewart) had to face and also featured a very mean, despicable dishonest man in "Mr. Potter" (Lionel Barrymore). A lot of those scenes were not fun to watch; more frustrating than anything else. The movie has several scenes in which Bailey isn't the best person, either, but it could be argued that everyone has their moments, so why not him, too?

Since this is so beloved a film, and such a Christmas favorite, I just expected more of a nice, lighthearted, good-natured story. Instead, I got a very dramatic movie with a number of unpleasant scenes.

Interesting that this would be a Christmas favorite when Stewart's character admits he doesn't know if God answers prayer, or if He's even there. All of this coming from a guy who's attended church for years? Well, at least he found out, and it was a good message.

The "message" was that everyone's life counts for something, that life is important and what you do with it especially important because it effects not just you but a number of other people many times in ways you could never imagine.

To its credit, the story is an involving one. I will have check this out again and perhaps, with a different outlook going into it, will learn to like this film.

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14 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

It's a Socialist Life

2/10
Author: econman from Dallas, TX
1 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me be no doubt a lone negative voice regarding this film, for which the best thing I can say is that it is an excellent piece of propaganda.

The movie appeals to the socialist nature of one's sense of life, and was an anti-capitalist propaganda film on the virtue of altruism. For instance, people who wanted their money at the beginning of the "run" on the savings and loan were negatively painted selfish. Old Man Potter was painted as the evil banker, when in fact a much more interesting and accurate spin would be to look at the lives positively affected because Potter managed his bank so well (he had the liquidity to handle his depositor's claims). Good ol' George, presented as the epitome of the virtuous man, possesses in fact an ethics of self sacrifice. Incompetent Uncle Billy, having "lost" the banks capital in a brown paper bag, is nevertheless sympathetically presented as Potter's victim, when in fact he is merely the price of George's immoral (and anti-capitalist) practice of sacrificial nepotism.

The nonsense goes on and on until towards the end we are struck over the head with what a "lucky man" George Baily is, as he mooches upon his friends and neighbors. The audience, especially women, tear up pondering the alleged "romance" portrayed, all the while the movie advances the philosophical principles of socialism farther than Karl Marx could have ever dreamed. Capra was essentially the Dickens of film.

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7 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

This movie is crap and I hate it!

Author: Billy_Lovelady from Uranus
25 December 2004

Wow, what a stinkeroo! The super-lame kiss between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The Charleston contest, and the retractable dance floor with a pool underneath. Dumb. Ugly Sam Wainwright. Clarence the gay guardian angel. "I want to live again!" Oh please. Donna Reed's big blank Stepford smile. "Teacher says that every time a bell rings, (a brat needs to shut the hell up)." Those are just some the things that I hate about Frank Crapra's boring and schmaltzy It's A Wonderful Life. The film did so-so business in the winter of 1946-47, and was thusly shoved down the throats of later generations and people were brainwashed into thinking that this was somehow a "bona-fide holiday classic." Pfft! Puh-leez! Die, George Bailey, DIE! Your ears get boxed in hell! Damn you, NBC, for showing it too much!

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3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Did anyone read Maureen Dowd's spoof?

7/10
Author: Lee Eisenberg (lee.eisenberg.pdx@gmail.com) from Portland, Oregon, USA
17 February 2006

Since everyone knows what happens, I'll comment on Maureen Dowd's spoof, called "A Not-So-Wonderful Life". It portrays Clarence meeting Donald Rumsfeld and showing the defense secretary how the world would be if he'd never existed. The world would be a much better place: no Iraq war and we'd have caught Osama bin Laden almost immediately.

I wrote an extension of that idea portraying that Fonzie is president and the characters from "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Bewitched", "Gilligan's Island", "I Dream of Jeannie", "Get Smart", "The Flying Nun", "The Brady Bunch", "All in the Family" and "Sanford and Son" are in his cabinet.

But anyway, "It's a Wonderful Life" is worth seeing. Especially the swimming pool scene and the bathrobe scene.

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5 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Very good and very overrated

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
26 May 2005

This is a very good movie. Period. A "classic", I don't think so. This is a movie whose actual quality has been exceeded by its hype--though NOT because the producers or actors hyped it (like the typical overblown and over-hyped Hollywood film). In fact, when it was released it was not particularly successful (especially compared to other Frank Capra flicks).

