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*** 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?
*** 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.
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.
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!".
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.
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?
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!
*** 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.
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.
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.
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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