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Naturally when a movie is your number one favorite, one's opinion is apt to be "biased", so I will admit right from the start that this is the case here. However, I don't believe I would be falling too short from the truth to say that this movie is an example of "cinematic excellence". I say this because the story of the main character George Bailey was quite simply done so superbly from all aspects: the writing, the acting, staging, directing, attention to detail & even the fact that this movie is much, much better in black & white than colorized. In case there is anyone out there who has not had the pleasure of seeing this movie yet, I won't go into the actual plot, but will only give my whole-hearted recommendation to watch it from start to finish with no interruptions. Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has everything going for it: A director with an unshakeable optimism and faith in human nature, a wonderful clutch of players (headed by the sure-footed James Stewart), and a great story. Synopsis: As the film begins, we see Bedford Falls through falling snow and hear the quiet prayers of the locals. They are praying for George Bailey, who is in trouble. We hear the Angels considering what action to take as George contemplates ending his life. They summon a rookie Angel - Clarence - and look at George's life. *SPOILERS APLENTY* George Bailey is a likable young man who wants to leave Bedford Falls and make his name, but every time he tries to get away something holds him back. His father owns and runs the local Building Society, which helps the poor of the area get on the housing ladder and is warm-hearted and generous to his clients. His nemesis is Old Man Potter (Lionel Barrymore), head of the local bank, who runs a hard bargain and keeps *his* mortgagees in the dirt. After George's father dies suddenly, he finds himself running the Building & Loan, unwilling to allow it to collapse and put the townspeople in hock to Potter. Time passes and George is to marry childhood sweetheart Mary (lovely Donna Reed), but then absent-minded Uncle Billy loses $8000 and it falls into the hands of Potter - and this on the eve of a bank inspection. At his wit's end, George pleads with Potter for help, but the price (all George's clients being passed to the evil Potter) is something he cannot stomach. He walks out into the night and has a drink at the local bar where he prays under his breath, asking God to get him through somehow. All he gets is a fat lip from the husband of a local teacher whom he has upset. Things can't get any worse for George, and he makes his way to the river bridge with the intention of jumping off. We are now up-to-date. Director Frank Capra has spent half the film, if not more - carefully laying out his characters: George, Mary, Potter, Uncle Billy, Bert & Ernie. We have also had a heart-rending scene showing the local drug-store owner's anguish at the loss of his son and the almost tragic consequences of his grief. We know these people - we know that George is an ambitious man who decides his own happiness must take second place behind that of his friends and clients. We know Uncle Billy has had trouble with the bottle and shouldn't really be helping run the Building & Loan. And we know that Potter hasn't a decent bone in his body - the only thing that matters to him is money, and getting his hands on the expanding Baily empire. Capra has made us care. George jumps in the freezing river and prepares for death, but now the *real* story begins! Clarence the Rookie Angel jumps in at the same time and makes a big fuss about drowning - and George being George swims over to him and drags him out. After some 'double-take' comedy as they dry out in the keeper's hut, Clarence listens to George saying he thinks the town would've been better off if he hadn't been born. This gives Clarence an idea - he decides to show just what would have become of Bedford Falls and its people if George hadn't been around. The snow stops falling. It's an awful place, dominated by Potter's bank and seedy clubs. The people of Pottersville (as it is now known) are miserable and mean, and even his mother is a cold-hearted land-lady. The small acts of kindness and generosity that George did now never happened. As they visit the graveyard, George desperately asks Clarence "What's happened to Mary?" This is somehow the emotional hub of the film, as Clarence shouts over the wind "You won't like this George, she's an OLD MAID, she never married!" Forcing Clarence to reveal her whereabouts, George finds her and pleads with her to recognise him, but of course she doesn't - he was never born. It is in this scene that the whole ghastly truth hits George. The emotional punch is terrible, both for George and the audience. Neither he nor we can take any more and back at the bridge he pleads with God to put things back as they should be. He wants to live. He wants his friends back, and it doesn't matter about the money. It begins to snow again. George races home and finds the whole town - all except old Potter - has been desperately worried about him, and the story about the missing money has spread. They realise that without George, without his tireless efforts and his repeated sacrifices, their lives would be infinitely poorer. As George hugs and kisses Mary and the kids, a few friends turn up, bringing with them the few dollars they can spare. Soon, the house is full of his friends and customers and the money begins to come thick and fast. His younger brother - whose life he saved in childhood - turns up having just arrived home from active service and an old schoolfriend wires him cash from abroad. George is back in the bosom of his family, and realises that no man is ever poor if he has friends. THE END. Sorry to take so long almost setting out the entire screenplay, but this is one film about which enough can never be said. The depth and warmth of the characters, the naturalistic acting of Stewart and his carefully-chosen cast, the roller-coaster ride of emotions and the importance of the message (which is delivered all the way through, not just at the end), come together to make the finest, most satisfying and most deeply moving film of all time. It really *is* a wonderful life, and may this film always remind us so.
