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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Director Frank Capra's bittersweet, heartwarming Christmas movie is a wonderful movie!

Author: ironhorse_iv from United States
31 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings'. That is the quest for the guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) when he was assign to take care of a suicidal man named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart). Clarence must try to show George, the tremendous impact he has had on his community before it's too late. Can Clarence, change George's mind or will this Christmas, be the last for George Baily? To find out, watch the movie! Made just after World War 2, this movie was a favorite for both leading man Jimmy Stewart and director Frank Capra. It's easy to see why. There's so much things to like, about this film. The film is full of delightful moments, from music and a dance sequence, funny comedy, and heart-warming romantic scenes. While, some critics might see this film as too sentimental and syrupy. In fact, in my view, most of the movie's vision is something out of a more modern complex, dark-edged sophisticated film. Yes, there are some really dated dialogue, sayings and behavior, but for the most part, I think modern audiences can still, watch this movie and find something about it, that they can related to. No matter how often, you get to see this Christmas favorite, there is always something timeless with this film, when you do. Important message about the value of an individual life and how one person's actions affect all those around him/her is a great life moral for people to take. Themes about family and friendship are also very important. Another great message is having faith, and belief in yourself and the future. After all, director Frank Capra himself said he made the film in large part to "combat a modern trend towards atheism and Nihilism". While, a lot of people say, that this movie isn't really a Christmas movie, due to the fact, that 90% of the movie is a story about George's life and takes place at some point in time other than Christmas; in my view, the whole Clarence arch, wouldn't had work as good as it did, on any other day of the year. There is something about Christmas, that makes the whole magically redemption story with Clarence somewhat believable. Based on the short story "The Greatest Gift," by author Philip Van Doren Stern, It's a Wonderful Life was never intended to be the Christmastime staple that it is now. In fact, when the film was first released back in 1946, it was generally considered a box-office flop. This film had a resurgence for a while in the U.S. during the 1980s when it was discovered that the copyright on the film was never renewed, which meant the film was in the Public Domain and any television station could legally show it as often as they wanted without paying for a license. Many stations across the country would run it, around Christmas time, to the point, that people label it as a Christmas movie. No matter, if it's a holiday movie, or not. A lot of critics, has point out, that the film protagonist's action are very similar to a Christ figure in all. I have to say, they're somewhat right, but there were some moments that George Bailey got really problematic to sympathize with. Some people feel that brought all his problems on himself by choosing to run an over-leveraged, illiquid bank business even though he's given many opportunities to do something else. However, I didn't find it, too abrasive to watch. What I didn't like, is how he treat Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) for most of the film. He was a little too mean-spirited to her; mostly in the beginning of the film He nearly ruin his first date with her. I really didn't like that. Thank heavens, he got more likable, as the film goes on. Still, the drunk driving scene was a bit hard to watch. Anyways, Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as George. I'm glad, he didn't quit, acting after the war. He gives the performance of a lifetime, here. Alternately affable and bitter, he is the movie's little-man hero. All of his emotional were, mostly play as for real. Seeing this, Capra had to reframe the shot in order to get it closer than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch the expression on Stewart's face. At the time, this shot was an extremely time-consuming project, each frame had to be done individually, making it only one step away from stop-motion animation. Capra spent the whole night doing it. Thank Goodness, he did! Most of the supporting cast are just as good as Stewart, but one-person stands out. Donna Reed is wonderful, despite her character being a one-dimensional manic pixie dream girl. She was really able to show the character's beautiful, supporting and caring nature. Just say the word, Mary, and I'll lasso you, the moon, indeed! I just don't buy the idea that George and Mary are somehow supposed to be soulmates. It's a bit unrealistic to think that Mary can only love George. Nor, do I believe, without spoiling it, that the ending of this film seen can be seem as "happy". After all, George is still in the same position he was before Clarence show up. An investigation is still looming. There are tons of others puzzling questions, still worth debating. So a rewatch, is needed. One thing, when watching it, is not to watch the color version. The black and white works well, to show the symbolic snow of the peaceful Bedford Falls, when compare to the cold and dark sleet of Potterville. It's better to watch that, since Paramount had all the grain removed in 2006. Overall: This well-known sentimental film is a masterpiece. Capra's Magnum Opus. A must-watch. So check it out.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This Film is a Life Changer

Author: farez from United States
6 December 2015

Everyone has heard of this film, and if you haven't seen it, it's probably because you live in Antarctica or you have purposely avoided watching an old corny rerun in black and white.

I command you to watch it, and if you have a heart, you will cry with joy. This film has endured as a timeless classic for 70 years for good reason. This film is pure art because it taps into the human experience in such an effective way. The message that we are all important is simply and beautifully brought to life.

Jimmy Stewart's performance is human, funny, poignant and brilliant. Do not look for subtlety, clever meanings, high drama, modern art, political correctness, special effects, sex scenes, or car chases. You won't even see any color (avoid the colorized version at all costs), but what you will find is a perfect little film that will stay with you forever. This film represents the very best of what America wants to be at its core.

