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

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An annual must see!

10/10
Author: David Pouliot from United States
31 December 2006

This is the kind of movie that allows each one of us to put ourselves in check. To remind ourselves of putting our own wants aside and putting family and friends first. Excellently written (ahead of its time) and well casted.

In all its simplest of times this story still rings true today. It is not really a Christmas movie, but a 'Feel Good' movie and can be seen at any time.

This classic will live on and on...if you were born in the 40's and 50's you'll take exceptional pleasure in this movie particularly seeing some of the cast as they relate to TV show's of the past - Little Rascals, Donna Reed Show, Dobbie Gillis, etc. (you'll pick them out). A must have as a film treasure.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Simply Perfect!

10/10
Author: (sylviastel@aol.com) from United States
26 December 2006

It's A Wonderful Life is about George Bailey played beautifully by the late great actor, Jimmy Stewart. It's directed by Frank Capra and it's an impressive film overall. Donna Reed plays his loving wife and the mother of his children. Who could forget his guardian angel, Clarence? and the wonderful people who make Bedford Falls, New York. The film is long but it's worth watching. Before NBC bought it, it used to be shown repeatedly around the holiday season. There was never a day without It's A Wonderful Life! Still almost every show from Married with Children to Saturday Night Live has used the story line of what it would be like if George was never born. He learns at the end that he had a wonderful life and it sends chills down your spine and tears to your eyes. It's the kind of film that you don't forget or want too. It makes us all feel important.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Quintessentially Christmas

10/10
Author: Meaghan Edwards from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
16 December 2006

For several years, without fail, it has been a Christmas tradition of my family to sit down and watch this movie on December 24th. This year will not be an exception! Of all the Christmas movies out there, this is by far my favorite. Who could not root for poor George Bailey? Who could not have related to him at some point or another? While the movie has a happy ending, IAWL isn't made out to be sugary-sweet like many Christmas movies have a tendency to have. There are definitely Kleenex box moments, but thankfully, mostly out of joy for seeing someone so down in luck, climb back up.

Bottom line, this movie could -- and should never be -- remade. You could get the best crew together in Hollywood and they still wouldn't be able to even touch the grandeur that this sentimental, timeless classic has.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

George lassos the moon…It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: jaredmobarak from buffalo, ny, usa
16 December 2006

I don't know how I went 23 years of Christmas without having It's a Wonderful Life playing during the holiday season. Last year I saw the film for the first time on the big screen at the Screening Room in Amherst. Once again, as it seems to have become a yearly tradition there, I have found myself loving it just as much the second time this year. Frank Capra has put a masterpiece onto celluloid here, and that is quite a feat for a holiday niche film. Never dull, always heartwarming, funny, and true, It's a Wonderful Life is truly one of cinema's shining achievements.

Sure there is the whole cliché of seeing the world as though you have never existed; the waking up to show how important life is to so many. It's a rendition of Dickens yet spun in a way that makes it its own. The entire film could have run with the gimmick and created a complete story from it, as numerous reinterpretations have done—Mr. Destiny, The Family Man, etc—however, that would have been the cheap way out. Instead the filmmakers have started us at the end, a tragedy has occurred and a man's faith in life is waning. Prayers have been sent above and the Gods have decided to send down an angel to help our hero out of his predicament. Well this angel knows nothing about George Bailey, so for the first three quarters of the movie we go along for the ride to catch up on the life of this great man, just as our angel Clarence does the same. We are shown the life of a man who has given the whole of his being for those around him. With naught a selfish bone in his body, George continues to sacrifice his happiness for the joy to see his friends jubilant. Through his good deeds, he eventually wakes up to the treasures of life that have been in front of him the whole time and really takes a small town from the Depression to a close-knit, successful society. It is almost too difficult to think he could be in so much trouble that he would be contemplating suicide, but once again we see his caring nature come through in that trying, desperate moment. When the story finally catches up to itself we learn that the predicament he is in is actually one of another that he has taken responsibility for in order to see if he can't solve the town's problems again.

