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It's a Wonderful Life
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Reviews & Ratings for
It's a Wonderful Life More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An incredible revelation

Author: Peter Caldwell from New Zealand
18 February 2012

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Capra's Masterpiece

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

IMDb Top 250: 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We found it then and we do again every year.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

Author: s-tb from United States
15 November 2011

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic and must watch

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Its great movie to watch

Author: amikhalyuk from United States
28 July 2011

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The ultimate in feel-good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful movie

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It was a Wonderful Movie!

10/10
Author: ace217 from Pakistan
22 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Afirmation of our Worth

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

So blissful.

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

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

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

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

it is

10/10
Author: Paul from USA
18 October 2007

No other film will make you feel more, or more deeply. No other film will leave you in this state. The immediate effect is something like that of a drug. It leaves you feeling very loving, and very loved, and very grateful. I don't think any other film captures what it is to live, as an emotional experience, so well. Capra was unsophisticated, we're told. His film is unsophisticated, we're told. But there is such a thing as emotional sophistication, and often the other kind serves only to render a man unable to articulate just what life is like, emotionally, how deep the despair and how high the exultation. This movie should be a book of the Bible.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This film is as good as it gets

10/10
Author: cooked from Bicester, England
16 September 2007

George Bailey is you or me as we hope we are, therefore this story shows us what we can be and the wonderful impact we can have if we make the right decisions.

Whilst the original story is great, the screenplay to make it accessible is pure genius.

The players are magnificent, especially James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers & Thomas Mitchell.

The cynics today may well see this as sentimental, but personally I think they're missing the point, if life can be more like this then it would be a good think and worth aiming for. Upon release in 1946 the critics preferred 'The Best Years of Our Lives', which is also a great film, but which is better remembered & loved today!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

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

Author: Mon Theint from Singapore
19 January 2014

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

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My Favorite Movie

10/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
25 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The greatest gift of all - 93%

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

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

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

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

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

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One Life Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 stars

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Tradition movie

10/10
Author: makis_79 from Greece
28 November 2013

(spoiler alert)

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

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Self-Sacrificing Going Too Far?

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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THE Movie

10/10
Author: Mr X from Portugal
27 December 2012

This movie is absolutely fantastic! In all ways! For me, its on my top for sure... I recommend this movie to anyone! See it, you wont regret! One thing is for sure, it doesn't fit in todays society and values, for sure...

Its a shame that many think that old movies, mainly black&white movies are boring or lack quality. For them i can only say that you don't know what you are missing... As i said its a top movie, full of values, good feelings, and its amazingly actual, from all points of view... For me, its a ten, out of ten...

As you noticed this the first review that i make about a movie, and solo because these one compelled me to do it. After i saw it and experienced so many good emotions and values, i felt it was a duty to write this, to try opening the eyes of the film lovers to the quality of this intemporal masterpiece by Frank Capra.

Excellent 2013 to you all, and sorry for my bad English!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply great..

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A Christmas classic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Essential Frank Capra

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

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

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

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

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

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Much more than a sentimental film

10/10
Author: SimonJack from United States
25 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maybe it has something to do with waiting a few years between viewings of the same film. Maybe it has to do with maturing or that mysterious acquisition of wisdom that comes with years. Maybe it has to do with slowing down in retirement, paying more attention to details and people and surroundings. Maybe it's a combination of these and other things. But after going a few years without seeing "It's a Wonderful Life," I played the DVD at home just before Christmas this year and saw much more than I had remembered of the film in the past. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with the warm sentimentalism I had associated with the movie over the years. But this time I saw and heard and became immersed in a film steeped in values and development far beyond plain entertainment or of a happy story with a happy ending.

Good movies of various genres must be entertaining to be enjoyable. Comedies, romances, musicals, and others may provide good talented performances, humor, action, excitement or mystery. And some may have one or two social values or morals interwoven in their plots. But good drama demands exposition and exploration of more values and a wider range of emotions and mores. That is what we see and hear and become part of in "It's a Wonderful Life."

This film has the standard good guys versus bad guys, and the good-over- evil happy ending. But it probes and reaches much deeper into life in its many characters. It contrasts greed with unselfishness, ambition and dreams with sacrifice and kindness, disrespect with trust, arrogance with humility, lies with truth, power and loneliness with compassion and friendship, exploitation with integrity. It's about taking and giving, honesty and dishonesty, hating and loving, family and friends. And as these themes weave throughout the texture of the story, we see the emotions of love, anger, happiness, shame, fear, hurt and joy play out.

In his state of despair, George Bailey gets a chance to see his world without his having been born. We viewers share in seeing the sharp contrasts in the people, places and events that we had seen in George's life up to that time. The enduring message is the huge importance of a single life in the lives of all others. And how one person – each one of us – is so important in shaping the lives of others and the events of life far beyond our own small worlds. We have much to celebrate when we realize how wonderful life really is.

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A man receives a rare gift

10/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
25 December 2009

Frank Capra's sometimes dark post-war film, "It's a Wonderful Life" was released in 1946. It was intended to be released in 1947, but when a Technicolor print of "Sinbad" couldn't be delivered on time, this film was put into release. For that reason, "It's a Wonderful Life" - possibly the most wonderful film ever made - was overshadowed by "The Best Years of Our Lives." But you can't keep a great film down, and as the years have passed, "It's a Wonderful Life" has found its place as an iconic film that means Christmas. It's survived the public domain (due to a clerical error, when the copyright was not renewed in 1974), where it was cut to ribbons and shown so often on television (and why not, networks could show it for nothing) that people were sick of it. Now that it has to be licensed again in order to be shown, the film is shown in its totality and not as often.

This remarkable story of a man who sacrifices his dreams for the betterment of his community and the business his father built resonates today more than ever, when it often seems like no one cares about anything except what's in it for them. James Stewart is perfect as a caring man who swallows disappointment after disappointment and finally is ready to give up, until he is given the gift of seeing what would have happened had he never been born. No man, he learns, is poor who has friends.

I can't think of a better message or anything more inspirational than can be found in this film. George Bailey is all of us, and his story is a reminder that we're all important and, no matter how tough it gets, we need to keep going. One of my favorite movies.

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Glorious Film

10/10
Author: Moh'd Iwina from Occupied Palestinian Territory
9 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is a Wonderful life after watching this wonderful film, a film that has changed my view about life, a film that really made me think twice before doing any action, a film that allowed me to look deep into myself, to find this thing that is called "optimism " which is really our only hope in living this life.

I have watched this movie recently, and as i remember, at the same day or the day before, i have watched a real Italian masterpiece called " La Vita E Bella " and both of these pictures are photos of the good things in life, that we some times forget because of few bad things happens to us. I don't want to talk about the artistic perfection of this film, because i think, that all of us agree about the tremendous performance of James Stewart as" George Baily" and The Brilliancy in Direction that is brought to us by Frank Capra but the thing i want to talk about is what a great deal of joy will enter your heart when you see this picture . First, the film shows us the amount of sacrifice that good men as "George Baily" do in order to see people around them happy. from the beginning of this movie, Baily starts to Sacrifice, First when he get beaten by the old pharmacist in order to prevent him from serving the wrong medicine, then the rescue of his brother, then dropping his dream in becoming an adventurer to allow his brother to study, and much more of these things, these allowed Baily to be rewarded for his acts at the end of the film, when all those people really were by his side in order to help him !

Talking about the ending of the film, there is a great moral lesson we can learn from it, it the old " Do Good things, and good things will happen" which is in my point of view, is the theme of the film. In addition, in the last scene of the movie i've cried tears of joy as if i were him, and as if those people were my family and friends, who are not always there, but the appear when i need them.

Another thing i would like marking to, is the debut of the Angel, which i see a very important thing happens at that moment, the angle throw himself at water to let George rescue him. And i think, the significance of this move, is that this Angel is trying to call Baily's Depth and reality as a good man. Also, the disappear of Baily from life is a very important thing, showing all people, that no matter how insignificant we can see our selves, but there is a whole balance in this world depending on us, and that is our vanishing from this system, could lead to a great gap in it that we cannot understand as long as we are there.

It's A Wonderful job, i can say at the end...Capra has presented a real picture , a picture that sticks at the viewers mind , and could really change their lives.

As for me, "It's A wonderful Life" helped to shape a whole new identity, an identity that is based on looking on the Bright Side of this life....and i really liked it...nowadays, every time i am about to do something that doesn't go with this fact,i immediately remember this Film, and Directly imagine a world without me...and as i said, i maybe an insignificant tiny individual....but i am a part of the balance of this huge Universe !!

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Great Uplifting Story - Too Bad We See It Only 1 Time A Year!

10/10
Author: Jakemcclake from United States
28 August 2009

Possible Spoilers My favorite movie of all time and it has been that for decades.

This movie makes one believe in heaven, angels, miracles, the good in the world, and other things that sometimes in our darkest moments we choose to avoid. This contrast of the heavenly optimistic and the down to earth pessimistic is the point and the reason this movie works. The powerful uplifting super-climax takes place because the movie will draw the viewer into the very bad down-to-earth pessimistic view of a situation, and the wrong way of seeing things, and then the movie lifts the viewer up in a way that seems almost beyond this world! To keep with the otherworldly concept, the movie at the same time teaches the viewer an over-arching life concept of spending life cultivating friends/relationships instead of money, as if we are listening to a voice from heaven that knows all.

The movie was loosely based on the short story by Phillip Van doren Stern, "The Greatest Gift". This was the story of someone who got to see what life would have been if he never existed.

The movie's climax for 1940's was and still is powerful. If one did a remake of it, today, you could add tremendous heavenly sites/colors and music to the climactic words that end the movie, but I really do not think it would add anything of value.

I have read the negative reviews of the movie and I believe many did not get the main point or do not like a happy endings. Some people feel Peter Baily is too selfless. I am happy those views are in the minority.

I watch this movie every time it is on, which probably totals about 1,000 times to date. I'll probably watch it many more times. The ending always is an uplifting experience. If you want to feel the uplifting power of the ending for yourself, watch the entire movie and when the ending comes and people begin singing the song "Auld Lang Syne" immediately turn the volume to the max and listen to the words and sounds until the ending credits start.

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An Excellent Film that Should be Enjoyed by All!

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A timeless enjoyable classic

9/10
Author: John Schofield from England
27 September 2009

I have only watched this film about 3 times but I like it for all sorts of reasons. It has an extremely powerful message and for me it is delivered in a subtle way by introducing it very early on in the film. Its almost as though its a very subtle product placement during one of the external scenes. All of the cast are perfectly suited and that is rare indeed. The film is a timeless enjoyable classic and it does not pull any punches when it could have. Due to the year it was made it could have been reduced to a slick waste of money but fortunately the professionals who were responsible for making this tale had the good sense to make it right and I suspect that the actors enjoyed the experience every bit as much as most of the people who have watched this film in the sixty odd years since it was made. At the time of writing this film is at number 30 of the IMDb top 250 and in my opinion it is there on merit. I would thoroughly recommend anybody watch this film but please pay attention and you will enjoy the experience that much more.

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An unforgettable and uplifting classic.

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is probably the greatest Christmas film of all time.It's certainly one of the best films ever made.The story is basically this George Bailey(James Stewart)is a good man who is well liked,loved and respected in his home town of Bedford Falls. After a run of bad luck he tries to kill himself on Christmas Eve, but is stopped by everyones favourite angel Clarence(Henry Travers).Clarence gives George a look at what life in Bedford Falls would have been like if he didn't exist.Filled with memorable quotations and characters this is uplifting,touching and well acted with a great story of love,community spirit,family and second chances.I find it hard to except that when this was first released audiences found it too depressing.I'ts A Wonderful Life has become a part of peoples lives and an integral part of Christmas TV viewing(or DVD).This is a must see.

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One of the best movies ever made ..... may contain spoilers

10/10
Author: melee-3 from Taiwan
18 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My girlfriend was laughing at me tonight..... and the fact that my prior critiques here at IMDb have been all negative.

So, I went to leave a positive one..... and just as I started writing on my favorite movie, Casablanca, she laughed again, and told me to write on a different film.

So now I am writing on this absolutely wonderful film, one that I have actually watched more times than Casablanca.

I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it on TV, something like 36 years ago. I watched it almost every year around Christmas time. I missed seeing it for the first three years after I moved to Taiwan, then i bought the DVD.... and watch it at least once a year.

I have introduced this film to ALL of my English students, and 9 or 10 of them have borrowed it from me. Every one of them that has borrowed it has loved it, and 3 or 4 of them ended up borrowing it again at some time later on.

This is a timeless classic, that has no barriers, be it time, age group or language (my DVD has no Chinese subtitles).

The story is absolutely wonderful, the acting is superb, and the right people were doing the right roles.

Based on my student's reactions to this film, I can safely say that this film is a must see and will be appreciated and treasured for generations to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sentimental, Heart-warming Tale

Author: George Attwood from Canada
27 December 2005

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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Still Relevant Today

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

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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Potter probably would have won today

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

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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Two Deities

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

This is your only spoiler warning...

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis = = Learn from this...

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Ben_Cheshire from Oz
24 December 2003

A beautiful, moving movie. It takes you on the journey again every time you see it. Every scene is a classic. Jimmy Stewart is quite incredible in this movie. If you ever thought classical actors couldn't rival method actors, see how genuine Stewart's performance is. Two special moments: Stewart's tears as he sits in martinis, and the scene where Mary and George both listen to the same telephone receiver. Its such a magical scene - one of the best scenes of all time. Neither of them listen to what Sam Wainwright is saying on the phone, because all of a sudden the two of them realise they are standing the closest they've been together in twenty or so years. He can smell her hair and she can smell his aftershave. The scene is played out in expressions and movements, and you can read their thoughts on their faces. A joy.

This movie does a difficult thing, something we love to be reminded of each christmas, it makes you appreciate the important things in life. Its about falling back in love with life. Frank Capra was a master director. Not only are his movies brilliantly realised, perfectly shot and constructed, but they contain just enough awfulness to ensure that the endings do not seem corny - their positive messages do not seem contrived - they are a joy and a relief. Frank Capra doesn't pretend the world is a perfect place, but he does something many filmmakers can't - he actually provides answers as to how best to deal with the world's imperfect nature. If you're ever feeling sad and low, or too concerned with trivial things, watch Its a Wonderful Life.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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

Author: Matt Barry from Baltimore, Maryland
11 January 2003

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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film !!!!!!

10/10
Author: Samantha (sammi_bee) from Derbyshire, England
17 March 2001

I only just watched this film at Christmas but ever since then I have watched it again and again. The story line is that a Building and Loan owner is on the brink of suicide because he thinks that he is a failure however an angel brings him back. This is the ultimate feel good film. as it ends with a very happy ending the story line is simple but i think it works. It stars James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. It is directed by Frank Capra. It has a good narrative as it shows the principle actor growing up and helping everyone as he does. The musical score is also very good written by Dimitri Tiomkin it adds to the atmosphere of the film. Just remember that no man is a failure who has friends !!!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A classic

10/10
Author: Wayne Malin (wwaayynnee51@hotmail.com) from United States
27 December 1999

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

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

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

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

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The best of the best

10/10
Author: rtannoia from United States
8 September 2006

The best movie that has been made. Movies are a reflection of real life and there has never been a better movie to bring this point to life. Open your heart sit back and enjoy this masterpiece, there is none better. The best of the best, I've seen a million movies and this one is my favorite. I could watch this movie a million times and I would never get tired of seeing Jimmy Steward face when he realizes how wonderful his life has been. If you stop and think, beyond all our struggles, all our stress, all our worries, take a breath and for one moment know that God is in control then there is no movie that will drive that point home better. This movie will always be a ten. If they find this movie a thousand years from now it would still be a ten.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

My favorite film of all time; inspired classic Americana

10/10
Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
10 April 2003

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) **** James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond. MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FILM : Perennial Christmas classic about George Bailey (Stewart's best acting performance, one for the time capsule), an idealistic dreamer whose out-of-reach plans for himself are constantly set aside for his family and the town he helped in more ways than one. One of the best films ever made about a man's universal struggle with what he wants and what he does resulting with the immortal question: What would life be like if I were never born? Stewart's performance depicts every emotion superbly and facing suicide shows just what a complex character interpretation he has. His salvation comes in the form of Clarence, his guardian angel still trying to earn his wings, who shows him exactly how things would be had he not existed. Best scene: after Stewart is refused entrance by his mother he races into an intense wide/close-up and the registering of fear, horror and finally understanding that spreads across his face is ultimately moving, chilling and heart-breaking all at once. My favorite moment; if you're not moved by this, you 're simply not human. Dare not to sing along at the end to "Auld Lang Syne" and dare not to cry. Definitely a film ahead of its time (originally a box-office flop and snubbed royally at the Oscars losing largely to the WWII American classic "The Best Years of Our Lives"). Frank Capra's masterpiece was his and Stewart's personal favorite films.*Trivia note: characters named Bert & Ernie would eventually be paid tribute as "Sesame Street"'s immortal buddies and Stewart's and Reed's characters, George and Mary are also my parents' names.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

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

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I cried. A lot.

10/10
Author: Pancho Diaz
8 September 2014

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

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a story about a man livilng a wonderful life

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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A Christmas film everyone will enjoy

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A flawless movie that never grows old.

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Talk with Jimmy: Seeing a 'Wonderful Life' through His Eyes

10/10
Author: (g.njoseph@hotmail.com) from United States
2 July 2014

A VISIT WITH JIMMY STEWART: Inside 'Wonderful Life,' a Wonderful Life

"'It's a Wonderful Life' sums up my philosophy of filmmaking ... to exalt the worth of the individual, to champion man ... and to dramatize the viability of the individual." _ director Frank Capra

JAMES STEWART, whom Frank Capra lovingly described as being "unusually usual," the movies' quintessential Everyman, sat down to reminisce about "It's Wonderful Life" on Nov. 16, 1987, not quite 40 years after it had opened in theaters across the country. Then 79, Stewart, in his familiar crackling Indiana drawl, explained that the movie was never really intended as a Christmas film. RKO, the movie's distributor, originally planned to premiere it on Jan. 30, 1947. But its big color film set for the holidays, "Sinbad the Sailor," had to be put on hold when Technicolor went on strike. Enter black and white 'Life" instead on Dec. 20, 1946. "Christmas was just sort of part of it, and a wonderful way to end the movie," Stewart said. "The picture didn't do well when it opened because -- and I know Frank (Capra, the movie's director) feels the same way -- it was right after World War II, and the substance of the film wasn't what people wanted to see. They wanted something sort of relaxing, a rejuvenating film, a lot of comedy -- Red Skelton, Martin and Lewis, who were just coming into their own just then. The war was a tough thing to take for the people back home here. I think they wanted something sort of wilder than this." Another thing didn't help box office when 'Life' opened: a real white Christmas that year. Snow blasted the eastern U.S. Ironically, the film actually had been shot from May through July 1946 at RKO's Encino Ranch during 80-degree weather. Snow was simulated by use of 3,000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of plaster, 300 tons of gypsum and 6,000 gallons of chemicals. The "snowstorm" that occurs when Stewart's character, George Bailey, attempts suicide took three weeks to create and required the largest special effects crew assembled for a movie up to that time. "Frank didn't even have the story for 'It's Wonderful Life' on paper when he invited me over to his house one day. He told me, 'I have an idea for a picture,' and started taking about an angel named Clarence who hadn't won his wings, and that I'm gonna commit suicide, and he said, 'I'm not telling this very well.'' I said, 'Frank, if you want to do a picture about an angel named Clarence who hasn't won his wings, I'm your man." The movie was Stewart's favorite. "For quite a few reasons," he said. "Number one, it was the first picture I got to do after the war, and maybe for that reason, it's sort of a sentimental favorite. But beyond that, I think the picture had the main sort of things that mean so much to me ... an idea with two basic points: There's no man who is born to be a failure, and that no man is poor who has friends. Now, from the those two sentences, the secret of the movie is made." A number of things were improvised, like the recurrent bit where George keeps knocking off the knob on the Baileys' banister railing. "The first time I walked by, it was loose and it came off when I grabbed it. We just left the bit in. Frank and I never discussed it."

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Best Christmas movie ever made

10/10
Author: jgrivero from Asbury New Jersey
23 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is the inspirational story about a frustrated businessman named George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) who on Christmas eve wishes that he was dead because of a man who made him want to do that named Mr. Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore), then Bailey no longer exists and an angel (played by Henry Travers) tries to teach him what it feels like to be dead and how wonderful life can be. The American film institute had the perfect reason to rank this film as # 1 on their 100 most inspirational movies list because of how inspiring of a movie that director Frank Capra made it out to be and of which I consider to be the best movie of 1946.

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

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

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

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

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

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My family watches this every Christmas!

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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Small town life

7/10
Author: Prismark10 from United Kingdom
27 May 2014

In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) is man who wants out from his small town life but something always keeps him from breaking out and fulfilling his dreams. Instead he ends up working in the family loan company, helping other people out. He has a wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four children in an old house which they make their home.

On Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Bill loses $8000 while he is attempting to deposit the money in the bank but loses track when he brags to the town bigwig Mr Potter. The Bailey family nemesis, Mr Potter (Lionel Barrymore) finds the cash but keeps it to himself. George realises when the bank auditor finds out that the accounts do not match he might lose everything and go to jail. George decides to kill himself However an angel Clarence (Henry Travers) is sent to save him and to show him how valuable his life is to the people around him by taking him to the time as if he was never born where he sees an alternate timeline. George discovers that he has made a positive contribution to many peoples lives.

The story has been told many times since then in television, books and films. Even the last episode of Classic Dallas was a variant of this movie based on the Ewings if JR was not around!

The film is regarded as an all time classic and it does have merits for being novel such as the beginning of the picture with a supreme being calling for an angel and the angel being one who has yet to gain his wings that is another story done many time since.

The film is charming, winsome but also a shade too long. The alternate timeline where the town becomes a cesspit looks improbable with Mary being a spinster librarian, a friend of George (Violet) becoming a good time girl and other townsfolk becoming nasty and rather brutish.

Also Mr Potter never seems to get his comeuppance, even during the days of the code Mr Potter still managed to find a way round things!

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A Great Movie

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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A different take on Frank Capra's masterpiece.

Author: michael thompson from United Kingdom
23 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here is my different take on Its a wonderful life.

Potter is Margaret Thatcher, is Ronald Reagen, is George Bush Jnr.

Both the UK and the USA are Pottersvill's.

Right wing Republicanism, and British right wing Tory's are both hard nosed, profit entrenched political systems.

In It's a wonderful life, George Baily's father runs a lone company, not for profit, but to help people.

George Baily's father is a Socialist, in America, a Social Democrat.

Due to decades of Republicaism in the States, millions are homeless and unemployed long term. This is Pottersville.

Due to the same system in the UK since the 80's, thousands maybe millions are equally homeless, are equally long term unemployed.

It's a wonderful life reveals what can be achieved by one person in a position to help people in his community.

And It's a wonderful life proves the other side of the coin when attitudes change at grass roots level, when the people in charge have hard hearts, just like Potter.

After George Bailey meets Clarence the Angel, and Clarence the Angel gives George Bailey his wish that he wished that he had never been born, everything changes and George Bailey's community become's Pottersville, hard harsh people, trust all gone, love all gone, the soul all gone.

Everything that happens to George Baily in Pottersville, is a direct result of not only George Baily never being born, but also of ruthless Capitalism taking root because everybody is looking after themselves, and not caring about other people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/

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I Believe in Possibilities, therefore I love this Movie

10/10
Author: BatStarIndyFreak from UT, USA
15 December 2011

I am a little shocked by the criticisms of the portrayal of George as being selfless amid so much opportunity. I'll admit that I'm nowhere near that level of dedication toward improving the lives of people in a community, but I've known several people of that caliber and have always been in awe of what they do. If you watch George at the very end and all you can think is that he short-changed himself in life, you're overdue for a thoracic stone removal. I, like many, have made "It's a Wonderful Life" a Christmas tradition. One of the bits of magic I appreciate more and more in movies is when the ending brings such a sweet atmosphere that stands as complete resolution to all the bleekness and despair that permeates the plot. In the end I have nothing but admiration and gratification for the character of George Bailey.

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It's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
25 December 2010

A must watch, surely on Christmas Day, Capra's evergreen classic will surely stir hearts and emotions so long as there are eyes and ears and hearts and minds to drink it all in.

Incredible to think it was a commercial failure on first release and indeed was the great director's last recognised masterpiece of a long, distinguished career. The story, of course, is pure "Capra-corn", the last word in his trademark straight-guy-takes-on-big-bad-world M.O. and through sheer humanity overcomes adversity to restore our collective faith in human nature.

I've seen it many times previously, but not for a long while, yet still had to wipe away a tear at the gladdening conclusion as Everyman James Stewart's George Bailey gets his just rewards for a lifetime of good intentions and good deeds and so overturns the machinations of the grasping local tyrant, Henry Potter, played with almost pantomime relish by Lionel Barrymore.

The writing is wonderful, (people forget the playful humour which abounds in the early sections), Capra taking time slot in all the components, before the breathtaking twist which sees George's careless remark, as he turns his back on the world, fanned into flame by his angel overseer, Clarence, played beautifully by Henry Travers. As ever, Capra manages his ensemble cast of familiars with aplomb, but still leaves plenty of room for Stewart's wonderful performance to occupy centre-stage. Yes, the viewer's emotions are manipulated occasionally (for example,the heavenly choir is heard in the background, for all of the last 10 or 15 minutes), but Capra by and large reins in the schmaltz and leaves you thinking that the "wonderful town" of Bellfield falls could have actually existed in some between-wars long-ago.

Although not completely perfect (let's not forget Potter effectively gets away with Bailey's Bank's depositors' hard-earned money), Capra's universal parable will surely forever continue to maintain it's pre-eminent position as a true Hollywood classic, for all seasons.

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"Each man' s life touches so many other lives".

10/10
Author: classicsoncall from United States
18 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If there's one movie I probably haven't watched enough times, it would be "It's a Wonderful Life". The characters, the situations, the message all come together in a way that intrinsically defines it as a Christmas movie, but when you get right down to it, the film transcends Christmas in a way that's truly heartwarming and magical. Jimmy Stewart had that unique ability to put the Everyman into his roles, and this picture certainly qualifies as one of his finest performances. Donna Reed could not have been a better choice to play Mary, displaying a wholesome sex appeal to go along with those traditional home town American values that pictures of the era were so skillful in portraying. Had Director Frank Capra made only this one picture, it would have earned him recognition as one of the true masters of cinema. I could go on and on, but there's really no point in trying to heap further accolades on a picture that has earned it's place in American film right at the top. Watch it, and watch it again, and in taking the picture's message to heart, reach out and help an angel earn it's wings.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A classic film with a powerful message

10/10
Author: Damon Day
9 March 2014

I was never much of a fan of older movies, especially not movies as old as It's a Wonderful Life. Being the ignorant teenager I was, I was turned away from the black and white film. The only other film I had ever seen in black and white was 12 Angry Men, which I had to see for my American government class. Although I surprisingly really enjoyed that film, I was in no hurry to see another like it.

Years later, while going through a rough time in my life, I came across this movie on this very website. I had known the film existed for years, but upon reading the IMDb page I became curious. Maybe it was just because I was lacking direction in life needed an inspiring message, or the fact it was one of the most redone plots in cinema history. Whatever it was, I set all my ignorance aside, looked the full movie up online and gave it a watch.

The outcome was nothing short of life changing. George Bailey (James Stewart) was a very likable character, which made him easy to feel for throughout the movie. The other actors were great as well, making the film feel natural. Hailing from a small town myself, I could relate the family-like atmosphere of the townsfolk. Capra did an excellent job at capturing that quality.

But what truly made the film the greatest of greats was the fact it delivered a message we can all truly relate to and appreciate. It was a message that left me feeling that maybe my life wasn't so bad after all. It left me feeling I had purpose.

This film now holds a special place in my soul and I've grown to greatly enjoy classic films, possibly even more so than films today. If I were to recommend just one film for everyone to see before they died, without any shadow of a doubt my answer would be Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Love this movie

10/10
Author: msmeow00 from United States
23 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my favorite movie of all time. I just saw a school do the play and they did just as an excellent job as the movie. My cousin does a radio show of this play also and thy do an excellent job. I like the message of the movie and how everyone came together at the end to help. It also shows how mean some people can be so they can get what they want, but it does not help them as people will turn away from you like what Potter tried to do to George with the missing money. I like how they brought Mary and George together and especially like the dance scene when they fell in the pool and then when they walked home and saw the house that they end up getting. How George stated home so that his brother could go to college, which meant George gave up his dreams for his brother. Showing what like would have been like without George was a scene as it shows that with you around life is good and if some of things did not happen then things and people could be worse off. I also like watching this in the black and white version vs watching the color. The color I think spoils it. The message comes out a lot better in Black and White.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful indeed

10/10
Author: A56T from United Kingdom
22 January 2014

Like many people I had heard about this film and seen the parodies or things inspired by it but had never sat down to watch the actual film.

However now I am pleased to say that I can understand why this film is so beloved by people and continues to stand the test of time. It's now not just one of my favourite Christmas films but one of my favourite films of all time.

It has everything. It has a strong story (inspired by a Christmas card no less), heart and mixes comedy and drama effortlessly. It's also a beautiful love story between Mary and George as well as showing us the importance of friendship and loyalty.

