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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.
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.
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.
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
*** 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
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.
*** 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.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
*** 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.
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 ****
*** 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!
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.
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. (****)
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.
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.
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 doneMr. Destiny, The Family Man, etchowever, 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 DVDsometimes waiting half a century has its benefits as the first copy I own will be the definitive package available.
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".
"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.
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!
*** 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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
*** 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.
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.
*** 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.
"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!
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.
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!!!
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
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!
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.
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.
*** 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
"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.
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+
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
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.
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!!!
*** 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 ****
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
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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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
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.
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
America today is described as being selfish or greedy. In `It's a
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
it. Though Mr. Potter owns most of the little town of Bedford falls,
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
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
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
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
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,
who they have impacted. `It's a Wonderful Life' demonstrates that
is important and needed. It is a message of hope, of which people can
to and remember their worth as individuals.
Rating of 1-10 is a 10
`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.
`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.
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
what i love about this film is it shows,knowingly admitteddly,both sides
the human charcter.heck there was even a rock band called "zuzus
how many of us have not thought what this world would be like without us
it.you will miss me when i am gone is the phrase.well this is vividly put
the test when george does just that.
maybe the outcome of a world gone to hell might be over the top but that
surely to reinforce the message that we need each other.
especially after the hell that had just gone in the real
in conclusion any film that shows the worst of this world and ends up
out best deserves a thumbs up...
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.
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.
*** 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.
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'.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+
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.
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
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
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.
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.
*** 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
The power of gratitude.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE:) Remember that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!
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
*** 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
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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!
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
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"!
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
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.
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.
Interested in learning everything you need to know about film acting in
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
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
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,
way he looks into and THROUGH the camera, the film, the walls of the
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
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 ?!? :-)
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)
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!!
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.
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
the people he helped all the time, and Clarence, the guardian angel,
gets his wings.
an outstanding film about redemption and realization.
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..."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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
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....
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
Frank...way to go!
Doriano "trying to earn his wings"
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...
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...
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
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.
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!
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. =)
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.
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.
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.
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
*** 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.
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.
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 ****
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
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.
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
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.
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.
An acquaintance of mine recently commented that she thought there was
an interesting correlation between this film and Orson Welles' Citizen
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!
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
"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")
*** 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.
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.
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
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!!!).
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.
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!
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
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.
"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.
*** 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
*** 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
Just a little more time is all we're asking for
Cause just a little more time could open closing
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
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".
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.
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.
Wonderful and charming classic movie that makes you feel good to the
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.
*** 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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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>
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A true masterpiece.
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.
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!
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).
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 .
"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!!
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.
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
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
and absolutely love this film, so don't think you have to be old and past
to enjoy this masterpiece. Look out for the T.V. listings on Christmas
it is bound to be on!
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
*** 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.
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
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.
*** 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
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.
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.
"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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
First, not sure what Becca37's problem is but she has some issues that
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.
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.
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
"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)
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.
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***Warning!!! Spoilers are ahead!!!! Do not read if you have not seen
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! : )
'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.
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
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!
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I bet you LOOOOVE this movie. Well, let me clue you in.... this movie
Only a dumbbell would have sympathy for George Bailey, a local fool who entrusts $8,000 cash to a crazy old coot who couldn't find his mouth with a chocolate donut. The viewer is asked to believe that everybody in greater township would be a cantankerous curmudgeon if ol' George was never born.... yeah, right.
Thankfully, hot Donna Reed is on hand to give me something exciting to look at in between the stretches of boredom. Many questions linger such as the possibility that the poor half-wits of this dinky town would have the funds or the desire to put together a pot of $8,000 cash to help their delinquent friend in his time of stupidity -- I mean, need. It was all for nothing anyway, since Sam Wainwright wires to George three times more money than he owes.... awww, a good Jew saves the day again. Jewish Hollywood was conniving and cynical even back in 1946 when this garbage was released.
It's a wonderful life???.... not really, but this IS a terrible movie.
