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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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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

It makes you stop to think about your own wonderful life...

10/10
Author: kbncyk from United States
4 September 2006

On one crisp December evening, two decades ago, my husband and I celebrated our very first Christmas together as a married couple. One of our yearly traditions, which we established that very Christmas season, has been to settle in front of the TV with a large bowl of popcorn and sodas for a quiet evening enjoying the holiday classics.

That evening, my husband flipped the channels and excitedly noted the film "It's a Wonderful Life" had just started playing. After learning that I'd never seen it, my hubby enthusiastically said, "You have to watch this movie - it's one of the best films EVER."

I guess my prejudice toward black-and-white TV was rearing its ugly head. I was in no mood to watch a dated film that I thought was of no relevance to us. I encouraged my hubby to see if he could find one of the many holiday classics that we enjoyed as kids growing up in the late 1960s, early 1970s timeframe.

My husband chuckled and said, "Trust me, you'll love this story. It's about this guy, George Bailey, who..." After relating a brief synopsis of the film, he warned me that I might find the first 45 minutes or so to be slow-moving. Still, he encouraged me to pay attention closely. "Remember everything happening now to this guy, George," he advised, "It'll pay off in the second part of the film."

As I watched George struggle with his devoted wife to raise their kids and pay the bills, report to a job that he never really wanted, battle his devious nemesis Mr. Potter, and yearn for a life that might have been, I thought - okay, there are some universal themes here. But this was a Christmas film? I couldn't make the connection, and really wasn't in the mood to continue watching anything that wasn't about Christmas.

I was getting ready to go into the other room to finish my Christmas wrapping when, suddenly, finally, it was Christmas Eve in George Bailey's little world. I remembered looking at that serene little town, decorated for Christmas and bathed in fluffy white snow, and wishing that I lived in such a place.

And just as my husband had promised, over the course of the next several minutes, everything started to come together. By the end of the film, as I watched George Bailey come to the realization, with his cherished family and lifelong friends gathered around him under his Christmas tree that George Bailey, representing every man and woman, ultimately realized that he surely had had a wonderful life. I wiped away a happy tear from my eye, knowing I'd viewed something very special.

Then two and then four Christmases later, as I sat in a rocking chair, at first with our newborn baby girl and then her baby brother, I watched It's a Wonderful Life with my babies. I have subsequently repeated this tradition with friends and relatives of all ages. Many of them, like me at first thought they were dealing with an out-of-touch film from the mid-1940s, only to come to realize the timeless, wonderful gift we've all been given by Frank Capra.

Since Christmas 1985, I have watched "It's a Wonderful Life" countless times. I agree with many other viewers - it is not only hands-down, the best Christmas movie, but perhaps my most favorite movie of all. I love and cherish it for so many reasons, perhaps most of all because it really makes you stop to think about what's important in your own life.

And the most special moments of all are those times when I get to share "It's a Wonderful Life," as my husband did that one Christmas so long ago, with someone who is watching the film for the very first time.

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Ageing Beautifully

10/10
Author: dowdosean from Culver City, USA
20 June 2006

I had fond memories of "It's A Wonderful Life" but, somehow, it never made my top ten. The other night I felt the urge to see it again, from beginning to end, after that fun compilation from the AFI, 100 movies, 100 Cheers. The most surprising thing about this perennial classic is that it's not just a good movie but a sort of miracle. Age has made it more relevant, more powerful. Frank Capra is, without question, its miracle worker. His narration style was a first and in a way unsurpassed. As you may very well know, the film wasn't an instant success. A peculiarity it shares with most of the great works of art. The truth is something that needs time to be confirmed even recognized. James Stewart's performance lived from a 2006 stand point is, quite simply, extraordinary. Capra's films were known as "capracorn" in their day. Strange to think about it now because its sentimentality wasn't really sentimental but a need to find goodness in the darkest places. The great Capra not only found it, it unmasked it with the same relish that he unmasked evil and greed. My only regret is that on this times of technical prowess we'll never see again the likes of "It's Wonderful Life" But, trying to look on the bright side in the most Capraesque kind of way. "It's A Wonderful Life" will be around for ever.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Brings you back into the true meaning of Christmas

10/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
20 December 2005

I know this is going to sound ridicules, but seriously, I have not seen this movie since I was a child. Even though they play it every year for Christmas, I never really had an interest to see it again. I was complaining to my mom the other day how sad it is that people just look at Christmas as present time and just getting what you want, I almost cried over it because I miss how my family would get me presents, but we'd go the homeless shelter to help out people who couldn't have a better one than us, I always thanked my parents for those wonderful experiences. It taught me that there is always worse and we must help those not just on Christmas, but all year around. Well, we did it again this year, but I'm now in the retail business and when I complained about this to my mom, she lent me the movie and said to watch it.