I can't fault this film - wonderful.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great Christmas (and all year round) movie

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Great Inspirational Masterpiece

10/10
Author: cjkelley333 from United States
10 January 2014

There are some films that I have trouble writing a review of because of their greatness. Frank Capra's masterpiece It's A Wonderful Life is one of those beautiful masterpieces. It's difficult to make a normal review about a film such as this. It's rare that a masterpiece as great as this is shown to the world. Few characters and stories are as engaging as George Bailey (James Stewart) or his story. This movie deserves a commentary rather than an actual review. The movie gets everything right in telling this story. George Bailey gets an opportunity that would benefit every person who has ever lived- he gets to see what the world would have been like without him. George is the perfect character for this journey. He is the closest to being a real person out of every other character I've ever seen in cinema, even Rocky Balboa. George Bailey is full of love, kindness, and optimism, and he has dreams of going places and doing big things. However, he is unable to achieve these things, and gives them up to help his family and friends. We all can relate to this kind of disappointments, and they can make us all better people. And he is obviously disappointed when he makes these decisions, but he ultimately does the right thing. Then there comes a time where he is desperate. George is a good person, but he despairs when he has upset everyone he knows and is in danger of going out of business and going to jail. He is shattered, and decides to kill himself. George has been such an optimist the entire movie, that seeing him despair is truly disheartening, and yet it's believable when he falls apart because George is so human and capable of anger and sadness. But when his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) shows him what the world would have been like without him, he thinks. He realizes how many people he's affected, how many lives he's touched. Because he loves people so much, seeing his loved ones not recognize him is terrifying. After this night, he learns how wonderful his life is, and how much he alone has touched so many others. This message and journey is more inspirational than those of any other movie I've ever seen. Jimmy Stewart is George Bailey. He plays this brilliantly written character with absolute conviction and love. Few actors have felt as real as Stewart. He talked like a real person when he acted. He stuttered like a real person, and didn't always think through what he said, just like a real person. He gives a chilling performance, one of the greatest in any film. George Bailey is It's A Wonderful Life, just as Rocky Balboa is Rocky. He is part of this amazing story, backed up by an outstanding supporting cast, including Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter (one of cinema's greatest and most despicable villains), and Henry Travers as Clarence. No film could ask for more. A+

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

See WONDERFUL LIFE on BluRay

10/10
Author: duraflex from Ohio
4 January 2014

If you want to really appreciate this wonderful film, be sure to see it on BluRay.

In 2009, the film was issued on BluRay in pristine form.

The picture and sound are both clean and crystal clear and what you get is a better audio-video experience than theater audiences had when this was first released.

I personally prefer the artfully colorized version and adjusted my TV with the color level up about 10% above normal. Film to video restoration/transfers do not get any better than this.

Frank Capra's masterpiece honors the ideal of a good man who lives a good life but doesn't realize how blessed he is until it's almost too late. Watching it anytime of the year - but especially at Christmas - is an inspiring experience.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pass the Popcorn review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"Good Holiday Film!"

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Unabashed Sentimental Capra

9/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
21 December 2013

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

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

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

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Wholesome and eye opening

10/10
Author: exelmanagement from United States
20 December 2013

What would the world be like without you? A question many of us take for granted or even don't understand.

This movie not only touches on the fact that each one of our lives are so intertwined that when you remove a single link, the whole chain falls apart, but also it touches on the importance of family, caring for others, and the most important fact, that without God, our lives are meaningless.

Harry Bailey, Played by Jimmy Stewart, is feeling like hes more of a burden than a blessing, but through the grace of God, he is given a rare gift...a gift to see what the world would be like had he never been born.

This journey is guided by the often misguided angel, Clarence. Who, while he doesn't have his wings yet, is still the perfect one to guide Harry along the way. The fact that a sub-par angel can open the eyes of a 'sub-par' man, is a point that is often missed by viewers. It shows that no one is perfect, but everyone, no matter how imperfect, can still help others.

A must watch for everyone.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Bailey Battles The Bully Banker

10/10
Author: Ryan Ellis from Toronto, Canada
19 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

George Bailey shouldn't complain. Yes, he desperately wants to get out of his one-horse town and see the world, but he's got a gorgeous wife, a herd of rambunctious kids, a big house, runs his own business, his brother is a war hero, and he even scrounges up enough time to build a model bridge in his living room. The life! It's wonderful!

Okay, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. George (played so memorably by Jimmy Stewart) must go head-to-head with bully banker Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) on a daily basis. Potter wants to own the town of Bedford Falls and it seems like he's one man away from achieving that goal. It's not like the family business (the Bailey Bros Building & Loan) would flourish---or even survive---without George. Absent-minded Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) would ruin the place within minutes if he was put in charge.

It's gotta wear on a guy to take on a money-grubbing banker when that banker's morals are at pre-redemption Ebezener Scrooge levels. After Uncle Billy stupidly puts a large sum of dollars into the hands of the enemy (on Christmas Eve, no less), George feels he'll be blamed and finds himself in a suicidal bout of depression. Along comes a simpleton angel (Uncle Billy's counterpart, perhaps?) to show him a glimpse of what the town would be like if George had never existed.

You know this story, obviously. Everybody does. Either you buy the cornpone or you don't. Some of director Frank Capra's projects lay it on too thick, but this movie balances quaint charm and epic darkness. The American Film Institute clearly loved it because it was in the Top 20 of both their 1998 and 2007 Top 100 lists. I say this one belongs in the Top 5. I may not believe in angels, but I do believe in a movie that can still wring tears out of my eyes after so many Christmas viewings. It's a keeper!

If this briefly wonderful review made you say "more!", check out the website I share with my wife (www.top100project.com) and go to the "Podcasts" section for our 52-minute It's A Wonderful Life 'cast...and many others. Or find us on Itunes under "The Top 100 Project".

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Still the best film ever made...

10/10
Author: fergee01 from United Kingdom
11 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In an era where CGI dominates and film budgets are ever increasing it's refreshing to watch a movie with heart that is uplifting, and is still as relevant today as it was when it was made in 1946.

I have watched this film countless times, both in the original black and white (which I prefer) and colour and I have to say it is my favourite movie of all time. I think it's because I believe in the innate goodness and kindness of all human beings, and the need for us all to appreciate what and who we have in our lives.

James Stuart is on fire in this film and the way the film builds up to the point of him being on the verge of taking his own life is superb. It sets the scene beautifully laying out all the traits of a good hard working honest man and the relationships he has with the people of his town, and the various crossroads in his life where he has to make life changing decisions.

Stuart perfectly portrays the desperation of a man who realises what joy he had in his life only to throw it away, and his need to get it back at all costs.

Lionel Barrymore plays Potter superbly, the man with only money on his mind hell bent on closing down Bailey Building and Loan and squeezing as much money from the residents of Bedford Falls as possible.

Frank Capra's ability to show the good in people whilst also highlighting the difficulties of life is second to none. This film along with Mr deeds goes to town, and Mr Smith goes to Washington (again starring Stuart)are essential viewing, in fact anything made in the 30's or 40's by this man is superb! All in all a truly WONDERFUL film that lifts my spirits no matter how many times I watch it. If you haven't seen it it's a must watch!

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Its a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: MsBlueKatt from United States
2 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my favorite movie of all time. I can watch it any time of year. Jimmy Stewart is perfect in his role. It gives such a unique slice of American life in the 40's. Lionel Barrymore plays the town banker and does such a good job that for years I wouldn't watch any show with him in it. Donna Reed is so young and pretty - truly the beginning of her career. Ward Bond and Gloria Grahame are outstanding in their roles. Many established character actors are in this movie (Uncle Billy, Ma Baily). The scene where George gets his ear slapped by the pharmacist (Mr. Gower) is so hard to watch - George cared for everyone in that town. And at the end when Harry (George's brother) says George is the richest man in town I always cry -- even after seeing this film over and over.

I love this movie!!

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Butterfly Effect Indeed

10/10
Author: Cyberax --- from nowhere
17 November 2013

I this this movie is one of the greatest ever.In that type of movie where a genius actor collaborates with one of the greatest directors ever ... certainly we'll have a great movie. A butterfly effect made with such realism... full of originality and a simple message presented in a complex way ...that which tattoo in in mind: "It's a wonderful life,yeah,right,your life!". If is any moment in your life that makes you fell you aren't good enough for this world ... thing again , maybe you're wrong , but if were not wrong ...you can do better , so work hard to make you life better and love every moment of your precious time that you have in this world . We all fall at some moment in life , more important is to rise again ,and the more people we helped , the more will help us to raise again. A MUST SEE MOVIE!

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The Film Is Wonderful At Least!

10/10
Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
11 October 2013

Frank Capra's perennial holiday favorite stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good man who has lived for others his whole life who has a crisis occur on Christmas Eve when Uncle Billy(played by Thomas Mitchell) misplaces the $8.000 he was supposed to deposit in the bank, which could destroy his Savings & Loan company(especially with the bank examiner visiting) Despondent,George considers suicide, but is rescued by his guardian angel Clarence(played by Henry Travers) who proceeds to show George what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born. Having been briefed about George before his arrival, Clarence reveals that hated tycoon Mr. Potter(played by Lionel Barrymore) would rule the town, which is now a sin-filled haven of uncaring people. Even worse, his beloved Mary(played by Donna Reed) would end up an old maid, and of course the children he loves wouldn't exist either...

Life is not always wonderful, it's true, but only a real-life Mr. Potter could hate this joyous film, filled with uproarious comedy and poignant drama, showing how one ordinary man can make a huge and positive difference. Unforgettable characters and a genuinely heartfelt ending that will move you to tears make this an all-time classic to be enjoyed any time of the year.

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It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: Opus Bld from Japan
3 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a 1946 American Christmas drama film directed by Frank Capra. The movie started somewhere far from the living world. Two people, who were called angels each other, talked of a man George Bailey. Angels reminded George's memory in his childhood. He was a kind and little incompetence man, but he lived honestly and happily. He had run his own savings and loan association. However, one Christmas night, he was in trouble because his employee lost much money. George tried to lend money from Henry Potter who was one of the wealthiest men in the city, but Henry refused his favor coldly. After that, George was involved unlucky incidents again and again, he despaired his life and tried to commit suicide. Then, the angel, who watched George's life in the sky, fell down on him.

The story was so popular that many people had experienced almost the same feeling of George. In addition, the angel named Clarence had a nice character. His words and behaviors were humorous and human-like. They might be different from the basic image of angel as a messenger of God. The last scene showed how much trusted George was by many people. It was very moving film.

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It's a Wonderful Life

Author: childs07 from United States
22 September 2013

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

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

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

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Great Movie!!

10/10
Author: suat1479 from Turkey
22 September 2013

The greatest movie I have ever seen. I watch it admiringly. James Stewart is the best actor and his performance on that movie is brilliant!. Also I love Frank Capra's movie and I think Wonderful Life is the best one. I watch it about 5 or 6 times.

Everything about this film is well for lack of better words, perfect. No question to it any longer, the best performance by an actor I have ever seen. It's more than just beautiful, timeless or fair. All of Stewart is revealed. Everything coming together for Capra. Lionel Barrymore at his best, which seems to be his worst.

Makes me feel good to be alive. What a wonderful little world it is. And if I waited my entire life, it would not be a waste of time.

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A wonderful film at any time of the year

10/10
Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
19 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Is It's a Wonderful Life the greatest Christmas movie ever made, or the greatest film ever made, period? Certainly many people on the IMDb think so; although a strong contender for the former, I'm not sure about the latter. One is hesitant about pronouncing any film something that eclipses all others, because that means every film you watch thereafter will seem inferior somehow, and I love movies too much to be pigeonholed.

The film's genesis is an interesting one; to my knowledge, It's a Wonderful Life is the only movie in history to originate from a Christmas card. Written by Philip Van Doren Stern, and originally titled The Greatest Gift, it told the story of George Bailey, and how his guardian angel Clarence shows him a glimpse of what life would be like if he had never been born. Stern shopped the story to various studios, and many of them turned their noses up at what sounded like such a frivolous idea for a movie.

But when it fell into Frank Capra's hands, he loved it, and wanted it expanded into his first feature after World War II had put his directing career on hold. After selecting fellow war veteran James Stewart as his leading man, and a rather troubled production, It's a Wonderful Life got the go-ahead.

But the film was met with indifference, where the public seemed to share in the studio heads distaste for the source material. It wound up forgotten about for several years, until the 1970s when copyright expired and the film landed in the hands of the public domain; suddenly It's a Wonderful Life was hailed as not only a Christmas classic, but a shining icon of cinema itself.

What is it about It's a Wonderful Life that has earned it that distinction? When reading other reviews on various sites, one thing that doesn't come through about the film is how little of Christmas there is in it. The framework Capra was working from only took up the last half-hour of the movie; nearly everything before that isn't even set at Christmas. It's a long road that we're on before we even get to George on that frigid bridge, considering suicide on that dark and snowy Christmas night.

Frank Capra takes his time with the story, investing plenty of development in the character of George Bailey. George has lived his whole life in the town of Bedford Falls; he has lofty ambitions that take him far, far away from this place, but he's forever having to make sacrifices for others.

Although he puts on a brave face while giving up his dreams of travelling the world and a college education, secretly a frustration burns deeply within George. He has to take over the Bailey Building & Loan, a job he really has no love for, and he watches friends and family go off and live their dreams and even become war heroes in the case of his brother, while he feels trapped in Bedford Falls.

This type of story could easily become saccharine in the hands of a lesser director, but Frank Capra's skillful direction makes sure the film avoids all of the obvious pitfalls (something the film's imitators often fall into). If George had taken each setback with a smile and a kind word, that is unrealistic, and I'd agree the film is worthy of the term Capra-corn that It's a Wonderful Life coined.

In fact this is a dark, relentlessly harsh Christmas film. Just look at George's face fall when he knows he must take over the BB&L to thwart the ambitions of the town miser Mr Potter, or when he forces a smile at the news that his brother Harry has gotten married and accepted a job offer, meaning the burden of responsibility over the future of the BB&L now rests in George's hands.

James Stewart was never better as George Bailey; as his life snowballs into an avalanche of misfortunes, he handles the increasingly depressing situation perfectly; even he believed this was his finest role. But equally good, if not better, is the film's villain, the heartless and chilling miser Mr Potter, played to perfection by Lionel Barrymore.

Potter makes Ebeneezer Scrooge seem a wimp; this is a man with no redeeming qualities, none whatsoever. He leans on the town of Bedford Falls like the Devil atop of Bald Mountain; he has no respect for the people who live there, and crushes anyone who dares challenge him, with George his favourite victim. He delights in seeing George's ambitions come to nothing, and vindictively pockets money that if not recovered, will bankrupt the BB&L and ruin George. He doesn't even get any kind of comeuppance; Potter is one of cinema's most chilling villains.

The final 30 minutes is where It's a Wonderful Life becomes ever more wondrous, and is the film at its blackest. George's failures have finally bested him, but just as he's about to end it all, Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel falls to Earth and shows him what Bedford Falls would be like without him. The town becomes a dark, twisted shadow of its other self, with Potter as its king and the people as his subjects. It's the film's darkest chapter, and a stunningly nihilistic vision of how things might have been.

The fact that things end on a happy note is never in doubt of course, but those who say seeing the townspeople come to George's rescue is Capra giving in to the soppy stuff before the end missed the point. After such a thoroughly miserable ordeal, George deserves his happy ending, and truly earns his redemption, like all the great film heroes. It's a Wonderful Life is often thought of as an upbeat, sentimental Christmas fable. What utter tosh! This is a film that takes us on a journey fraught with raw emotion, and rightfully earns a hallowed place in the Christmas pantheon.

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It's A Wonderful Film

Author: CinemaClown from India
9 September 2013

One of those rare films people like visiting on an annual basis, It's A Wonderful Life is a heartwarming look at how every person affects everyone else around him/her without even knowing it. A look at each person's importance in this society and how everything would've been different in the lives of their dearest ones in their absence, It's A Wonderful Life works not solely because of an honest heart at its core but also because of its brilliant direction, nicely crafted script, & well, James Stewart. With nothing to complain and every ingredient of filmmaking blending pretty well to provide a brilliant finish, I've no doubt in saying that It's A Wonderful Life is, indeed, a wonderful film.

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The Greatest Film Ever Made

10/10
Author: donjeffries from United States
27 August 2013

Frank Capra produced a quartet of timeless films that managed to combine a heartwarming sentimentality with hard edged social commentary. "It's A Wonderful Life," which was initially a box office disappointment, is his masterpiece. In my view, it also represents the apex of cinema, the finest achievement in the history of motion pictures.

The irresistible plot borrows heavily from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," but manages to put a unique twist on it; instead of Ebeneezer Scrooge being reminded by the spirit world of just how horrible a person he's been, George Bailey is reminded by the spirit world that he has touched the lives of countless people, and that the world would be a horrible place without him.

James Stewart is perfect as Bailey, somehow 'aging' throughout the film, beginning as a believable college aged man even though he was thirty eight years old at the time of filming. Donna Reed is lovely, and the rest of the cast is filled with the type of character actors Capra's films were noted for. There is an interesting cameo from Carl "Alfalfa" Swtizer, grown from his "Our Gang" days into a gangly, rather homely teenager, whose prank sets off the unforgettable scene where Stewart and Reed Charleston their way into a swimming pool.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is that rare film that never gets old, never ages. The viewer can jump in at any point in the movie, and feel satisfied. The movie used to be played repeatedly by numerous channels during the holiday season, but in recent years copyright issues have reduced air time to only one or two broadcasts by NBC.

Everything about this movie is first rate. The dialogue can be, and should be, quoted endlessly; it is filled with Capra's trademark pro- little guy populism. The final scene, where the cast sings first "Hark The Herald Angels Sing," followed by "Auld Lang Syne," never fails to bring a tear to my eye, from the moment younger brother Harry Bailey proposes a toast, "To my big brother George, the richest man in town."

Capra's movies always inspired, but this one is in a class of its own. To watch James Stewart, cradling little Zuzu in his arms, while his friends and neighbors shower him with money and affection, is to understand how powerful this medium can be, and how in the hands of a truly good soul like Capra's, that message can be positive and uplifting. The lesson everyone should take away from this film is: "It IS A Wonderful Life."

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A really wonderful heartwarming movie...

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

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

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

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

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I want to live again

10/10
Author: elmag101 from US
14 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is by far the greatest Christmas movie ever made, and one of the greatest movies ever made. It is not Christmas until my family and I watch this. It in cases every meaning of Christmas but can, and should, be watched all year long. When I was little I thought this movie was just boring and long but now I see that the movie takes it's time so as to develop George Bailey. From the very beginning we see George (James Stewart, in a wonderful performance) saving his brother from the frozen pond and his boss from overdosing a woman. We actually care about him and feel bad when others take advantage of his kindness (his brother in particular. This doesn't happen in today's movies a lot.

In the end, after George wishes that he was never born, he sees that every man touches the lives of countless others. One of the best lines in the movie is when he begs for his life back and cries out "I want to live again". Such a simple line gets me every time.

If you have never seen this movie you may have seen a TV show that has used this story line:man gets down on his luck, worth more dead than alive and wishes he was never born and then sees how bad live would be if he never was born. This movie will make you see the good in man and the evil that tries to bring us down.

Just watch and see just how wonderful life is.

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'The Greatest Gift' that became 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE'

10/10
Author: Morgan Rhys from United Kingdom
6 August 2013

There is no film quite as fantastic as 'It's a Wonderful Life'. A beautiful script from Goodrich/Hackett and of course Frank Capra, the magician. The person who turned Phillip Van Doren Stern's short story 'The Greatest Gift' into a masterpiece. And of course lets not forget Jo Swerling for the additional scenes that made the movie an American classic. Acting was another grand part of the story. Full of great actors such as Ward Bond, Todd Karns, W.B. Warner, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame, Frank Faylen and Frank Alberson. But the performances from James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers were Oscar bound and unforgettable. Even if 'IAWL' didn't win any Oscars, it is still the most powerful and most celebrated movie of all time.

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Holy mackerel, what a film.

10/10
Author: transylvanianfairy from Spain
4 July 2013

It's been a while since I last cried so much with joy after watching a film. The last minutes of It's a Wonderful Life are so beautiful and heart-melting that you'll probably want to stand up and clap! At least I did. I can't think of any flaw in this film. The acting is perfect, and James Stewart and Donna Reed shine out with their own light. The script is funny, witty and sometimes even sad. But what's most important about this film is its message; that life is often hard, but always beautiful, and something you should never give up on. Definitely, this movie is a classic that should be celebrated for the years to come. No matter if you're an adult or a child, you'll enjoy it.

10/10.

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Simply an annual "Can't Miss"!

10/10
Author: Blind Sight from Canada
2 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The acting is what you would expect from this excellent cast and they don't fail to deliver.

This is one of those classics where the winter holiday season isn't complete without seeing this movie.

While the plot is fascinating and intriguing, the human dynamics and character complexity is what makes this film so compelling. The evolution of George Bailey - from a compassionate youth, to a bitter and broken man that cannot see any end to a dark and foreboding tunnel, is both subtle and thoroughly real. There are very few people who cannot relate to that kind of despair, and his return-trip to salvation never fails to be uplifting.

Fantastic film.

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Wonderful Stuff, eventually

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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A timeless classic

10/10
Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
10 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This classic film opens with the voices of various people praying for George Bailey; it is clear that their prayers will be answered when voices in the heavens discuss how to help him. Angel Clarence will be assigned to save George but first Clarence, and the audience, must see how George came to be considering suicide. As a child George Bailey dreamt of getting out of the small town of Bedford Falls; he wanted to see the world, get an education then make his mark on the world. It wasn't to be though; he constantly sacrifices his dreams to help others. This leaves him stuck in the town running the savings and loan company that his father ran. It isn't a job he wanted but he does it anyway giving loans to people nobody else will help. This makes him popular with everybody apart from the miserly Mr. Potter who doesn't like to see the people who were paying him to rent slums buying their own houses. The years pass and George gets married and has children; he isn't rich but he is content; then one day Potter gets the opportunity to ruin George; thinking the only way he can help his family is to kill himself for the insurance we get to the point the film started. As he hits the depth of despair Clarence appears in his life and showed him just what the town would have been like if George had never been born; a miserably place full of bitter people lorded over by the odious Potter. When George returns he understands what good friends he has.

I'd obviously heard of this film a long time ago but had somehow never seen it until today. I knew the film was considered a classic and think James Stewart was a fine actor so I had to watch it when it was on television. Now that I have seen it I ban see why it is held in such high regard. I was a little put off by the opening but once we started seeing George's life from the time he saved his brother's life when he was twelve till the very end I was engrossed. Stewart did a great job as George; the man destined to miss out on his dream each time it looked as though it would come true... even the moment he was about to go away on his honeymoon was ruined meaning he couldn't go. It isn't all disappointment though; there are many joyful scenes as George helps various people and falls in love and then marries Mary Hatch. By the end it is likely that the viewer will have shed tears of both sorrow and joy. If you haven't seen it yet watch it the next chance you get and if you have seen it I'm sure you don't need anybody else to tell you how good it is!

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Its Really Is,

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

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

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

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A Christmas Carol in Reverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful film!

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

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

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

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

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A fabulous ode to life, love and solidarity

10/10
Author: pedro_quide from Portugal
28 December 2012

A fabulous ode to life, love and solidarity.

It is one of the most beautiful Christmas stories, although not exactly about Christmas. It is about how real miracles happen in our daily life. It shows us how to live life in happiness, love and solidarity.

In a small town in the United States, George Bailey, a man who tried all his life to be fair, honest, caring and good, has reached the limit of its mental, physical and financial strengths. It's right on the verge of losing everything he has and leave his family destitute unless a miracle happens this Christmas. But as George does not believe in miracles, he decides to commit suicide by throwing himself to the icy river. When he is about to jump he is prevented from doing so by a stranger named Clarence, actually an angel trying to earn his wings. He will prove to George, who wished never to exist, the importance of his life and show him the nightmare that his city could have turned if he had not existed.

Technically it is a bit poor, with bad cuts inside same scenes, but we must care that this is a 1946 movie and this doesn't takes down the 10/10 rating I gave. A remake of this movie should be made in order to update such a remarkable story.

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Masterpiece, classic or both...

10/10
Author: Morgan Rhys from United Kingdom
24 December 2012

What can I say about 'It's a Wonderful Life'. I have just watched the film this evening on Christmas Eve 2012, and every time I watch the movie, it just gets more powerful and grander each year. The film is on top of thousands of peoples lists around the world as the greatest film ever made. It is definitely my favourite film. I am seventeen years old, and you would think the magic of 'It's a Wonderful Life' would die out in the older generations, but no, it gets more magical through every generation that comes.

Have you ever herd the expression, "They don't make films like that anymore." Well, the thing is, they don't. And really, there is never going to be anything in the whole history of motion pictures that will be greater than this masterpiece classic. The moral to this film is that no man is a failure who has friends (as written by Clarence inside the 'Tom Sawyer' book in the film).

The film is brilliantly casted with exceptional roles from James Stewart (who should have won an Oscar for the role, never mind just getting a nomination), Donna Reed (the smart and beautiful actress who every man would love to be an ideal wife or mother), and Lionel Barrymore (for his exceptional role as the wicked Scrooge like character, Mr. Potter). The film was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, you can thank 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946) and the film critics for that. Really nowadays, you don't hear anyone talking about that film. A lot of films that are at the top of polls have never won an award anyway, like 'The Shawshank Redemption' (1992). Both 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'The Shawshank Redemption' topped a poll in the Empire magazine for the greatest film never to win an Oscar (IAWL came second). But gladly, the film did win a Golden Globe for Best Directing (Frank Capra) in 1947. So not all was lost.

Overall, this film is a masterpiece and a classic, and for those people who have voted the film under seven, what are you thinking? 10 out of 10!!!

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It's a Wonderful movie

10/10
Author: omar wasief from Egypt
24 December 2012

It's a Wonderful Life opens with an overhead shot from the heavens: Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), an angel aspiring to obtain his wings, is being treated to a portrait of the life of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who's contemplating taking his own life. Clarence is told that the elusive wings can be his if he shows George what a terrible mistake he'd be making, and through flashbacks, we begin to see why. From early in life, when George saved his brother from drowning in a freezing hole in the ice after a sledding mishap—which cost George the hearing in his left ear—he put the needs of others ahead of his own, and hated to see anyone unhappy. From stopping a shopkeeper from accidentally poisoning a child, to refusing to sell his late father's savings and loans business to scrooge clone Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore) despite the business' lack of profitability, Bailey lived true to his principles. Capra gracefully paints the portrait of a man whose combination of sophistication, intellect, and quick wit could have made him rich as can be, but simply refused to let anyone down, and thus gave up any hope of wealth. No scene is more emblematic of Bailey's noble sensibilities than when his brother Harry (Todd Karns) returns home from four years away. George had been running the savings-and-loans with the understanding that Harry would take things over when he got back, but at the train station, Harry springs the news: he's engaged to be married, and his father-in-law has offered him a job elsewhere, a job that his wife desperately wants him to take. In a staggeringly brilliant piece of acting by Stewart, a brief shadow flashes across George's face, a moment of disappointment that his dreams of leaving Bedford Falls are hanging in the balance. Harry, sensing this, nervously says that he hasn't accepted the job yet, and that they could talk about it. But as quickly as it appeared, the shadow passes, and George smiles broadly, slaps his brother across the back, and whoops, "what am I doing, congratulations! Let's celebrate!" The scene, which could have easily been cloying and unconvincing, feels 100% genuine, in large part to Stewart—who is absolutely dazzling throughout—but also because Capra has so smoothly built up George's morals and integrity that it would have felt unnatural if he'd done anything else. Still, that doesn't ease the tug we feel at our hearts, that George may never escape his struggles despite his warmth and skill set. We see more of George's goodness in his relationship with Mary (Donna Reed), an attractive-but-unspectacular lady from town.

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A very good family film

8/10
Author: Jose Cruz
4 November 2012

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

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

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Wonderful, but not perfect

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Depressed about how your life turned out? Watch this film

7/10
Author: msaz12
1 July 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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The Best Movie Ever Made?

Author: michaelhasenstab from United States
12 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A few years ago some friends were sitting around the living room discussing movies as we like to do when there is nothing else to talk about, or even when there is. Someone asked everyone to name the best movie ever made, a nearly impossible feat to do if you have seen a lot of movies. *Citizen Kane*, *The Wizard of Oz*, *The Godfather* and other titles came up, but then I blurted out *It's A Wonderful Life*(IAWL), surprising even myself. No one seemed to take me seriously, but I insisted and explained. The original purpose of the motion picture, as I understand it to be, is to entertain, which can mean a lot of things, of course. IAWL makes people both laugh and cry. It insists on tugging at every emotion, even anger. We laugh when George and Mary fall into the swimming pool and later loses her robe, the only thing she has on. We cry when George and Mary are on the phone as he uses all of his strength to deny the fact that he loves Mary. It angers us to see George hurt Mary. They kiss. We cry. It's a victory over George's denial, also, that he is a human being. We celebrate their marriage, and are thrown into suspense when the bank is about to collapse. And we are again glad to see George be a human being, generous financially and spiritually. And we see Mary and George becoming one on spirit as she helps him save the bank with the money they were saving for their honeymoon. We hate Potter, the embodiment of evil--greed and envy. We even want to kill Uncle Billy for being so stupid, so lame brained as to lose the bank's money and cause incredible chaos and deep despair. And on Christmas Eve yet? We feel deeply for George Bailey, for Mary, for their children when Dad comes home and tears the house from limb to limb in utter frustration. The situation appears utterly hopeless.

This film has emotional ups and downs until now--it becomes bleak,dark and hardly what one would call sentimental. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed give the performances of their careers. And the camera closes in on a terrified man, alone with his worries. He gets drunk and in his darkest moment decides to kill himself. On Christmas Eve? Then Capra saves us all by introducing Clarence to George. The movie takes a refreshing break from the hell we were in, but doesn't stay there for long. George gets to see his world if he had not been a part of it. We see George Bailey as the antithetical Scrooge. Scrooge makes people miserable. George makes people smile. But without George (without each of us) we see a world that seemed to have been created by Dickens' nastiest character. This changes George's attitude and ours.

Capra's masterpiece is the epitome of entertainment--an emotional tilt- a-whirl that leaves us completely satisfied. This is why it is the best film ever made. Not one line, not one move, not one scene, not even the snow, seems artificial. Whether or not angels exist, we do have something else--hope. Without it, the earth would collapse. And without the tiniest bit of goodness we all have within us, this world would be all Pottersville, heartless and meaningless. If that is schmaltz, let there be SCHMALTZ! *It's a Wonderful Life* is indeed the best movie ever made because it is the most entertaining film ever made

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It's a Wonderful Life

9/10
Author: samlane86 from United States
5 January 2011

I don't know how many times I've see It's a Wonderful Life over the years. But after seeing a clip from it in The Ref a couple weeks ago and after hearing references to it in various findings on the internet, I got a hankering to watch it again over the holiday season (I was a day late for Christmas, but close enough). This was the first time I'd watched it in years, and I was amazed how much more you pick up in such a familiar film when you're older.

I was surprised by the overt sexual overtones in at least two scenes between George and Mary that I was to young to recognize in years past. And, while this was more of a reminder than a realization, the depth of darkness this film reaches is quite shocking, especially for its time. And yet there was always a shimmer of light in that darkness. I was struck by the scene (major spoilers if any of you haven't seen this classic film) when George is contemplating suicide. Even at his darkest hour, at the lowest point in his life, when he sees Clarence jump in, he doesn't give a second thought to go in after him and save him. What a testament to the ultimate goodness of man.

