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

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Great film, shame about the ending.

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

Author: ( 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 ( 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!

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,'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...? " 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

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:


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.....

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 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 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 is wonderful..don't loss your is a wonderful movie ...James Stewart is my one of my favorite actor....his voice was sweet and soft.....

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