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Jimmy Stewart is fantastic in his most famous movie, a charming American take on A Christmas Carol. There are some very funny and some very dark moments, and they're perfectly balanced, much like the performances. Frank Capra is a little over-ambitious (the early shots of God talking to the angels in heaven is an example) but he knows what the audience will respond to in a way like no other director. It's amazing to think this did poor box office business, but then I guess some people don't know a good thing when they've had it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Director: Frank Capra Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers
Running Time: 130 minutes
If you don't know a single thing about It's A Wonderful Life then you cannot seriously call yourself a movie lover. But we'll tell you about it anyway. It's a Christmas Classic that has survived criticisms of schmaltzness. And a movie in the 40s being too schmalzy has to be a worry. Anyway heres the story. George Bailey (James Stewart in his signature role) is a man who has put his friends and family before his own happiness his entire life. Whether it is jumping into ice to save his little brother Harry, an act that cost him his hearing in his left ear. Or if it's sacrificing his dream of travelling the world to look after his late father's bank so it can stay in business or so Harry can have a bright future with his wife. He even gave up a lucrative $20,000 a year contract from local miser Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) simply because of the townsfolk he has already helped enough. After all, he built them a bunch of good quality houses, allowing them to leave Potter's slums and enjoy a good life. Whatever the deed George Bailey hasn't thought of himself once in his life. He has dreamt of leaving Bedford Falls but through his own good nature has never been able to. He has settled down with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four kids. So when his Uncle Billy `misplaces' $8,000 (Potter finds it, keeps it) George is faced with scandal and prison. He is a man at the end of his tether he takes it out on everyone, even his own family. In the end he is told he is worth more dead than alive and decides to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Only, that's not the end for right at the beginning of the story we know that an angel is watching over George and it is he who saves George from suicide. The angel is Clarence (Henry Travers) who, as you should know, shows George the good he has done people in his lifetime, starting with a trip to what should be Martini's. We discover that George wasn't there too save his old boss Mr. Gower from accidentally poisoning food through his grief. Then we find out that Harry, who is to be given a medal from the President for bravery in WW2, died when he broke through the ice, because George wasn't there too save him. Bedford Falls is now Pottersville because George wasn't there too battle Potter, Mary ends up an old maid because George wasn't there to love her, Uncle Billy went insane because George wasn't there to help with the business, it goes on and on. When George begs to live again and is re-united with his family there isn't a hard heart in sight. It's A Wonderful Life has many themes of love, friendship, kindness, redemption even just pure coincidence, but there is one clear message running through this dark but magically uplifting Frank Capra Christmas Classic: It truly is a wonderful life.
Right, as I write this there are EIGHTY shopping days (not including
Sundays) left until Christmas!
What a depressing thought, eh?
Anyway, with this in mind, I have decided to submit my review of the, and I do mean- 'THE', best Family/Feel-good Movie ever made...
Frank Capra's: It's a wonderful Life.
(Added to which, it is, by far and away, my personal all-time favorite.)
Many, many words (not all complimentary) have been written about this Classic Yuletide tale, so what makes mine any different from the rest?
In truth, probably nothing! But by damn it, I'll have my say! You hear?
This Film is a Classic, of a by-gone time, where life seemed so much more innocent, than it does today, and boy does it show! Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. Not by a long-shot! In fact, it is this overwhelming sence of innocence, which gives the Film it's undeniable charm. That, at it's best, can melt the coldest of Hearts! No small wonder then, that, after a decidedly shaky beginning, this Film has been consistently voted as America's all-time favorite Movie, and one of the best Film's ever made. To which, I whole-heartedly concur.
Best seen with all your family around, during the Festive season, this Film, in my humble opinion, can NOT be beat, and will ALWAYS be, as far as I'm concerned, the TOPS!
An American classic well worthy of it's reputation, "It's a Wonderful Life" details the life of George Bailey, a man who feels he is a failure and is on the verge of suicide. He is taken by his guardian angel in need of his wings, Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him just how important he has been. Ultimately, it is perhaps the most emotionally moving film ever made, and it offers insight that everybody can use about what's important in our lives. To phrase a heavily used cliche, this is one of the few movies that gets better with every viewing, and never loses any of its power.