Frank Capra's peak,this movie influenced a lot of directors and ,unlike
some of his other works such as "you can't take it with you" ,it is as
fresh today as it was 60 years ago.Capra's detractors criticize his
eternal optimism but even that is questionable:What would have become
of the town,had the hero taken his own life?Was there only one just man
,like in Sodom in Genesis ,to save the city from the impending fall?It
brings into question the so-called trust Capra puts in the human
race.It's not a rosy world.
The scenes between James Stewart and his guardian angel are so powerful you cannot hold back your tears.No other artist told us that ALL human beings were important in such a wonderful way.And nobody depicted the yuletide spirit like Capra.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Please note: this may contain a spoiler) This film epitomises what a
good film should be - humoured, heartfelt, funny and touching. 'It's a
wonderful life' is not only viewed as a classic but also lives up to
the audiences' expectations - a truly satisfying experience.
Never having previously experiencing Capra's work I chose to rent this film - arguably one of Capra's finest achievements.
The film follows lovable character 'George Bailey' a man whose life is filled with love and friendship. Like many people, he does not always realise the great support and affection he holds with the people close to him. Bailey was an ambitious, determined child with hopes of building bridges and buildings, touring the world and seeing famous sights. Bailey's dreams come back to earth when his father suddenly dies and he is asked to fill his place.
Slowly, Goerge builds a new life with his family (and of course..the girl!). They don't have much - for Bailey's heart is slightly over-sized and his business makes little profit but does much good for the citizens of his town. But things don't always go smoothly and when Bailey's uncle misplaces a large sum of money, they face severe financial crisis, as well as criminal.
Bailey's life has apparently come crashing down around him..until he meets somebody - an angel to guide him on his way. The Angel shows Bailey what his life would have been like had he never been born. Bailey discovers unnerving things - his town is completely changed and nobody knows him - they shy away from him. His family doesn't exist and his wife is a lonely librarian..George Bailey's stark realisation - his life made great impacts on the people of the town..his brother didn't survive - because he wasn't there to save him. Bailey realises - his life impacts so many things - and if he wasn't there, everything would be different..much worse.
This film is perfect - not too overpowering to watch and not too bland. Stewart's character shines as a lovable and sweet man - caring, sensitive and completely selfless. Capra's ingenious movie brings to light a very good topic - how one single person's life impacts the people he/she meets and knows...how everything can be so completely different - how fate and reality go hand in hand.
The production is fantastic as is every other aspect of this picture - unique and memorable. Even in black and white! A must-see for all the family, for every film buff and cynic - children and adults alike - a truly memorable piece of cinema that will forever shine a true mastery.