No, instead it reached legendary status for TWO reasons alone. It was a public domain video (hence NO ROYALTIES REQUIRED FOR SHOWING IT) AND its setting for the movie's conclusion was the holiday season. These two factors worked together to BLITZ the American public from the 1980s to the late 90s (until its copyright status was restored). I remember these dark days, when It's A Wonderful Life was literally shown on half a dozen channels at the same time!! Not even GREAT movies should be shown that much! As a result, many began proclaiming it a classic while some others got awfully tired of seeing it--which is a shame because it's a very good film.

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6 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Atrocious propaganda

1/10
Author: lepermessiahtr from Austria
2 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra, American propagandist and patriot. What a fvckhead.

This piece of sh1t is bad beyond belief. While running unbelievable two hours long it lacks a single (!) good scene, rather accumulating one pile of steamy stink after another. During the intimidatingly dreadful end sequence one just sits with a frozen face, frozen in terror of how gullible people (Americans, obviously) were and are blinded and corrupted by this sentimental crap. If Frank Capra, hack extraordinaire, weren't dead already... well you get my point. I don't even consider this a film, it's a Christian American propaganda piece without the slightest redeeming factor. I don't even have to go into detail how bad the editing is, just like with FC's showpiece Mr. Smith goes to Propagandaville.

Frank Capra, since you believed in Hell - you hopefully burn there...

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25 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

slush

1/10
Author: (winner55) from United States
1 July 2007

I like a lot of director Capra's films - but not this one.

This is among one of the most vile floods of slush ever to be photographed. The characters are simpering when they aren't whining. James Stewart give us the worst, most over-wrought performance of his career - high-school student do better. The camera work looks expensive - and dull. The editing is perfunctory. There's no effort to use film to tell the story.

The story itself is a banal rip-off from "The Christmas Carol" - but the worst part of it is that Stewart's character spends his every moment visiting the 'alternate universe' (that would have happened had he never been born) trying to convince everyone that he really was born, and there is no 'alternate universe' - which makes no sense whatsoever, and completely blows any chance at insightful or revelatory alternate character development, and reduces his final submission to fate to a rather cheap, histrionic "gee, I'm sorry; let's try it again, OK?"

The raw cynicism that went into the making of this film - kept alive by generations of movie-reviewers as a kind of shared in-joke ("hey, let's face it, most Amereicans are just dumb" - would be frightening if it hadn't sold so well - which is the really scaring thing about it.

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42 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

It's A Nauseating Life

1/10
Author: Qanqor from United States
10 March 2006

Count me among the proud minority who think this movie is drek.

I love old movies. And I like Jimmy Stewart a whole lot. But this thing is just awful. And the fact that we are barraged incessantly with it, and that people rush to gush over it, just makes it all the more unbearable.

My big problem with the whole thing is that I vociferously *reject* the movie's main premise, the moral premise that it is somehow good and right and wonderful to live only for others. George Bailey is a *doormat*; he never pursues the life he really wants, instead suppressing his desires in order to serve every other yahoo in town. He's a fool, and the only ending I would consider truly happy for him would be if he were to decide to close his pitiful, practically non-profit business, and go off and make something of his life. I'm sorry, but having a lot of people be grateful to you for being a willing doormat is just not making something of your life.

I'm sorry, I just can't like a movie that takes altruism so far as to say that the only value of your life is how you helped others.

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23 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful reason to jump off a bridge

1/10
Author: johnno-17 from Greece
17 March 2009

Of all the male stars of Hollywood's studio-dominated 'classic' era, James Stewart was the hammiest. He almost always shouts when a whisper would do; instead of striking an impressive pose, he's always squirming about, arms flailing. He's the melodramatic version of Jerry Lewis.

His way-over-the-top performance in "It's a Wonderful Life" lingers like the taste of lettuce fried in lard atop a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich on a moldy McDonalds burger roll.

But then there's the story itself. It's notable that Capra waited until the Depression was largely over before putting together this dreadful lie about it (which is what this film is really about). Apparently the banks didn't spend years foreclosing homes and farms? No one was displaced, we all held together in the small towns we grew up in? Family's weren't shattered and careers not ruined? It's wonderful baloney to serve with peanut-butter and fried lettuce.

It's deplorable that American's think of this as a "Christmas classic." Christmas should be about joy, not self-centered delusion. The truth is, the world would have been the stronger is Stewart's character had never been born. The people in it need to find real reasons for living, not Capra's pandering.

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30 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Over-rated sentimental tosh!