The Greatest Feel Good Movie of all time- the Greatest Holiday Movie of
time- The Greatest ACting of all time- The Greatest Directing of all time-
All 10's.....Perhaps- the greatest movie of all time!
Simply the best film i have ever seen. Every cast member is perfect, the
plot is faultless and the acting, (especially from Stewart, is unbeatable).
I think, that in the 56 years since this film was made, only The Shawshank
Redemption has come close(and extremely close at that) to equalling this
Some people have given this film 1 out of 10, but they are due to be released quite soon.
If you have never seen this film, do so, with no interruptions. It is nothing less than utter class.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While I didn't particularly like the main character, I do like the
theme that the movie was trying to push that basically "It's a
Wonderful Life". I do like it when movies explore how important life
is. Despite this, I feel that this movie could have done it more
completely and thoroughly. While I don't know exactly how, I think more
could have been added.
I didn't like the temper of the main character. I feel the movie could have benefit if the main character was a bit more likable. I found him to be easily angered and temperamental. While I do see they were trying to draw a contrast to him from before the angel and after, I think that if they made him more likable throughout the movie, you would have felt more sympathy and happiness for him in the end.
I have heard many times that this is a classic Christmas film over the
years but it has always evaded me, until now. I decided it was time I
saw what all the fuss was about and took the plunge when it came up on
the TV schedules recently. To be honest, it's better than what I was
expecting, although still a little too saccharine in places for my
taste. But I digress, here's a very brief summary before I give you
more of my thoughts (summary haters please save that drowning angel
while I write the next paragraph).
George Bailey grew up in the small town of Bedford Falls. He has always wanted to leave and travel the world and find his fortune but the fates have always prevented his leaving. His father runs a local Building and Loan company with George's uncle Billy and when his father dies it is George that is chosen to carry on the business. His brother, Harry, who was supposed to take over when he left college, gets a better offer. Even when he gets married himself, to Mary, and they are about to leave on honeymoon, he is drawn back to the town. When a local businessman, Mr Potter, refuses him a loan after some money is lost, this is the last straw for George and he decides to take his own life, thinking he is worth more dead than alive. At this point an Angel (second class) called Clarence intervenes and shows George what life would be like if he had never existed, and I'm here to tell you it ain't pretty. Better not say any more, don't want to give the ending away.
This is a very well made film, with excellent direction from Frank Capra and a tremendous performance from James Stewart as George Bailey. He really steals the show here and, not surprisingly, was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Honourable mentions must also go to; Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy and Henry Travers as Clarence.
As I said at the beginning, I found this film a little too saccharine in places, but it's still a great film and deserves its 'Classic' label. It is a very long film which mostly deals with events in George's life that lead up to his attempted suicide and it is all very well done. If you haven't seen it before I can highly recommend this film. I am not a religious man myself, but still enjoyed it.
My score: 8.7/10
I won't write much because most everyone else has all ready said what's
needed to be said. So here we go...
What a great movie! Jimmy Stewart really delivers, and Donna Reed is so very charming as his sweetheart. Henry Travers plays it up as the small time angel with big hopes, but most of all, Frank Capra was a mastermind to really give this world a movie that sincerely touches the heart in more ways the one.
This is definitely not your average holiday movie, but the spirit is their and the lives of the characters are so carefully tended to. It is one of the most wittiest and well-crafted scripts I've ever heard from a film. And it's all thanks to Capra.
This is pure cinema magic at its finest-- The Epitome of Feel Good.
The whole scene toward the end pretty much had me in tears... and that's what a great movie's capabilities should be. Something that has you ask yourself questions and really make you think. And that's everything Capra's film did to me.
If for some reason this film doesn't click with you... I hope you find a movie that makes you feel the same way I did toward this one...
Because I have never walked away from any other movie saying, "I want to really live my life."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to fill this with 10 lines, but it does not require 10 lines to say that this movie is perfect and one of my favorite movies of all time. The ending gets me every time somehow. I love Jimmy Stewart and cannot emphasize how much he makes this movie work. I think he really gets to show off both this comical skills and his dramatic ability. I saw this on the big screen at a local theater house and it really was a magical type of experience. No matter how many times I watch this movie find something new to fall in love with or just fall in love with the same thing over and over again. I will probably watch this movie at least once every year for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.
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