Watching this movie truly touched my heart and brought me back to the true meaning of Christmas. I mean, your heart just goes out to George and his wonderful little town of Bedford Falls. He and his wonderful wife Mary together do whatever they can to make it in life and support their 4 darling children. But when a horrible mishap goes on at the bank that George works at, loosing $8,000, he starts to wonder if his life is worth living. But there is one angel who will not give up on him and shows him what life would be like if George had never been born. In Bedford Falls without George, turned into Pottersville because of the very greedy business man Mr. Potter, no one is happy and Mary is all alone. George realizes that maybe life is worth living and comes home to this loving town that is willing to do anything to help him and his family out.

"What goes around, comes around", I couldn't stop tearing at the end because it's just so loving. I hope future Christmas's will go back like this movie's examples, where people are just happy to have what they have and realize some are not so lucky, but we must all do our part. Cheesy, I know, but if one person can raise their hand, we all will do our parts in the end. Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

10/10

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Masterclass in Movie-making

10/10
Author: Richard Tunnah from Birmingham, England
23 December 2005

The first time I am aware of seeing IAWL I managed to catch the last 5 Min's of the movie. It seemed to feature a character running around shouting 'Merry Christmas' at everybody, followed by a party where everyone handed over money To be frank, I wasn't in a hurry to see the rest of the movie.

Then several years later, I started to watch IAWL from the beginning, unaware that it was the same movie. I was struck by how comprehensive the character study of George Bailey was. He was a good man, but his ambitions were frustrated at every turn. He wanted an Education, that was just outside his grasp. He wanted to travel, life conspired against him. At every step of the way, one person saw George 'rolling with the blows', that was Mary Hatch. This woman loved George and wanted to stand at his side, so they can face the slings and arrows of misfortune together. This is love of the purest kind.

But even Mary's love cannot prevent George contemplating suicide. A single bad day that sees George on the top of the World at the beginning and thinking that taking his own life is the only way out by 10.45 pm.

I was stunned when the ending turned into the movie I had seen some time before. But this time I understood, this wasn't just sentiment for it's own sake. To understand the ending you need to have gone on the same dark journey that George Bailey had been on.

Many others have commented on the feel good aspects of the movie, so I won't. What I would like to say is that there are a number of scenes which live in the memory long after the end credits.

Young George trying to persuade Mr Gower that he had prescribed poison (with young Mary Hatch Looking on).

George hurrying home when he heard his father had had a stroke (with Mary Hatch looking on).

George waiting at the station with Uncle Billy for Harry to come back from college (only to find Harry is already married and has a job that will keep him away from Bedford Falls).

That kiss (I have to check that I am earthed, there is so much electricity in the air).

Mary giving up their honeymoon money, to keep the Building and Loan out of Potters grasp.

The Bridal Suit (with Ernie & Bert).

Trying to talk to Mary in the alternate reality, but managing frighten her.

The Ending.

I don't think I have seen a better character study, or for that matter a better movie.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's Really A Most Wonderful Film!

10/10
Author: thinkerv0 from India
26 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's A Wonderful Life" is the most wonderful film I have ever seen. It's most inspirational movie I have ever watched and it's very perfectly made movie in my opinion. Performances, script and dialogs are so perfectly done that you don't have enough words to appreciate them. This film by Frank Capra is a gift to the world. Strange enough it was a box office flop when it was released and it failed to win an academy award.

The performance by James Stewart who plays George Bailey is one of the greatest on big screen by anyone anytime in the history. George Bailey makes you so engrossed with his emotions that it naturally calls for your empathy and you start living moments with him and start thinking for him. Even if you don't believe in the angels and God, the part where that comely angel starts alleviating suffering of George Bailey makes a profound impression on you and instills feelings of goodness in you. The second half just emphasizes the importance of life whereas the first one underscores the great character of George Bailey right from his childhood.

You witness some instant karmic clean up in the second half and you see how the good deeds George Bailey had done come back to him saving him and making him realize the importance of life he had. Prior to that he lives with the impression of having sacrificed a lot for everyone else and that had some inner lack of satisfaction in his life and the accident which renders bankruptcy to him and his organization just evokes this karmic burden to the fore and then it seems that all the wrong things start happening with him, but then his good deeds come to his rescue. There are so many well-wishers who pray for him and then he realizes importance of life and accepts it the way it's and with this acceptance miracles start happening and money for which was about to end his life; comes rolling on its own and his brother says "To George, the richest man in the town". The colored restored version made it look even more exquisite than it would have been when it was made. It's indeed a most wonderful film with a most inspiring climax.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

You Can't beat the Classics.