It's a Wonderful Life is something truly special, and along with
Scrooge, the original Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alones 1 and 2,
it is something I watch every Christmas. Why? Because I love this
movie, seriously I do. Looking through my 1000 or so reviews here, I
couldn't believe I hadn't reviewed this movie; I have seen movies that
I have loved and cherished since childhood and I have seen movies that
belong at the bottom of the garbage. It's a Wonderful Life belongs to
the former, although I am 17, I appreciate a good movie when I see one.
This is more than a good movie, it's a timeless masterpiece, that holds
up on repeated viewings and never loses its magic.
It's a Wonderful Life could have easily been overly-sentimental and clichéd, but the quality of the direction and the screenplay that others have summed up perfectly assured it was a beautiful, heart-warming and somewhat poignant film. While there are some funny parts, not bursting-your-gut funny but funny in a subtle sort of way, other parts are close to heart-rending. The direction from Frank Capra is excellent, sensitive and nuanced, and Capra shows even more talent as a screenwriter having penned one of the most honest and touching scripts ever in a film. Casablanca, All About Eve and The Shawshank Redemption all had wonderful scripts, but the script here has a lot to say about community spirit and shows that this film is much more than feel-good sentimentality. There is the element of feel good here, no doubt about it, but it doesn't overpower what the film intends.
Visually, It's a Wonderful Life is a wonder. I don't think it is dated at all, the cinematography is crisp, the black and white looks beautiful and the pristine Christmas scenery really does take me back. Some of my favourite ever memories was of Christmas, whether it was watching nostalgic Christmas videos, eating Christmas dinner or singing carols under the Christmas tree. Another thing I have to mention is that the movie is richly and beautifully scored, Dmitri Tiomkin's music here is absolutely gorgeous, lyrical, whimsical, nostalgic and most importantly it never felt intrusive in the more integral parts of the film. And I have to mention the story, never in my life(and I genuinely mean this) have I seen a movie where it communicates such a strong message and so well too. The story of a suicidal man who is shown the value of his life by his guardian angel is an effective, timeless one, imitated perhaps but never equalled.
Finally the acting is wonderful. James Stewart, and I seriously don't give a damn whether he was a racist or not and neither should you, is absolutely superb as George Bailey, a truly complex character who goes through such a lot to get to where he is at the end of the movie. George Bailey is like Mr Deeds, John Doe and Mr Smith rolled into one, and in my opinion only James Stewart could have given justice to a character that has self-doubt gnawed at his essential decency. Also the character change, like that of Alistair Sim's Scrooge at the end of Scrooge, was heart-breakingly believable. Donna Reed is radiant and charming as his wife, who is like a caring lover, devoted wife and dedicated mother, while Thomas Mitchell gives one of his more memorable performances as Uncle Billy. Henry Travers is a revelation as Clarence the guardian angel, but there is another performance I think is worth of mention. For a good morality tale, you need a good villain. Well in the name of Potter, you have one. Who better to portray him than the great Lionel Barrymore acting at the peak of his powers?
Overall, a timeless classic with a true and heart-rendingly poignant ending. 10/10, one of the easiest perfect scores I have made recently. Bethany Cox
I HATE THIS MOVIE.
George Bailey stupidly sacrifices his entire future - and any chance at some kind of life - by staying in his home town (he wants to get out of there asap) to run a faltering business which he hates anyway.
Why should we respect this dumbbell just because he throws away his freedom for others? He does it out of guilt since "the meanest man in town", Mr. Potter, will take over if George leaves the city. It's also hard to believe in blundering George after he makes bone-headed mistakes like letting his goofy uncle transport $8,000 cash to the bank. This is clearly George's screw-up, but he yells at his uncle, "Somebody's going to jail - well, it's not going to be me!". It should be you, George.
Not nearly as 'magical' a movie as claimed by its many fans. See it, wallow in it, then decide if you want to embrace it, or dump it..... I dumped it.
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.
*** 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*** 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!
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!
*** 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 ****
*** 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!
*** 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 !!!!
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.
