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I am a film lover from 'way back, having even served a stint as a newspaper
movie critic. Entries in my personal list of Greatest Films of All Time
include "Fantasia," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Casablanca," "Singin' in the
Rain," "North by Northwest," and "The Sound of Music. But sitting atop all
of them, as undisputed champ, is "It's a Wonderful Life."
I have seen it hundreds of times (dating back to, oh, when I was a teenager I suppose, and our local PBS station ran it as part of a pledge drive). I drive my wife and family to distraction when we watch it together because I quote all the dialogue along with the actors.
I cry every time--and this is after viewing upon viewing--when Harry Bailey toasts his big brother George as "...the richest man in town." The emotions in that scene are so true and pure that I can't help but be affected by them.
The performances are unparalleled. Stewart is brilliant as a small-town dreamer who loses and finds his way. His superlative acting abilities cause us to identify strongly with him (how many of us have lamented--even to ourselves--that no one seems to notice the sacrifices we've made?), which is, I think, why the movie bears up under so many repeat viewings. Reed is just lovely here, the epitome of sunny girlfriend, caring lover, devoted wife, dedicated mother.
Capra's talent as a screenwriter are all over this script. He knows just how hard to tug the heartstrings without becoming overblown or phony. And his technical wizardry is evident too. I've never seen--before or since--more natural-looking onscreen snow.
Watching IAWL has become a tonic, a pick-me-up when I really need one--whether it's the Christmas season or not. Its message--that each one of us is important and has *something* to contribute to the greater good--is one about which the world could use some reminding from time to time.
Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like It's A
Does it take me back to that place in my heart, that makes me long for everything that once was great and it could be again? Does it remind me of my childhood, Christmas in my home? No. Maybe it's just simply what I always wanted from life and every man I want to be.
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.
Sometimes I think there is a reason why somethings happen. And I'm pretty sure there is some magical reason why this film was made. I'm 27 years old and saw it for the first time Christmas Eve of this year. I've watched it 3 times since. The only movie to ever make me cry. I probably wouldn't have all the answers for you, if you asked me why. I'm still trying to figure Stewart out and just how beautiful was Reed.
What can I say? This movie is a life changing experience.
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.
No movie ever made has influenced me more than this classic. I had the
honor of doing a play version of it about 5 years ago. I had seen the film
thousands of times, had loved it, but I never really knew what it meant.
During the course of the production, I suddenly felt alive. I felt that I
wasn't having enough fun. I felt that I wasn't doing enough in my life.
Crazy things, like kissing my mother or my father. I hadn't really hugged
one of them in a while. It makes you think. It's more of a thinking person's
film than a mere Christmas film. If you think it's just a Christmas film, I
insist you watch it again and again, until you get the message.
Stewart gives the finest performance of his career, in one of the most difficult characters ever portrayed. A character all of us are familiar with...a person looking to find himself/herself. It's the great struggle for finding what it is in life you really want to do. George Bailey teaches us so lessons throughout the film and in the end he teaches us the most important lesson of all, that life, although a long and winding road, truly is (for lack of a better word) wonderful...
This film has become a Christmas tradition in my family. We watch it every year and never tire of it. Frank Capra is a master of creating films with a message that reinforce strong values. This is probably his greatest film in that regard. Both he and Stewart have publicly stated that this is their favorite film.
The message in this film is one of courage and sacrifice for the greater good as George Bailey, a man with big ideas about seeing the world, continually forsakes his own desires to do what is right for the town. The second message is that each life important. No matter how insignificant we feel we are, we are all inextricably linked to each other and play an important part in the fabric of one another's lives.
Capra's direction is brilliant. His genius is bringing human stories to life in a ways that not only make a point, but that totally involve the audience in the lives of the characters. He is always extremely optimistic about the human condition. He is known for testing his characters with overwhelming adversity to make them struggle to triumph in a way that causes the world to change and the character to grow. For this reason his films were always crowd pleasers and this film was the best of all in that regard.
Led by Capra's understanding hand, the actors all did a magnificent job. Stewart's wide-eyed enthusiasm and boyish charm, coupled with an unbending strength of character made him the perfect folk hero. Donna Reed was lovely and charming and attained the right balance between being supportive and inspirational. The romantic chemistry between her and Stewart was subtle and charming. Lionel Barrymore was towering as the greedy old skinflint who was trying to take over the town. Thomas Mitchell plays one of my favorite characters, as the bumbling Uncle Billy in probably his most memorable role.
This film is number eleven on AFI's list of best films of the century. It was nominated for five academy awards and won none. It was swept in 1947 by `The Best Years of Our Lives', a great film that won seven Oscars that year but in my opinion was the lesser film. History has corrected that minor injustice by rendering `It's a Wonderful Life' an enduring classic that is viewed and loved by generation after generation. Of course, I rated it a 10/10. I can't wait to see it again this Christmas.
I am so glad Frank Capra had a vision to make "It's A Wonderful Life". I'm glad he chose Jimmy Stewart to play George Bailey. 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? Our actions do speak loudly. In an age of 9-11, we need this movie more than ever. The values of "It's A Wonderful Life" still hold true today. Yes, I'll say it, it's a wonderful movie.