Author: alex-caruso1 from Wisconsin
12 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

God forbid if they ever attempt to remake this movie in any way. I know they probably already have in different versions and ways of telling the story, but this is a movie that will never die. Like everyone else, I and my family watch this movie every Christmas eve. It's like a tradition in a lot of families who celebrate Christmas. The best thing about it, is that this movie never gets old. You know the story, you know what is going to happen every Christmas you watch this. But this movie has a very deep meaning to it that a lot of movies in the history of film DON'T have. Every Christmas eve I watch this it gets me in the perfect Christmas mood, and makes me forget about all the worries, problems, and struggles I have to put up with in life. This movie teaches me that everyone in the world can make a difference, and that everyone, no matter who you are has a purpose of existing. Even when its not the holiday season, I'll just watch a couple scenes of this movie just to put me in a good mood anyway. They just can't make movies like this anymore that teach you a very meaningful lesson. Even to people who don't celebrate Christmas can still enjoy this film. I can't wait for Christmas this year, for it is my favorite time of the year, and the time to be very happy in life.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful film. One of best i've seen

10/10
Author: Lisa Walsh from United States
8 November 2012

This is one of my favorite movies of all time and a Christmas tradition in my household. This film is about sacrifice for the greater good. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) having big ideas of the world around him and continually puts his desires behind the good of the town. Another thing this movie shows perfectly that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are all linked to each other and play a important part in each others lives. After George looses his way and a angel shows what the world would be like without him he soon realizes how important he was to the people and town around him. This will always be considered a classic in cinema and a great movie to watch every year during Christmas. So we can all remember the good and bad of the present year and when new years comes around we try to make the next year better for others and ourselves. This is a must see for any family or fan of cinema.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

10/10
Author: SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain from United Kingdom
13 September 2012

As undeniable classic in every imaginable way. It's A Wonderful Life is the feel good Christmas movie above all others, despite the fact it paints a fairly depressing picture. It tells us not to take life for granted, and that we shouldn't be so selfish as to assume our life is for our own benefit. It clearly highlights how Jimmy Stewart's life has influenced all those around him. As his life takes a nosedive and his dreams go unfulfilled he begins to lose all hope. Other than the necessary schmaltzy ending, the film is well grounded in reality and avoids insincere sentiments. Capra's wonderful handling of the material make this a surprisingly gripping film, one that may climax at Christmas, but can be watched anytime of year.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Highly recommended

9/10
Author: manendra-lodhi (manendra.lodhi@gmail.com) from India
15 August 2012

The film has what I love most about films, "Inspiration". The story really is built up in such a way that you'll eventually get inspired by it. Acting by James Stewart is superb. The story is about a man who wanted to do a lot of things, but circumstances changed his fate. He never lost hope, but one day things get really out of controlled and he loses faith in everything. It is very interesting to see how the story reaches to its ending.

PROS:

One of the best acting performances I had seen recently. The whole film rests on its beautiful story. The film is a very fine example of what we expect from life and what we actually get. The life of our hero seems to be frustrating a lot of times but than in the end, you are finally going to get convinced that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

CONS

I admit that the whole angel thing did not impress me much and I was hoping for more realistic kind of thing. Also the editing at some later part of the film looked bad. It was nominated for the best editing Oscars, but just my opinion. But when you have a very fine story, you have to overlook these small glitches.

MESSAGE: "It's a wonderful life."

VERDICT: "A must watch for all."

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Aah!" or should that be "Argh!"

2/10
Author: Cheese Hoven from United Kingdom
25 December 2013

Watching this film in the wake of the banking crisis, it is apt to have a different effect on the viewer than that intended. The actions of George Bailey and his father amount to a long justification for "sub-prime" mortgages,"sub prime" being a euphemism for "lending to people who have no chance of paying you back" which has lead to the present day bank bailouts which means that responsible people now must pay for the actions of the irresponsible. Why does doing this make George and his dad the good guys?

Why, for that matter, are we told that George's father only made enough money to send one of his kids to college? Is that meant to be good? Surely, in the real world, that would make him a poor father? He has clearly never heard the truism "charity begins at home" although he did have enough money to hire a black servant..perhaps he should have saved the money he spent on her to put his kids through college? Just a thought.

Obviously Hollywood will never get to grips with the real life implications of the Bailey's irresponsible lending policies, ie people being lumbered with unpayable mortgages and losing their homes. No, this is the land of magic pixie dust where good intentions always lead to good outcomes. The reality is transformed into a one dimensional baddie, an evil capitalist who could come straight out of the Stalinist propaganda of the period (in fact this film could have easily be shown in the USSR without a single cut whereas it was -rightly- a box office flop in the US). Oh, if only there weren't these greedy evil people, if only banks could lend money to good people without worrying whether they could pay it back, then how much nicer the world would be!

Around this childish morality, a sanctimonious and saccharine story is built. Even by Hollywood's golden age standards it is extremely sentimental. I must say in passing, I've attempted to watch this film many times, but this this is the first time I've managed to make it all the way through and only through gritted teeth.

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