Not only is It's a Wonderful Life a classic holiday film, but it's also an all around great movie for anytime. It is a wonderful story filled with many great characters. It contains many thought-provoking themes on how we effect the lives of others, even if we don't realize it, and what would happen if these effects were taken away or changed.

On a side note, I was extremely disappointed to see that the DVD release of this film includes a colorized edition. It's sad that in this day and age we feel like we have to change things to make them more appealing rather than appreciating it the way it was intended, for it's original artistry.

Check out my other reviews at whatnot at: notexactlyaquote.tumblr.com

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Classic Capra-Corn

8/10
Author: sme_no_densetsu from Canada
4 January 2011

"It's a Wonderful Life" is probably the most cherished of Frank Capra's trademark feel-good movies of the 30's & 40's. James Stewart plays George Bailey, a compassionate small-town businessman who becomes despondent when faced with a financial crisis. When he decides to do away with himself for the insurance money an angel arrives to convince him to reconsider.

James Stewart, in the lead role, gives a legendary performance, one which was recognized with an Oscar nomination. That being said, the supporting cast is also well-stocked, including such notables as Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell & Henry Travers. That's not to mention some others in smaller roles like Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond & H.B. Warner.

Capra's direction is as good as always and resulted in an Oscar nomination. The editing & sound were also recognized with Oscar nominations but Dimitri Tiomkin's stirring score was not. The screenplay, based on a story by Philip Van Doren Stern, contains some quality material but the fantasy elements could be considered a bit corny by some.

Overall, "It's a Wonderful Life" still delivers the goods as a feel-good holiday classic more than sixty years after its release. It's not my favourite Capra film but it's definitely one of those films that everyone should see at least once.

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A powerful piece of cinema that shows how our lives are more important than we think they are.

10/10
Author: wwe7961 from United States
11 December 2010

This is a wonderful movie. It goes beyond the typical holiday special, and gives us something to think about. Rather than giving us that jolly feeling of Christmas through something visual or emotional this film gives it to us in more of a mental way. It makes us think about how important our lives really are, and that we should be glad to be alive. It makes us think about how we have changed the lives of people though we wouldn't realize it. It gives the mind a message that is received the brain and stays there. Yes it does give a heartwarming feel that I love, but I feel the main focus of the story was lesson it wanted to teach its watchers. They deliver that message stronger than any other film I have ever seen. You learn from this movie. This is really one of the best I have ever seen. The cast delivers wonderfully, the script is strong, the cinematography is excellent, and as I said the message it gives is genuine. I love this movie.

4 stars out of 4

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The Greatest Christmas film of all time

9/10
Author: cosmorados from United Kingdom
28 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first time I became aware of this film I must have been in my teens and it was referenced in the sitcom "Cheers" with the normal cast mocking the film's sentimentality at the end and then uniformly bursting into tears. I guess when you think about it, that's what this film does better than anything else. It takes our jaded world weary selves and reminds us that their are better things in life than money and success.

I know I won't be the only person to say that the casting of Jimmy Stewart as the perfect George Bailley maybe the most fortuitous part of casting ever, and they may well be right. He is perfect as both heroic boy to disillusioned man that has ever been portrayed on screen, and he plays these myriad of emotions with the same intensity and passion that he plays every scene in the film. The scene in the bar where he is praying for help is one of the most heartfelt moments I have ever seen in film. As you watch it you are drawn into his plight as you know that his life and soul are on the line.

The script is dynamite and like most of the best films has had scenes stolen and reworked and spoofed a thousand times over (Hell one of the best Simpson's episodes is the Leftorium for Chrissake and that's the Simpsons!) If you had to pick a downside it would be the stereotypical black woman who seems to have walked off the set of the Tom and Jerry cartoons and straight onto the screen here, but that aside, it doesn't stop this your enjoyment and as long as people watch movies it probably never well.

M

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The truest meaning of Christmas....

10/10
Author: yddsp@aol.com from Scarsdale, New York
24 December 2007

"It's a Wonderful Life" epitomizes the true meaning of Christmas. Hope, understanding, forgiveness, friendship and sharing, all of the attributes we strive to achieve the whole year through, though somehow they manage to elude most of us. However, we come closest to being all the best we can be, at least once each and every year, at Christmas time. Frank Capra struck a chord, I would hope, in every cynic, miser, curmudgeon and Scrooge among us, when this film originally made its debut in 1946. The war was finally over, those who were lucky enough to be coming home were home, and the world was struggling to get back some semblance of the joy and peace in life, much the way things were in a prewar America. Although the innocence of that generation was gone forever, great movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" helped to restore some faith in mankind, as well as joy in some of the simple pleasures in life. Films like this one are milestones in history and a credit to humanity itself.

There are a few films of this type that come to mind which epitomize the nature of the unselfish heart and giving spirit: "The Bishop's Wife", "Scrooge-A Christmas Carol, 1951", "The Bells of St Mary's", and "Going My Way" to name a few, there are others, but these along with this film sticks in my mind as being the paradigm of hope, generosity and the truest nature of the Christmas spirit. These films are precious, their stories immortal, their moral lessons invaluable, and the genius behind these films are, sadly, of a bygone era. Hollywood "broke-the-mold" with these productions offering us wholesome family fun, genuine entertainment bearing an endearing notion while teaching a valuable moral lesson. It is this type of film that truly makes the "Holidays" fun. Bravo! A perfect *10*

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The Best Movie Ever Made?

10/10
Author: rhythmwiz (9702702t@student.gla.ac.uk) from Falkirk, Scotland
3 April 2002

OK, it has it's flaws, like every movie ever made, but this has fewer than most, and, surely, it's the greatest feel-good movie ever made? It's simple, innocent, and wonderful. Great performances, great story - it's everything the movies should be, and it leaves you feeling good about movies, about the human spirit, and about life when you've seen it. I love this movie! Why can't they all be this good?

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A Different Take (mild spoilers)

10/10
Author: kensmark from Right Behind You
1 April 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love this movie and can watch it again and again. To me, this movie is intentionally bittersweet and ironic.

George Bailey's life is, or isn't, wonderful, depending on how you look at it, or how he looks at it. I don't think the movie's purpose is a sappy homily about how George will never be poor so long as he has friends. I think it's more like Voltaire's "Candide". Life is difficult, and often unpleasant, and you have to work to make it worthwhile, but the rewards of life are not unattainable or small.

I think "It's a Wonderful Life" makes a great companion to "Shenandoah", another James Stewart film, one which touches on the same theme from another perspective. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a happier film, and hence is easier to watch over and over, and it's one of the few holiday classics that really deserves repeat viewings.

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Nothing more to be said

10/10
Author: mfrost71w from Kent, England
1 March 2002

There's no point in commenting on this film; it's simply the best thing to come out of Hollywood. For me it's a barometer - Everybody I like seems to love Wonderful Life while the few people I dont get on with dislike it.

As for Jimmy Stewart, is it a coincidence he plays the two nicest men in the world, George Bailey and Elwood P. Dowd?

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It's a wonderful film

10/10
Author: aberry-1 (aberry@mgtrecruiters.com.au) from Sydney, Australia
21 February 2002

I gave it 10 out of 10. Seen 10 times and I still cry with joy at the end, every time! I always think the testament of the a great film is that no matter how advanced technololgy becomes( and this was in black & white!), noone can attempt to repeat the perfection of this film. Just thinking about the film leads me to reach for something to wipe my eyes, so I must go...and live life to the full.

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I guess "Timeless" is the right word for this film.

10/10
Author: anton-6 from sweden
31 December 2001

I have heard that they show this film every Christmas in America and I can´t understand why they don´t show it every year here in Sweden.A film that makes you happy.

First off all I would like too say that the acting by James Stewart is superb and Henry Travers as the angel is very funny.The rest of the acting is also great.The cinematography is also excellent.

I would call it a masterpiece.A Sentimental tale about life that I am sure will make you happy.It has not aged a bit.5/5

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A must for every year!!

10/10
Author: Lee Bartholomew (sage_patrynxx@cfu.net) from Cedar Falls, IA
23 December 2000

This is the movie to watch the night before Christmas. Watch it on DVD if you must, watch it on VHS if you must, but it's just not the same on TV. It's hypocritical to use the term. W/O commercials that would be nice, but not with em in the middle.

I have watched this movie every year since I can remember. Dads got the colorized version that Stewart hated so much (I don't like it either) I found my mom a copy of the b/w version with a free christmas ball to put on the tree a few years ago. Last year I got a copy and and this year I bought the DVD version. Either way, when this movie first came out it's amazing people didn't see it for what it was. A masterpiece!!! It wouldn't be Christmas to me without having watched it the night before.

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A Movie To Love

10/10
Author: ltj36 (ltj36@hotmail.com) from Castle Rock, Maine
20 December 2000

It's impossible to hate "It's A Wonderful Life". Even if you hate all the sweet in the cartoon movies, you can't be of stone in the great end of this movie: it is one of the biggest and sincere moments of happiness in all the story of cinema. It's the zenith of the philosophy of a master of happy life, who was Frank Capra: a story of a good man, George Bailey, who decides to commit suicide, when the family's factory is going to bankrupt. An angel without wings, Clarence, will save him and he will show him the world without the presence of George Bailey, a world of corruption completely in the hands of his enemy Mr. Potter. George Bailey is interpreted by the man with the right face for this role, James Stewart and his wife by the sweet Donna Reed. Lionel Barrymore portrays Potter, a sort of Scrooge without possibility of redemption and Henry Travers is the old, sweet and naive Clarence, desperately seeking wings. Then we mustn't forget the contribute of a great task force of actors like Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Sheldon Leonard, H. B. Warner and the up-coming Gloria Grahame. Really the perfect story for Christmas, pure and sweet. Merry Christmas Frank and James wherever you are.

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My favorite!

10/10
Author: laurita_a from Jacksonville, Florida
26 October 2000

The only thing I have to say is that you need to watch it in black and white. No need for colorization. The movie provides that in and of itself. It is my all-time favorite movie. If I'm ever feeling down, no matter what time of the year, I can put this movie and feel better.

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It's A Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: cubiegirl from Springfield, IL
22 October 2000

This movie was one of my favorites when I was little and it's still great now that I am grown with children of my own. It's mind boggling that this movie is 50+ years old, but it doesn't show it's age. It's a timeless classic with important lessons on how one person can make a world of difference to the people he loves. There has been talk that this movie should be colorized, but I say no deal, it perfect in black-and-white.

I give this movie a 10!

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Brilliant movie - an eternal classic - see it again and again and again

10/10
Author: S Srikant from Bangalore, India
14 January 1999

This is a perfect movie. An extraordinarily moving story of a man who rises from the depths of despair back to his wonderful life. Brilliant acting from all and superlative direction. A very profound message is delivered in an utterly endearing and light-hearted style. This movie will involve you and will remain with you forever.

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WOW!

10/10
Author: Sissel from Norway
4 January 1999

I've seen this movie 11 times and James "Jimmy" Stewart is one of my favorite actors. Wish he could be alive! This movie is excellent and one of my favorites. I cry each time I see it! It is just so fantastic made and, well.... It's so great there are no words for it!

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Motherhood, apple pie....

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

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

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

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

All the best in 1999 --

Harry

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It's a wonderful film.

10/10
Author: fanman from redwood city, calif.
27 December 1998

This film is one of the best ever made because of its values and directing. The cast was perfectly selected and made the plot very believable. It brought out the innounce of the human spirit and made us think of what might (theoritically) happen if we never existed, and how many lives we effect in our daily living. I would give it an eleven(11) if I could!

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What can I say?... a remarkable film.

10/10
Author: EzyRyder from Los Angeles
26 December 1998

What can I say that hasn't already been mentioned? It's a Wonderful Life is a true classic in every sense of the word. Frank Capra's directing hits dead on and moves you like any great film should, and he injects just the right amount of humor at the same time. Jimmy Stewart.... well, we all know how great of an actor he is, and in this film his performance is perfection. Every time I see him as he runs down the streets wishing everybody a merry Christmas, I can't help but cry, I cry at the sheer joy that I am witnessing onscreen. It's moments like that, moments that touch you, moments that you never forget that show how powerful film can be.

Although "It Happened One Night" is my favorite Capra film.. "It's a Wonderful Life" is without a doubt his greatest masterpiece.

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The movie about Christmas that fits any time of the year

10/10
Author: Mickey-2 from Front Royal, VA
24 December 1998

If one wants to find the perfect movie, this film could be the answer to that search. Featuring the story of an individual, George Bailey, who has spent his entire life in a small New England town helping others while letting his own needs go by, this film allows the character to see what would have happened had he not been there. Maybe George's life was not a financial success, but in the things that truly mattered, he was certainly blessed.

Jimmy Stewart turned in the zenith performance of his career with this 1947 film classic. Joined by the other cast members and the directorial touch of Frank Capra, a remarkable piece of film was given to the American viewers to be enjoyed time and time again.

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George discovers what life would have been like without him.

10/10
Author: Parker Gillespie from California, USA
7 November 1998

I've been keeping a "top ten" list of movies which have affected my life for the last decade or so. The first entry I added to the list was "It's a Wonderful Life" and it hasn't moved from that #1 billing.

There is nothing complicated about this movie; it simply states in a very heartwarming and loving way that "you" matter. The visual image of George Bailey running down the street of Bedford Falls will always evoke a positive warm glowing feeling in me. No matter how discouraged you may be feeling it does help to stop and remember that you do have worth and can make a difference during your sojourn this life.

Perhaps "It's a Wonderful Life" doesn't have the pizazz, action and special effects of today's movies and may not be able to hold the interests of today's audiences but to that I'd like to say, "Please slow down and just let the story enfold you." Watch it with a friend. People matter and so do you.

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Only cold hearted people will rate this below 9...

10/10
Author: Mithil Bhoras from India
1 August 2011

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is completely surprising. This is a time of Film-noir movies where there is a love in the air, mystery lures and the atmosphere is thrilling. But this movie was completely different from it's time. That's the reason why it failed at the Oscars (the same happened with Inception). The story is amazing and it is based on George Bailey's life.

We live in the age of action movies with gore and love movies with dirty scenes and all... But still this movie will get you. If it doesn't then you seriously have a problem. I won't elaborate on the story because it's a kind of a spoiler. I highly recommend you this title. Don't think twice and rent it now...

10/10.

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one of the best

10/10
Author: dragos_parazitever from Romania
27 June 2009

yes indeed its one of the best movies that goes down in history...yes..you're no man until you have friends....its stunning how one can change the others life by simply his presence and moreover sometimes his actions driven by his judgment of things....clearly the best part of this movie is the 4th quarter...George Bailey is a troubled man because of his current financial situation.....and the angel comes down to show him how the others life would be if he never existed....we really should stop and think what we have done in the past...and know that we've all changed the life's of others...maybe u're giving an advice to someone to go someplace and there he will meet a person who will change his life for good of that fellow...the angel is a psychological creature that we all have in mind...by reflecting on our good things that we've done in our past we should really feel better...everyone carries this angel but not everyone uses it....

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An excellent film...An outstanding film

10/10
Author: Nikji from Arabia
5 December 2008

Outstanding: Grade 1 Good: Grade 2 Satisfactory: Grade 3 Inadequate: Inadequate

Overall rating: Grade 1

This is my favorite Hollywood film ever made. No other Hollywood film has ever touched my heart the way this one did. In my opinion, Hollywood don't make films like this, and its good to have films that touch your heart. Even though, its a long film (2hrs 10mins) it is worth every second. Frank Capra managed to make it an epic film with comedy, tragedy, romance etc.

Acting Rating The acting by the actors is exceptional. James stuart acted really well, and this is one of him best films. The children acted very well.

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Sentimentality as a valid subject

10/10
Author: smile10520 from United States
9 November 2008

It's a wonderful life is a magical piece of film-making that has entertained and inspired several generations. While it is easy to be critical of technical and creative aspects of the film., anyone who thinks this is less than a classic can only be seen as a cynic and totally devoid of any heart. The inability to appreciate the warmth and heart on display here is sadly a reflection on a persons bitterness about life in general and a need to drag down anything that smacks of "sentimentality".

As a person who chose a career in film and has studied film history I stand proudly on this movie as a genuine classic. Of course this film is subject any analysis. It can even be rated a B-, but to rate it anything less than a 7 out of ten speaks volumes about the critic's lack of any true feeling for the emotion of film.

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Great Accompanying Story to My Experience With This Film

10/10
Author: Jorge Bernardo from Alexandria, Virginia
11 May 2008

Pure movie magic that has never been eclipsed before or since. The feelings one can derive from this film have no benchmark for comparison. Additionally, each and every scene is essentially flawless with regard to the movie's purity and "vibe".

Please note, when George says, "Well, how old are ya?" his lips are not moving!

You won't believe the neat experience I had with bringing the woman who played Zuzu to introduce the film at a Christmas screening in historic Greenbelt, MD a few years back. If you're a fan, do yourself a favor and read about it at http://zuzu.net/essays/wonderful_theatre.html.

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The Big-Box Swindle of Bedford Falls

10/10
Author: Andy (film-critic) from Bookseller of the Blue Ridge
22 April 2008

For many, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a staple to their holiday traditions. With all major networks vying to get their hands on this mediocre blockbuster, this little film transforms from ordinary to cult status every holiday. As a viewer, outside of the final act, this Jimmy Stewart classic is more than just a Christmas movie, but instead a powerful Capra film that demonstrates an America from long ago. It shows a small-town America, without the plowed Wal-Mart roads or big-box makeovers. For this critic, it demonstrates the power of independent business, and why we may never find this type of service ever again. As an independent, downtown shop owner of about a year and a half myself; "It's A Wonderful Life" transformed this viewing from holiday pastime to dedicated film exposing the corruptive nature of capitalism as well as the realism of independent business. With this change in tact, Jimmy Stewart's words become more emotional, Donna Reed's actions become more honest, and our little Christmas film transforms into a man's journey to search for himself. I cannot denounce that this is a holiday film, Stewart screams "Merry Christmas" throughout the entire ending, but before that final conclusion there are about two hours of small town America and one man's struggle to escape. "It's A Wonderful Life" is a powerful blend of realism and fantasy, individualism and community, dreams and truth, as well as frustration and joy. The cast is superbly placed in their respective roles and Capra's action behind the camera stands boldly in place. This is not just a movie, but an experience coupled with foreshadowing – giving George not just a glimpse of a world without him – but also a glimpse of a world without small business

"It's A Wonderful Life", the film itself, is beautifully crafted. With new editions being released each season, one can easily see the crisp beauty of Capra's image. Its characters; George Bailey, Mary, Sam Wainright, Potter, Bert and Ernie, and even Clarence seem to jump from the screen, giving us imaginative citizens to this quaint town of Bedford Falls. Capra not only gives these characters spirits and souls, but also the town. Capra built three blocks of Bedford Falls so that he could capture the honesty of the town that Stewart so adamantly wanted to leave – and upon doing this gave this little town a soul of its own. Watching this film, Stewart's portrayal of George Bailey runs the gambit of powerhouse acting. Stewart, freshly back from the war, was worried if he could carry the weight of Bailey's cynicism. His ability to care for Bedford Falls, while always dreaming of wanting to escape could only be portrayed through Stewart's Americana eyes. When he screams at Mary, denouncing his desire to be on the ground floor in plastics, or when he yells at Potter's bid to join him – we scream with him. This film works from an acting standpoint because we believe in the characters – we trust the actors to give us a slice of their souls for these roles – and they do. One cannot fault anyone in this film for their acting and that is a rarity in today's Hollywood.

Capra's eye in this film seems far more advanced than the credit he has received. His enormous sets, the birth of a new "snow", and his ability to create a world we care for without having to travel the globe. What I enjoy about "It's A Wonderful Life" is that Capra tricks you by the end. Here we believe, outside of the brief opening, that this is just your typical drama, a man's life is shown in scope so that he can see his full worth, but then sneakily Capra brings in (depending on your religious basis) a huge science-fiction element that was unheard of during the time. One cannot argue the validity of science fiction vs. religion in this film – since Joseph is portrayed by the stars and planets. Sure, Clarence was an angel, but there is this aura of the supernatural. Clarence offers no evidence that he is, in fact, sent by the man upstairs, so one has to question the time this film was released, the faith in spirituality, and the fact that Capra's Clarence could be alien, vegetable, or mineral.

Overall, "It's A Wonderful Life" remains in constant rotation no matter the time of year in my home. The acting is superb, the sci-fi element seems fresh every time, and the growing fact that George Bailey is pro-independent business means quite a bit in this rushed Wal-Mart world. Bailey, and this film, is the voice for the little man, the quiet shopkeeper who doesn't want to sell to Potter, but instead dreams of keeping their home-style values. The spark between Potter and Bailey can be seen in every facet of today's growing world, as the rich continue to get richer – the less fortunate work harder and feel more held back. Dreams are traded for jobs – communities are strengthened by friendships. This film is a time capsule for the future, as we discover convenience overcomes customer service; it is nice to look back and see a world like Bedford Falls. The science fiction element to this film, yep – that is what I am considering it – comes in sharp and remains powerful throughout. Did anyone else see Jimmy Stewart's eyes throughout those scenes? Brilliant! While this film will remain a staple through the holidays, I persist that you watch it away from the holiday to see the real message behind the film. Capra was a genius in creating this film, and subsequently crafted a cult film that will remain forever. Even today, nearly thirty years since my first viewing, I am more impressed that ever. It is a film that grows with you, and that is quite a rarity in today's cinema.

Grade: ***** out of *****

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A real jewel!

10/10
Author: pennycarrol
14 April 2008

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that you can watch over and over again. The movie makes you think about life in general and how each person makes a difference. It's about life with all its ups and downs and about how great life can be. It also entertains with many light hearted moments, particularly towards the end of the film.

The cast is excellent. I'm especially fond of James Stewart's performance, and the direction is second to none. Yet it is the fact that almost any person can watch this movie and come away feeling inspired that makes it easily the best movie of all time!

"It's a Wonderful Life" is literally a wonderful, multi-layered, romantic, serious, funny, touching and inspiring movie--much like life itself.

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The Christmas habit that will never grow old

10/10
Author: (murraytheevilskull@hotmail.com) from United Kingdom
19 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm 16 and last year, my Dad (who is NOT a great film lover in any sense) bought the DVD of 'It's A Wonderful Life'. When he almost ordered us all to watch it on Christmas Eve, i wasn't expecting to be amazed. By the end of the movie, when all his friends and family come together to help him, the tears came flooding thick and fast. I think it is a sad thing that I'm only 16 and that seeing such brotherly love between him and people who barely knew him was so strange to me. I cried not only for the happy ending, but for the fact that this movie, made less than 70 years ago and that the world it shows no longer exists. From now on, every year on Christmas Eve, that movie will be brought down from the shelf, because i think it is an important and thoroughly enjoyable film with an amazing moral: Everyone will get their Just Desserts one day.

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What would Nietzsche say if he were to see the movie?

Author: shutterbug_iconium from Türkiye
5 January 2006

You have ever heard of the quote by Nietzsche "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man?" Well you feel really down and you can't see a way out when you hear such a quote!

An idealist guy named George Bailey(played by James Stewart), a man who has forgone all of his dreams wants to help his town out. When he starts thinking of committing suicide, believing that he has achieved nothing worthwhile, an angel shows him a view of what the world would have been like if he had never lived when he Bailey just wished he had never been born! He sees that his wife would never marry,his brother would never get a medallion for his heroic achievement(the only thing that I didn't like in the movie it shows war as some sort of heroic achievement though it is supposed to be about hope and life all over)the pharmacist who gave him a job would go to the prison but for Bailey's help etc... The movie just puts itself right there when you are torn apart between hope and wishing you had never been born. Every one of us feels down and wishes to see something different in our life sometimes we do think that we are not worth living but each ordinary life has something to give even we're down or discouraged. A realist view like Nietzsche's could help us keep our head above the water but we need the concept "it's a wonderful life" to enjoy the every little perfection of our small lives!

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Great story, great acting. . . .full of redeeming values

Author: petronir from United States
26 December 2005

this is just a note to other commenters out there who have the experience and authority to contact IMDb on items such as deaths. The IMDb shows that actress Argentina Brunetti passed away on 20 November 2005. MSN is showing that she passed away on 20 December 2005. I'm sure it is a typo and may have already been corrected. However, I could not contact IMDb to advise them of this because (as they indicated) I am not "qualified" to comment on deaths. So, perhaps one of you viewers can pass the word on to them. I only am doing this because I noticed the discrepancy and I am really trying to be helpful. However, the IMDb people have imposed some restrictions pertaining to what can be said and just how many words and lines of type can be used to communicate with them. By the way, the movie is as good now as it was almost 60 years ago.

Thanks

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It's a Wonderful Film, The Best Christmas Movie Ever

10/10
Author: Charles_Hardy from Outside Hollywood
18 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story of George Bailey. But, who is he? He's a man from Bedford Falls, grew up there as a boy, took over the family business in his twenties, and fell in love there too, to Mary. Yes, it was a wonderful life, but what would happen if he had never been born? Well, that's where Clarence comes in. He's the angel sent to show George that his life has meant something to people, a lot of them, in fact. If not for George, Harry would have drown at the age of nine, and therefore, would not have been there to save men in World War II.

So you see, not being born changed many peoples lives in Bedford Falls, including his family. Uncle Billy was sent to a psychiatric hospital, and his mother was unable to trust a stranger. And of course, not being born changed Bedford Falls too. It was known as Pottersville in this alternate universe, where Henry Potter was more rich and more corrupt, and owned the town. Now you know why Clarence had to jump into the river after George to save his life, and why George had to jump in to save Clarence. Without George, what else could have possibly happened? Bedford Falls may have been in ruins. George learned his lesson, and hopefully Mr. Potter would learn his too, for stealing the Bailey's money.

This is a great story, but "don't take my word for it." Go watch this brilliant classic. It is worth the time!

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Truly one of the finest films ever made.

10/10
Author: SkysDoll from United States
7 December 2005

Truly one of the finest films ever made. It's message still resonates after nearly 60 years. It's central themes of love, appreciation, loyalty, and sacrifice are valuable reminders any time of year. I saw this film for the first time when I was about 8 years old and even then could understand why it had become a tradition in many households at Christmastime. Like many other Christmas-themed films, this one reminds us to pause and take in our surroundings. It is unfortunate that such films are only celebrated once a year, but that particular trait also adds a certain degree of rarity to its charm. The characters are well-developed and whether loved or hated, each plays a vital role in the film, as in George Bailey's life.

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A wonderful Christmas movie for the frustrated people at Christmastime

10/10
Author: Carly Vanness from United States
6 December 2005

I first watched this movie with my mother when I was six years old, and have loved it ever since. I am a fan of Jimmy Stewart, and his performance in this was wonderful. It begins when he is a young boy, and progresses as he grows into a man, gets married, and has a family. Then he gets into 'trouble.' In the beginning of the movie, you here all of the people who are close to him praying for him, and the angels talking about him, then you learn why near the end of the movie. This movie is a wonderful and memorable Christmas classic, and in the summer I can hardly wait for Christmastime so my mother will let me watch it again.

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The Greatest Film Ever Made

10/10
Author: babygrand1 from United States
6 December 2005

I have watched this film every year without fail, and I cannot watch the end without crying. AFI says Citizen Kane is the greatest movie, but it takes someone in film school to explain the techniques that make Citizen Kane great. The greatest movie should be one that anyone can see and realize that it's beyond a regular movie. This film is the greatest work of an amazing director and transcends all other films. I've heard people say it's depressing, but what movie is less depressing (as a whole) than this? There are times, yes, that are necessarily very strikingly sad, but it shows how little by little one can forget the plethora of blessings of which a modern life is composed. The entire idea of a value of a life was changed by this film, and I heartily recommend it for anyone who has missed out on this movie.

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It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: jkearns-5 from United States
6 December 2005

This story is more than about a young man, who like many young persons, are forced into their parents business. It is about the historic times he grew up in. That may be why it appeals to so many, especially older Americans who lived through the depression, bank failures and World War II. The idea of leaving the small town and getting out into the big world is one of all youths dreams. The character George Bailey doesn't want to remain tied down to his small city roots, but wants to explore the world and go to college. Fate however, draws George a terrible blow, with the death of his father. He decides to forfeit his dreams in order to help others. He marries a local town girl, has kids, sends his younger brother off to college in his place, confronts the local big money boss and fights the battle of small town America during WWII. True, in the end he is helped by a prayer, but wasn't that the thing most Americans were doing during those tremulous times. Every person should be granted the wish that was given to George, all our lives would be much richer.

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All time classic

9/10
Author: colly tum from United Kingdom
18 November 2005

I have seen this film about 5 times, I'm by no way a fan of black and white films or old films in general, in fact I would go as far as saying that i am usually put off by such factors. So why is it that this film will never feel that way to me? the answer is simple, its a superb uplifting film which can bring a tear to your eye with every viewing. I have four brothers, three of which have all been caught with a tear in their eye at the conclusion of the movie and my youngest yet to see it but I'm confident he will be the same. the ending has to be the greatest ending in the history of film making, with the songs being sang and the emotions showing, its a wonderful life is simply amazing.

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Can One Man Really Make a Difference

10/10
Author: Kevo from Limavady, N.Ireland
23 February 2005

What can be said about its A Wonderful Life that hasn't already been printed a thousand times? I don't know why but it took me years to get around to seeing this film but finally I decided to give it a go, and how much have I missed out! The central character in the film is George Bailey (played masterfully by James Stewart) a small time dreamer who has lost his way after a lifetime of disappointment. We follow George through the eyes of his guardian angel Clarence from childhood right up to the point where he has to make his most important decision while stood on the edge of a bridge.

Copra has forged a gem in celluloid, he has been smart enough to pull the sob strings with the audience but never too much so as to go into farce or seem phoney. The film is by no means a masterpiece in terms of cinematography or musical score although these are executed to a good standard. Copra captures the close nit community spirit of the small town superbly, and focus throughout on the 'David versus Goliath' relationship between George and Mr Potter excellently.

The stars of this film are most certainly Jimmy Stewart and the story itself. Never have I warmed so much to central character, George Bailey is without doubt one of the most lovable screen figures ever written. I really enjoyed the performances of the supporting actors in the film mainly Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter and Henry Travers as Clarence Oddbody, Donna Reed also puts in accomplished performance as George's wife Mary as do the films child actors.