I appreciate high brow multi-million dollar productions as much as any other film geek/ movie buff, but this film always brings me home because it reminds me of what really matters in life.

Watch it and savor every wholesome corny second of it. If you don't feel something, you are not human.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's Really A Most Wonderful Film!

Author: thinkerv0 from India
26 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It's A Wonderful Life" is the most wonderful film I have ever seen. It's most inspirational movie I have ever watched and it's very perfectly made movie in my opinion. Performances, script and dialogs are so perfectly done that you don't have enough words to appreciate them. This film by Frank Capra is a gift to the world. Strange enough it was a box office flop when it was released and it failed to win an academy award.

The performance by James Stewart who plays George Bailey is one of the greatest on big screen by anyone anytime in the history. George Bailey makes you so engrossed with his emotions that it naturally calls for your empathy and you start living moments with him and start thinking for him. Even if you don't believe in the angels and God, the part where that comely angel starts alleviating suffering of George Bailey makes a profound impression on you and instills feelings of goodness in you. The second half just emphasizes the importance of life whereas the first one underscores the great character of George Bailey right from his childhood.

You witness some instant karmic clean up in the second half and you see how the good deeds George Bailey had done come back to him saving him and making him realize the importance of life he had. Prior to that he lives with the impression of having sacrificed a lot for everyone else and that had some inner lack of satisfaction in his life and the accident which renders bankruptcy to him and his organization just evokes this karmic burden to the fore and then it seems that all the wrong things start happening with him, but then his good deeds come to his rescue. There are so many well-wishers who pray for him and then he realizes importance of life and accepts it the way it's and with this acceptance miracles start happening and money for which was about to end his life; comes rolling on its own and his brother says "To George, the richest man in the town". The colored restored version made it look even more exquisite than it would have been when it was made. It's indeed a most wonderful film with a most inspiring climax.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Must watch movie

Author: Md Rabiul Awual K from Chittagong Bangladesh
20 August 2015

Another masterpiece of James Stewart, Donna Reed the most romantic duo.i got myself eyed into these fine illustrious events hopes dreams of George bailey.could not lift myself from the really made me think over my life philosophy to rejuvenate the enthusiasm.the turnaround of events were not as dramatic though enjoyed every bit of it. that's why it may not be able to compete The The Shawshank Redemption...whatsoever.It's a film that you can enjoy sitting with every level of people.Marvelous fantastic though lacked a tiny little bit of Extreme Dramatic flavor.I can just mark 10 just only for the characterization,acting staging...what a good film must have.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A classic Stewart classic

Author: Andreas Niedermayer ( from Klagenfurt, Austria
28 December 2000

I`ve just read all the other comments about this amazing and everlasting classic, and there's nothing more to add. I really, really love watching classics, especially Stewart-Classics, 'cause he's in my eyes next to Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Rich Widmark, Sean Connery and many others like Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra or Burt Lancaster one of the greatest actors of all time.

This movie, although produced simply, is THE Christmas story, which can be watched every year, by everyone. Stewarts great and breathtaking character-performance is so brilliant, none of our modern actors would be able to act in this classic style.

10/10 with no doubts!

Greetings from Austria to all American movie-fans!!!!

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A lone dissenting vote on It's A Wonderful Life

Author: anonymous from Washington, DC USA
25 February 1999

I hate to be the lone dissenter here, but I think It's a Wonderful Life stands right up there as one of the most overrated movies of all time. Not that it is a particularly bad movie, but I cannot see how it rates on everyones top ten list. True, the story is interesting and a bit intriguing, and it has a couple of good scenes. But you take out the scene where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are dancing and they fall in the pool, and you take away the last five minutes of the movie, then there is not much left. And speaking of the last five minutes of the movie, that is the only reference in the whole movie to Christmas, yet this movie has been branded a Christmas movie. To me, in terms of Christmas movies, it does not belong in the same category (or class) as Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and yes, Even Home Alone, Parts I and II. I will give it one thing, the ending to this movie is truly one of the best of any movie ever made. But to me, a movie has to have more than a good ending with a Christmas setting to be called either a classic movie or a Christmas movie. Oh well, the minority has spoken.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

I never changed my mind about a picture so completely

Author: Enoch Sneed from United Kingdom
13 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have seen this film several times now, and the first time it really had me suckered. George Bailey really did have a wonderful life, after all. His wonderful friends and family got together to do a wonderful thing for him in his time of trouble. And Clarence got his wings... pass the Kleenex, quick!

Then I started to think: George Bailey never got to travel the world and fulfil his potential to be a great architect. All his dreams faded and died as he struggled to run a business and raise a family. And what thanks did he get? His father dropped dead and landed him with the family business. His brother sold him out by getting married to the boss's daughter and landing himself in Easy Street. His uncle makes him liable for a larceny rap by losing thousands of dollars. OK, friends make up the shortfall and even the bank examiner joins in the goodwill, but - back in the cold, real world, maybe in January - George would still have to explain where the money had gone. If he couldn't do that he would still be seen as an embezzler of company funds. And meanwhile that nasty, villainous Mr Potter has got a nice little Christmas present - no sign of him making nice and handing it back.