*** 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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".
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!
*** 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.
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
There isn't anything else I can say about the film apart from the fact that it's truly a magical piece.
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
This is one of my favourite films of all time, and the ending is worth all the pain of getting there.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
"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
"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
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.
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.
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.
I love this movie and it's a Christmas tradition to watch it with as many
my five kids as I can get together. It has helped me through some pretty
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.
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.
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!
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.
*** 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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
*** 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
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.
*** 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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possible spoilers -- ending discussed in vague, general
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.
Stewart plays the saintly George Bailey who, on the brink of committing
suicide, gets sent an angel to sort things out in order for the angel
to earn his wings. Hilariously parodied by more contemporary films and
series, not excluding Married With Children, the idea and execution,
let's be honest here, is trite and cloying. Stagy performances and a
dragging screenplay is really all that there is for the viewer to
mercilessly swallow while the lengthy running time of the film brutally
tests one's patience. Had the director shaved off 30 minutes or so from
the excruciatingly melodramatic and repetitive second act, the movie
would have been far less exhausting, though the silly what-ifs the
story puts forth wouldn't have been any less clunky and witless.
Despite the technical achievement, which is impressive for its day and age, this is one of those classics the popularity of which simply lacks credibility. Perhaps Grandma and Gramps are still able to look kindly on this overblown, saccharine monstrosity, but anyone under 60 shouldn't be subjected to it.
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.
Recently, I read observations from a fan of this movie that tried to
explain the on-going appeal of it for audiences. The idea was that
director Frank Capra had successfully blended lighthearted and
observant touches about the human condition. Also, that Capra had
skillfully used lead characters and supporting characters, many played
by classic performers from 1940s Hollywood. So far, so good...but...
There are plenty of films with light and observant touches featuring great actors that are not as well loved or appreciated by audiences. I really think the reason this film resonates so much is that it is expertly made when it comes to manipulating emotion. It taps into viewers' fears that the lives they've been living are insignificant and not good enough. Once that is overcome through a most contrived narrative, the viewer can fall back on a happy sappy holiday ending.
The idea is certainly not original. It's clear that Capra is combining the suicide plot of MEET JOHN DOE with Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Future from A Christmas Carol.
*** 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!
*** 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.
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
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.
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.
I think I should add that I didn't write this review to agitate or incense anyone. And I'm not denying that this movie deserves its classic status. But this is honestly how I felt about it.
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.
*** 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.
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.
The unique combo of the worst director+ actors+ screenplay+ script made this horrible movie for those who don't know what do to with their time. This was made for all the lame cripples that have truly extra extra extra 2 hours in their poor life. Honestly even today's adult movie stars (they prohibited me from using the right word) acts more real than the leads in this movie. I could understand that people didn't knew how to make a movie back in those days but I swear this one came being worst of them all.I mean Casablanca, or watch The ten commandments or 12 angry men -- they got some class. In every aspect this is pathetic piece of sh!t.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I like a good slushy feel good film as next as the next man, but this
it one stage too far. The original concept is an intriguing one and needs
be more fully explored in another film, as it isn't done justice in this
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).
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.
ITN METER: 1*/10-STARS. I hate Jimmy Stewart, worst actor in the entire Golden Hollywood era!!! He ruined every single movie I rented and attempted to watch only to find this buffoon's face and his insufferable stuttering shtick and having to turn it off. Sure, he is ***dead***, meager consolation for not ever being able to tell him how much he sucked but that'll do. How can anyone stand to watch the crap that passed as his acting???? Like Meryl Streep, dude was a cheese-ball who couldn't act, only hammy it up in overdrive as he played the same punching bag, movie after movie. It should be illegal to own or broadcast this garbage movie ever again. Or any starring this clown. Other than that, too many loud kids in this cheese-fest!
*** 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
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.
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.
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
"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.
I've been collecting (& watching) old films for over 20 years, and have
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!
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.
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.
When thinking of `It's A Wonderful Life', only one word races to my mind
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.
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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