James Stewart is a revelation here. The self-deprecating nature is prevalent at all times, and the intellect his character contains juxtaposes nicely with the humor and goodnaturedness. Stewart is George Bailey, as the role fully encompasses his being. Every nuance of emotion is etched to his face as he goes from wide-eyed explorer to smitten lover, responsible adult, compassionate son and brother, loving husband and father, beaten failure, and finally redeemed hero and friend to all men and women he has ever come across. Of course what hero can exist without a nemesis of equal power whose immense strength comes from evil? Here we have the loathed Mr. Potter played brilliantly by Lionel Barrymore. I don't think anyone who has ever seen this film can have any real compassion for this man who is truly a scrooge to all. People are numbers and figures to him, which need to be conquered and claimed as his own. Barrymore is despicably slimy and true to his character at all times. There must also be mention of the beautiful Donna Reed as our protagonist's love interest. Her striking beauty and self-assuredness shows why George Bailey could be so taken by her, always getting distracted away from his dreams of leaving Bedford Falls. The sexual tension between Reed and Stewart throughout begins humorously at a dance and after when drenched with water and culminates in a serious and real moment as the love takes over during a phone conversation with an old friend. The relationship is believable from start to finish, portrayed even by the young actors who played their roles as children.

True there is a segmented population during Christmas time containing those who watch A Christmas Story, those with a love for Christmas Vacation, and those championing It's a Wonderful Life among many others. I must say that I have been converted to Capra's classic film and would have no problem watching it every Christmas for the rest of my life. The story means a lot of things to many people and has been remade countless times in many forms, (there are chunks of time here which show how even Back to the Future II is ripping it off completely). If you want a perfectly written and acted tale of the joy of giving and the strength of friendship to help show the true meaning of Christmas, look no further than this gem that has endured for 60 years. Yes, I will be purchasing the newly released 60th anniversary DVD—sometimes waiting half a century has its benefits as the first copy I own will be the definitive package available.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life

10/10
Author: ajrtz from United States
15 November 2006

This movie outdoes them all for me. It shows that no matter how downtrodden you feel about your life, your mere presence in this world impacts on the people around you. In George's life, he felt he was a failure and didn't get to do the things that would make him happy, such as traveling, building things, etc..... However, in the end, he learned a very powerful lesson that he did a lot of good in his life and therefore, made others lives better. In the end, he saw that he was surrounded by family and friends and in reality, we don't need anything more! George has many contemporaries today that feel the same way. I, for one, feel that I have not achieved all that I have wanted to but then, I look back on my career and see that I have done my best to impact on others in a positive way. This movie impacts us all in that it shows we are successful if we do our normal jobs to the best of our ability and treat others well. We leave our mark on society without even knowing it just by "being".

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

American Christmas classic

10/10
Author: Thomas from United States
18 October 2006

"It's a Wonderful Life" is an American Christmas classic. James Stewart is believable as the reliable George Bailey. Donna Reed is the angelic beauty, Mary Hatch Bailey. Lionel Barrymore is "too good" as the heartless Mr. Potter.

I've read that doctors often have their depressed patients watch "It's a Wonderful Life" to help raise their spirits and bring things into perspective. This movie certainly has that effect on viewers.

By the end of this film, there will not be a dry eye in the room. It's not Christmas without Santa, Baby Jesus, and George Bailey. This is a definite 'must have' for your Christmas movie collection.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Cinematic excellence

10/10
Author: FreshFace from Ontario, Canada
31 August 2006

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!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Treasure every frame

10/10
Author: Andy Howlett from United Kingdom
31 August 2006

*** 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.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a wonderful movie!

10/10
Author: dbdumonteil
9 August 2006

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.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It is a wonderful life!

9/10
Author: Rhiannon from United Kingdom
7 August 2006

*** 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.

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