It's a wonderful life is a charming heartfelt film which can be enjoyed all year round but with special meaning at Christmas time, and sparks the question 'can one man's life really make a difference?

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If I hadn't seen millions of remakes, plagerisms & pastiches of this, it might have been even better!

8/10
Author: Board from Denmark
4 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

* Contains spoilers * This is the movie that has that "I wish I never been born" thing, where an angel shows him how his life would have been if he hadn't been born, and before seeing this movie today, I had seen it re-done a thousand times in various (mostly lame/gross) stuff, even in "Married with children" (which was a bit funny, and quite the opposite of this movie). So when I found out that this was were it came from (unless I'm mistaken), I must admit that I felt a little grossified. But after all, I liked the movie, and the small grossification was blown out of the water by the ending. Although it was happy, preachy and so on, it impressed me and sent chills down my spine and gave me a bit of a lump in my throat. Overall, this pushed the movie up to be among the best of the old movies I've seen and I'll be a little generous and give it an 8 out of 10.

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magical

10/10
Author: dantbrooks
20 December 2003



It's A Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, an honest, hard-working resident of Bedford Falls who dreams of seeing the world. We learn in flashback how circumstance and his own good heart have prevented him from pursuing his dream until one Christmas Eve, when a dark night of the soul pushes George to the brink of suicide and he is saved by divine intervention. George gets the chance to see what life would be like in Bedford Falls if he had never been born and realizes the true importance of his life.

It would be easy for people to miss the true meaning of It's A Wonderful Life and dismiss the film as sentimental nonsense due to the corny opening scene and the appearance of a supernatural angel. However, it is hard to think of another film that examines the overwhelming complexity of one individual's life so deeply or questions how our choices affect the lives of others.

It's A Wonderful Life contains some of the most unforgettable moments in cinema. Once George is redeemed, we are treated to a moment of life-affirming splendor which suddenly lifts the spirits of the viewer after the relentless darkness and gloom that has preceded. The snow-storm that only hours earlier mirrored the bleakness of George's situation has now converted Bedford Falls into a winter-wonderland as George races through its streets with a renewed joy for life and all its miraculous beauty.

I don't think I will ever tire of seeing the truly heartwarming final scene in which George finally learns his reward for the sacrifices he has made in life. The best line of the film comes when Harry returns early and offers a toast (`…to my big brother George - the richest man in Bedford Falls') recognizing the real treasure of the friends George has rather than the superficial treasure of material wealth. An impromptu and communal singing of `Auld Lang Syne' then swells into a euphoric crescendo to close the most perfectly crafted film ever committed to celluloid.

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Depressing movie

Author: poche112
29 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas everybody!!!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: SPUTRYK (ataryk@hotmail.com) from Silsden, England
22 November 2002

This film is just an absolute joy to watch. I will not deny it, I shed a few tears at the end every time, something no other film has ever managed.

The acting is superb and the story, although dark and foreboding at times, is perfect. True, the Heaven scene effects at the beginning are lame, which is a real shame, but they certainly do not spoil the movie. Frank Capra has created a movie that tugs at all your emotions without even trying. One cannot help feeling anger when life doesn't happen the way George Bailey expects it to, or elation when life does. No-one else could have portrayed George Bailey quite like the late, great James Stewart - perfect casting. And, as for the rest of the characters, one couldn't want for anything more. Marvelous. Lionel Barrymore even manages to out-scrooge Scrooge (which is surely no mean feat!) as Mr Potter.

Overall, this is a film to watch over and over again. Full of mixed emotions throughout and beautifully heartwarming at the end. The Greatest Movie of All Time.

A true masterpiece sprinkled with magic.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole

10/10
Author: joltjohn from Winnipeg, Canada
9 November 2002

There are some little gems in life that help make life pleasant. It is not officially the Christmas season without watching this little gem. The supporting cast is perfectly matched. Donna Reed is wonderful as well as all the characters of the town. This would be a great movie, even if it were not in a Christmas setting. The holiday flavor makes it even more charming and memorable. A angel trying to get his wings is a little far-fetched, but Capra pulls it off. The impact of living a good life cannot be underestimated. What would life be like for your family if you had never been born? The values of "It's A Wonderful Life" still hold true today. Yes, I'll say it, it's a wonderful movie and is one of the few that you can watch again and again and walk away with the same glowing feeling as you did when you first watched it. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not be touched, if you can, you have no heart!

In this film James Stewart acts so naturally you forget he's an actor playing a part, you really believe his story. "It's a Wonderful Life" details the life of George Bailey, a man who put the needs and well being of others before his his whole life. Later in the film he feels he is a failure and is on the verge of suicide. He is taken by his guardian angel in need of his wings, Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him just how important he has been. You're pulled on a roller coaster of emotions throughout this film. Ultimately, it is perhaps the most emotionally moving film ever made, and it offers insight that everybody can use about what's important in our lives. To phrase a heavily used cliche, this is one of the few movies that gets better with every viewing, and never loses any of its power. And the icing on the cake is where, after George finds that he has his daughter Zuzu's petals in his coat and runs home to his family to find how much they love him, many of his friends come to his aid to help him in replacing the $8000 that went into Mr.Potter's hands before. This part of "It's A Wonderful Life" moves me to tears and can help many people look at their own lives in a new light,especially when one is in despair and feels that their life is worthless. 10/10

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One of the finest movies ever - a masterpiece.

Author: (danny_g13@hotmail.com) from Glasgow, Scotland
2 May 2002

I'm not one for watching black & white movies. In face, I specifically turn off when one is on. So when I saw the tail-end of It's A Wonderful Life I quite liked it and thought I'd give it the chance when it came on at Christmas a year later. By the end I could only say it was one of the finest feel-good movies ever, and one of the finest movies ever - period. It's a simple tail of a man called George who's reached his wits end with life and feels everything is going wrong. The story is told in flashback from the point of view of an angel, Clarence, who's been sent by God to make George realise certain things, and gives him the chance to see things from a different perspective. The story is extremely well-told, and the ending will have you cheering. It's heartwarming and was recently rated as one of the top 10 movies ever made. As rated by the whole of society and not just older people this shows the broad appeal. Your life is not complete if you haven't seen this.

I challenge you not to have the tears welling up at the end.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

What a wonderful tale!

10/10
Author: Maz-28 from England
25 December 2001

I finally got to see this masterpiece today, at lunchtime on Christmas Day, and I have to say it's probably the most amazing film I've ever had the pleasure to watch.

My mum and brother-in-law have for years told me how much they loved it, so I started watching it and was totally engrossed in this story. The story of George's life (magnificently played by James Stewart) developed beautifully, as he met each situation with amazing courage and humility, putting others feelings before his, leading upto the wonderfully happy climax when all the people he's helped in the past come to his aid.

Special mention for Donna Reed as Mary, I can only imagine at the time she was a huge star, as not only did she perform superbly throughout the movie, she had the most beautiful face I can ever recall. The combination of Reed & Stewart were essential to this film feeling so warm, but the assorted cast all put in great roles too.

What an absolutely beautiful story, not only at Christmas time, but all year round, and it makes you think how even the littlest thing you do can impact on many other people.

I don't think i've cried as much over any movie ever as I did today, it was so emotional.

Thank you Capra, Stewart, Reed, et al, you made my Christmas!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This should be part of the curriculum for the science of life

10/10
Author: big al-41 from cambridge
18 December 2001

I don't know how many times I have seen this film but it never fails to twang every emotion. Anyone who thinks this is a feel good movie is wrong. You are taken on a ride of elation to despair to relief. James Stewart is one of the finest actors (Harvey being another classic example) and he shows in this film that he can be all things to all people. For all those who people who think they are hard done to but still have most things then they should be made to watch this film and thank their lucky stars. The other actors are excellent also, in particular Lionel Barrymore. He portrays greed in its most basic form and it comes through in abundance. And not least Henry Travers as Clarence the angel who is not as stupid as he looks. Please everyone watch this film and enjoy. It's not as comfortable as you think.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The dazzling masterpiece of a misunderstood filmmaker

10/10
Author: andrew-113 from Alberta
8 December 2001

This is not the "light-hearted" or "corny" film that many who haven't seen it perceive it as. It is very introspective, dark cinema, that, while classified as "fantasy", shines when it revels in the real, everyday delights of family, friends, and kindness.

There is no such thing as "CapraCorn". Capra was not a sugary sentimentalist. He was a great filmmaker who understood that life is beautiful, and just how precious the little moments that bind our existence together are.

This wonderful film, which, in my opinion, rivals Citizen Kane and Vertigo as the greatest American films ever made, is the lasting testament to a great talent, and a gift we can open every Christmas and never get tired of playing with.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"How can anyone be cynical?"

Author: divax22 from Pittsburgh, PA
24 September 2001

Week before Christmas, 1999. I was 21, lacking a love life, and awaiting the Y2K virus to destroy us all.

My family was watching It's A Wonderful Life, my favorite movie. George had just found Zuzu's petals and I, right on cue, was crying. My brother, ever the critic of my lack of faith in humanity, turned to me and said quietly, "How can anyone be cynical after watching this movie?"

And you know what? I still can't answer that.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Most Beautiful Film of all Time.

10/10
Author: stadium27 from United Kingdom
27 August 2001

This is Christmas,for any year,and for any age.This is the most beautiful,heart-warming film ever made.When I watch this film I can forget everything for a few hours and submerge myself in a sea of nostalgia.Who wouldn't want to live in a time and a place like this.Quite simply this film should be compulsory viewing for everyone. I dare anyone with even half a heart not to cry at the end. 10/10 without a doubt.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the greatest of all time

Author: jbkrueg from USA
18 July 2001

George Bailey never realized how important his life was until, after being driven to the verge of suicide by a sinister business rival on Christmas Eve, his guardian angel shows him the impact he had on everyone he knows and on the town he lives in.

Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore and directed by the legendary Frank Capra, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a simple tale with complex meaning.

"No man is a failure who has friends," reads an inscription in a Bible written to George by Clarence, his guardian angel. Indeed.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Frank Capra's all time masterpiece.

10/10
Author: MIKE WILSON (mikewilson61720@yahoo.com) from United Kingdom
29 June 2001

The problem is where to start. What can I say that has not already

been said, about this superb film. I can still remember the first

time , that I saw it. My mother had seen the picture several years

before, and knew that the family would enjoy it. So one Christmas,

when it was being shown on T.V. We all sat down to watch.Little

did I know , that years later this would still be my all time favourite

film. I must have seen It at least 30 times, and it is still as good as

ever. Each successive screening , I see something more , than the

last time I watched it. Reading Capra's book about its making, he

phoned Jimmy Stewart, who was just back from the war, and tried

to explain the plot outline. Stewart, who had already starred in

several of Capra's films, interrupted him and agreed on the spot,

to star in the film.Years later when asked, Stewart always said that

‘Wonderful Life' was his favourite film, and if it is good enough for

him, then it is good enough for me. One other story that I heard, is

that when asked if ‘Wonderful Life' was the best film that he has

made, Capra is said to have replied, that it is the best film that

anybody has made.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Is this the best ever made movie?...

Author: Arnaud Lefèvre from Montréal
26 April 2001

Anyone who hasn't seen that movie doesn't know anything about the movie art. This is one of its masterpiece that makes you feel nostalgic of the time we knew what was really important in a film. Frank Capra, after few tries on former films, directed what everybody who worked, played in it considers as his biggest achievment. And anyone who has seen it- even guys who are delected by the empty hollywood big productions- have been shaken by it. A must see for thousand reasons -Stewart's performance, Mary & George 's first wedding night scene, ...- but the main one will remain a wonderful lesson about people's life. To share it with your beloved friends is the best message of love you can make.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

For the heart

Author: christo_u from Victoria, BC
7 April 2001

"Clarence where are you?" What is so enduring about this film is its absolute sweetness. Its timeless quality is reflected in the search we all have for our personal identity and how we end up finding it through community. It's such a beautiful and authentic film and I wish more film makers would learn from it.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest movies ever made

10/10
Author: ClarkF1 from London, England
10 March 2001

I first saw this movie at a late night showing to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. There are very few movies which can last the test of time and which can bring warmth and unite everyone in the cinema....I was one of the 200+ who gave it a standing ovation (now how often do you see that in a cinema).

Jimmy Stewart is excellent as are all the other actors. A better cast could not have been assembled. The story is simple at that's what makes this film great....a simple device, excellently filmed. It's also a film which makes you think that no-one is unimportant and that everyone has a role in life, however little that role is. Have you ever tried imagining what it would have been like if you were never born?

As for the beginning of the film...well, no spoilers here but I've got to say that it is one of the funniest things I've ever seen....who knows....perhaps it's really like that....

Remember.....every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets its wings.

It's a wonderful life after all

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

How can it be so loved?

3/10
Author: ComedyFan2010 from Canada
22 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

I don't get it

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

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of those quintessential Christmas movies....

10/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
28 March 2010

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The enduring classic for all time.

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Ten stars

Author: sailore2 from San Jose, California
27 December 2000

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It Does Not Get Any Better Than This

Author: tfrizzell from United States
24 October 2000

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

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"Sentimental Hogwash!"

Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England
11 July 2000

George Bailey is a thoroughly nice guy, the backbone of the small American community into which he was born. George's story is that of America in the first half of the twentieth century - a happy childhood before the First World War, ambition growing with maturity, then trouble for the family in the wake of the 1929 crash. George and his family make it through the Depression, and are blessed with success as George's dearly-loved brother Harry wins the Congressional Medal of Honour in World War Two. From this high point, George's fortunes take a steep nosedive, and the defining crisis of his life is suddenly upon him ...

George's twin ambitions since early childhood have been to explore the world (travel has always fired his imagination) and to "build things". Events are constantly cheating him out of his travel plans, and sheer selflessness prevents him from getting an education, his passport out of Bedford Falls and into a career as an architect. Like his father before him, George is too kindly ever to advance his own personal aims.

His adversary and nemesis is Old Man Potter, "the richest and the meanest man in the county". He is as unlike George as a man can be. Immobile and with no curiosity about the world, Potter dominates the small town, and is universally feared and despised. Without family or home life, Potter has only his money, which he ruthlessly ensures will increase and multiply. George believes in the community ("we've got to have faith in each other"), whereas Henry F. Potter regards the people as exploitable "rabble". On George's study wall hangs a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Potter has a bust of Napoleon.

This famous Capra tear-jerker is a masterpiece of emotional manipulation, and incidentally a tremendous piece of cinematic craftsmanship. The film has two premises, firstly that the fabric of the nation is sound so long as Americans stick to the early settlers' values of communal mutual assistance, and secondly, an enlightened liberal doctrine of the perfectability of mankind. If ordinary folks are offered chances for betterment, by means of building improved housing and encouraging financial thrift, they will prove themselves to be sober, hardworking citizens, keen to advance the prosperity of their progeny. George is the liberal hero who embodies these beliefs. His dream is to raise "dozens of the prettiest little homes you ever saw", and when the Martini family takes possession of its property, George is on hand to see Giuseppe realise the American Dream - "I own my own house!"

The young George knows that he doesn't want to squander his life "cooped up ... in a shabby little office". However, George is the responsible type, and to protect the working people from Potter, and put Harry through college, he assumes the burden of running the family's Building and Loans business. He grows to realise that his father's legacy is a noble one, the foundation of America's future.

George continues to dream of "anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles", but the thoughtlessness of others keeps him trapped in Bedford Falls. Alone outside a house party, he reacts wistfully to the wail of a distant train. His crisis of conscience when Harry announces the marriage and the new job is a tremendous piece of cinema. Kind, decent George goes through silent turmoil as it sinks in that his hopes have been dashed again.

If the propositions on which the story rests are simple folksy ones, the story itself is a strong one, told with great zest. Pacy effervescence keeps the action moving snappily along. Mary loves George from childhood, as we see in the drugstore sequence. The prepubescent George shows the traits we come to love in him - industriousness, reliability and social conscience - and he saves Gower the druggist from committing an appalling act of negligence, at great cost to himself. The tight narrative sweeps us from the kiss to the wedding, and from the honeymoon taxi to the run on the bank. World war Two, during which "George fought the battle of Bedford Falls", is an object lesson in concise story-telling.

One of Capra's narrative techniques is to exploit clashes of opposites. We plunge from elation to despair as Harry's triumph gives way to the financial disaster. Christmas bonhomie is tainted by the chilling presence of the bank examiner. George's desperate prayer in Martini's bar is accompanied by a jolly Italian ditty. The 'drowning' drama is followed swiftly by a gentle comedy scene.

The heart of the film is the relationship between George and Mary. A silent look passes between them at the high school dance, and we know that they have fallen in love. Their charleston dance (a superbly-choreographed sequence) cements the incipient romance and is followed by a great two-handed scene in which the lovers throw stones at 320 Sycamore, the house which will one day be theirs. George's later visit to Mary's house once more blends romance and comedy with splendid success. It is a joy to watch the aching desire of each for the other as they listen to Sam's phone call.

Clarence the wingless angel offers George "a chance to see what the world would be like without you". The nightmare sequence shows Bedford Falls (now known as Pottersville) to be a seedy Gomorrah of jazz bars and strip joints, peopled by a surly, unhappy populace. George's creed is borne out - "each man's life touches every other man's life", and he sees that his patient, benign influence has worked its magic. Bedford Falls is a better place for having known George Bailey.

Watch out for a young Gloria Grahame as Violet, launching a career of playing bad girls. And is that Donna Reed in Martini's, posing as the bar girl in the peroxide wig?

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Memories are made of this!

10/10
Author: Minty-5 from Sydney, Australia
30 January 2000

Jimmy Stewart was not George Bailey. It was one of the reasons audiences of the time did not welcome back with open arms one of the stars of pre World War two. Although George Bailey was the almost perfected emotional core of every man and woman's heart, Frank Capra delivered the darkest yet of three movies featuring one of his best stars. It ruined his somewhat wholesome, small town man in the heart image that Capra had given his characters in their previous collaborations "You Can't Take it With You" and "Mr Smith Goes to Washington".

Angel, second class, is forever associated with "It's a Wonderful Life". A brilliantly silly Henry Travers as Clarence the illusive protector of a shattered man created an immortal legend. Donna Reed as Mary in her first notable role delivers on her promises, but outclassed by the deliverance of two of the most difficult roles in cinema history. Capra faves, Thomas Mitchell, as Uncle Billy and Lionel Barrymore, in a role a far cry from lovable Grandpa Vanderhoff in "You Can't Take it With You", is convincingly sinister as Mr Potter.

In its imagery, "It's a Wonderful Life" is frightening. Dark, grim, terrifying moments exceed the Capra trademarks. The comedic moments thrill, and there are plenty of them. Three viewings, the first not at Christmas, have imprinted the memory of unforgettable sequences into my mind forever.

Few films were ever designed with a message to remain immortalised through the years. It remains simple and complex on certain levels however it is viewed, but the most important two are all there in the script. "No man is a failure who has friends", and "Life is wonderful". The film must be watched until on some personal level, the viewer connects with what the film is trying to say.

The movie is the stock treatment I prescribe to others in times of depression. A decent dosage could bring a more positive outlook of optimism to even the most cynical prepared to look beyond the black and white images. There has never been a more capable Hollywood movie made to create tears and laughters in excessive amounts which makes it a masterpiece of the American cinema, and the definitive Holiday classic.

It remains the most influential of movies I have seen in my life. I was originally one of those cynical with a refusal to view any movie made in black and white. With little effort, it changed my perspective on life, but however easily I have forgotten the lessons this film teaches, it just as simply reminds me of what I need to know. It holds the record for the number of times a movie has made me cry.

"It's a Wonderful Life" was a Christmas ritual I was never dragged through when I was younger. I wish I was.

Rating: 10/10

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Great film, shame about the ending.

9/10
Author: D B from United Kingdom
9 February 2010

I realise I'm probably in the minority here, but here goes anyway.

I really, really like this film. Apart from the last bit. I know everyone likes it for it's feel-good properties and it's happy, happy, happy ending, but let's face it, the vast majority of this film is a downbeat, depressing experience. And that's why I love it.

Turn it off at the point where he's on the bridge, and this is a wonderful, wonderfully depressing tale. The way his dreams get crushed and his town becomes his prison is so well done. People have already said how well this film is written, and that includes the depressing parts as well. You have to believe in his suffering, his agony. You have to believe in his desire to jump off the bridge so that you too can be saved by Clarence in the end.

That's why I don't want the end section in there. I believe in George's suffering. If he wants to end it, then so be it. If I'm in a depressed mood, and want to watch a superbly put together sombre film, then It's a Wonderful Life is perfect.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Rich Twin Poor Twin's View of the Movie

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Wish I had a million dollars. Hot dawg!

Author: ellkew from London
14 February 2003

At the heart of this marvellous Capra film is a man, who from when we first see him in Gower's store, longs to see far off places. As we all know, he never does leave Bedford Falls and it is this sadness that is at the core of the film and the main character George Bailey, a man with unfulfilled dreams. It is also what makes this film stand the test of time. The characters are believable and compared to current Hollywood heroes win hands down. They are all so well defined and fleshed out as in a Dickens novel that one enjoys spending time with them. So much has been borrowed from this film and so much written about it. Essentially it is James Stewart's central performance that is outstanding and to watch his realistic gradual breakdown is very distressing. I always find it difficult watching the scene when he goes home after realising he cannot find the money and Mary(his wife) turns to see him clutching his daughter with such a desperate look on his face. Her reaction to him is extremely moving. A man driven to the brink worth more alive than dead, this is a much darker film than people often expect. But he does get a second chance and maybe this is why we like it so much, because in real life this is rarely possible. George Bailey played by James Stewart is someone who has a great face. I like George Bailey.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Part of a staple Christmas Eve diet

Author: stewartcooper from Scotland
27 November 2002

My family's annual viewing of 'It's a Wonderful Life,' on Christmas eve, has become as ritualistic as eating turkey on December 25. With the fresh smell of the tree in the corner of the room, a flickering candle on the fireplace and a mince pie soaked with brandy butter in my hand, relishing the spectacle of 'It's a Wonderful Life' is, despite the number of times I've now sat through it, something I look forward to and treasure each year. It is, quintessentially, a Christmas movie, and I'll never be able to bring myself to watching it in the middle of an August heatwave.

I can't quite put my finger on what exactly makes this film so special. But surely the heart-warming plot, which proves to us that, us humans, we can always eventually triumph over despair, and the overall magical feel of the film, is a crucial element of Capra's masterpiece. It teaches us, as privileged westerners, many lessons about the true meaning of humanity and forces us, just as it does to George Bailey - played with relish and sincerity by James Stewart, capturing some of his finest moments - to appreciate, on reflection, just how lucky we actually are.

There are countless of our favourite films that, through sheer force of habit, we find ourselves enjoying on a regular basis. But the very fact that, on the same day each year, I ensure that I savour 'It's A Wonderful Life,' proves that this film is really something quite remarkable with an ability to make its mark.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The darkest side of humanity

Author: Matthew Ignoffo (mermatt@webtv.net) from Eatontown, NJ, USA
1 August 1998

Though this film is associated with Christmas because it has been shown at Christmas time, it is really a dark study of the insides of the human soul. George is driven to the point of wanting to die and wanting not even to exist.

Frank Capra takes us through the life of a man so that we can see why someone would be willing to choose oblivion rather than existence. Then we see that, even though life may seem meaningless, we, like George, have choices and that these choices can make a great difference in the world even though we may not realize that fact. The film helps us to realize why we are alive. That is its real enduring appeal.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

If you can still dream, still hope -- this Masterpiece will Live!

10/10
Author: JoeMcCain from United States
5 January 2005

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a Work of Art and of Great Craft that will survive the eons for its many, many qualities -- acting, script, direction, details, clear commitment by all involved....and a rather 'eccentric' structure.

It careens so closely to schmaltz -- no, to pure saccharine -- that one is surprised to not find goo on the sleeve after viewing it. But it stays just inside that sugary boundary for several reasons --

The actors are absolutely committed to the truth and motivation of their characters. They don't judge their roles, they don't act at them, they strip down, then dive completely into them and make them live and feel and suffer.

There is no more well-meaning, ethical, but often disoriented character than Jimmy Stewart's 'George Bailey'. As one watches all the shifts of emotion from self-control, to whimsy, to befuddlement, to searing anger, to sweetness, it is hard to remember that this actor is a Bomber Pilot just returned from World War II, from flying deadly B-17 missions through the terrible 'black blossoms' of flak over Nazi Germany. And more, that this is his first film since he returned!

No meaner, nastier non-caricature of a horror than Lionel Barrymore's 'Potter'. The more infamous 'Ebenezer Scrooge' is a curmudgeonly, dismissive, venal and unsympathetic man. But he wants to be left alone. Potter is pure evil, while still able to remain in a society. Unlike Scrooge he is voraciously acquisitive, constantly intrusive -- an active predator and crippler of those whose shadow even falls across his view, much less his appetite. No scruples, no ethics, no empathy for anything or anyone. And somehow Barrymore and Capra make it work.

No sweeter yet frustrating relative you have tried to rely on than George Mitchell's 'Uncle Billy'. No more uncertain but determined Angel than Henry Travers' 'Clarence'. No more interesting array of people who decorate George Bailey's life -- Donna Reed, so sweet, so pretty, yet anything but naive or simple ... Gloria Grahame, man-hungry, sensual of tastes, but whose heart and hopes just keep her from being one of 'those' girls ... Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as the Cop-and-Cab-Driver buddies, who look out for George, when they can.

And of course the Center of this Life is Frank Capra -- directing, writing, bleeding, feeling, thinking at his very, very best. Clearly written, crafted, produced, directed with every cell, both cerebral and cardiological.

A lovely film become rich in its details and contrasts.

A decent George Bailey whom we assume would gave back Mary Hatch's accidentally dropped robe -- which leaves her apparently unclad in a large hedge -- is just about to, but then stops. "You know, we have a very interesting situation, here....it's not every day a man...." And actively toys with her over her desperate pleas (remember, it is the 1930's) right up until tragedy sticks a bony hand into the scene and wrenches the moment away.

George at the kitchen table talking with his Dad (Samuel S. Hinds) and sees family housekeeper Annie (Lillian Randolph) doing a little eavesdropping through the kitchen door -- "Why don't you just pull up a chair and listen...? "....to which Annie replies -- "I would if I thought there was anything worth hearing!" A family.

The film moves into ever darker hues, step by step, until plunging suddenly downward. George is pushed beyond even his elasticity, and snaps into a sequence of sudden and exploding rages, savaging even his own bewildered family, that is stunning -- the kind in real life that make you wince in embarrassment and turn away. And because the terrible moments are so very real in this film, you wince just as uncomfortably. This from the craft and the commitment of one James Stewart, the bomber pilot. Here you see the sometimes-dismissed as the "Aw, shucks" actor at an incredible artistic complexity, with a very large actor's toolbox.

The interesting thing about the structure is this –

It's a story about George's world (yours) would be like if he had never existed.

But for 1 hour and 50 minutes, we are shown the 'before' that happens, what life was with George around. Then in the final 10 minutes we are shown that world without George Bailey, and his understanding of that consequence, and his reclamation.

Life with George was complicated, often difficult, frustrating, confusing.

Without him, it is cold, harsh, cruel and dead, except for the brassy, blaring glitter of a world gone to seed and sensuality, having lost its human way without him. And when Jimmy Stewart's face turns into stone as he first sees and tries to understand this other world he cannot possibly grasp, so do we.

This is a movie about humanity challenged, of the heart being squeezed, of dreams being shattered or stolen. And yet the good in a few people – or just one -- can keep the endangered good in others alive. Alive until it can re-ignite and re-spread its warmth and light.

Unless the shade of iron reality and cynicism has rung down around you, you can hope and dream with these citizens of Bedford Falls, because Capra and Stewart and Reed and the others hope and dream so very, very well.

Oh, and if you can EVER see this in a real theater, please do so! I just did for the first time, and the silvered emotional reality that Capra paints on that big screen is almost overwhelming, it is so large.

Capra will gently squeeze your throat and your tear ducts. He did mine and a lady friend's (though she can cry at a pantyhose commercial).

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

"Should all acquaintence be forgot...."

Author: coverme6 from Allentown, PA
22 July 2000

Nothing makes Christmas more tender and great than a good

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

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

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

honest man whose life is turned upside down by corrupt overlords

is smoldering and convincingly dramatic. It really touched my

soul. Because of financial troubles and the constant taunting of

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

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

he contemplates suicide by jumping off a bridge and onto icy

waters, Bailey is visited by his guardian angel named Clarence

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

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

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

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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

One of the Most Beautiful Movies of the Cinema History Ever

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

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

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

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

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Inspiration

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

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

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

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

it is a wonderful movie for all time.....

10/10
Author: tikeswar bariha from India
29 January 2014

now it is 2014 ...and movie from 1946 a long time ......but still this movie has a special place in my heart ....i love this movie so inspirational so emotional movie......is this..James Stewart was very impressing in his acting...........all department of the movie was very well ...and i want to say this movie would receive an Oscar but unfortunately miss it... but this movie is among the greatest movies of all time....my one of my favorite movie .................................i think this is the best Christmas movie ever...the gift given by god was great ......that touch a lesion to every human being that ....life is wonderful..don't loss your hope....it is a wonderful movie ...James Stewart is my one of my favorite actor....his voice was sweet and soft.....

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swaying through the life alike

10/10
Author: eklavya cwk from India
20 January 2014

the film is a significant contribution to the cinema, the art of depicting an idea which is a reality. Really life is wonderful and this is what we find out to be the motive of this drama. more like a cinema version of stage drama this film is a must watch......not (just) to appreciate it but also to remind our self in the bad time of life that how important everything and every life is, including our self in this space-time fabric . Its like a discussion to the basic ancient concepts we find from Indian subcontinental region and also from the recent book by Rhonda Byrne "the secret". it tells you that you are ... it tells me that i am the center of this universe and at the same time it also shows the importance of being good. even a single random act of kindness will trigger the sequential chain of good things to happen with others .....and if we think over it this chain finally ends on our self

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i think I'm in love with James Stewart

8/10
Author: nicki_in_belgrade from Mansfield, England
25 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. Just watched this for the first time and I'm totally in love with James Stewart! WHAT a great film, it still feels very fresh. James Stewart's character is wonderful. I love his enthusiasm for adventure and seeing the world, and I feel for him in the way he feels trapped in his life. I also really loved the exchanges between him and the house servant. The great thing in this film is the pure good that George Bailey shows towards everyone whilst still being completely human. The end is just a joy to watch and made me sob my heart out! Having planted all the seeds through the film, we now see the real impact he has had everyone's life. Now I just need to find a man like James Stewart - hott!