After strong performances in films such as "Mr Smith Goes to Washington"
"The Philadelphia Story", James Stewart confirmed his status as one of the
greats with his performance as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life".
This movie is, without a doubt, the best of all time.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that you can watch over and over again. It's movie that makes you think, about life in general and how each person makes a difference, and about how great life can be (hence the title "It's a Wonderful Life). Whilst making you think, it also entertains with many light hearted moments, particularly towards the end of the film.
The direction, sound and casting in "It's a Wonderful Life" are 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!
A 10/10 without a doubt!
This is one of the best films of all time, without a doubt. I challenge
anyone to watch this film and not be touched, if you can, you have no
James Stewart is one of my favourite actors, and in this film he acts so naturally you even forget he's an actor playing a part, you really believe his story. You're pulled on a roller coaster of emotions throughout this film, and by no means is this a light hearted look at life, as many believe. This is not a rose tinted look at the wonderful life we have, this is a dark, downtrodden start to a film where the lead character is about to commit suicide.
However, it is a beautiful film, 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.
Here's a new definition of cold-hearted: a man or woman who remains
completely untouched by the 1946 Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life". You
can't not be moved by this wonderful little gem.
The acting is all great. One of the film's greatest strengths for me is making George Bailey - the star of the movie played by James Stewart - a nice normal man. He's not perfect and that's pretty much essential to the film's success because Bailey could be *any* man. The lesson of the movie is fairly simple - we all have our role to play in the world and we are all important. Most movies would make this into a schmaltzy affair but Capra delivered a touching, heart warming tale. Bailey consistently denies himself to allow others to live as he sacrifices his life to make sure people can have enough money to avoid having to sell-their-soul in debt to the evil H. Potter (alas not a Harry Potter...). His complete and utter humility is great - he doesn't see how much he accomplished until his guardian angel Clarence shows him. Again Clarence isn't played in the usual clichéd manner but more as a believable character who honestly loves Bailey for his strengths.
The movie is a success because you can't but want Bailey to succeed. The manner in which he does could be classified as corny but, because it's so deserved, that doesn't matter. The music, the set pieces, all the touches add to a wonderful movie and give you hope that life can indeed also be wonderful. A lovely mood-lifter. 8.8/10.
No other film comes anywhere near to getting people to find out what
would have been like if an event had or had not taken place - Groundhog
comes close (my second favourite) and Sliding Doors tries.
For sheer emotion this film has the lot. I have watched it over 40 times now and I still get tearful towards the end of the film. If anyone wants to find out why life is worth living, this is the one to watch.
I've always thought that the reason It's A Wonderful Life has had such
enduring popularity is that more than in any other film it shows what
can be the value of a single individual and the contribution to the
greater good they can make.
George Bailey as portrayed by James Stewart is the kind of every man hero we can all identify with. He's got the every day problems to be sure, raising and providing for a family, but he's got bigger problems than that. Fate has made him the rallying point of opposition in his small town of Bedford Falls to the "richest and meanest man in town", embodied in Lionel Barrymore.
It's a real David vs. Goliath battle. Barrymore seems to have unlimited resources at his disposal. Samuel S. Hinds as Peter Bailey put it so well to him in asking what are you doing all this for? Barrymore does have more money than he could ever possibly use. A little charity wouldn't hurt him.
Remember the basic plot outline. A whole lot of people in Bedford Falls one post World War II Christmas Eve see that their friend George is toting a heavy load of mysterious origins. Their prayers reach the heavens where an angel is dispatched to aid.
But before Henry Travers the angel arrives, he's given the story of George Bailey's life. And we see the kind of struggles he's had, the sacrifices he's made for the good of a whole lot of others. We've also seen a greedy and grasping Potter, grabbing everything that George Bailey cannot save.
Something happens that day before Christmas through no fault of his own, Bailey is in big trouble. It's driven him to the brink of despair. That's why the angel is sent down. He shows him the alternate universe that would have been had he never existed. It's something each and every one of us should try to do, step outside ourselves see just what our contributions can be.
But I think what Frank Capra is trying to say in this greatest of his films is that having done that and we realize we haven't contributed to the greater good of humankind, we resolve to do so. It's a simple, but profound lesson.
What if Potter got the same opportunity? In a sense Charles Dickens did just that in A Christmas Carol. Would Lionel Barrymore change? It's an interesting point of speculation.
In addition to those cast members already mentioned a whole group of players who worked with Capra before grace this film. Add to that some others and you have a perfectly cast feature picture.
Donna Reed has an interesting part as well. Your choice of mate is real important in life. Had she not been as loving and supportive to George Bailey, he might very well have taken a different route in life. Mary Hatch Bailey became a signature part for her, more identified than her role in From Here to Eternity which got her an Oscar. It certainly was the basis for her TV series.
When Todd Karns who plays Harry Bailey toasts his brother he's saying that the riches of the world are not necessarily things that can be quantified. Your life is not measured in material things, but in how you use the material things given you.
And that universal lesson will be taught into eternity as long as It's A Wonderful Life is shown every year. Wouldst we all learn it.
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