1/10
Author: jef-mead from United Kingdom
13 February 2008

A good reason for banning Christmas! It's not enough that saintly Jimmy Stewart hogs 90mins of screen time without once showing a genuinely human emotion ( other than the rampant self-pity of suicidal Jimmy ) but I've also got to face a blundering angel sweet enough to be everybody's favourite grandfather ( retch ), a sweet wife who should have clobbered the mad drunk with a book on coming out of the library and a lovingly inadequate drunken Uncle. I'm sure my ire wouldn't be as great if it were not for the obscenely holy reputation this film has but right now I'd cheerfully burn every copy of this 'evil' movie! Can't wait for an angel to show me what the world would be like without it, although I can't imagine that one ever hearing a bell again!

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32 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps slightly overrated? *spoilers*

1/10
Author: (tom_riley) from Herne Bay Land, England
2 May 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like a good slushy feel good film as next as the next man, but this takes it one stage too far. The original concept is an intriguing one and needs to be more fully explored in another film, as it isn't done justice in this movie.

How often do people just give money away purely out of the goodness of their own hearts? If a bank ran out of money, or had it 'stolen' by some ridiculously over-the-top pantomime villain, people would not react in a cheery manner. EXCEPT that this is Christmas, and everybody loves each other.

The set is impressive, some of the acting is good, the children are only marginally annoying but the fairy tale ending pushes the boundaries of reality too far. You may argue that in a movie with angels and genuinely nice Americans reality has been pretty much thrown out of the window, but the fantastical plot elements detract from a story that otherwise could have been thought-provoking and morally uplifting.

Starts off good, turns bad and then gets very ugly in the final scenes. 3 out of 10. (Bah Humbug).

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11 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

It's a Terrible Movie

1/10
Author: Tracy Winters from northern Vermont
9 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'George Bailey' (Ji-Ji-Ji-Jimmy Stewart) deserves what he gets after he entrusts the delivery of $8,000 dollars to an old fart who couldn't find his own mouth with a chocolate donut.

George is in the crapper now, so he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all. Lucky for him, there just happens to be an angel (Henry Travers) nearby who does his best to dissuade George from killing himself. After a small eternity of goofy banter and other yo-yo antics, George changes his mind and wants to live again so he can go back to his drab life (though his wife, Donna Reed, is pretty hot).

It would seem that ninety-nine out of a hundred people think this film is an absolute holiday classic, but there are much better seasonal stories to watch - if one has the gumption to be different.

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9 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Close to Worst

2/10
Author: aktatmot from United States
15 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this movie when I was about 11. About 2/3 of the way through it I was hoping that George Bailey would just get it over with. The guy is an idiot and cannot seem to get the picture that it was the idiotic Uncle Billy who has (insert appropriate word)ed up so why does George want to kill himself? How happy I'd be if Mrs. Bailey had, as his widow, run away with the banker and lived happily ever after. Add to this the caricature of the greedy banker and you get such a bucket of swill that the DVD should come with a barf warning. This should have been an embarrassment to Donna Reed -- she did so much better on TV. I'd like to point out that the "Vomit" comment and other negative reviews unfairly blame their relatives for the urge to puke during this movie. It's the movie itself.

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12 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Jon Monsarrat review: showing its age, boring, too religious

2/10
Author: jonmon from United States
3 August 2002

OK, I'll admit it. I'm an action movie buff. Mostly I like it when things blow up, and typically dramas bore me. But I do like a movie with a point to make, and an intellectual theme if there's not too much melodrama.

"It's a Wonderful Life" has a passable plot, but it's showing its age and pretty boring and feels longer than its 2 hours. The plot is a straight arrow without much in the way of clever twists. The attempts at comedy with Charlie the angel are truly awful.

Most disturbing is the religious theme. This isn't a movie about a person who happens to be very religious (such as The Big Kahuna, or Contact, both of which I enjoyed). Rather, this film makes the assumption that the viewing audience will be touched by Christian metaphors such as angels. You could get away with that in a mainstream film back in the white male Christian dominated society, but it doesn't work today.

Who should see this film:

-- film buffs who can't help themselves

-- religious types looking for a Christmas story

I believe that movie ratings should reflect a movie's impact on today, not back when it came out. So although "It's a Wonderful Life" may have been a classic way back when, I am forced to give it only a 2 out of 10.

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25 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Dated. Terrible acting, writing, directing etc.