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It really is a wonderful life!

9/10
Author: Jacob Jefferson (jjgooner@yahoo.co.uk) from United Kingdom
25 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life

***1/2 (out of 4)

130 mins/ U

Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame, H.B Warner, Frank Albertson, Todd Karns, Samuel S. Hinds

Director: Frank Capra

Plot: An angel shows a charming, likable but frustrated man what life would have been like if he had not lived.

JJ's Verdict: What makes It's a Wonderful Life so special is that, although we see what the world could be like if George Bailey never lived, it is so personal. Bailey could be anyone. He isn't very successful or particularly rich, he's just your average everyday gentleman who, like everyone, has touched and influenced so many lives. It shows that everyone has worth in life and that we should never throw that away.

In It's a Wonderful Life, we have James Stewart's George Bailey who, like I mentioned before, is your average small-town American gentlemen. Kind, friendly and helpful and always looking out for others around him. This is also his weakness, because he sacrifices so many of his life ambitions like travelling the world to save the local people of Bedford Hills from the tycoon that is Lionel Barrymore's Henry Potter. Because he never reached these goals and spends most of his time fighting off the advances of Mr. Potter to seize the town, he becomes tired of life and extremely cynical. For a man so loved by the local people, George felt very unappreciated for all the sacrifices he had made throughout his life. So when his Uncle Billy misplaces an important $8,000 cheque and the bank examiner discovers this, George begins a rampage across town and finally ends up at a bridge, ready to end his life.

However, just as he is about to jump in, an angel appears, ready to show him his life's true meaning and prevent him from going through with his plan. The angel does this by showing George what life would have been like had he not existed. Of course, his family and friends all turn out worse off and the town had been fully taken over and commercialised by Mr. Potter. James Stewart, although very good as the charming but reluctant and living George Bailey, is perfect as the never lived George Bailey, and his scenes where he discovers life without him are emotionally devastating and Stewart makes you feel for his character throughout. Donna Reed is superb as George's loving and caring wife Mary as are the rest of a huge supporting cast that includes Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers and Thomas Mitchell.

Although it's ending fails to create as big an emotional impact as it promises to, (still a pretty good impact but you just expect more) It's a Wonderful Life is an uplifting masterpiece which just gets better on every viewing. Most people say this is the perfect Christmas movie or the perfect movie to watch if you're depressed, but I say the perfect movie to watch anytime and whatever mood you're in.

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Best Christmas movie ever!

10/10
Author: Nikki_4284 from United States
2 July 2013

This is one of my absolute favorite classic movies. I do also like Miracle on 34th Street as for classic Christmas movies.

I loved the plot line, the setting it was perfect! Also the acting, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed were a perfect match for the film. They were the greatest actors in that time period which i wish i had lived through. Honestly some of the acting and films today aren't the same as they were in the olden days. It's one of those moving free spirited movies with no graphic violence or swearing. The type of movies i really enjoy and great for the entire family.

I recommend this to anyone who loves sitting on the couch with a warm blanket and hot chocolate during Christmastime.

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Cheesy but Awesome!

10/10
Author: Frank Bell from United States
25 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Wonderful Life" is all about the story, detailing George Bailey's struggle to get out of his small town, but always putting others before himself and continually sacrificing his chance to live his own life and see the world. By the end, his life takes a nasty turn or two, and he ends up considering suicide to make available his life insurance money to help his family - until a gentle angel named Clarence arrives to show him what life in his town would be like if he was never around...

Very well acted (for its era) and very well told, 'It's A Wonderful Life' really is one of the most uplifting films i have ever seen. Frank Capra gently takes us from step to step with our subtly heroic lead, throughout the highs, the almost lows, and the real lows, and you really feel for the guy - He is never presented as perfect - he sometimes yells at his family, his friends, he gets frustrated like all of us, but always does what he can to right his wrongs, and help his townspeople. We like this guy because he's decidedly human, but a good man overall.

The films big payoff comes in its finale - after George realises how much he has to live for, he immediately sets about doing just that, embracing his family like he hadn't seen them in years, despite his financial turmoil and seemingly grim future.

If this film had been made today, no doubt the ending would be deemed cheesy and unrealistic - today it seems impossible to have a happy ending without the film being accused of taking the easy way out, which is crap - let people end their movie in the way that seems best to them. This film however, though simply shot and unremarkably acted, is truly affecting. George finally realizing that he was cherished and appreciated all along by his friends and clients is a touching moment, and to be honest, i was in tears, crying like a baby with a smacked arse by the end credits.

I really urge anyone who has not seen this film to give it a go, even if you think its way, way off your normal movie map. I like Michael Bay films for crying out loud, and i still loved this! Go watch.

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A nice family film. I understand why it is a classic.

7/10
Author: richieandsam
16 June 2013

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Another classic film I dad never seen before. I liked it.

The most I had seen of this movie before was in Gremlins, when Billy's mother was watching it in the kitchen.

The movie is about a man who is completely selfless. He thinks about everyone else and other thing before himself... he gives up so much for other people. But when things start to go wrong for him, he feels desperate and tries to kill himself... until he is saved by an angel. The angel then teaches him what things would have been like if he had never been born.

It is a lovely film. It has romance, comedy and drama in it. It really is a nice film to watch at Christmas time.

The movie stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore & Thomas Mitchell. The acting was over the top a little bit, but back in the day when this was made, all acting was over the top in one way or another.

I will give this film 7 out of 10.

It is a nice family film that will have all the old women crying.

For more of my reviews, please like my Facebook page:

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

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One of the best films ever made!!!

10/10
Author: illbebackreviews from Australia
18 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Praised to death by movie buffs and critics alike, 'It's A Wonderful Life' is often considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and for certain, one of the greatest family films and Christmas films alike. As a person who is currently planning to view classic films, I realized that I had to check out 'It's A Wonderful Life' and did not regret it afterwards.

James Stewart stars as George Bailey and Donna Reed stars as his wife, Mary Hatch in this absolute family classic. The story is one of extreme depth and emotion as the film takes around three quarters of the duration before the actual plot begins, but never does the film truly bore you. Filled with amazing black and white cinematography, fantastic acting and often great humorous relief, 'It's A Wonderful Life' truly succeeds at creating such a universe and letting one immerse themselves in the story. To not care entirely for 'It's A Wonderful Life' would clearly show that one would not be human at all as this film deals with great emotion as George Bailey comes the lowest point in his life, full of struggle and frustration that he wishes he were dead so that he would not have to deal with this pain and so that his film would be happier. It is then, that George's guardian angel, Clarence, who had been paying attention to him since he were a child, arrives and gives a tour of what life would be for everyone had George not been born.

I had absolutely no idea how this film would turn out. I wasn't even sure whether this would be a film that I would enjoy very much but the film is structured fantastically and the writing and directing is amazing. The best element of the film is the attention to detail on George's character and how much backstory there is. Even the small things such as his father or his brother turn into something more important for George. The way the film depicts everything about George was fantastic. From the scene with him as a child, saving his brother, I was endeared by the character. Of course, a great character only works with fantastic acting and Jimmy Stewart delivers just this in the grandest of style! His ability to display emotion throughout the film is unbelievable, completely allowing anyone to buy the character and the performance. In fact, for much of the film, you forget that Stewart is actually acting in the film! Not only is the film amazing in terms of cinematography and depth of characters but the film offers such fantastic moments such as everything at the end of the film involving Clarence. The emotional aspect of the film is truly terrific with each scene carefully crafted, featuring just the perfect amount of emotion to it. Even the humor, which is plentiful in such a film, is done in a way that it does not overplay the humorous side of the film and unbalance the tone. These sequences are so immersive and the fact that this is a feel good Christmas film just truly ensures that this film delivers. The characters are truly unforgettable, the acting and story is amazing, written and directed intelligently,

'It's A Wonderful Life' truly exceeds at being a masterpiece in every way and it is indeed, no surprise that this film be ranked so highly on many of the top films list, most notably IMDb's infamous top 250, to which it holds a place at 29. 'It's A Wonderful Life' is truly an unforgettable classic that shall live for generations. Literally, the greatest Christmas film ever made. They don't get better than this.

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This is not a Christmas Movie

8/10
Author: david-sarkies from Australia
23 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes it is isn't it. Well, pedanticism aside, this is one fine movie. It is about a man who grows up in the town of Bedford Falls and never actually leaves it. This may not be that interesting, but when we discover that ever since he was a kid he has had dreams of going abroad and travelling and becoming rich, then it is quite different. It is considered a Christmas movie, and is generally played every Christmas, but in fact it is a far darker movie and Capra never meant it to be as such. The only thing about Christmas is that it happens to be that time when he has his revelation.

What this movie is about is shattered dreams. We watch our hero (James Stewart) as he grows up with all of these dreams, but they seem to be continually postponed as things happen. It also shows the battle inside of him as he tries to maintain his integrity, yet also tries to follow the dreams that keep him going, yet these dreams never manifest, especially since he becomes more and more fixed to the town to a point where he cannot leave.

The climax of the movie is where his wish is granted, that is that he never existed. As the angel tells him, he is free and can now do what he wants, but as he looks around he sees that he has made such an impact on the town. I don't think the point here is that he didn't realise the impact he had on the town, especially since the angel told him that he no longer has any attachments and he can do what he wants, but rather the integrity inside of him won't let him leave, especially since the town has changed so drastically. Even though he wants to get away, he knows that he cannot because the town relies upon him to stop the bad guy from taking control of the town and turning it into a cesspool.

The struggle here is between what he wants and what is good for others: a struggle between selfishness and selflessness. No matter how selfish he tries to be, he has an integral selfless nature where he instinctively puts the welfare of others before himself.

The thing is that It's a Wonderful Life is not a warm fuzzy Christmas movie, but rather a movie about a man who is fighting a constant struggle within himself and in the end accepts who he is and is joyful about the hope that he has put in many other's hearts.

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It's a Wonderful Life....

10/10
Author: Besart Prishtina from Vushtrri, Kosovo
25 January 2013

I watch a lot of movies, mostly classics, and to this very moment i considered To Kill A Mockingbird to be the greatest classic i ever watched, but tonight i came across It's A Wonderful Life and after i read a summary and so some of the reviews i gave it a try and i'm glad i did... what a Wonderful Life.

I honestly can't believe that i hit 20s and just now i found out about this (so far best movie i ever watched in my life)movie.

Because i don't want to spoil it (in case there is someone "like me" out there that missed it), i won't get into details, but i must say i'm touched during the minutes of the unborn George, those minutes were so emotional that i had to wipe me eyes several time during those minutes.

I also should mention that the acting was great too, James, Donna, Henry were magnificent. This was the first movie from Capra that i watched and this really made my mind to lookout for others Capra works.

At the end of my review i just want to say that this movie really brought something into me, so people out there who missed this by any chance...watch it already.

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A legend

Author: Vincentiu from Romania
10 December 2011

A life lesson. Beautiful story. Movie as hot tea cup. Snow of Christmas Eve and porcelain angels. A legend. And a gift. Honest, delicate, picture of so many existences, American for be universal, sensitive experience and advice , family film and recipes for every form of sadness, apple pie and warm bed, hot bathroom and child song, it is a classic and more. After Cold War and fall of Communism, Flower Power and Ku Klux Klan, revolutions and few portraits of USA presidents, end of a century and beginning of millennium, fear about December 2012 and economic crisis, it is fresh , the angel is in same place, George is same good guy and his brother is again and again the shining hero, the town has old streets and the uncle loses money, Henry Potter is behind by any Harry Potter and the final has unique charm. A legend. Or a rose with each petal new and gorgeous.

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Not what I expected

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After filming was finished, the director considered it the best film he ever directed and even the finest film anyone ever directed. With all due respect to Mr. Frank Capra, but I have to disagree.

Some things also don't make sense. For example, adult George Bailey is supposed to be around 18 or 19 years old but James Stewart was nearly 40 years old when he played the role. Also, when his wife announces she's pregnant, there isn't a single scene with their kids as babies or during their first years of life and all of a sudden they're already "big". Well, not "big" literally, but already quite some years older. And, after George wishes to "live" again, he wishes a merry Christmas to everyone (including Mr. Potter) like a mad man and yells «I'm going to jail! Isn't that great?» I can't see how going to jail is great, but to each their own, right?

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Another take on this movie

7/10
Author: birdy123
26 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

But hey, you can just call me Scrooge.

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It's what we all would want to be like

10/10
Author: jimladdy from United Kingdom
23 December 2007

This film has been screened and looked at so many times that you would think there is nothing more to say about it. I thought the same, although I always loved it I'd gotten so used to the film that it was almost background noise once a year, until I saw it on the big screen. A local cinema screened this one Christmas and I happened past, and for some reason paid my fee and went in.

Wow!

It really is a film that couldn't be made in modern times, we are too cynical, and what a shame that is. This is a total tour-de-force of what makes a man and the events, painful and sweet, that get him there. George Bailey is the everyman, played brilliantly by Jimmy Stewart, and never has anyone been identified with so much on screen by everyone who watches it. I've heard the argument from various parties that the film is too sentimental and sickly sweet, and in any other movie they may be right. Not so here, the film works somehow, it is sentimental, but it is beautiful and moral and life enhancing. I know I haven't said much about the plot, I don't have to, just watch it and if you've got a soul you'll love it. To quote Stan Lee "Nuff Said!".

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A different view

9/10
Author: Peter from United Kingdom
17 December 2007

Firstly before everyone has a go, I am not in any way knocking the film or the quality of it. In fact its a shame films today are not made with the same love, care and attention to detail. I also agree that it is one of the greatest films ever made, its just I see the film a little different when taken as a whole.

Where most people see this film as a happy one for all the obvious reasons, including that ending, I see it as one of the most depressing and sad stories ever made. Ask yourself the question, why did he want to commit suicide in the first place. The reason is that throughout the first half of the film/story, all you see is everyone doing what they want, including his brother. Whereas he is forced via circumstance or emotional blackmail to stay and cater to the wants of everyone else. Where were the 'friends and family' when things got bad, why didn't anyone see what was going on. The main reason was cause they were more concerned with themselves. The outcome of all this is the famous bridge seen. And in my eyes, even Clarence ended up using him to get his wings.

By showing him what life for all those he has helped, would be like if he hadn't existed, is if anything, another case of emotional blackmail. He is again made to feel bad and ungrateful for his lot.

My point is, why didn't anyone ask him what he wanted and then help him go for it etc.

My final comment is, when you next watch this film, or read this comment, take a look around you and see if anyone you know and care about is quietly sinking and give them a helping hand before it gets too bad. The chances are if they are your friend or part of your family, they have already helped you and now they quietly need your help.

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What it is to be loved

10/10
Author: kevinmcnally06 from United States
14 December 2007

So much has been said that all I can say is this : If you can watch Geroge Bailey charge down Main Street yelling, "Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan" without your eyes filling up, you don't know what it is to be human. Well, I'll guess I'll say more, because some silly rule prevents me from being succinct. "It's A Wonderful Life" shows us that we are all heroes, in our own right. How many lives does each of our own touch? Like George Bailey, I've wondered if everyone would be better off if I'd never been born. Thanks to Frank Capra, I know what an awful, selfish feeling this is. Here's your hat, what's your hurry?

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Colorized Version VS Black & White

10/10
Author: blue-7 from Salt Lake City
9 December 2007

I picked up Paramount's double DVD for "It's a Wonderful Life" to upgrade my earlier Republic release. This two disc set comes with both the original B&W edition and a newly colorized version on a separate disc. This is not the first colorization job on this film. Turner attempted it some years back and both James Stewart and director Frank Capra were appalled at the results. They did everything in their power to discourage this practice. Well the technique for colorization has greatly improved since those early attempts and I thought it worth taking another look at the results. It is quite amazing -- yet after watching it for about one hour I changed to the black & white version and have NO desire to watch it in color. Flesh colors are on the orange side and everyone has the exact same tone of color. The beautiful shades found in the b&w version are far more effective. Let's face it -- if a film was originally designed and shot in color then it should be seen that way. It's the same with watching a wide screen film in full screen or a full screen blown up to fill a 16:9 wide screen television set. The film itself remains one of my all time favorites -- and I will continue appreciate it in black and white!

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Best film ever made

10/10
Author: laura1-07 from United Kingdom
8 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What can I say about this film that has not already been said. It is quite simply the best film ever made containing the best performance ever from James Stewart.

I love to watch it at least once a year (particular at Christmas) as the story is so uplifting and beautiful. Lets face it it's been copied enough times. It's an amazing thought to consider how many lives our lives may touch and affect and this film portrays that point perfectly.

It's one of the few films that makes me cry every time especially when it gets to part where George Bailey receives the book from Clarence which says that no man is poor as long as he has friends.

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Uplifting and heart-warming tale

9/10
Author: vovazhd from United States
20 October 2007

It's a Wonderful Life is one of those movies that is beyond its time, especially in transferring emotions to the audience. The plot is highly sophisticated; it centers around the life of George Bailey, a successful business man that is thrown out of control when financial aspects hinder the progress of his Building and Loan enterprise. The business crisis is the focus of the story, but the majority of it is a laid-back reflection of the good parts of Bailey's life. In the end, Bailey is brought to redemption and sees the world in a new light, ultimately leading to one of the most uplifting endings in any movie.

The cast was perfect all around; there was not a single actor that jumped out as a poor choice. James Stewart shines with the critical role of Bailey. He starts off as a confident and envisioned man, but is eventually consumed by business problems and sees no way out. He completely misses the positive impact that he has made on the community, but reaches a sort of understanding by the end. Stewart is excellent at conveying this development of ideas. Even Mr. Potter, the antagonist of the film, becomes a sympathetic character. Even though he initially comes off as a selfish pest, it is hard not to respect his business achievements and feel sorry that he does not enjoy other company.

The plot is put together so well that it is impossible not to be drawn in, even for modern audiences. The idea of guardian angels watching over us might seem ridiculous, but ends up being an intriguing plot element. The mix of fantasy with reality works out. The camera work, dialog, and way the scenes were set up are surprisingly modern. It does not require the audience to watch the movie from the lens of someone from the 1940's, but rather is a timeless experience that can be enjoyed by families of any generation.

Simply put, I recommend this movie to all people, especially as a family. If you get a chance, it would be best to watch it during the winter holidays because it fits in really nicely with the atmosphere.

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best movie ever

10/10
Author: nayrn from United States
26 August 2007

Awesome movie! I have seen it so many times. I love it. I thought it was weird it wasn't closer to number 1.It makes me cry when I watch it. And it is just laid out perfectly. I wish people were more like this now. If you haven't seen it you really need to because you have been missing out on what I believe is the best movie ever to be made. The actors are great in it. It makes you feel like it is real. I also like that it was in Black and White. Plus this is how I feel when things seem to be going all wrong. I don't want to give away the movie though so just watch it and you will be glad you did. It makes you feel more alive when the movie is over.

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The most magical movie ever..

10/10
Author: Mr_White101 from United Kingdom
31 May 2007

It's A Wonderful Life (written December, 2006)

A film which undoubtedly receives the award for the most magical movie ever made, It's A Wonderful Life is a gem to watch on Christmas, and is a brilliant tale of life, hope, family and ultimately, happiness. It is without doubt the best movie to depict the importance of happiness, as the film actually captures happiness and gives it to us every time we are lucky enough to watch it. It is easily the most delightful, joyous piece of cinema ever, and also a fantastic story- it is truly a golden classic. I cannot praise It's A Wonderful Life enough- it is outstanding. I absolutely adore it, and all that it says to us and shows us. This is magic right here people! Frank Capra's absolute classic is, I repeat, the most magical, joyous and delightful film ever, and will remain a classic in every sense.

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It's a Wonderful Movie

8/10
Author: sausagebrigade from Lockerbie, Scotland
1 August 2003

Jimmy Stewart is fantastic in his most famous movie, a charming American take on A Christmas Carol. There are some very funny and some very dark moments, and they're perfectly balanced, much like the performances. Frank Capra is a little over-ambitious (the early shots of God talking to the angels in heaven is an example) but he knows what the audience will respond to in a way like no other director. It's amazing to think this did poor box office business, but then I guess some people don't know a good thing when they've had it.

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Life is Wonderful

9/10
Author: r-mcharg
26 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Director: Frank Capra Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers

Running Time: 130 minutes

If you don't know a single thing about It's A Wonderful Life then you cannot seriously call yourself a movie lover. But we'll tell you about it anyway. It's a Christmas Classic that has survived criticisms of schmaltzness. And a movie in the 40s being too schmalzy has to be a worry. Anyway heres the story. George Bailey (James Stewart in his signature role) is a man who has put his friends and family before his own happiness his entire life. Whether it is jumping into ice to save his little brother Harry, an act that cost him his hearing in his left ear. Or if it's sacrificing his dream of travelling the world to look after his late father's bank so it can stay in business or so Harry can have a bright future with his wife. He even gave up a lucrative $20,000 a year contract from local miser Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) simply because of the townsfolk he has already helped enough. After all, he built them a bunch of good quality houses, allowing them to leave Potter's slums and enjoy a good life. Whatever the deed George Bailey hasn't thought of himself once in his life. He has dreamt of leaving Bedford Falls but through his own good nature has never been able to. He has settled down with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four kids. So when his Uncle Billy `misplaces' $8,000 (Potter finds it, keeps it) George is faced with scandal and prison. He is a man at the end of his tether he takes it out on everyone, even his own family. In the end he is told he is worth more dead than alive and decides to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Only, that's not the end for right at the beginning of the story we know that an angel is watching over George and it is he who saves George from suicide. The angel is Clarence (Henry Travers) who, as you should know, shows George the good he has done people in his lifetime, starting with a trip to what should be Martini's. We discover that George wasn't there too save his old boss Mr. Gower from accidentally poisoning food through his grief. Then we find out that Harry, who is to be given a medal from the President for bravery in WW2, died when he broke through the ice, because George wasn't there too save him. Bedford Falls is now Pottersville because George wasn't there too battle Potter, Mary ends up an old maid because George wasn't there to love her, Uncle Billy went insane because George wasn't there to help with the business, it goes on and on. When George begs to live again and is re-united with his family there isn't a hard heart in sight. It's A Wonderful Life has many themes of love, friendship, kindness, redemption even just pure coincidence, but there is one clear message running through this dark but magically uplifting Frank Capra Christmas Classic: It truly is a wonderful life.

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The best Family/Feel-good movie ever made!

Author: Garry Abbott (Gazman01) from London, England
21 September 2002

Right, as I write this there are EIGHTY shopping days (not including Sundays) left until Christmas!

What a depressing thought, eh?

Anyway, with this in mind, I have decided to submit my review of the, and I do mean- 'THE', best Family/Feel-good Movie ever made...

Frank Capra's: It's a wonderful Life.

(Added to which, it is, by far and away, my personal all-time favorite.)

Many, many words (not all complimentary) have been written about this Classic Yuletide tale, so what makes mine any different from the rest?

In truth, probably nothing! But by damn it, I'll have my say! You hear?

This Film is a Classic, of a by-gone time, where life seemed so much more innocent, than it does today, and boy does it show! Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. Not by a long-shot! In fact, it is this overwhelming sence of innocence, which gives the Film it's undeniable charm. That, at it's best, can melt the coldest of Hearts! No small wonder then, that, after a decidedly shaky beginning, this Film has been consistently voted as America's all-time favorite Movie, and one of the best Film's ever made. To which, I whole-heartedly concur.

Best seen with all your family around, during the Festive season, this Film, in my humble opinion, can NOT be beat, and will ALWAYS be, as far as I'm concerned, the TOPS!

"That-a-boy Clarence!"

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**** out of ****

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

An American classic well worthy of it's reputation, "It's a Wonderful Life" details the life of George Bailey, a man who feels he is a failure and is on the verge of suicide. He is taken by his guardian angel in need of his wings, Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him just how important he has been. Ultimately, it is perhaps the most emotionally moving film ever made, and it offers insight that everybody can use about what's important in our lives. To phrase a heavily used cliche, this is one of the few movies that gets better with every viewing, and never loses any of its power.

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The Greatest Movie Ever Made!

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

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

Overall 10+/10

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Class. You need know, no more

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

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

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

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

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Too Depressing

1/10
Author: Duncan Gosseyn from Ann Arbor, Michigan
15 April 2014

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

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

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

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought life insurance policies didn't cover suicide. George Bailey would never have been worth more dead than alive. Watch Double Indemnity, which is a much better movie (although it is in a different genre so a comparison might be unfair), and you'll see that it would have been very hard for George Bailey to make his death not look like a suicide. And he wasn't even trying to make it not look like a suicide. Jumping off a bridge would have been too obvious. I assure you I'm being completely serious here so don't think I'm making jokes in bad taste.

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

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Good Timeless Movie

8/10
Author: LATAUNYA WINTERS from United States
29 December 2013

I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.

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Decent

6/10
Author: kchang511 from United States
5 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While I didn't particularly like the main character, I do like the theme that the movie was trying to push that basically "It's a Wonderful Life". I do like it when movies explore how important life is. Despite this, I feel that this movie could have done it more completely and thoroughly. While I don't know exactly how, I think more could have been added.

I didn't like the temper of the main character. I feel the movie could have benefit if the main character was a bit more likable. I found him to be easily angered and temperamental. While I do see they were trying to draw a contrast to him from before the angel and after, I think that if they made him more likable throughout the movie, you would have felt more sympathy and happiness for him in the end.

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Deserves its 'Classic' label...

9/10
Author: ajs-10 from United Kingdom
28 December 2010

I have heard many times that this is a classic Christmas film over the years but it has always evaded me, until now. I decided it was time I saw what all the fuss was about and took the plunge when it came up on the TV schedules recently. To be honest, it's better than what I was expecting, although still a little too saccharine in places for my taste. But I digress, here's a very brief summary before I give you more of my thoughts (summary haters please save that drowning angel while I write the next paragraph).

George Bailey grew up in the small town of Bedford Falls. He has always wanted to leave and travel the world and find his fortune but the fates have always prevented his leaving. His father runs a local Building and Loan company with George's uncle Billy and when his father dies it is George that is chosen to carry on the business. His brother, Harry, who was supposed to take over when he left college, gets a better offer. Even when he gets married himself, to Mary, and they are about to leave on honeymoon, he is drawn back to the town. When a local businessman, Mr Potter, refuses him a loan after some money is lost, this is the last straw for George and he decides to take his own life, thinking he is worth more dead than alive. At this point an Angel (second class) called Clarence intervenes and shows George what life would be like if he had never existed, and I'm here to tell you it ain't pretty. Better not say any more, don't want to give the ending away.

This is a very well made film, with excellent direction from Frank Capra and a tremendous performance from James Stewart as George Bailey. He really steals the show here and, not surprisingly, was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Honourable mentions must also go to; Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy and Henry Travers as Clarence.

As I said at the beginning, I found this film a little too saccharine in places, but it's still a great film and deserves its 'Classic' label. It is a very long film which mostly deals with events in George's life that lead up to his attempted suicide and it is all very well done. If you haven't seen it before I can highly recommend this film. I am not a religious man myself, but still enjoyed it.

My score: 8.7/10

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The Epitome of Feel Good

9/10
Author: Ziglet_mir from United States
5 January 2010

I won't write much because most everyone else has all ready said what's needed to be said. So here we go...

What a great movie! Jimmy Stewart really delivers, and Donna Reed is so very charming as his sweetheart. Henry Travers plays it up as the small time angel with big hopes, but most of all, Frank Capra was a mastermind to really give this world a movie that sincerely touches the heart in more ways the one.

This is definitely not your average holiday movie, but the spirit is their and the lives of the characters are so carefully tended to. It is one of the most wittiest and well-crafted scripts I've ever heard from a film. And it's all thanks to Capra.

This is pure cinema magic at its finest-- The Epitome of Feel Good.

The whole scene toward the end pretty much had me in tears... and that's what a great movie's capabilities should be. Something that has you ask yourself questions and really make you think. And that's everything Capra's film did to me.

If for some reason this film doesn't click with you... I hope you find a movie that makes you feel the same way I did toward this one...

Because I have never walked away from any other movie saying, "I want to really live my life."

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pure magic

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

10/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
30 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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It's a wonderful film.

9/10
Author: (esmorr) from Melbourne, Australia.
27 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favourite movies. It took some time for me to get to the point of liking it so much though; the first time I watched it I thought it was o.k., but after subsequent viewings I now like it very much. I have always loved Jimmy Stewart's work, he's my favourite actor, so the fact that he's in it is a plus. The message of this film is that one man can make a difference, and that should never be forgotten by anyone; we all make a difference individually, but whether it's good or bad is up to us. Donna Reed is excellent as the dutiful, loving wife, and Lionel Barrymore is classic as the miserly, greedy opportunist. Henry Travers shines in his role as Clarence the guardian angel 2nd class, sent to pull George up by the bootstraps and make him see his place in the world of Bedford Falls. This is the movie which should be played every Christmas, as it engenders in the viewer the true spirit of Christmas: the joy of giving and investing in your fellow man. If you can get your hands on the behind-the-scenes extras' please do, as they contain very revealing interviews with both Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. I only wish that they still made good quality movies like this nowadays. I give it a 9 because it's a B&W; it would be great in colour, but either way 'It's a wonderful life' is indeed a wonderful family movie with a great message. Note: There is a coloured copy of this classic movie floating around, so you might like to grab it if you can.

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

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Must See for the Holidays

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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Nice Movie I ever seen

8/10
Author: chandrasekhar_babu from India
14 April 2008

The first half of the movie is going very good with the family background. The real twist starts in the second half and after seeing the entire movie no body wont leave until they cry. The human values is shown very nicely. And the people will learn how to lead a life with their wife and children.

James stewart done excellent in this movie. I like his character in this movie. Mostly the angle do the funny things in this movie. This movie is worth watching and You can spent for this.

I have a DVD Collection for my own and i want to keep it for a long time. wish to see this movie.

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

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

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

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

A true milestone in cinematic history.

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

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I want to live in that time of 1940s.

