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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!
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.
*** 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.
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 ****
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has got to be the most overrated film ever made. The plot is so corny,
the dialog so trite, and the basic theme so preachy, that I cannot recommend
it to anyone.
You probably know the movie's basic premise -- a banker is planning to commit suicide, proclaiming his wish that he'd never been born. An angel appears and shows him how things would be if he'd never existed.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER!
In this alternate reality, the town is renamed Potterville, after Mr Potter, who is the villain. To be frank, I found it to be a lot better than the dull, boring town that the banker had left behind. Potterville, for a small town, has fabulous nightlife; the scene in the bar includes a really good band, and plenty of single women waiting to get picked up. I sure wish my town had a place like that. For me, that was the best part of the movie.
If you want to see a good movie about angels, see Dogma. It's far more original, more irreverent, and definitely funnier. And it's a better holiday movie.
I do not like this movie, I didn't like it when I first saw it back then
but I wasn't brave enough to say so! Over the years I have come to hate it,
and I can't get to the TV fast enough to turn it off!
So lynch me! Well done, yes, if you like sentimental treacle!
It presents a point of view that we are all advised we should have but almost no one does. For me there is a feeling of hypocrisy about the whole thing.
It's a Wonderful Life is to cinema what The Fox and the Crow is to
Don't get me wrong: This is a gem of a film, definitely worth watching at least once, but it really is more of a parable or short story than anything else. Its biggest drawback (aside from its length, which could use a trimming of about 30 minutes) is its cheap sentiment, done in typical Capra style. Beyond that, though, is a very simple yet potent film that serves as a reminder that the stories that work on a simple, allegorical level are often the ones that work best. I believe that due to it being a Christmas movie, people are willing to overlook its multitude of flaws, from the hokey acting to the weak script. It's interesting to see the rather bluntly portrayed themes here still work well today, though thankfully with more subtlety and complexity, such as the childlike wonder in Amelie, alternate realities in everything from the Groundhog Day to the Matrix and of course the very obvious character arc no good story should be without (although Capra is hardly the inventor of this basic centuries-old device, as one reviewer stated).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is depressing, which makes it quite inappropriate for a so- called "Christmas movie". I made the mistake of watching it on Christmas Day one year, and it turned out to be a damper on the whole holiday. Not just for me, but the whole family. The acting left a little to be desired. I will say whoever acted the angel was very good. (I think it was Frank Faylen). His character was also good. But James Stewart's character was very depressing. He just made this small mistake of saying "I wish I had never been born" and then he really was never born! He still lived in his hometown and was the same person but all of his old buddies he tried to talk to ignored him. Even his family shunned him. If you are going to watch this movie make sure it is not actually on Christmas or any holiday for that matter.
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.
I think it's an average movie. It's got classical Hollywood propaganda- and politics. I think people tend to ignore the undertones of trying to get people to stay in the 'homeland' of America. There's also political messages about democracy and individualism, as well as small messages about family life and propaganda about the war. It's good in that it gets people to appreciate life, yet it seems to discourage people to aim higher. For some people having a wife and kids and friends is nice, but for some they have other goals. Seeing the world and achieving ones goals is important, we can't all accept second best. We have to be selfish in some ways if we are to get what we want. There needs to be a balance, but in this movie George lives more for others.
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.
One of the all-time Christmas classics, this excellent piece of work
from Frank Capra focuses on George Bailey (James Stewart, in one of his
career-best roles) who is stopped from jumping into the river in
despair by a friendly angel called Clarence (Henry Travers). We then
see in flashback what has brought George to the brink of suicide and
key events from his life - saving his brother from drowning when the
ice breaks; alerting his chemist boss to a fatal mix of drugs; courting
and marrying his childhood sweetheart (the winsome Donna Reed); and
dealing with the film's token bad guy, Mr Potter (brilliantly played by
the crusty Lionel Barrymore). Clarence then shows George what the
sleepy town of Bedford Falls would have been like without him and
proves that you're never alone if you have friends around you and if
you make a difference.
Interestingly, two direct influences from this film were on the poetry e-zine 'Zuzu's Petals' (George Bailey's little daughter, who leaves some flower petals in his jacket); and, so it is said, on the children's TV programme, Sesame Street (Bert and Ernie, the mad puppets, who are the names of the cop and the taxi driver in this).
And let us not forget, when you hear a bell ring, it means an angel has got its wings!
So, if Jimmy Stuart had really lived I wouldn't sip a Martini now - but
I would know and maybe even befriend a valuable citizen called MISTER
Martini who lives because Lionel Barrymore died at the right moment? Or
is it the other way round? I liked to speculate along those lines, when
I was a child.
Watching It's a Wonderful Life made me quite mad. The message is pretty cruel. It goes like: you are needed here and don't you dare planning to go on a world trip or anything like that. It's for other folks only. This strongly smells of Calvin's doctrine of predestination which, some say, is one of the foundations of the spirit of the USA. The main character is practically denied a free will, due to the circumstances a non too benevolent god arranged for him. I must admit, Stewart's hysterical shrieks on the bridge, as it dawns on him how valuable he is for the community, sounded to me like the first signs of full fledged madness.
Ironically, the Potterville Stewart's character prevents through his sacrifice seems to be a much more thrilling place than the Bedford Falls he preserves, at least to a modern day audience. I am not against modesty, a good community spirit and loyalty, but inertia and values that are declared absolute and unchangeable will not help to solve the world's problems. I don't know how Frank Capra weathered the HUAC hearings, but the rigid categorizations of the citizenship this movie makes in order to propagate American values could well have pointed at him as a Commie sympathizer".
