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*** 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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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
Anyone who has ever felt worthless should see It's a Wonderful Life!
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.
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.
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
When my father proposed this black and white film about a guardian
angel for me to watch years ago, as a teenager, my initial reaction
could hardly have been a more overwhelming 'no.' But after persistence
that for weeks was just below the surface, waiting to be unleashed
every evening pickings on the television were slim, one especially
uneventful night I succumbed and with a sigh agreed to watch it with
mostly the intention of getting him off my case. Little I knew it would
be the best film recommendation I had ever, and likely will ever
Most of the superlatives have been used up when describing this film so I will not go into them in too much detail again. The term perfection is thrown around loosely but I believe this is one of the very few films that can claim wear that lofty tag with comfort. Jimmy Stewart gives a stunning performance as George Bailey, one of the most endearing characters in cinematic history. The whole cast is excellent and the on- screen chemistry between George and Mary is a sight to behold.
The true power in this film is how it manages to, almost effortlessly but with complete conviction, leave a profound emotional impact upon the viewer. It is a film that the viewer can get so emotionally connected to and can relate to so deeply that it can become part of that viewers person and change their outlook, philosophy, and indeed, their life. Personally I have seen the film too many times to remember and it still manages to leave a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
It is perhaps ironic that years after that first viewing, I mirrored my father in turning pest and badgered my group of college housemates into watching. It is perhaps the best measure of a film's greatness that six sceptical 20year old college students could sit down, abandon the alternative option of an alcohol-propelled night out, and sit in silence as the film happened and blink away tears in the semi-darkness as the bells signalling the end of the masterpiece tolled.
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