10/10
Author: gaurav_thegreat from India
5 January 2008

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

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it's a wonderful film

9/10
Author: guy anisimov from Austria
19 February 2007

wow how i enjoyed this! i really don't know how to start describing what i feel about this beautiful film but its just that i am in about the same point in my life as George Bailey is in most of 'its a wonderful life' so you probably understand why I'm so excited.not knowing exactly what i want to study and where and also having so many things i have to consider and so many things i have to decide if i wanna give up or keep, thats basically what is happening with the main character in this wonderful film...

the story that is told to us is about the whole life of a guy that owns a heart of gold, throughout the movie were being told about his whole life since he was a child and until a point where he's considering about taking his own life away.i really don't want to say too much because i think it will just spoil the whole experience for a first time viewer after reading this.go watch this only knowing that it is a very old film that is considered to be very good, you will never expect a 1946 film to be made like this was made just as you will never expect it to be as enjoying as this is.

i watched it by myself but i can really imagine that watching this with someone you love or someone close to you will make it so much better.it certainly deserves its spot on this site's top 250 list and i truly hope that more and more people will watch it so its recognition among top movies will be much higher.

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

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

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

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

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My Favorite Movie of All Time!

Author: hoffmankm from United States
27 January 2007

This is not only the best feel good movie of ever, but my personal favorite movie of all time. The story of the movie is great, and the moral that goes along with it is excellent. The movie makes you feel as if you are a very important person, and it is one of the very few movies that can do that. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, and didn't win any, which is a little sad considering it is an absolutely fabulous movie. In this day and age when movies are all about sex, drugs, and alcohol, I know that I can watch this and feel a lot better about cinema, and also feel better about myself. The acting in this movie was so great and the characters were so cute, sweet, and lovable. But some of the characters were mean, but were still well acted. This movie is a great Christmas classic, and in my opinion it is so completely flawless.

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Thank You Magic Shadows

10/10
Author: ages_hence from Canada
22 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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An annual must see!

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

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

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

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

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Simply Perfect!

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

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

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Quintessentially Christmas

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

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

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

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George lassos the moon…It's a Wonderful Life

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

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

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

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Life

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

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

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American Christmas classic

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

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

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

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

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Cinematic excellence

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

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

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Treasure every frame

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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It's a wonderful movie!

10/10
Author: dbdumonteil
9 August 2006

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

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

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It is a wonderful life!

9/10
Author: Rhiannon from United Kingdom
7 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Please note: this may contain a spoiler) This film epitomises what a good film should be - humoured, heartfelt, funny and touching. 'It's a wonderful life' is not only viewed as a classic but also lives up to the audiences' expectations - a truly satisfying experience.

Never having previously experiencing Capra's work I chose to rent this film - arguably one of Capra's finest achievements.

The film follows lovable character 'George Bailey' a man whose life is filled with love and friendship. Like many people, he does not always realise the great support and affection he holds with the people close to him. Bailey was an ambitious, determined child with hopes of building bridges and buildings, touring the world and seeing famous sights. Bailey's dreams come back to earth when his father suddenly dies and he is asked to fill his place.

Slowly, Goerge builds a new life with his family (and of course..the girl!). They don't have much - for Bailey's heart is slightly over-sized and his business makes little profit but does much good for the citizens of his town. But things don't always go smoothly and when Bailey's uncle misplaces a large sum of money, they face severe financial crisis, as well as criminal.

Bailey's life has apparently come crashing down around him..until he meets somebody - an angel to guide him on his way. The Angel shows Bailey what his life would have been like had he never been born. Bailey discovers unnerving things - his town is completely changed and nobody knows him - they shy away from him. His family doesn't exist and his wife is a lonely librarian..George Bailey's stark realisation - his life made great impacts on the people of the town..his brother didn't survive - because he wasn't there to save him. Bailey realises - his life impacts so many things - and if he wasn't there, everything would be different..much worse.

This film is perfect - not too overpowering to watch and not too bland. Stewart's character shines as a lovable and sweet man - caring, sensitive and completely selfless. Capra's ingenious movie brings to light a very good topic - how one single person's life impacts the people he/she meets and knows...how everything can be so completely different - how fate and reality go hand in hand.

The production is fantastic as is every other aspect of this picture - unique and memorable. Even in black and white! A must-see for all the family, for every film buff and cynic - children and adults alike - a truly memorable piece of cinema that will forever shine a true mastery.

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The Best Capra Movie, The Best Christmas Movie

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

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

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Absolutely Incredible

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

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

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

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Just the Greatest!

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

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

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One of the greatest films of all time

10/10
Author: MCMLXXVI from Sweden
11 April 2005

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

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

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

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As good as it deserves

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

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

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

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excellent quintessential film about life

Author: saimahuq from malden, ma
2 January 2003

This isn't really a Christmas movie, the story just takes place around Christmas. George Bailey has always wanted to be an explorer, but instead he lives in the same little town his whole life, marries his childhood sweetheart, and takes over his dad's savings and loan association, Now he is in danger of going bankrupt, through a mishap that is used to the advantage of the local evil codger and main competition to Bailey. Despondent, he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all.

Enter Clarence, a student guardian angel who is trying to earn his wings. Saving George Bailey will get him those wings, if only he can show George how the world would have been had he never been born. He reveals the impact George has had on others -- even saving lives --- to prove he is not a failure and very much needed and loved.

Keep an eye out for the grown-up Alfalfa (from the Little Rascals) as the jealous guy at the high-school dance who opens up the gym's swimming pool so the dancers fall in. It's priceless!

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It's a Wonderful Movie¡

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

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

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Movie

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

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

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

A MASTERPIECE!!!!

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

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Atta boy, Capra!

10/10
Author: gsx_tuner from TX
19 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

Possible spoiler:

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

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

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

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

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Absolutely fantastic, feel-good stuff!!

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

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

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Still wonderful, 55 years on

9/10
Author: gaityr from United Kingdom
12 February 2002

There are many things to rave about in this wonderful classic movie: the competent direction, the detailed creation of a town on a 4-acre lot, the sheer amount of hard work, love and inventiveness that went into its conception and completion.

I wish, however, to restrict my rave to the (previously unrecognised) dramatic abilities of the lead actor, James Stewart. If there's one reason to watch IAWL again and again and again (all the other wonderful factors notwithstanding), it's for the amazing performance Stewart turns in as George Bailey. The nuance and subtlety captured in the actor's performance is wonderful, just as the desperation he shows at the end of the film when he's running through Potterville looking for traces of his old life. Watching Stewart play college-age at the beginning of the film takes a little getting used to, but it's the end of the film that truly establishes him as one of the finest actors of his generation. His performance is an absolute marvel, and just as it's a crime that Cary Grant never received an Oscar for his amazing work, the fact that Stewart didn't win an Oscar for this shows how meaningless award ceremonies can be.

A beautiful, heartwarming movie. 9/10.

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Free-roaming Indoor Squirrels!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How does this communicate to you?

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

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

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Wonderful, brings happy tears.

9/10
Author: insanitatsu from Vancouver Canada
20 January 2002

I am fall in love with this movie when I first watched it. Now,I watch it over and over. though, it brings fresh tear every single time.

Great movie to watch in the morning to have a good start for your day. It's a guaranteed happy tear movie.

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Oh! What a fabu movie

Author: Stella from Manayunk, Pennsylvania
6 January 2002

This is why I love Christmas. People gathering and renewing life with hapiness abound! Jimmy Stewart is phenomenal and this movie will send you to bed with a much improved outlook on life! I recommend that everyone watch this movie every year for life!

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The best filmed performance ever...

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

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

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

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A Classic

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

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

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The BEST movie ever!!

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Xmas Movie

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

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

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Everyone's life is important

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

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

an outstanding film about redemption and realization.

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"Welcome home George Bailey!"

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

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

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Terrific Christmas movie.

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

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

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Pure style

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

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

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An inspirational, uplifting tale for all seasons

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

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

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The most wonderful movie of all time

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

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

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The best Christmas movie ever!

Author: Monika-5 from United States
9 October 2000

What a wonderful film. Sure, it ends happily but it is also a very dark, dramatic film. NO ONE could've played the unlucky hero, George Bailey as wonderfully as James Stewart did. I could never imagine anyone else playing him, and a wonderful supporting cast backs him up beautifully. Who hasn't felt like George at some point in our lives and wondered how our loved ones would be if we'd never been born? The saga of George Bailey is a wonderful story to behold. A must-see, especially at Christmas.

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They don't come much better than this movie. Superb!

9/10
Author: Quietone from Ontario, Canada
4 September 2000

Excellently acted by all! Sets a mark for other movies to attain. A true classic, for which ~alas~ there will probably never be an equal. It's too bad we cannot turn back the hands of time and relive this era of excellence in movies; of which this film is a shining example.

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the meaning of life.

10/10
Author: moodoo from portsmouth, england
11 December 1999

Frank Capras film is the best film i've seen.The movie captures the sprit of humanity and gives us an insight in the human soul. George Baily a man who always done his best is shown what his world would have been like if he'd never been born. The film has humour and until wit and i think is remeniscent of a christmas carol to some extent. A classic christmassy film that leaves a lump in you're throat, one to watch if you're feeling low.

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Citizen Kane, Casablanca...Ba Hum bug!!!

10/10
Author: Diamond Tim T.S. Pleshaw (zzzuko78@aol.com) from Las Vegas, NV.
4 December 1999

In my opinion the greatest film ever made. Every Christmas Eve I go to my Mom's for a while then over to the Philpo's, where Mrs. Philpo makes me a batch of M&M cookies and then I go home and pop in the video with a frosty mug of milk to wash down the cookies. It is a Christmas tradition that will never die. I feel as though I've been transported to Framingham, Massachusetts where it felt like Bedford Falls in the early 70's as a kid. I guess I was about George Bailey's age when he saves his brother Harry from drowning in the pond. My Grandparents reminded me so much of Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed that I swore the movie was about us. I felt like I knew everyone in the entire movie from Nick the bartender to Clarence the angel who gets his wings! A fireplace forever warms my heart every cold December when I watch this incredible masterpiece. No matter where in the world I may be, it's home. The 20th Century is nearing it's end and with a new millennium approaching "It's A Wonderful Life" should reflect what was good about the last 100 years. So put some logs in the fire, Mrs. Philpo's M&M cookie recipe and a frosty glass of milk! "No Gin tonight son"..."Awwwww".

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Head and shoulders above the rest

10/10
Author: peterm-4 from Sydney, Australia
27 November 1999

It's a Wonderful Life is, quite simply, the greatest film ever made. It deals with the theme of Each Man's Life Touches So Many Others with great warmth intelligence and humour. James Stewart's performance is flawless and he displays a range not seen up to that point. It is a beautiful, important and, yes, unsentimental film that will always have a special place in my heart.

Anyone who has ever felt worthless should see It's a Wonderful Life!

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One of the best movies ever made

10/10
Author: johncros from Rotherham, England
24 November 1999

I first watched this film as a young boy and fell in love with it straight away. I think that part of it's enduring appeal is that all audiences young and old can relate to this movie, I introduced my daughter to it last christmas and I look forward to sitting down to watch it this year with my baby boy.

O.K as you grow older you realise that some of the dialogue is perhaps a little corny but there can be no denying the strength of the acting, especially Stewart who in my opinion gives the performance of his life.

Some scenes take your breath away especially the bridge scene when George Bailey begs for his life back when the harsh wind dies away and snow starts to fall again, pure brilliance!

The ending always makes me fill up.

I don't think a movie as good as this will be ever made again

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE

10/10
Author: Ritch-5 (rich_hine@compaid.com) from PENNA, USA
11 November 1999

This is a movie that has to be experienced to be appreciated. The names may be changed, the time periods, settings, situations and places may be different, but, this is the story of every person who thought they lost everything and were given a second chance to find it. Jimmy Stewart at his usual best. Donna Reed at her most lovely. Great acting all around, especially Barrymore at his most sinister. Although this usually appears at Christmas, this is more than just a Christmas classic.

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One-of-a-kind classic

10/10
Author: RNMorton from West Chester, Pa
17 October 1999

A lesser cast would flounder with this story, about a small-town man who suffers a setback and ponders ending it all on Christmas Eve. But Jimmy Stewart and friends make the tale truly uplifting rather than sappy. The rare kind of movie that can actually influence you years after you've seen it. Supporting cast provides great backdrop for Stewart. As good viewing the tenth time as it is the first.

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Its a wonderful film too

Author: gazzo-2 from United States
2 October 1999

Like the entries for 'Star Wars', 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'The Third Man', about everything that can be said about this one has been said already. I will say that it's a tremendously affecting film, even after seeing it every year for ages-it still delivers. Watch this one after watching, say, 'You Can't Take it With You' or 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town'-you'll see many of the same faces in the cast, and a similar magic working in them as well.

Personally I have always enjoyed Sheldon Leonard (as the bar keeper) and Sam S. Hinds as the father, among many, many others.

Of course, the ending where he gets help from the Halohead, and begs God for his life back, absolutely wrenches your guts to tears every time out; no one could deliver the goods like Capra, Reed and Stewart. A film too good to see just in December, by all means see it, watch it, enjoy it. They do Not make them like this anymore; for all I know, they don't know how.

**** outta ****, as good as it gets.

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Just try to hold back the waterworks at the end, I dare you

10/10
Author: Kyle Milligan (toldyaso@planeteer.com) from Toronto, Canada
22 February 1999

To my utter dismay and disbelief, I recently discovered that a friend from work hated this movie.

This friend, whom we will call "Jean", says she saw it for the first time recently and absolutely hated it. "What a crappy movie" or something to that effect.

Not that it's important how old Jean is, but let's just say she's had ample opportunities to view the film in previous years, and by her own account she feels her parents had the good taste to protect her from this film.

I can only react in shock as one of my most beloved film experiences is torn asunder in such a harsh way. But perhaps I'm blindsided by the tradition of the film, with it being a staple for Christmas fare. Maybe I'm being merely nostalgic. Maybe I can't see it for what it is.

I tell you something dear friends, I hated Christmas this year.

It seemed to be one obligation after another that nearly stamped out any Christmas cheer I could usually muster with the greatest of ease. My beloved wife and I were busier than ever before and didn't even find the time to put up a Christmas tree, much less enjoy "It's A Wonderful Life".

You know something, I think it's because we didn't take the time to enjoy the finer points of Christmas, and part of that is Frank Capra's delightful film, which I've just acquired on DVD and plan to watch just as soon as I'm able, despite my hectic schedule.

I don't know if Jean will ever give this film another chance or not, I hope she does. Because nothing on film can compare to the touching scene at the end, where George Bailey discovers just what kind of an impact he's had on the lives of the friends around him. Just try to fight those tears, but it won't make you feel any less choked up, no matter how many times you see it, whether you start at the end or not, it doesn't matter. C'mon Jean.

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Just a wonderful movie

9/10
Author: Adriane Simo (adriane7@mindspring.com) from chandler, az
1 January 1999

Best of any year, this movie should be on everyone's top 20 list. It is on mine, next to "Godfather" and "Some Like it Hot", two of my all time favorites. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as George, if only we all had the opportunity to see what life would be like without each one of us. Good at any time of year, not just Christmas. Donna Reed is wonderful as his wife Mary, for putting up with him. You will laugh, cry and look at your own world. It is a wonderful life!!!

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An american classic

Author: anonymous from America
20 December 1998

It's a Wonderful Life is truly a great, heart-warming, emotional film that always finds the power to make me bawl like a baby. Even as I got older and started noticing some of its interior corniness, this film never failed to touch me. It is truly an American classic, with superb acting, tender directing, and a sweet, close-to-home plot.

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It's without doubt the ultimate feel-good movie

10/10
Author: Graham Kavanagh from Dublin, Ireland
9 October 1998

Anytime I'm felling down I'll put on "It's A Wonderful Life" and just forget about the things that were bothering me. To me that's the power of this exceptional film. It has an amazing way of putting things into perspective for me and that's why it's my favorite film. Of course the film also contains some of the finest acting I've ever seen. It's not just the entralling performance from James Stewart but the richness in depth of all the character actors no matter how insignificant their parts may seem.

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Holiday Treasure

10/10
Author: gpeevers from Canada
17 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Masterpiece

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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One of the best movies ever

8/10
Author: daantje_3 from Netherlands
1 February 2007

Truly one of the best movies I've ever seen. I had to watch this movie for my schoolwork, but before I had to watch it I never knew this movie was such a big inspiration for filmmakers these days. After seeing the movie I finally understood what all the fuss was about. It's quite a simple movie, and in black and white, but still really incredible to watch. And I'm so glad I did! You get sucked into the story and walk out of the cinema with a great feeling. Needless to say, It's a feel good movie you just have to see. And I believe every film fan should have seen this movie at least once! So to everybody who is reading this as research and hasn't seen the movie yet....Watch It!!!

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Sublime eloquence

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

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

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it's just wonderful

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

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

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

10/10
Author: whysoshort
3 July 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Uplifting holiday favorite praises value of an ordinary life

9/10
Author: roghache from Canada
17 March 2006

Yes, it's indeed a wonderful movie, an old black and white classic that tells the story of an ordinary man whose unheralded life makes such a difference to his small town. This man feels that he has wasted his life, but a dramatic turn of events convinces him just how significant he has been, not only to his own family but also to so many of the town's inhabitants.

The film chronicles the life of George Bailey, who, upon the untimely death of his father, forsakes his dreams of traveling to remain in his hometown of Bedford Falls and take over the helm of the family business. George is not really content, but marries a nice, pretty local girl, embarks upon raising a family, and becomes a respected community member, especially when he refuses to sell out to the local bigwig, a rich miser named Potter, who is willing to do anything to enable a takeover. Disaster befalls George's business and he despairs, contemplating suicide. This situation calls for dramatic intervention by a particularly endearing angel...

What an inspiring theme and so well captured. The value of an ordinary life lived with decency and integrity is portrayed with quiet brilliance by that very decent actor, much respected himself, James Stewart. He masterfully conveys George's joys, sorrows, regrets, sacrifices, frustrations, all the aspects of everyday life...and that is what makes this film the classic it is. That scene where George is irritated and snippy with his young daughter, who is proudly and diligently plonking out her recital piece on the piano, what parent can't identify with that type of normal and later regretted frustration?

Donna Reed is also wonderful, both as the lovely sweetheart and later the seemingly ordinary but moral wife who supports George and helps raise their four children.

It is a timeless piece of cinema that our hearts can turn to any time for inspiration, but especially at Christmas when people tend to look for the important truths in life. It's a traditional holiday favorite with many, including myself. You just glow all warm inside like a cozy fire every time you watch it.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Over rated because it so darn good

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

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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Classic

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

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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Artful and Chance-Taking Film; Powerful and Well-Acted; Capra's Best

8/10
Author: silverscreen888
24 December 2005

"It's a Wonderful Life"'s storyline stamps it a socialist-Catholic European confrontation between the despised peasant class and their feudal overlords. The additional character to this class warfare, the first of a huge series of downtrodden against the uncaring films, is George Bailey. What stamps him as a democrat are two things--he does not define anything; and he wants to help those "in need"--even though what he actually does as director of a savings and loan is to invest in people he believes in--not for huge financial gain but to affect people's lives positively in the belief that a strong Bedford Falls citizenry living decently will enrich his life in the town and those of all his fellow citizens. His rival in the film, old man Potter, despises the poor and middle class and wants to keep them downtrodden and coming to him as infallible leader, to beg. The other amazing feature of the film is its flashback nature--2/3 of the film dramatizes Bailey's history; only in the last third do we see--through the bumbling agency of Clarence, George's guardian angel sent to help him on Earth--how important George's life had been to those touched by it. This was due to his work as much as to his nature; but I fnd this a difficult, jarring and very effective use of fantasy, especially in such an early film. How George got into trouble is a plot detail; he needs money, and despairs of finding it--leading to the sending of Clarence by the angel's bosses upstairs, whose voices are supplied by Moroni Olsen and Joseph Kearns. The film seems artistic to me from start to finish; its USerized and chance-taking script is also focused, purposeful and frequently very moving. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography by Joseph Biroc and Joseph Walker complement Frank Capra's very sure direction, in my opinion. The story, adapted from Philip Van Doren Stern's "The Greatest Gift' was written for the screen by Frances Hackett and Albert Goodrich, with additions by director Capra, dialogue by Jo Swerling and Michael Wilson. Art Direction was by Jack Okey, with set decorations by Emile Kuri, costumes by Edward Stevenson. Familiar faces in the minor parts include Marian Carr, Ellen Corby, Almira Sessions, Stanley Andrews, Charles Lane, Sarah Edwards, William Edmunds, Argentina Brunetti, Sheldon Leonard, Mary Treen and Beulah Bondi and Samuel S. Hinds as George's parents. Other showing well include Lionel Barrymore as Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, H.B. Warner, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, Donna Reed, Henry Travers as Clarence and Lillian Randolph as the family's black maid. The film belongs to Jimmy Stewart, however; he is always interesting in the film and is given a wide variety of moods and challenges in the piece, from rage to surprise, to persuasion to sympathy to bitter complaint. Apart from the gaps in logic noted, the film has been given a powerful plot line, good acting and a contexted set of scenes that are frequently honest and always well-considered, in my view. Not to be missed nor overrated.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie

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

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

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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Timeless

8/10
Author: damonintheatre from Portland, Oregon
4 November 2005

My ex would coin the term. Timeless she would call it. Yes, I would have to agree with her on this one. I'm jaded, however, being so much older than when I first saw the film with wide-eyed wonder. But you have to look at the film from non-jaded eyes, from the perspective of freshness, and just observe the IDEAS as they are presented to you in the story, in the pictures, in the details. Yes, it's GEORGE's story, but it's REALLY everyman's story, and that's why my ex's idea of timelessness keeps coming back, every time I watch It's A Wonderful Life. Capra's themes come back to haunt us, much like the haunting play Our Town, where the young dead wife gets a chance to re-live one day, one easy day in the life of a 12-year old. Here, we see what life would be like without George. We all suffer our own existence, yet like George with his own personal angel, we all have our little angels ringing bells reminding us that we have purpose in our suffering. In It's a Wonderful Life, we get to see that George's simple purpose, in his small town Savings and Loan, is a kind of microcosm of the greater good, a greater good that is possible in all of mankind. This greater good and George's discovery of that greater good in himself is why the film is timeless. It's because we wonder if we have the potential to find that greater good in ourselves. Of course, then we step on the cat, or open the wrong end of the popcorn, spilling it all over the rug...

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

James Stewart's most brilliant performance...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece

Author: Darth Sidious (darth_sidious@talk21.com) from England
25 December 2000

This is a super, fantastic masterpiece by Frank Capra! I love all Capra pictures, he always put his heart into his films.

The story is about George Baily, a guy who is such a nice man, full of warmth but once he gets involved with the dollar sign... Watch the rest.

The film's humanity is its strong point, in a world where evil and greed always lurks, it's nice to watch a picture where life can be wonderful and simple.

The performances are amazing, nuff said. The direction is perfect and the production values are amazing. Everything is perfect.

Thank you Frank Capra.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I'm nuts

8/10
Author: Antony-4 from Cydonia, Mars
28 July 2000

I have two competing trains of thought about this movie. One is the obvious praise/adoration/no-holiday-season-complete-without that all of the other reviews have said. The other is much darker.

Does anyone else see that the point of the movie is divine intervention from holiday suicide? Does anyone see this as a bad thing? Let's examine the facts. 1. George is unhappy with life. 2. He gets in financial difficulty. 3. Because he sees no way out, he decides to commit suicide. 4. Divine powers intervene and save George from killing himself at the last minute.

Does this happen in real life? Ya, all but #4, which never occurs. I hate to say it but this movie that we all love should be avoided by depressed people. It is probably indirectly responsible for thousands of suicides. People aren't thinking clearly when they are depressed and seeing divine intervention save someone at the last second, if and only if they are good enough, is probably enough to push people over the edge. That stupid 'Touched by an Angel' TV show is just as bad.

People have a hard enough time distinguishing truth from reality without suggesting to the weak-minded that some supernatural entity is going to come along and solve all of their problems.

All that having been said, I still love this movie.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant but hamstrung

9/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
3 August 1999

There are only two things wrong with "It's a Wonderful Life" - unfortunately, they are the beginning and the ending. (I don't reveal what happens at the end, but I do reveal something about the feel of the ending, and those who wish to come to the film cold may wish to read no further.)

To begin with the beginning ... This is the story of a man's life AND of the way the town would have been had he never existed; but the device whereby we are shown that counterfactual is the most ham-fisted and grating one Capra could have chosen. It involves a bumbling angel named Clarence who has yet to get his wings (and, if I were in charge of Heaven, never would). Heaven (or perhaps God - it's hard to tell) appears to be the Crab Nebula and it flashes whenever it utters an accented syllable. Clarence is a half-witted interstellar firefly. I'm not making fun of the special effects: I'm questioning the fact that the deus ex machina had to be made into a character at all, let alone such an annoying one.

But the ending is worse. It's clearly MEANT to be a happy ending: the trouble is that it's no continuation whatever of the preceding story. Difficulties are vanquished by being ignored. It's as if Capra visualised the scene he wanted at the end, and when he discovered it didn't fit, filmed it anyway. A genuinely happy ending would have been great - even a tragic ending would have been less painful, and depressing, to watch.

Now for the good news. Between the faltering beginning and the sour conclusion it's sustained magic - one brilliant scene after another, to the point where it's difficult to believe that so many good bits found their way into the same film. And I don't just mean that individual scenes play well, but to no purpose: there really is a fine and complex story supporting them. The ending is a genuine shame, but if you can get past it, good luck to you.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Only a heartless person will not have a smile during the course of the movie

9/10
Author: tjsdshpnd from India
12 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart combination have given cinema lovers some great movies to cherish in the Black and White era. This movie is not only one of their best, but also one of the best of that era. Based on the basic principle of cherishing the greatest gift god has given to humans - Life, this movie takes the help of fantasy to explain this point very beautifully. The movie has a very simple story, the good virtues against the bad virtues and the triumph of the human spirit in the end. But, the treatment of the story is very fresh and it still remains evergreen. A Lot of suicides are reported nowadays due to various reasons, people ending lives without thinking of their near and dear ones. A Similar situation arises in the movie with the protagonist George Bailey (Stewart), who due to bankruptcy and other reasons decide to end his life leaving his wife and four children. He is about to end his life, when a guardian angel from heaven stops him and advises him against it by saying that every life is precious and ending it would change a lot of things around. He proves his point by showing George how his town, family etc would have been if he never existed. Seeing, the dreadful situation of his family and town if he had never being born, he understands the preciousness of his life and takes the suitable decision. The movie ends on a very happy note. Only a heartless person would not have a smile on the face or perhaps a tear in the eye during the course of the climax.

James Stewart lives the role of George Bailey. My admiration for this actor never ceases to grow. Donna Reed is gorgeous. The other actors have done a great job. Well, this is the king of feel good movies, the ultimate family movie. It can be watched multiple times without even the slightest feeling of boredom. Recommended for people who watch movies with their heart.

Rating : 9/10

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

" You called me a warped frustrated old man, well what are you, but a warped frustrated young man "

8/10
Author: thinker1691 from USA
2 September 2009

The movie is called " It's a wonderful life " and stars one of Hollywood's favorites. Frank Capra chose James Steward to play George Bailey, a young idealistic young man who believes he is destined to travel the world and make a fortune. It's a great dream, but unfortunately will never happen. Instead, George is forced into an obscure existence, as he admires his father so much it dooms him to replace the old man in Bedford Falls. The Bailey family establishes a tiny savings and loan and attempts to compete with the richest man in town, Mr. Potter played to the hilt by Lionel Barrymore. Things are bad enough when Mr. Bailey dies, just as George is about to go to college, but then he is forced to replacing him as head of the S & L. Years go by and Mr. Potter takes advantage of the 1930's depression and his domination of the town is nearly complete. The second world war descends on the town and directly after a economic calamity caused by George's uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) threatens the family business by accidentally losing $8,000. Facing bankruptcy, George panics and believes he is going to be arrested. Knowing this will destroy his family, ruin his reputation and send him to prison, George opts to commit suicide. Praying for a miracle, George is hoping his insurance policy will save his family. However, an instant before he jumps into the frigid, frozen winter waters of the river, George is startled to see a strange little man jumping in first. That is when George's life enters the world of the "What if." The stranger (Henry Travers) turns out to be an angel named Clarence, who shows him what life would be had he never been born. In this alternative world George watches with astonishment as all those he knew are changed forever by his absence. Potter is in fact the richest and most powerful man who indeed owns the town. George on the other hand becomes a total stranger and terrorizes his own wife (Donna Reed), mother (Beulah Bondi) and children. He is subsequently run out of town by his former friends Ward Bond and Frank Faylen and neighbors. Repeated yearly as one of the finest Christmas films of all time, the movie has indeed become a family Classic. One of Jimmy Steward's all time favorites. ****

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Stewart Is Wonderful

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
8 January 2009

Ever since Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' became a huge success, there have been numerous films that have borrowed its story. Though it starts off a little slow and some of the scenes seem rushed, the pace gradually picks up in the second hour. The small town is well structured and one does get the feel of it. The appearance of an angel is a little awkward but one gets used to it because of a charming Henry Travers. 'It's a Wonderful Life' tends to be melodramatic and loud at times but the lead performances somehow make up for the faults. Stewart is wonderful as an ambitious and good-hearted dreamer who loses everything and then finds his way back. Donna Reed is brilliantly subtle as the caring and supportive wife. This does not rank among my favourite Capra films but it is a good enough watch.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

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

10/10
Author: micksteel86 from Australia
6 February 2007

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

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

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

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Holiday Classic

Author: MDC_Catalyst from Miami, Florida
27 December 2005

By Manny Castro

The movie-Gods must really love It's a Wonderful Life. This is a film that, upon its inital release, was a flop. It won a Golden Globe for director Frank Capra and received five Oscar nominations, but the public hardly noticed it until about the 1970s. During that time, the film's copyright had expired and stations like PBS could air it at no cost. It slowly began to build an audience and eventually became a beloved classic.

Perhaps the reason for this is because of the film's powerful message. Jimmy Stwart plays George Bailey, a man who spends his entire life devoted to his small town, Bedford Falls. When his life suddenly takes a turn for the worse, he considers suicide. It is up to his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) to stop George by showing him what the lives of the citizens of Bedford would have been like if he had not been born at all.