James Stewart's George Bailey is the exact opposite of Gary Cooper's Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, made three years after this movie. The both represent American extremes in movies that I find overbearing and simplistic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 1946 audience quite correctly stayed away in droves, making IAWL a
box office flop. Generations later, after its initial failure, after
public domain, after the not even born when it came out pseudo critics
have somehow brainwashed almost everyone under 40 into believing IAWL
is a Christmas classic, we must face the fact that IAWL is not only not
a great movie, it's not even a good movie.
Treacly, sappy, overlong, exasperatingly predictable fairy tale with just two good scenes and a main character devoid of interest, empathy or sympathy, IAWL is an exercise in futility at every turn. To begin, this is closer to James Stewart's worst performance than his best; George Bailey is a dreamer with his thoughts in the stars, rather than focused on the very big problem at hand. He's a naive, crybaby whiner with just the right mix of stupid to make him truly annoying to one and all. And he takes forever to realize Clarence is an Angel; I mean, how many miracles does it take?
This turkey comes to life only twice - the scene between young George and the druggist, played by the always great H.B. Warner, in which George (brilliantly portrayed throughout by the underrated child actor Bobby Anderson) stops the grieving Warner - who has learned of his son's death - from dispensing a fatal dose of the wrong medication to an elderly customer; and the ending, which, while just as sugar-sweet as the rest of the movie, is so well crafted, it works wonderfully well, giving the film a 2 on the scale of 10
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
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.
There is a folktale concerning St Martin, who as a soldier on a mission of
importance, gave half of his cloak to a naked beggar he met in a snowstorm... the moral being that there are circumstances where it isn't worthy (or
rational) to be charitable to the point where you can't survive yourself.
It's a A Wonderful Life, however, is the story of someone who - in effect -
gives all his cloak, then complains about the consequences.
There's been a deal of revisionist criticism focusing on the political subtext, but I'm more interested in the personal angle. In my view, George's suicidal state of mind is not caused by the greedy Potter or by family mishaps, but by his invariable decision to respond to such situations by throwing away all of his own wellbeing and hopes in favour of others.
His actions are not even necessarily 'good'. At every turn, George lets sentiment completely swamp reason. What if covering up for an incompetent pharmacist led to further deaths? Perhaps Uncle Billy *ought* to be in an institution? Perhaps George should have recognised a no-win situation, made a settlement with Potter and moved on, instead of selfishly saddling his family with a company he deliberately runs so unprofitably that it hasn't the capital to ride a financial setback.
Furthermore, the alternative timeline presented by Clarence is clearly fake, concocted to justify George's failure to break out of this self-created rut. There is no reason to asssume, other than because Capra wants it so, that if George hadn't existed his wife would have remained unmarried, his brother fallen through the ice, or the town's social change necessarily proved negative in the long run (Potter after all, won't live for ever).
Sorry, but I find this film deeply exasperating. This is not, as some have commented, a modern-day Book of Job, since George's problems are not inevitable fate, but so much down to his own choice to be a doormat.
...but not a great movie, and certainly not one
of the greatest of all time. I realize you can't
say that without being accused of kicking
kittens and other atrocities, but that's the way
I feel. Sorry.
I mean, really: "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings"?? Puh-leez. If a Robin WIlliams movie were made today with such a line -- not to mention the cartoonish characters, the sappy plot, the false sentimentality -- it would be laughed out of the theaters. Are we supposed to make allowances because this movie was made back in 1946 when they didn't know any better? Believe me, they knew better.
The only reason to go out of your way to see this movie is that Drew Barrymore's great-uncle Lionel is in it. You should always show respect for Drew Barrymore.
*** 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 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 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?
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)
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
*** 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.
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.
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
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.
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.
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.
*** 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 ***
Frank Capra, American propagandist and patriot. What a fvckhead.
This piece of sh1t is bad beyond belief. While running unbelievable two hours long it lacks a single (!) good scene, rather accumulating one pile of steamy stink after another. During the intimidatingly dreadful end sequence one just sits with a frozen face, frozen in terror of how gullible people (Americans, obviously) were and are blinded and corrupted by this sentimental crap. If Frank Capra, hack extraordinaire, weren't dead already... well you get my point. I don't even consider this a film, it's a Christian American propaganda piece without the slightest redeeming factor. I don't even have to go into detail how bad the editing is, just like with FC's showpiece Mr. Smith goes to Propagandaville.
Frank Capra, since you believed in Hell - you hopefully burn there...
*** 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
*** 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).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'George Bailey' (Ji-Ji-Ji-Jimmy Stewart) deserves what he gets after he
entrusts the delivery of $8,000 dollars to an old fart who couldn't
find his own mouth with a chocolate donut.
George is in the crapper now, so he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all. Lucky for him, there just happens to be an angel (Henry Travers) nearby who does his best to dissuade George from killing himself. After a small eternity of goofy banter and other yo-yo antics, George changes his mind and wants to live again so he can go back to his drab life (though his wife, Donna Reed, is pretty hot).
It would seem that ninety-nine out of a hundred people think this film is an absolute holiday classic, but there are much better seasonal stories to watch - if one has the gumption to be different.
*** 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.
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.
*** 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.
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!
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.
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.
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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