1/10
Author: conpethan from United States
17 December 2006

People like this because it, I am forced to assume, reminds them of a time past and x-mas the way they like to think it should be. And those are good things. But those attributes have nothing to do with an honest criticism of the film.

Few here actually rate it for what it really is. And that is a collection of some of the poorest writing and acting in all of film making. Even Stewart, not a great actor but one who is often accused of being a great actor since he is endearing just like this movie is, is at his worst here.

If people really looked at this flick without the romantic viewpoint and with true objectivity they would see it for what it really is; A complete a waste of film.

Life may be wonderful, but this movie is sappy garbage.

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10 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Long and dragged on...

2/10
Author: imaqt55 from florida, US
13 December 2003

The entire first half of this movie could have been cut out, and I would have gotten the same effect. The end was good, but the movie was way too long and dragged on a lot. I could have presented everything that was in the first hour in ten minutes without leaving out anything important.

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27 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

Where to begin? (Mildly spoilerish)

1/10
Author: ur20208 from United States
19 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seriously: Where to begin on all the problems with this movie? Doesn't matter. Let's start with the fact that you get to see God. No mortals get to see God! Not even the prophets and the disciples, with the exception of Moses. But Moses only saw him from behind, in one of the most beautiful stories in the entire bible. What's more, why is God a matte painting of a galaxy with a flash light blinking behind it with every syllable of his white male 30-year old voice? It's even stupider than Celcil B. Demille's flame throwing spiral in "The Ten Commandments".

Then there's the characters. George Bailey, no matter how well acted, is the most annoying person I have ever had the displeasure of watching. His screaming and voice are enough to make anyone jump for the earplugs. His stupidity isn't all that sympathetic either. Mary isn't well-developed, and as for Mr. Potter? Since when do brilliant Christmas stories have more cartoonish villains than Dr. Doom or "Silence of the Lamb"'s Buffalo Bill?

Then there are a lot of fundamentally disturbing messages in the film. I do grant that, though obvious, the message that every person does something in their life is worth hearing, even though it was spectacularly over done here. (I've always wondered about the brother. There must have been ten other kids around when he started drowning. Why didn't any of them save him? And why didn't anyone marry the girl, dooming her to the worst fate possible of Old maid?). First, there is no doubt that Christianity is fundamentally real. There's no need for faith, because God exists as a galaxy, and he'll send down an angel if you're a good little boy. Also, suburbia is the best thing ever. There is nothing worse than a living urban city with, oh my god, Negroes. Capitalism is evil. It is more important to be nice to a bunch of people in some tiny town than to go out and do something in the world. Dumb people are more honest than educated ones. It is horrifyingly unthinkable to be annoyed by one Christmas carol played over and over and over. Comedic relief doesn't have to be funny. Two hour films don't have to have anything interesting.

There are other things too. The writing just isn't that good. None of the stories are relevant to the plot, and even the timing is heavily off, all of the good stuff thrown into a few minutes at the very end.

Face it. As heartwarming as this film is, it's not that good.

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19 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

Review (pan!) Pls publish this, for an alternate "take".

1/10
Author: Norm Vogel (norm3vog@blast.net) from S. Bound Brook, NJ
24 May 1999

I've been collecting (& watching) old films for over 20 years, and have over 700 in my collection. Call me "Ebeneezer Scrooge", but I think that "Wonderful Life" is one of THE WORST films I've ever seen!!!! (I'm not kidding).

People today are amazed that it got such lousy reviews when it premiered; I feel that audiences THEN could see what a bad film it is!

What's wrong with it? First, the pacing. The first half of the film (where all the "bad stuff" happens) is MUCH too long; it goes on FOREVER. The part after his suicide attempt is much too short, and doesn't dispel the "depressing-ness" of the beginning. Plus, the scene where the clerk hits young Stewart on the ear is an extremely brutal (& violent) scene for that era; it STILL bothers me!

If you want to see GOOD Capra, check out "Arsenic & Old Lace", "Lost Horizon", "Lady For a Day", "You can't take it with you".....in fact, any film BUT this one!

It may be a "Wonderful Life".....but, it's a lousy movie!