This is the best Capra movie, the best Christmas movie, the best Stewart movie, the best Reed movie, and the best Liberty Films movie ever. The movie is a great story. It was a success only after it hit TV. It not only gave new visual effect ideas to the industry, it also made the inspirational characters that we see on screen. It's a Wonderful Life was not built for Film, but Capra did an excellent job adapting it to the screen. As well as the actors, James Stewart, and actress Donna Reed. They do an excellent job portraying the characters. The truth is that you cannot see anyone else with the character (George Bailey) than James Stewart himself. The same with Mary and Donna Reed, and the character Clarence. These actors can never be replaced. The writer/producer/director cannot be replaced either. (Frank Capra) If you have never seen It's a Wonderful Life you need to. My family and I see it every Christmas, and I suggest whoever reads this does that as well, it is not only a great film to watch, but its also a great experience to share with your family.
This is the most inspiring, true to heart movie that I have ever
enjoyed. It is truly a work of love and passion and will be remembered
throughout filming history. It has such a touching and moving storyline
and catches the audience in a sort of tearful melancholy stateof mind
every time it is watched. I have seen this movie no fewer than100 times
and discover new idea's and encouragements from it every time I watch
I don't think that I can truly get into the Christmas mood without enjoying this movie each year. The funny thing about the movie is that I watched scenes from it several times, years ago, when I was channel surfing and didn't stop to enjoy it's warmth. I don't recall why i finally decided to "stop" and watch the movie but ever since that night I have been thankful for the pleasure it has brought to me and my family, friends and associates!
The only movie that makes me cry every single time I watch it. Just thinking of the ending makes me tearful. What can I say about this movie. It is just perfect. Story, acting, cinematography, casting and script. Just perfect. For emotion I would say the best movie ever. When I think of Jimmy Stewart this is the movie I think of. It never bores me and is a joy to watch every single time it is shown. Due to its renaissance in recent years TV has been the medium to see the film but we make a special trip as a family every year to go and watch it at the picture house. this not only gives the movie more intimacy but also zones you into the tone of the film. It is a gem, a legend and by far and away my favourite film of all time.
It's hard to capture exactly why It's a Wonderful Life is such a
fantastic film. On the surface, its sentimentality may seem overboard,
its view of the world grossly idealised, but somehow it all comes
together perfectly. I had for many years not bothered watching it, as
it is portrayed as the stereotypical Christmas movie (not a genre I
have any particular fondness for). After finally getting around to
seeing this film several years ago, I went straight out and bought it
on tape. Likewise, the first time I saw it on DVD I purchased it
straight away. This is both an uplifting and edifying film to watch.
This film had a profound effect upon the way I see the world. If ever there was the perfect role model for how to behave like a decent human being, it is George Bailey.
This is, and always shall be one of my top ten films of all time. If you have never seen it I highly recommend doing so. Don't be put off by its age, it is one of the truly timeless works of cinema.
When I first saw this movie I was rather a teenage kid, I don't
remember my age then, but I think I was 13 or 14. It was during the
time of one channel TV days. I watched it with great pleasure, without
knowing it was one of the best movies ever made. Couldn't forget it.
Now I am a computer programmer of age 30, searched the net and
downloaded it and watched again. Let me say that "with almost the same
pleasure and tears".
I think this movie has a great effect in my good-hearted, honest, compassionate nature. I find many common senses in my general attitude with George Bailey.
This isn't really a Christmas movie, the story just takes place around
Christmas. George Bailey has always wanted to be an explorer, but instead he
lives in the same little town his whole life, marries his childhood
sweetheart, and takes over his dad's savings and loan association, Now he is
in danger of going bankrupt, through a mishap that is used to the advantage
of the local evil codger and main competition to Bailey. Despondent, he
decides to jump off a bridge and end it all.
Enter Clarence, a student guardian angel who is trying to earn his wings. Saving George Bailey will get him those wings, if only he can show George how the world would have been had he never been born. He reveals the impact George has had on others -- even saving lives --- to prove he is not a failure and very much needed and loved.
Keep an eye out for the grown-up Alfalfa (from the Little Rascals) as the jealous guy at the high-school dance who opens up the gym's swimming pool so the dancers fall in. It's priceless!
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