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the greatest holiday films of all time. In fact, it might even be the best. This is a wonderful film because it allows you time to discover the history of George Bailey's childhood, his romance with Mary (Donna Reed), and why he came to love his fellow townspeople. Director Frank Capra also makes the smart decision of giving many of these townspeople a good amount of screen time, so we as an audience begin to love them too. Or perhaps even hate them in the case of Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the man who wants to ruin George Bailey. If you haven't seen this film then do so because you will end up falling in love with it.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film

10/10
Author: epic2k from Scotland
23 November 2004

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

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

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

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Rises Far Above Most Movies of Its Kind

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
21 December 2001

This movie rises far above most films of its kind. Not only are all the important aspects of the film done with care and skill, there is much more substance to it than there is to most 'feel-good' movies or holiday stories. It succeeds where many similar movies fall short, and while it is ultimately a feel-good fantasy, many viewers who don't ordinarily enjoy such stories end up liking this one.

One of the major strengths is that hero George Bailey is not a one-dimensional good-guy, but rather must combat his own weaknesses and disappointments at the same time that he is trying to help others. He has his own dreams and hopes, which never seem to materialize, and this is a genuine struggle for him. And it doesn't hurt that the character is played by a terrific actor like Jimmy Stewart, who brings out all the sides of George's character, and who gives almost any viewer something to relate to. There are many other positives as well - plenty of interesting characters, a very good cast, and a story that makes use of every available resource. "It's A Wonderful Life" is an enduring story that is still worth watching and remembering.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Bailey v. Kane

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

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

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

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

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

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10 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

I don't like it

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

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

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10 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

George Bailey Please Stop Complaining

7/10
Author: daveisit from Melbourne, Australia
1 December 2000

This movie is like eating your vegies. You don't like them but you know they are good.

I didn't really enjoy this movie. George Bailey gives so much in life and suffers because of it. He then starts complaining and having a cry over it all. Get over it mate. What was happening in his life happens a lot more often today, so he may have won the battle but he didn't win the war. Business is business and if you can't move with the times, you are almost bound to be unsuccessful.

I didn't enjoy it because I found his personality so annoying. What this does mean is the movie got me thinking and Jimmy Stewart played his part well. I have only kind words to say about the production of the movie and definitely recommend it to all.

7 out of 10.

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17 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Why is this a "classic"? Basic premise poor

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Corny, predictable, poorly acted and inspiring eternal.

7/10
Author: Marc Israel from United States
1 May 2013

Frank Capra's holiday renewal works because of its' simplicity and because we love the American underdog. We all want to achieve something more grandiose than small town success while living in a fixer-upper with a growing family. We beat ourselves up over doing the best we can and spend nights worrying about how we're going to do the right thing day in and day out. We're all George Bailey in need of a kick off the pity pot. Thankfully, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed re-light the holiday fire. They really do need play against each other because if Jimmy wasn't such a malcontent, Donna couldn't be so strong and vica-versa. The first "what if" film to become Americana unto itself. Hee Haw!

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I grew up in a small country town

Author: dsewizzrd-1 from Australia
25 August 2011

James Stewart's magnum opus, as Stewart plays a manager of a Savings and Loans in midwest USA, pursued by the "Big Man" of the town.

Stewart saves the institution (rather pointlessly in my opinion) from ruin during the depression but things come to a head after the War.

The morality seems confused - for instance saving a murderous pharmacist - possibly in a convoluted effort to avoid the film looking "socialist".

He decides to commit suicide for the Life insurance money, but an angel shows him what it would be like if he hadn't lived – a town full of honky tonk joints, loose women and fast living (Go knock yourself out, Jimmy !)

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This and "The Wizard of Oz"

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film-making doesn't get any better.

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Another "No dry eyes" film for me

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

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

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

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

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My Favorite Movie Ever, Ever, Ever!!!

10/10
Author: hobbyhob from Sacramento
14 December 2007

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

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

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A classic. It touches your emotions making one to learn to enjoy life, while bringing tears of joy at the films end.

9/10
Author: Danny Blankenship from Petersburg, Virginia
9 December 2007

Finally after all these years I decided to set down and watch the Frank Capra classic from 1946 "It's A Wonderful Life" and I must say overall I was well pleased a film that makes one feel down and depressed yet it touches your emotions and makes you be thankful especially the way the film ends it can bring your eyes to water up. The legendary Jimmy Stewart who performs fine here plays George Bailey a man who thru life has always seemed to have gotten the short end. From his days as a child when George felt guilty for not watching his brother to the days of never reaching his full potential and having to take over the business of banking loans once his father passes unexpectedly. It seems that George's life is problem after problem even after he enjoys life with his significant other Mary(Donna Reed) then his business sinks and the loans of bank customers turn to debt and it seems life for George is now finally doomed as if he will be broken just before Christmas. All along from the films start we as the viewer can see somewhat of a foreshadowing technique starting out with the stars in the sky of angels up above who keep a close eye on everyone including George. Then upon Christmas as in so many holiday fairy types a magical visit occurs this time it's from an angel named Clarence. The journey that George takes is even more depressing, but in the end he sees the true light and love from everyone in town. Capra really proved with this film that no matter how bad it seems or it gets in life that in the end if you have loved and given friends will turn out in the end in time of need and not let failure or darkness happen. Many times some of us aren't felt to be loved or liked, but we are fooled and surprised in the end with a little help from up above. The ending with the bell and angel is timeless and a classic well remembered by most viewers. Clearly thumbs up for Frank Capra who made an emotional and touching classic with a little help from the angels in the heavens above it touches a viewer and makes them feel loved and uplifts their spirits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Absolutely Wonderful!

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

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

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

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

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Quality does not become a Cliché

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

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

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What's Better Than This?

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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Very heartwarming

10/10
Author: masterteeh from Philippines
14 January 2007

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

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The Perfect Christmas Tradition

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

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

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The greatest movie ever filmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Greatest film ever...

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

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

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

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

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

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Simply Fantastic!!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Film

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

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

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He's a wonderful actor

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

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

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Incredible movie.

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

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

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

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Wonderful

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

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

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The finest American movie ever made

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

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

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There's no 11 out of 10 score.

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

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

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

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

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

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a movie with important morale values.

9/10
Author: Eric G Lunneborg from Fairview, Oregon
16 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey, a savings-and-loan manager, played by James Stewart, (Stewart), the , much-loved hero of Bedford Falls. As a child, George risked his life and lost his hearing in one ear to save his brother from drowning. While he was growing up he dreamed of traveling around the world and going to college.

After his father passed away, he forfeited his dreams to move away from the small town that he grew up in to stay home and manage his father's business, the Bailey Building and Loan. Throughout his life, George believe that meeting the needs of others was more important than accumulating wealth. The film has it share f romance, especially when George marries Mary Hatch, who is played by Donna Reed. On their wedding day, George ends up sacrificing his honeymoon so hat he can prevent the Savings an Loan fro going out o business.

As with many movies from the 1940's, the film has a villain. He is a is a stingy old man named Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore), who owns most of Bedford Falls. The Bailey Building and Loan Society is the one of the only businesses in town that he doesn't own, and he's willing to do anything to get his hands on it – lie, cheat, bribe, steal

Although for the most part it is a a lighthearted story, the movie does show the despair that overcomes George when his personal and financial troubles force him into a feeling of hopelessness and ultimately has him considering suicide. George is rescued by Clarence (Henry Travers), a lovable yet bumbling guardian angel, who has been given the assignment to prove to George that his life is worth living. He grants George one wish: to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. George observes how much worse off many people would be. Mary, is wife is a lonely spinster; George's brother, Harry, is dead because George was not there to rescue him when he was a child George's uncle, Billy, is in an insane asylum; and Mr. Potter owns the entire town, which has been named after him.

The reviewer would rate this movie a five out of five star rating. It's A Wonderful Life deals with the desire each of us has to feel that somehow our existence makes a difference in this world. And even though it doesn't actually say it, we can all learn not to be too confident, and that we should be careful of what we wish for.

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best movie ever!

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

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

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

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

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

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

This movie deserves 10 out of 10.

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Simply A Great Movie.

Author: Sarah (spacemanspiff87) from Troutdale, Oregon
16 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler!!!

The viewer learns about George Bailey as `angles' are discussing his current situation. These angels go through all of the major events in George's life. They show that he dreamed of traveling to far off lands and discovering all the world had to offer him. But, that all didn't quite work out for George. He grew up and found that business life changed him and made him feel as if he was a failure for never leaving Bedford Falls. All of it just adds up to George coming to the end of his rope and ready to jump off of a bridge. But the angel Clarence comes down and jumps in, ultimately saving George. Clarence then shows George what it would be like in Bedford Falls if George wasn't ever born. George learns that even though he didn't live out his dreams of travel and adventure, he still had a major impact on people. As Clarence the angel shows George around town, he learns how truly wonderful his life is. This movie is a favorite to many, and for good reasons. The movie (based on a book named The Greatest Gift) is such a wonderful tale that shows viewers what the really important things in life are. `It's Wonderful Life' wasn't a huge success as it was released as WW11 was ending. But as time past, it has become a classic, ranking number twenty six out of Internet Movie Data Base's top two hundred and fifty. One of the best things about this movie is the character development, with a strong protagonist and the powerful antagonist, Mr. Potter. The viewer can feel as if they are there, in the cozy town of Bedford Falls, living right along side with George and his family. There were no camera techniques or special effects that made this movie what it is. It is simply an amazing story that people fall in love with. The average user rating for this movie is 8.6/10, but this viewer gives it a 10/10.

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

10/10
Author: kmw1962 from Malvern
1 December 2003

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

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

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

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Thank You Frank Capra

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

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

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

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

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Close to the best

10/10
Author: pedrocy2000
27 November 2003

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

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The Greatest Feel-Good Movie of them all!

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

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

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

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

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

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A timeless holiday classic

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

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

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A movie for all seasons. WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!

Author: templer_doom (templer_doom@yahoo.co.uk)
27 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A movie that functions on the basis and basics of it's principal talents, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a movie dealing with the importance of community in society. Made at the end of the Second World War, it is hard to believe that the film was not as well received on initial release, whereas today, it would have grown through word of mouth and the power of the Internet (Mr. Knowles, your netrangers await!!)

It is refreshing to view a film where the only key optical effects are a simple starfield representation of the angels and one or two moments of illusion as Ward Bond arrives to save James Stewart from oblivion and that the true special effect is in the acting and script, still among the most essential parts of the film-making process.

In turns funny, tragic, revealing and observing, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is at first glance the tale of a man,George Bailey (Stewart) out to keep his livelihood alive against outside oppression (in this case a local businessman determined to buy out his stake in his business with a rich payoff) and to retain the dignity and trust of the township, but when pressure gets too much, the locals begin to take exception to his beliefs and manner, resulting in one of the husbands of his colleagues hitting him and him reexamining what is important in life.....

Influential to many of today's wishful thinking movies (think WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE) as well as any number of top fantasy blockbusters, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE continues to give pleasure to many and is in spite of it's Christmas setting, a movie for all seasons....

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It's a wonderful film.

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

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

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Beautiful!

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

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

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

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

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

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My favorite movie!

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

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

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One of the greatest movies ever made

Author: Danny_G13 from Glasgow, Scotland
22 July 2003

I'm not one for watching black & white movies. In face, I specifically turn off when one is on. So when I saw the tail-end of It's A Wonderful Life I quite liked it and thought I'd give it the chance when it came on at Christmas a year later. By the end I could only say it was one of the finest feel-good movies ever, and one of the finest movies ever - period. It's a simple tail of a man called George who's reached his wits end with life and feels everything is going wrong. The story is told in flashback from the point of view of an angel, Clarence, who's been sent by God to make George realise certain things, and gives him the chance to see things from a different perspective - of a world in which he doesn't exist. The story is extremely well-told, and the ending will have you cheering. It's heartwarming and was recently rated as one of the top 10 movies ever made by Channel 4 viewers in UK. As rated by the whole of society and not just older people this shows the broad appeal. Your life is not complete if you haven't seen this.

A true masterpiece.

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Must See Christmas TV

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

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

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Another Great One.

Author: fjustice1988 (fjustice1988@charter.net)
20 October 2002

Here is another good Christmas Movie. The first time I saw this was when I was in the 8th grade, and we were getting close to Christmas Break, so we watched this.

I was surprised. I figured it would be boring, but I must admit, I enjoyed it.

9 out of 10.

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

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

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

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

I wish I had friends like that!

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May be the best movie ever made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rotisserie in the room.

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

This part of "It's A Wonderful Life" moves me to tears and can help many people look at their own lives in a new light,especially when one is in despair and feels that their life is worthless.

And the icing on that part of the cake is where,after George finds that he has his daughter Zuzu's petals in his coat and runs home to his family to find how much they love him,many of his friends come to his aid to help him in replacing the $8000 that went into Mr.Potter's hands before.

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

This movie might be THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

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

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

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Its a Wonderful Movie

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

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

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This is my favourite film!

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

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

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Surely a Christmas classic, with one minor complaint

8/10
Author: biker45 from Florida
6 June 2002

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

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It's A Wonderful Film

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Film

9/10
Author: marsman from Chicago, IL
31 August 2000

Every so often, a real gem presents itself. Perhaps Capra's greatest work, this is the quintessential "feel good" movie. A man is brought back from the brink of suicide by internal reflection on his life, pointed out by the external source of the guardian angel. One of the few films to address, albeit subtly, the power of prayer. The prayers of friends and family manifest themselves in the help of the angel. It is through the community that George had defined himself, and through that same community he found redemption. The film is very deserving of its accolades.

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Every time a bell rings...

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

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

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

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So pure!

10/10
Author: dreammaster4 from Montreal
31 July 2000

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

A magical movie to see over and over again!

Simply Perfect!

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You want a classic? Here it is

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

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

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

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

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A wonderful and heart-warming film of immense depth

8/10
Author: Paul Maskelyne (Muttley-4) from Farnborough, England
7 June 2000

This is a fantastic film.

The fact that George is struggling so hard to get away and make something of his life that he doesn't realise how much good he is doing for the people around him, and what a success he already is.

Watch it!

8/10

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My personal fave

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

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

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It's a Wonderful Movie

9/10
Author: princy from Australia
24 May 2000

What an absolutely wonderful movie, the first Frank Capra film I have ever seen and I am impressed. The story line is a breath of fresh air from the usual Hollywood story, and the fact that a movie that was made in 1946 would tackle the subject of suicide is remarkable. I have only seen James Stewart in a handful of movies, the last being 'Rear Window', and I have to say that he is one of the finest actors I have ever seen. This is also the second time I have seen Donna Reed in a movie, the other time being 'From Here to Eternity' and she delivered an even better performance in this film. This movie is a "Must See" for anyone of any age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TOP FILM!

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

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

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simply magnificent

Author: kicker760 from GA
20 April 2000

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

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

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

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

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One of my favorites

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

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

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

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

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Intense emotions

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

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

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

Author: RT Firefly from United States
5 February 2000

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

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Wonderful

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

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

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It sure is....

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

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

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It is a wonderful woman

10/10
Author: Liedzeit from Germany
29 December 1999

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

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One of my all-time favorties!

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

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

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Slightly overrated, but only slightly

Author: Mike Sh. (michaelshannon123@comcast.net) from Lowell MA
31 July 1999

I love this movie. I did get a bit sick of it a few years ago when it played on just about every channel at just about every hour just about every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But I never quite got to the point where I hated the movie.

This movie, like a lot of Frank Capra's, is sometimes thought of as sentimental almost to the point of schmaltz. It is true that a first glance this seems like a "feel-good movie" to use the present-day parlance. But, again like a lot of Capra's movies, it has a dark side lurking under its sunny exterior. It's usually not patently obvious, but rather subtle. In this case, James Stewart's dark hard-edged side is most notably seen in the scene where he goes home and abuses his family before going out to get plastered. It's only a small part of the movie, but it's there, nicely complementing the sweet, nice, aw-shucks good-guy character he portrays throughout the rest of the movie. It also shows what an actor of range Stewart was.

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This one is for Scrooge

Author: sidney-11 from Scotland
23 May 1999

If you know anyone who hates Christmas get them to watch this and it will melt their icy heart in no time. For best results watch on Christmas Eve snuggled up in front of a cosy fire eating Christmas food and drinking hot chocolate and you will wish Christmas was every day.

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Probably the best movie ever made.

Author: nono-5 from London
18 May 1999

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

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One of the BEST films ever made!

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

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

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

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

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

This may be my most favorite film.

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Every time a bell rings I think of this movie

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

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

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Living does make a difference

Author: Robbie Holland (robbieholland@hotmail.com) from Southampton, UK
27 January 1999

A kind man is prevented from committing suicide by an elderly angel, who takes him back through his life to show him the difference he has made but more importantly the good he has done. A sentimental comedy, fantasy, drama of the highest order. The amazing depth of character and incident are perfectly executed. The cast, direction and plot are remarkable. James Stewart is at his best as the man asked by the angel to reflect on his life. The film builds up to a real tear jerking ending. This is Frank Capras greatest achievement, and could justifiably lay claim to being one, if not the greatest film ever made. If life is not like this, then I say it ought to be. Can Cinema ever be bettered?

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loved it

10/10
Author: anonymous from usa
23 January 1999

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

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This is not a Christmas movie

Author: Neil Dennis (neildennis@hotmail.com) from London, England
21 December 1998

James Stewart has long been a favourite actor of mine. Not just because of his effortless charm and wry wit both on and off screen, but because of the variety of roles he played in his distinguished career. He was the favourite actor of many eminent directors. Capra, Hitchcock and Ford all used his ample talents more than once, and although many people associate him with either westerns or sugary, cutesy roles, he was very versatile and a remarkable talent. It's a Wonderful Life shares the same misfortune - to be misunderstood. Often written off as a Christmas film or schmaltz, It's a Wonderful Life is neither. George Bailey is a complex character. He is first and foremost a man, and he feels the acute pain of bitter disappointment. He doesn't act out of love for his fellow man, he acts out of love and respect for his family. He is burdened with being the eldest son, and the responsibility that that entails, and his greatest desire, to travel, is thwarted by these responsibilities. We share his pain because George Bailey is a good man and we want to see good things happen to him. While his brother and his friends achieve fame and fortune, George is left behind in Bedford Falls, the town he grew up in and so desperately wants to escape. George is resentful of the people who put him in this situation, especially the unscrupulous Mr Potter, played by the excellent Lionel Barrymore. When $3000 goes missing from the Building and Loans, George is at the end of his tether, and Clarence the angel is sent to save him.

This really is not schmaltz or saccharine, the film is a dark study of responsibility and disappointment, and even though all ends happily around the Christmas tree, this certainly is not a Christmas movie, because by definition they have to be crap.

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Brought a tear to my eye.

Author: anonymous from Daly City, CA
29 September 1998

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

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One of the best movies in cinema history

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

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

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It's a wonderful Christmas movie!

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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Gives a Heart to the Heartless

10/10
Author: StarFuture
24 December 2008

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

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

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

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A great, big, fat masterpiece

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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The Miracle at Bedford Falls

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
27 December 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Classic, often overlooked, film

Author: dust-7
24 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The best film ever made

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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Great complex film!

9/10
Author: Spuzzlightyear from Vancouver
20 May 2006

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

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Christmas Classic

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

***Spoilers***

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/10.

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Best movie ever

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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

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A favorite for 60 years (beginning this Christmas)!

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

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

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

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The perfect Christmas film that transcends being just a Christmas film

10/10
Author: Surecure from Canada
1 November 2005

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

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

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

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Timeless Magical Brilliance

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

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

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The best

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

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

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My all time favorite film!

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

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

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Librarians, Boogie Woogie

Author: tcampbell-4 from United States
27 December 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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Tip toeing around a classic...

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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

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

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

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

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A Timeless Masterpiece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Heartwarming Tale That's Filled With Love

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

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

Lenny's Grade: A+

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Loved It

10/10
Author: mikex5
16 December 2004

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

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

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

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Best Movie Ever!!!

Author: jhtphanatic225 from USA
28 November 2004

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

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A Timeless American Classic

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

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS*** I honestly cannot conceive how anyone who possesses a heart, mind, and soul can detract from this wonderful, brilliant, classic piece of American cinema. Aside from being THE movie to view over and over every Christmas season, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a fantastic celebration of the human soul, and how sometimes when we find ourselves at the brink of disaster, it is crucial to realize that miracles can definitely happen, as George Bailey discovers in his guardian angel Clarence. This is a whimsical, endearing, and somewhat somber story about life in America, and how accumulating enough fame and friends can salvage you from any financial burden which may befall your life. George Bailey is a simple, gregarious, and even pompous figure whose inherent responsibility is to retain his father's banking company and to ensure that his life-long nemesis, the wretched, sinister Mr. Potter, does not succeed in taking over the business and eventually the town of Bedford Falls. We soon learn that an egregious and critical error has been committed which has plunged George's bank into potential bankruptcy and what's worse, possibly jail time. All of this despair and turmoil befall the typically fortunate Bailey and dangerously consume him to the extent that he silences his daughter's playing on the piano, relinquishes his distress upon his loving wife and children, and storms out of the house to get dazed at a bar, and eventually, find himself at the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide. The story follows George Bailey through times of good and times of despair, so that we get the sincere impression that suicide was once the very last intention on Bailey's spirited and ambitious mind. At an early age, he proclaims to his lover and future wife, Mary, "I'm shaking' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world", and pleases Mary with such charming gestures as "You want the moon? I'll throw a lasso around it for you". We learn that he has had quite a fortunate and prosperous life, and before his recent downfall, could be said to be the happiest man in Bedford Falls. However, it takes a whimsical and vivacious guardian angel named Clarence to really remind George of his wonderful and important existence, as in reflection, he not only prospered in bliss in his personal affairs, yet also impacted the lives of countless acquaintances throughout the town, some of whom wouldn't even have existed without him, if that is too marvelous to conceive! This is the quintessential American classic, most enjoyed around the reflective, cheery holiday season, that reminds us about the riches we enjoy in life, how we can easily be bereaved of them, and how we might possibly salvage whatever losses we encounter in life. George Bailey eventually learns that it is not the present, mundane, or even discouraging details which define our lives, but the whole of our existence: our contributions, successes, fortunes, possessions, and impressions we achieve throughout our time upon the earth, and to simply enjoy everything we are so very blessed to receive. This is a brilliant, timeless film, featuring wonderful direction, superb acting by James Stewart, an incomparable screenplay, and is just an overall priceless experience to behold. It's one of the most endearing, heartfelt, and important films you will ever have the privilege to view, particularly around the holiday season, when you are reflecting upon what you should be thankful for, and forgetting as best you can, any negative details which try to diminish your happiness. George Bailey: "Isn't that wonderful, I'm going to jail!" This is the kind of happy, fearless spirit we should all aspire to achieve! "It's A Wonderful Life" is a truly wonderful movie. **** out of ****

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It's a Wonderful Movie

9/10
Author: little_lover666
1 October 2004

Sweet. So very very sweet. The quality and style of James Stewarts performance in this movie cannot be underrated. His quick wit and dry delivery are perfectly coupled with Capra's directing style and the result is a magnificent piece of artistry that has withstood time and critics alike.

The scene where Mr Gower smacks a young George round the head and makes his ear bleed, for me, provides the most insight into his true character. Trapped in his little head, George faces yet another taste of the constant battle between right doing and wrong doing. A way of thinking that embedded itself into his character and ends up being his greatest strength, and paradoxically, his greatest resentment.

But he wears it well.

I was given a copy of this film as a gift from a dear friend 9 years ago. Sadly this friend is no longer in my life. But I remember unwrapping my Christmas present at the time and thinking "why'd you give me this? Musta been on sale at Woolworths".

Today i know. My friend was George Bailey.

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It's a wonderful film...

8/10
Author: Stevie Pollock (stevieheuge@hotmail.com) from Glasgow, Scotland
19 September 2004

Well, to kick off, i had never seen this film before this afternoon (Im 21), when i decided to grab my mothers copy off the shelf and stick it on. Everyone saying that this was one of those 'must see classics' finally got to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I must admit i tend to favour more recent films - these days i like to look out for groundbreaking acting, superb camera movement, stunning cinematography etc , but 'It's A Wonderful Life' just goes to show that all that does not make a good film. Its the story, its the characters.

Released in 1946, a whole 36 years before i was born, i thought this would just be another film that the oldies loved, but is just no match for todays masterful film-making techniques. I was wrong, and that makes me happy...

The film is all in the story, detailing George Bailey's struggle to get out of his small town, but always putting others before himself and continually sacrificing his chance to live his own life and see the world. By the end, his life takes a nasty turn or two, and he ends up considering suicide to make available his life insurance money to help his family - until a gentle angel named Clarence arrives to show him what life in his town would be like if he was never around...

Very well acted (for its era) and very well told, 'It's A Wonderful Life' really is one of the most uplifting films i have ever seen. Frank Capra gently takes us from step to step with our subtly heroic lead, throughout the highs, the almost lows, and the real lows, and you really feel for the guy - He is never presented as perfect - he sometimes yells at his family, his friends, he gets frustrated like all of us, but always does what he can to right his wrongs, and help his townspeople. We like this guy because he's decidedly human, but a good man overall.

The films big payoff comes in its finale - after George realises how much he has to live for, he immediately sets about doing just that, embracing his family like he hadn't seen them in years, despite his financial turmoil and seemingly grim future.

If this film had been made today, no doubt the ending would be deemed cheesy and unrealistic - today it seems impossible to have a happy ending without the film being accused of taking the easy way out, which is crap - let people end their movie in the way that seems best to them. This film however, though simply shot and unremarkably acted, is truly affecting. George finally realizing that he was cherished and appreciated all along by his friends and clients is a touching moment, and to be honest, i was in tears, crying like a baby with a smacked arse by the end credits.

I really urge anyone who has not seen this film to give it a go, even if you think its way, way off your normal movie map. I like Michael Bay films for crying out loud, and i still loved this! Go watch.

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Truly wonderful.

10/10
Author: colonel_green from Charlottetown, Canada
19 August 2004

I was in elementary school when I first saw "It's A Wonderful Life". My teacher (or perhaps a substitute) had little to do in the last day before the holidays began, and so she decided that the class would spend the entire morning watching "It's A Wonderful Life". I had, of course, heard of the film, and seen several parodies and takes on its ending (on Tiny Toon Adventures, for example), but I had never seen the film itself. Seeing that movie was a life-changing experience. Simply put, "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the greatest movies ever made, and one of the few black and white films that can hold my attention. Jimmy Stewart gives the performance of his life as George Bailey, the humble man from Bedford Falls who sets aside his life's ambitions in order to help others. Stewart is truly phenomenal, even if the spectacle of him playing the "young" George is a bit difficult to accept. Also in fine form is Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, the nastiest and richest man in town. Mr. Potter is the very embodiment of the self-satisfied aristocrat, and an easy man to hate. Donna Reed is great as George's true love, Mary, although (like Stewart) her unchanged appearance despite the passage of many years requires some creative disbelief. Particularly heartbreaking is Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, the good-natured but forgetful man who nearly ruins the family. The plot of "It's A Wonderful Life" is well known, and has been frequently imitated, but never surpassed. George Bailey decides to end his life, and God sends an angel to help him. George then becomes convinced that the world would have been better off he had never been born, so the angel Clarence transports him into an alternate timeline where he did not exist, and shows him how George's selfless life altered so many people's lives for the better. George returns, and is greeted with the results of his compassion. I watch "It's A Wonderful Life" once a year, when it aires at Christmastime, and it always brings me a great feel of renewal. This is a true classic, one that all people should watch, regardless of their faith. 10/10, and a cheer for all those involved.

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A wonderful film!

9/10
Author: Shannon from So*Cal
4 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

This is what I call classic Capra and classic Stewart. This is a great film to watch with your family during Christmas time. It makes you think about the things we take for granted everyday and for those who don't have it so good. This film shows how God works in strange and mysterious ways. This film should be in every Christian's video/DVD library.

My favorite character besides George Bailey is Charlie, George's guardian angel. He truly does steal the show as George's voice of reason and logic. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a timeless classic that should be seen by all.

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Holiday Classic!

10/10
Author: Christopher (mrcaw1@hotmail.com) from New York
27 April 2004

It's A Wonderful Life (1946- Directed by Frank Capra) I suppose most of us are familiar with this holiday classic. It's hard to believe that on it's initial release the movie didn't really do well at the box office. Jimmy Stewart plays the Job-like George Bailey who gets taught the lesson of a lifetime by friendly angel Clarence Oddbody played by Henry Travers. With Donna Reed playing his wife Mary and a host of other familiar character actors, Capra weaves a tale of the importance of a single human life. Old timer Lionel Barrymore (great uncle of current Charlie's Angel, Drew) gives the quintessential performance of a rich soulless banker.

What's so great about this movie after repeated viewing is how well the story is constructed. Every scene ties so well into the overall plot and gives information about the action about to take place or explains events in the past. So many lines from this movie are quotable that it's hard to chose one for inclusion here. Although one of the sweetest is early on in the movie, when our heroine Mary, as a child whispers into her already man of her dreams, George's bad ear, "George Bailey, I'll love you till the day I die."

Don't rent this video. Buy it.

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The best movie ever!

10/10
Author: clarinetgirl25 from Gresham, Oregon
29 January 2004

If there is one movie that viewers need to see during the holidays it is `It's a wonderful life.' George Bailey gives up his dreams for a family and his family business. One Christmas eve he becomes short 8,000 dollars, and considers suicide. Clarence an angel with ` wit of a rabbit, and the faith of a child' is sent down from heaven to help George. He then shows George how he has impacted a countless number of people's lives. The real meaning of life is shown through George's experience and is a message to all people. America today is described as being selfish or greedy. In `It's a Wonderful Life' Mr. Potter represents this idea of America, because he is the business man that does not care about people, only money. This is the complete opposite of George Bailey, who even loaned out his honeymoon trip money to save his business and friends. Mr. Potter is America as the world views it, selfish, unkind, and greedy. But many do not think about the individuals of America who care and love this country and others who live in it. Though Mr. Potter owns most of the little town of Bedford falls, George is responsible for the happiness and lives of its citizens. Many people forget this as they think about America outside or inside of the United States. The acting of `It's a Wonderful Life' is wonderful, the sweet love, and simple mind of Clarence could convince any scrooge to love life. As he takes George through scenes of his life there is never an unkind word and always patients. James Stewart however makes this movie come to life for the viewer. He is a man with a wonderful home, family, and job, when everything seems to go wrong he wonders what good he has done for the world. Every person has asked this question one time or another, this relates the viewer to the movie and its actors. The holidays is a time for love, excitement, and family. This movie emphasizes this concept in such a way that all who watch it are effected. There are many people out in the world that are feeling down or lonely during this time of the year. They may wonder what they have really done, or who they have impacted. `It's a Wonderful Life' demonstrates that everyone is important and needed. It is a message of hope, of which people can look to and remember their worth as individuals.