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15 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Too much sediment

1/10
Author: andysimon82 from United States
27 May 2005

There is simply too much sediment associated with this awful film. Because "It's a Wonderful life" is looped 24 hours a day for three weeks prior and post Christmas people feel obligated to give this awful movie a high rating. Due to this films close association with Christmas I can only assume that people would feel guilty to call this film what it really is, BAD. Personally I feel that "It's a Wonderful life" has not stood up to the test of time and is a tacky film fit for the 40's and only the 40's. The acting is not incredibly impressive since the roles are practically made from character cookie cutters, the cinematography is simple and is not even creative for its time, and the plot is not creative or interesting since sci-fi had already covered time travel and "what if" situations by 1946. Therefore I feel that people should stop defending this garbage called a movie, in the name of religion and tradition. Due to situations like this not enough pressure is put on the movie industry to create decent films. This is why movies like Home alone, and the ring become large grossing movies.

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27 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

I've always hated it, and I always will.

1/10
Author: (llihilloh)
26 December 2002

I realize that there is approximately four other people on the planet who think like I do and can agree that this film is terrible. Everybody loves it for some reason, but I have absolutely hated it ever since I watched it for the first time.

'It's a Wonderful Life' is so boring. Now I've sat through some pretty dull films before, but this is unheard of. The thing is, I can usually get into the older movies. I just can't get into this one. I first saw this film a couple of years ago in school, and have unfortunately, been forced to watch it a few more times just because everybody in the entire world thinks that it is wonderful. I wouldn't normally comment on a film that is so bad, but being that it IS bad and entirely overrated, I am forced to voice my opinion.

The cast is terrible. I've never seen James Stewart in anything else and I don't plan to. He starts off good, everything's fine, but as time progresses, he becomes so annoying that I want to jump up and turn the TV off. What can I say about Donna Reed except that she is a horrible actress who manages to contribute very little to this horrible picture. Well, that's about it for the cast, I suppose. Minor role players such as Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, and Henry Travers are equally unimpressive.

The writing and the script itself are mind-numbingly stupid. 'It's a Wonderful Life' is supposedly the tale of a depressed man who gets the chance to see what life would have been like if he had never been born. Okay, so how long exactly is it supposed to take to get to the damn point? The movie drags on and on and finally after about four hours (it seemed like that long to me), George Bailey meets Clarence, his angel, and is whisked away to the life where he doesn't exist. So, basically the film tries to make a point and, I guess, finally does.

There's a couple of people out there who think that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is NOT a Christmas movie. Well, they're right. Why is everyone under the impression that this movie is a Christmas movie? It's clearly not.

'It's a Wonderful Life', a terrible movie if there ever was one, currently appears on the Top 250 list. It's also managed to jump onto just about everyone else's favorites list, but I don't know how. Its nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, among others, is unbelievable and ridiculous. The film is boring, slow-paced, and has no point to it for about the whole 130 minutes. Frank Capra and this movie are overrated and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Avoid at all cause.

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13 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

horrible

1/10
Author: Savannah from usa
3 February 2004

When thinking of `It's A Wonderful Life', only one word races to my mind… BORING!!! This movie is all about trauma and tribulation, and I don't know about you, but that doesn't get the average American in the Christmas Spirit.

It's all about this average family man whom one-day questions: What would life be like had I never been born? His guardian takes him on a journey through the duration of the film and grants him his wish. He begins to see the way things would be if he never existed. He had attempted suicide in the past, and the Angel begins to show him that the world would be different with out this man. The only really good part about this movie is that the Angel gets his wings for doing such a great job on his mission to show the man his value.

Overall this movie is just not that great. Christmas movies were meant to bring holiday cheer and this film does the exact opposite! I give this movie a 1 and I don't recommend that anyone watch it… ever!!! Also, it takes on stressed out person to ever question their existence, and an insecure one at that, and how is this supposed to get you into the holiday mood? It definitely doesn't cheer me up; its kin of makes me depressed actually. So don't waist your time with lame and un-happy movies such as this. Just so drink some cocoa and sit by the tree to get into the holiday spirit.

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11 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Bad film

1/10
Author: Gollum0786 from Newpaltz, New York
27 December 2005

Although my opinion is not the general consensus, I think this is a horrible film. Clarence taunts Bailey, rather than providing a supportive ear (for instance, when Clarence is in the water crying, "help, help"), and when he is in the bar also. I sat through this film once, because somebody else wanted me to watch it with them. I slept through a good portion of it as well, and it was probably better that I did. I don't feel that I missed much, by not watching the film in it's entirety. This could have been a great film if Clarence had been more empathic with Bailey, rather than mocking, laughing at, and talking moralistically to him.

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