Rating of 1-10 is a 10

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An enjoyable family film with a wholesome message.

8/10
Author: CyndiReynolds4 from troutdale
25 January 2004

`It's a wonder life,' is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film! There is no doubt that this movie is made for any stressed out, overly depressed and wants to give up on life too soon, kind of person. Don't be scared though, this movie isn't depressingly sad or makes you want to go home and slit your wrest. `It's a wonderful life,' is quiet happy and funny for the most part. The film is very straightforward and doesn't leave a complicated mess for you to figure out. `It's a wonderful life' stars, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra, the director and producer of the film, does a great job getting the point of the film across to audiences. The title describes itself fully, `wonderful.' The film takes place, for the most part during the great depression and takes you through many time periods. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is an upbeat, funny character, for the most part of the movie. George is known by everyone in the town and is well respected. Since growing up there is whole life, it was natural for him to want to get out. Traveling from place to place without a care in the world was his dream. Until he met his future wife, Mary Bailey (Donna Reed). At a school dance, Mary and George instantly fell in love as they spotted each other from across the floor. Though it wasn't until three years later when they got married. They went on to have a family and live in a big and beautiful house, though George wasn't too happy. Things weren't going too well for him, one Christmas eve night. I guess you could say things took a turn for the worst and it took one big wish for him to realize, what he had was what he needed! Released in 1946, right after WWII, `It's a wonderful life' was a nice family film everyone could enjoy, especially after such a tragic time in history. Its message gave such a positive outlook on even the most bittersweet events in history. By taking a regular guy, in a little town and giving him problems most people could relate to, the film adapted well with audiences. Besides the fantastic story line, the cast added an amazing appeal to the film. This is a cast that complements each other easily. Jimmy Stewart is a profound actor. He sucks you into the movie so well and brings George Bailey to life. Donna Reed is a delight with her performance. She plays the perfect part as George's wife, Mary. This reviewer loves the cast ensemble and the chemistry flows great on screen. `It's a wonderful life' gives a good look into what Christmas should be about. It's about family and appreciating what you have. It's an old classic with a lot to tell. This movie is an enjoyable family film for all ages. This review gives `It's a wonderful life' an 8 out of 10.

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smorgasboard

10/10
Author: sbamp49 from bridgend, wales
20 January 2004

not often i give full marks to any film but this film outweighs any expectations.in terms of character study even the minor players give their all.including her from the waltons(ellen geer i knew that lol).. what i love about this film is it shows,knowingly admitteddly,both sides of the human charcter.heck there was even a rock band called "zuzus petals". how many of us have not thought what this world would be like without us in it.you will miss me when i am gone is the phrase.well this is vividly put to the test when george does just that. maybe the outcome of a world gone to hell might be over the top but that was surely to reinforce the message that we need each other. especially after the hell that had just gone in the real world. in conclusion any film that shows the worst of this world and ends up coming out best deserves a thumbs up...

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"It's a wonderful life" is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film.

8/10
Author: CyndiReynolds4 from Troutdale, OR
20 January 2004

`It's a wonderful life,' is a truly perfect name for quite a perfect film! There is no doubt that this movie is made for any stressed out, overly depressed and wants to give up on life too soon, kind of person. Don't be scared though, this movie isn't depressingly sad or makes you want to go home and slit your wrest. `It's a wonderful life,' is quiet happy and funny for the most part. The film is very straightforward and doesn't leave a complicated mess for you to figure out. `It's a wonderful life' stars, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra, the director and producer of the film, does a great job getting the point of the film across to audiences. The title describes itself fully, `wonderful.' The film takes place, for the most part during the great depression and takes you through many time periods. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is an upbeat, funny character, for the most part of the movie. George is known by everyone in the town and is well respected. Since growing up there is whole life, it was natural for him to want to get out. Traveling from place to place without a care in the world was his dream. Until he met his future wife, Mary Bailey (Donna Reed). At a school dance, Mary and George instantly fell in love as they spotted each other from across the floor. Though it wasn't until three years later when they got married. They went on to have a family and live in a big and beautiful house, though George wasn't too happy. Things weren't going too well for him, one Christmas eve night. I guess you could say things took a turn for the worst and it took one big wish for him to realize, what he had was what he needed! Released in 1946, right after WWII, `It's a wonderful life' was a nice family film everyone could enjoy, especially after such a tragic time in history. Its message gave such a positive outlook on even the most bittersweet events in history. By taking a regular guy, in a little town and giving him problems most people could relate to, the film adapted well with audiences. Besides the fantastic story line, the cast added an amazing appeal to the film. This is a cast that complements each other easily. Jimmy Stewart is a profound actor. He sucks you into the movie so well and brings George Bailey to life. Donna Reed is a delight with her performance. She plays the perfect part as George's wife, Mary. This reviewer loves the cast ensemble and the chemistry flows great on screen. `It's a wonderful life' gives a good look into what Christmas should be about. It's about family and appreciating what you have. It's an old classic with a lot to tell. This movie is an enjoyable family film for all ages. This review gives `It's a wonderful life' an 8 out of 10.

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It's a Wonderful Life is smart, legendary, and inspiring.

9/10
Author: Ryan (ryancrazylegsmcgee)
16 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life

The snow falls on a dark winter night, and lands on even darker waters. A lone man stands on the bridge above a swirling black river, at the end of his rope. He feels like he would be better off not born at all, so it becomes up to a goofy, guardian angel to show the hopeless George Bailey that the world needs him.

George Bailey is played by Jimmy Stewart who is brilliant. The audience follows him through his whole life of dreaming about the outside world, being held back in Bedford like a prisoner. Years later, an unfortunate mishap brings the strong George to his knees. `I'm worth more dead then alive,' George says when he hits rock bottom. On every line, it sounded like Jimmy Stewart believed it. He showed a range of real emotions from love to anguish, and he nailed each one of them. He delivered legendary lines masterfully like, `You want the moon? Then I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down for you.' Jimmy had a supporting cast that told the beautiful story like it was meant to be told. George Bailey's rival, Mr. Potter, was perfectly evil. He had the whole audience grinding their teeth with indignation every time Mr. Potter appeared on the screen. Because every great protagonist needs a great antagonist, Mr. Potter was perfectly cast and perfectly acted.

And what would genius acting be if we the audience couldn't see it? Because the photographers of `It's a Wonderful Life' captured all the great moments very smartly. It showed the story and brought the pages of the screenplay to life, with close ups of George in tears, and wide shots of the quaint Bedford Falls. The sets of Bedford falls were all very charming and a good representation of the times. A time when whole towns were owned by corporations or old men in suits.

The suits and dresses of all the characters were real and didn't take any attention away from the story. The aging make-up on George's friends in the future was believable on everyone except on Marry Bailey. She still looked young as an `old maid', and all the make-up in the world couldn't hide how hot Donna Reed was. Musically, `It's a Wonderful Life' was perfect and timeless. The director (Frank Capra) chose to use a beautiful orchestra with arrangements that matched every mood of the story.

Once in a life time a story like `It's a Wonderful Life' comes along, and when Frank Capra held the pages of this tale in his hands, he didn't let go of it. Frank once said, `I've been waiting my whole life for a story like this.' In fact, he took full advantage of the situation and he made this film into the work of art that it deserved to be. The poignant tale of a man finding hope at the end of a long and hard road, was nothing less then heart warming. This poorly written review isn't worthy to analyze such a masterpiece of the cinema. And a masterpiece can't be enjoyed by reading about it, so I recommend everyone to see this A+ film, `It's a Wonderful Life'.

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There's no way this movie will ever be topped, it's the king of its genre.

10/10
Author: Ingrid
16 December 2003

With many movies around winter coming out, the usual standard is the persona of a feel-good movie with a smiling Kris Kringle and a happy, married, Caucasian, job-holding man. "It's A Wonderful Life" throws that stereotype out the window. It's a movie relating to the Christmas season, but the only reason that is true is because Christmas occurs in the movie. This film is one of the best movies a person of any age could watch, with an easy plot, and lovable characters.

George Bailey, a small town boy with big plans, runs out of his luck. Seeing the world and bringing down the moon are dreams that could come true in his eyes. Full of spirit and charm, the character of George Bailey brings tears and laughter within an hour. Going through tough times, George and his family struggle to keep away from the evil Mr. Potter, and can't seem to float.

The aspect of a wonderful life is in the perception of the living. George Bailey not only had troubling seeing the amazing parts of his life, but also felt guilty and incomplete when material possessions were unavailable. The morals and finesse of this story shows that not only is a movie a movie, but it's an act that can alter moods, and really express a certain value to the viewer. "It's A Wonderful Life" is a great movie and will indefinitely be enjoyed by many viewers to come.

On a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) this movie is rated a ten. Not just for its ability to move emotions, or its great roles, but the idea that the public is so busy, it forgets to look at the good things. Even something as small as a first ride on a bicycle, or the scary feeling of a bloody nose. "It's A Wonderful Life" is one of the best movies of all time, and isn't about to be shown up.

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This guy finds out what the world would be like if he was nver born.

10/10
Author: equinox042
16 December 2003



It's a Wonderful Life.

This movie is about a man named George who, on Christmas Eve is shown by his guardian angel what the world would be like if he had never been born. The movie follows some of the high lights of George's life in order to gain a perspective on what kind of person he is.

It is said that this is one of the greatest movies of all time for a reason. Because it shows us what really matters in life. For example family and friends. And being civil to our fellowman even when the chips are down and the going gets tough.

Its a Wonderful Life has a very well thought out plot line without those annoying useless scenes that only complicate the film with their stupidity. It also has great acting; it is not like other old movies that have a tremendous amount of over acting. Instead the characters are developed.

The setting in which the movie took place fit perfectly into the storyline. A quaint little town where every body knows every body. Exactly what a person might expect from Hollywood, only this did not look fake like it does in some movies, this actually worked. And it looked good, it looked believable.

This movie gets a rating of ten.

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GOOD MOVIE!

Author: Sarah (JoeysGirl4Ever) from Troutdale, OR
16 December 2003

A true Christmas classic, `It's A Wonderful Life' is a poignant, heart-warming story. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed have great on-screen chemistry, which helps the audience to get involved. Not that it's a hard story to get involved in, it's written well and has a really well thought out plot. There are a few rough spots in editing and one scene that could use a little improvement, but the positives outweigh the negatives and leave the audience mesmerized.

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George Bailey and Mary Hatch the lovers of the story. They have such strong chemistry it's almost hard to remember that it's a movie not real life. To watch the pair grow-up together and to see him reunite with her at a party and suddenly see `Little Mary' in a new light, builds up the romantics and tension until the fateful long awaited kiss. Ah yes, the kiss, which is supposed to be one of the most romantic and emotionally involved moments in a movie turned out to be a dud. Being of the female mind and body, this reviewer was starting to really feel the anticipation of the kiss. There they are, George and Mary, huddling close to the phone, both trying to listen to what the man on the line is saying to them. George smells her hair discreetly, Mary looks longingly at George and they both grow ever closer, closer, closer …WHAM, a hard kiss on the cheek/lips and a strong hug, talk about the perfect example of anti-climax. Yes, kisses at that time were the strong kiss, sway your head side to side and hug, but this was a little ridiculous for words, this reviewer was truly disappointed.

The only other part of this movie that got this reviewer down was the bank scene in which Uncle Billy and Mr. Potter run into each other and have a brief conversation. The problem in this scene was simply editing; it was choppy they would change the camera angle for unnecessary reasons or just cut to the same angle which served no purpose. It was a bit distracting, a little annoying, and gave the impression that the actors may just have had a hard time delivering the lines in this scene so the director had to `cut and paste' to make it work.

But that's where it ends; those are really the only things that would be irritating to the audience if they were picked up. The story is wonderful, no pun intended, and tells more of than just Christmas spirit but of appreciating what you've got and who you are because you do make a difference and matter in this world. This reviewer gives this movie top honors and believes that every person needs to watch this movie, especially if they're having a downer day and just need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. As dumb as this may sound `It's A Wonderful Life' really does help you to appreciate that it truly is a wonderful life.

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Seriously...it's unreal

10/10
Author: April Johnson (imahottieandahalf) from Oregon, USA
16 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Spoiler* When most people think of Christmas, they think of Santa Claus, lights, presents, Christmas trees, Jesus Christ, Mary, Joseph, etc. But, do you ever stop to think of the things that you're given? How much you're blessed? Not often. Yet, `It's a Wonderful Life' isn't like the common `happy go lucky' Christmas story. It brings out the fact that you should maybe stop and think of what you've been given…how much God blesses your life, no matter how `rich' you really think that you are.

The main character in the movie `It's a Wonderful Life,' George Bailey, grew up in a small town with his father and little brother. Ever since he was a small boy, he'd wanted to get out of that town, so he got a job and saved up enough money to go to college, planning to travel the world. Yet, unfortunately, his father ended up dying around the time that he wanted to go to college, forcing him to take over the building and Loan Company that his father owned. So, he gave the money to his brother who then went to college instead. Eventually, he married his wife, Mary, and had four wonderful children. But, as he found out that $8,000 was missing and he could possibly go to jail, he kept thinking about how horrible his life was…how his house was drafty, he had too many kids that he couldn't support and give wonderful things to, he didn't have a lot of money, he never went to college, etc. So there's an angel who comes down to get his wings and shows George what his life would be like had he not been born. Needless to say, he realized that he touched a lot of people's lives and also realized how much he loved his family, how wonderful his children were and how grateful he was for his life as it had previously been.

Clearly, this movie is very wonderful, because it was voted #26 of 250. It takes a lot to jerk emotions out of the audience and that's exactly what this movie did. It made you a variety of emotions.

This movie not only found every emotion that it could, but it has good plot and a good moral. It contains every aspect that a great movie should possess and watching this movie would be worthwhile to anyone of any age.

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It's A Wonderful Movie

Author: Chris_Cadatal from Gresham, OR
16 December 2003

Stepping away from the holiday clichés attached to holiday movies, Capra delivers It's A Wonderful Life, an original and heartfelt piece easy on the eyes, and entertaining enough for the whole family to enjoy.

Focusing more on the ups and downs of life and a the value of having a little bit of faith, rather than Santa Claus and Jingle Bells, this film exposes the audience to a much more realistic Christmas environment, filled with laughter, tears, and heartache. We're not all Barbies and Kens living in a dream house with smiles painted on our faces, we're real people who deal with real problems and this is a movie anyone can relate to. The acclaimed director shows us another side of Christmas, which at times are a little rough on the edges. From financial problems to suicidal tendencies, Capra really knows how to bring the heat to the viewers! One would think that this movie would be a downer since it's plagued with trials and tribulations, but the goal is not to focus on the negative things happening to the characters' lives, but more on how the characters deal with these hurdles in their lives and what good or bad emerge from their actions.

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a down-to-earth family man who, along with his eccentric Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), runs the town's Savings & Loans, which was left to him by his father. George fights many uphill battles. One of which are financial problems and the other is one that has lasted ever since he was a boy. Mr. Potter, the richest and meanest man in the town virtually owns everything, except of course, George Bailey's little bank. Refusing to be bought over by Potter, George bailey is content with working hard in order to keep the last honest business around to serve the public. But when George's dimwitted uncle losses a large amount of money they owe to the government, tensions rise which drives George to question the value of his life. He gets an answer, but in the form of a wingless cross dressing angel named Clarence with an eerie revelation...

Stewart definitely did an excellent job at portraying both the good and bad sides of George Bailey. You could feel his excitement and joy as well as his heartache and pain. The despair of this broken man really came through when he allowed the audience to see his morale dwindle down to nothing during all of the yelling, binging, and overall decay of the blissful character we first saw. This is hands down Stewart's best performance.

It's A Wonderful Life is the epitome of the perfect Christmas movie. Without getting too tacky, the obvious ending is forgiven by this reviewer since it produced a very important message pertaining to the significance of human life and a strong faith within you and God. This movie is highly recommended for anyone who's up for a little uplifting in their spiritual and/or emotional lives.

Grade: A-

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Terrific

10/10
Author: Daniel (DocD456) from Portland, Oregon
16 December 2003

People often forget the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about getting presents or going shopping; it's about what God has gifted you with. Not taking things for granted and appreciating what someone already have. Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful life is a masterpiece reminding the people who watch it to think twice about what they've received. The characters are lovable and anyone could fall in love with this movie.

This film was made post World War II and the American people really movies that touched their emotions and made them feel good.

The story starts with George Bailey (James Stewart) who has had anything but a good time and things aren't exactly going his way going down hill. Everyone in the town of Bedford Falls is praying for George to make it through his dilemma. Angels who are represented by constellations of stars or galaxies get together to talk over what they should do. Clearance (Henry Travers) who is an angel who has yet to get his wings is called and is informed about George and is then told of his life. The movie cycles through his life as you watch George and his family struggle to keep their business afloat from the corrupt Mr. Potter. George never seems to be content with his personal possessions but always longs for materials. George has always had the big dreams to travel Europe and the rest of the world his whole life but are all crushed when his father passes away. He is the only left to keep the building and loan running and he is made to see that you don't need all the money in the world to be rich. George struggles to see this until his guardian angel is sent down to help him. This movie will make a person feel things that most films would never make them feel. It really makes a person think of how much movies can sometimes be a work of art, molding and shaping characters and putting you on an emotional roller coaster. This movie gives an awesome life lesson and I would recommend it for all ages.

This film gets a 9.5 out of 10 because it has to be one of the best movies ever made. The casting was terrific, the plot and storyline were absolutely wonderful. This film plays with your emotions and touches your heart. Brings up good points about how the world is so stuck on itself.

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Darkest holiday fantasy since Dickens

10/10
Author: kintopf432 (kintopf432@hotmail.com) from St. Paul, MN
15 December 2003

For all its reputation as one of the greatest feel-good movies of all time, `It's a Wonderful Life's' main strength comes from its expression of pain. After a long and charming (but not overly sentimental) buildup, the dark final act of the film comes as a terrific surprise. This isn't a didactic but fundamentally kind object lesson like `Miracle on 34th Street'; instead, the moral gets delivered to us via a much crueler narrative turn. Indeed, the last 45-minute stretch is a spiraling nightmare, with jovial angel Clarence teaching his suicidal charge a lesson by showing him a sick, inverted caricature of his world. It's like a perverse version of `A Christmas Carol' imagined by Rod Serling. Of course it has a happy ending, but make no mistake, the genius of the film is that Capra is not afraid to hurt George Bailey (and by extension to hurt us)--often quite badly. Perhaps the most painful moments happen even before Clarence steps in; the last scene at the Bailey house is one of the most emotionally excruciating scenes in film history, with all of the technical elements (the witty dialogue and camerawork, Jimmy Stewart's dazed, crazed performance and Donna Reed's understated one, and perhaps most important of all, Janie's incessant rendition of `Hark! the Herald Angels Sing') combining to get us gritting our teeth and clutching our armrests in agony. After all that, the resolution comes as one of the most deserved, redeeming happy endings of all time--the audience feels as liberated and transformed as George does. As I mentioned, the sentiment never really overwhelms things; Capra and his (credited and uncredited) screenwriters inject enough darkness into the script (beginning with the Mr. Gower scene), and enough sharp and self-deprecatory humor, too, but most important the director never lets the plot stand still long enough to get treacly. His oft-imitated style looks to modern eyes not to be cheesy or dated, but remarkably elegant. It doesn't really matter how often we see this film; it still hurts, every single time, and in this case that's a beautiful thing. 10 out of 10.

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The Best Movie Ever Made!!!

10/10
Author: jillsy from New York State
14 December 2003

This is the greatest movie ever. Jimmy Stewart is the absolute best! I first discovered this movie as a junior in high school; it was actually part of a school assignment. I was hooked! Back then, it was shown on several stations throughout each day around Christmastime because its license had run out. I drove my family crazy watching it so often. I still love it. I watch it every year around Christmas and once in awhile at other times, too. I finally bought a DVD player this year and, of course, bought It's A Wonderful Life on DVD right away. I can't wait to watch it during my Christmas vacation. Everyone should watch this movie and pass it on to their friends, relatives, children, etc. It's a great movie with a great message. It leaves me feeling all warm and tingly every time I watch, even after all these years.

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Fun!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Author: mellissa (marykateandashleyarebeautiful415) from Portland, Oregon
14 December 2003

It's a Wonderful Life is a extremely good movie, it starts the movie off by telling a story of a little boy named George Bailey. Of how when he was a little boy and he saved his brothers life, and how he lost his hearing in his left ear. Then it shows him growing up and how he worked at a little shop with this older man and how he was going to give this kid some pills that had poison in them. The only reason this older man was going to give this kid these pills with poison was because he was very upset that his son had died and he was trying to take it out on other people. George stopped him and in return the older man hit him on the bad side of his head making his ear bleed. Then as he gets older works for his father at the building and loan place, until he saves up enough money with his fathers help to go off to college. Because his brother was more interested in playing sports for school, and also George was the oldest son. Well he sort of likes this younger girl Mary but ends up ignoring her as he gets older only because he ended up staying home instead of going to college and he sent his brother. He stayed and worked with his father, because he and his brother made a pact that one would go away for college for four years and then come back and the other would go. By the time George was ready to leave his father had a stroke and died which George could not go to college he must stay home and help his fathers business. As then movie goes on he has some problems but he ends up falling in love with Mary the younger girl from earlier in the film. They have 3 kids, and something happens, his business is short money. He gets so worked up that he walks to the bridge and is about ready to commit suicide, but this other man was already in the water drowning. So George jumps in and as he is sitting talking to this man who's name he finds out is Clarence and that he is an angel with no wings here to help George. Though George has a hard time believing this and he is so frustrated that he wishes he was never born. Clarence grants this wish and as George goes around town he slowly figures out what life would be like with out him. Then he realizes that he had a wonderful life before and he just never saw it, because he was to worried about money. At the end of the movie George returns home to his wife and kids. Then the door bell rings and all of the town people come in and donate all the money they could just to help George out. George got a Mark Twain book from Clarence and it said `No man is a failure, If that man has Friends'. This is a wonderful movie and im glad that I now own it in my movie collection. I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in a very good story. Not only does it show that good people do succeed in life but that no matter how things happen you always have your friends and family. It has a romance, comedy, drama, and once you start it you must finish. Though I am not a very big black and white fan I am becoming more of one from films like this.

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Think About It

9/10
Author: Bill Campbell from Williamsburg, VA
13 December 2003

I am sure that the younger generations consider this film to be hokey, but one day, one day soon, they will realize that there is more to life than dollars, ball caps worn backwards, and rap music. Then they will appreciate this film. Let's just hope that it won't be too late.

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Is it Really?

Author: Eric (ezdub27) from P-Town
12 December 2003

What comes to mind when you think about wintertime holidays? Family? Friends? The endless airings of `It's a Wonderful Life' on television? I personally tend to think of the third choice, but that's just me, one-track mind and all. Anyhow, there's good reason for the constant showings of this movie during the holiday season. It has become a staple of the American holiday tradition. It's like having 4th of July without fireworks. Unthinkable!

Over the years, Frank Capra's masterpiece has gained popularity and has now become a classic piece of cinema. It's a story that's timeless and well crafted. Much like a modern day version of Charles Dickens' classic work of literature, A Christmas Carol. The story could take place even during a different season; it's not just about Christmas. The thoughts about the value of human life reach everyone young and old. A perfect plotline for this type of movie.

Jimmy Stewart is the real prize in this movie. He's just one of those undeniably good American actors. He does great work here as the down and out George Bailey. A man forced to find himself and the values for which he stands. Should he follow through with his dream or is everything he wants right in front of him in his hometown? He tries valiantly to save the morals of society from the corporate America symbolism of the rich old Mr. Potter. Things eventually work out, with a bit of outside help.

This movie has some definite symbolic themes to it. Personal adversities, how people take their lives for granted, and what good can come from standing up for what you believe in. These themes are very important and not to be overlooked in this movie. Look past the façade of the average Christmas feel-good movie and see what this movie really represents. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Even if you're not a big Christmas fan, such as myself, you'll still enjoy this movie on some level.

Overall grade for `It's a Wonderful Life': B+

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Jimmy Stewart is God...

10/10
Author: Dereksdontrun from London, England
13 August 2003

What a film. I came to this film late partly, I guess, because I was under the impression it was OTT Hollywood schmaltz - the "Happy Christmas everybody!" running through the streets is the bit they always show. But the way George's life unravels and his ambitions are thwarted at every turn breaks my heart everytime. The speech (which Stewart did in one take) in which he shouts "I don't want plastics!" gets me crying (a bit) every time.

First time I saw this movie was at the Hyde Park cinema in Leeds, England (Gawd bless it) and I was blown away. I came out into the afternoon sunshine in an amazing mood - full of the joys of life - and bumped into some friends who had been fellow volunteers during a short stint I spent working with Bosnian Muslim refugees from the then on-going war in former Yugoslavia. The film: Welcome to Sarajevo. I decided to acompany them.

Two hours of reliving bad memories and being reminded of the truly horrific stuff that I was lucky enough not to see saw my euphoric mood in tatters.

The most bizarre double-bill ever. The SHOWING TODAY board outside the cinema might as well have read "It's a Wonderful Life" and then, underneath, "Oh no it isn't".

Still, thank God for Jimmy Stewart.

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A True and Timeless Classic. It Can and Will Endure the Test of Time.

10/10
Author: ivony from United States
17 May 2003

It annoys me to no end to see movies like "My Cousin Vinny" depicted as a "new classic" on certain cable stations. I mean, no way can that movie hold up to TRUE classics such as It's A Wonderful Life. Sure, I can understand certain films being deemed "new classics" considering times change and so do our interests in movies and their plots. But It's A Wonderful Life can and does withstand the test of time and will forever be a True Classic. Very few movies can surpass generation after generation and still hold up as one of the all time best movies ever made. This movie certainly accomplishes that...and this is after watching it 9.2 million times a year around Christmas time for the past 20+ years (only a SLIGHT exaggeration).

The acting is phenomenal, and throughout the sometimes depressing story there are bits of humor sprinkled in...simply perfect! Clarence is one guardian angel I would LOVE to have for no other reason than his humorous outlook and childlike demeanor.

The storyline depicts a real man struggling to maintain his values and responsibilities all the while putting aside his own dreams, only to find that all he wants and needs he already has before him. He is a real hero in a realistic world and can still be identified with today...even though times HAVE changed.

I watched this film time and again growing up and it has become a tradition...like with many families. Now, my husband and I enjoy this movie with our kids and they love it as much as we did. This is definitely a movie the ENTIRE family can watch and enjoy...from the oldest to the youngest.

Few movies are able to be so profound, entertaining, and yet still reach out to all audiences. It's A Wonderful Life has done that time and again.

A definite 10 stars out of 10 and a must see.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful film

8/10
Author: joseav10 from Spain
17 April 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a classic with capitol letters. Here, in Spain, Every year, at Christmast broadcast the film in some public channel. Wonderful film, unforgettable characteres, and overall, in my opinion, the most beautiful ending. Impossible contain the tears of emotion and happiness at the end of the film.

SPOILER!!!!!!!!

The power of gratitude.

END SPOILER!!!!!

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic portrayal of what everyone should be able to experience

10/10
Author: Eva (evabuzo@hotmail.com) from Sydney, Australia
7 April 2003

Some may call it sentimental, but I believe it to be one of the greatest films ever made. This film explores a theme which everyone should be able to experience: what life would be like for others if they had not existed.

This film conveys the idea that love, family and friends are the most important aspects of life. So many films are about going out and achieving success in greater things then what they have and do not show the importance of home and the things that complete a person. This film shows exactly what a person needs to live a successful life- family, friends and love, and I don't believe that a person could watch this movie and not be at all touched by it.

Furthermore, a wonderful story is followed up by a stunning cast including James Stewart with his simple-man modesty, Donna Reed with her girl-next-door beauty and Lionel Barrymore with his tyranical glare, all compliment each other fantastically.

All in all, this movie is flawless in its casting, direction and story. I would find it very hard to believe someone who claims they were not at all touched by this story, because it really is a special and wonderful movie which everyone must see, if not for the sheer joy of watching Jimmy Stewart on screen for an hour and a half, then for the appreciation of the values this film is trying to encourage- family, friends and love.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Movie

10/10
Author: Chris Smith (JohnLennon1985@aol.com) from Artesia, California
29 January 2003

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." An angel certainly DID get its wings. It's a Wonderful Life is a beautiful Christmas classic that stands the test of time.

James Stewart of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington fame paired up with Donna Reed. A very nice casting decision by Frank Capra.

The reason this movie is so great is the fact that it shows us that life without us isn't exactly what we THINK it would be.

If you are depressed or are contemplating suicide, this movie will somewhat cheer you up.

Yes, sir. An angel got its wings. A perfect 10/10.

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It's a wonderful film!!

Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
19 December 2002

I watched this, believe it or not, for the very first time this week. I usually find it difficult to watch old films, some of them don't have the sheer timelessness that films like this and Citizen Kane do. I don't like those old films where people burst into song at the drop of a hat either, its not my cup of tea.

Anyway, this was put on in my film studies class and I have to say that it was a fantastically made movie, you rarely see films of this nice natured ilk anymore. It is basically about a guy called George Bailey who feels like he has failed and wasted his life, he figures it would be better if he had never been born. The start of the film introduces us to an Angel called Clarence who hasn't got his wings. He is given a brief recount of Georges life, from his childhood to his adulthood, full of lost ambitions to travel and create. Having been told of Georges life, Clarence must now save him and make him see how important his life is.

I think the key thing in this film is the real Christmassy spirit it has, you don't get that anymore, even in real Christmassy movies, that's because in the last ten years in particular, the Christmas spirit has been falling with the dramatic rise in commercialism and broken families. The performances are great too. James Stewart really does shine here, it is one of the great performances in movie history, from what I have seen, he is really likeable and he is just fantastic in his role, its a real lesson for wannabe actors.

Overall I would say that this is worthy of its classic status and I will certainly watch it when it is on at Christmas. 10/10

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It Ain't Such A Bad Life!

Author: (robocoptng986127@aol.com) from U.S.A
16 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

[CONTAINS SPOILERS]

Christmas Eve night in the town of Bedford Falls, everybody was saying their prayers and praising George Bailey. The heavenly angels heard them and they knew that night George was planning to commit suicide and he had to be stopped so they sent for Clarence, who was new at this so they showed him George's back story beginning in 1919 when George was 12-years-old. He, his little brother Harry