And then there's Pottersville - wow! Bars, music and women. A dance with Gloria Grahame - preferably a horizontal Mambo - would be worth any red-blooded man's hard earned cash, surely? (Ms Grahame played at my local UK theatre in 1980. She was still as sexy as hell and, apparently, a lovely person to work with.) Of course, you could always listen to the snow fall and watch 'The Bells of St Mary's' instead.

So, from snuffling into my sleeve at first viewing, I am now horrified at the crabbed, stifled, thwarted, frustrated, cramped 'life' it tells us we should consider 'Wonderful'.

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20 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

It WAS a wonderful life

Author: namor2000 from United States
3 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are movies that we like so much we will watch them to the point of redundancy and never get tired of them. It's A Wonderful Life used to be one of mine, but not anymore. In fact, I can't remember the last time I actually watched it in its entirety. I realize the reason why's Frank Capra's populist message. It had finally gotten under my craw.

The message, that having money is EVIL but being altruistic and broke is GOOD, served Capra well during the depression when everyone was broke (ironically, Capra got rich off this message). By 1946, Americans had money again and populism had worn out its welcome, which might explain the movie's dismal box office take.

George Bailey is altruism squared. He willingly becomes a doormat to townfolks who can't spoonfeed themselves, forgoing his goals and dreams of making his own life better. Sorry George, but I eventually lost sympathy for you. Your desires are equally important.

Other characters I got even more fed up with: Uncle Billy...what a drunken bonehead! Cmon, George, I don't care if he is family. Either fire this rumdum or make him into a harmless janitor or something so he won't go losing $8000 at a clip. Harry Bailey, you're next! You have no intention of ever paying back George for your college education, am I right? And finally, Clarence Oddbody,AS2. No wonder you haven't gotten your wings, you doofus. You knew about the $8000, so tell George that Potter stole the money so he, Mary, and the rest of the family could storm the bank and clean his clock like in the Saturday Night Live skit from 1986. Yes, I know that last part was played for laughs, but wouldn't that be your gut response, though?

Maybe my criticism is a bit harsh, but it's towards the populist message and story line. I still like the acting in it, and the special effects were very good for the time...Capra's fake snow all over Bedford Falls still looks realistic to this day. And as goofy and manipulative as it seems, I'm glad George's deadbeat customers finally paid him back in the end.

(P.S.: George, this would be a good time to remind your brother, Harry The War Hero, that he owes you four years of college tuition and the cost of a long distance phone call!)

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24 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Why is this a "classic"? Basic premise poor

Author: Denver53 from Denver, Colo.
30 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Finally, at the age of 38, I saw "It's A Wonderful Life" in its entirety (after catching a few minutes here and there over the years on TV). When it was over, I found myself puzzled over why this movie is considered such a classic.

I am not talking about the acting, or the film's technical proficiency. All of that seemed fine, even well-done at times. I am talking about its reason for being: Its story.

I'll assume you have seen it, so prepare for spoilers. The basic message of this movie seems to be that a man who never left his home town to pursue his personal dreams nevertheless led a wonderful life due to his kindness and caring for the town and its residents. In fact, when he finally reaches a low point, the town's residents come to bail HIM out, thereby proving what a wonderful person he has been.

A nice story, but the movie misses two logical points. First, was the man who never pursued his personal dreams (George Bailey) HAPPY with the life he DID lead? If he was happy with staying home, helping people afford houses and bailing out his family's business, then the point of the movie is MOOT. He evidently gave up very little for a happy life. Other than a few wistful asides, we never see that George is bothered much that he didn't travel the world. He seems perfectly content where he is. So if he is happy, then the central message of kindness and helping others while sacrificing your own dreams is weak or lost entirely.

Second, if a man spends DECADES helping out residents of his little town (most of whom remain residents over the years), I don't see it as any great act of charity that when the man needs monetary help, all those people he assisted over the years are willing to give him a few dollars to fix his problem. The climactic ending, when people line up to give George 20 bucks here and 75 bucks there, is made to look like some kind of incredible holiday miracle. But think about it: If a man made it possible for YOU to buy your first home (in an era when buying a home was truly a dream), and a few years later he needs some money for his business (which is the entity that helps so many local people) to survive, wouldn't you go donate whatever you could afford to help him? It wouldn't even have to be that painful, really, in a town with several thousand residents.

No, I think the town's true colors are shown earlier, when George's business almost goes under due to a run on the banks and his customers are more than happy to run to his competitor's bank to get 50 cents on a dollar. Some people end up staying ONLY after George uses his own WEDDING MONEY to pay them a fraction of what they sought to withdraw (which, when you think about it, is no real risk ... they can always go to the competitor later if things get worse). THAT seemed to me to also be normal behavior by the local residents, and it was not celebrated like the ending is.

Maybe some people were impressed with the plot device of an angel showing George what life might have been like without him. Maybe that was the first time that had been done in a movie, for all I know. But I found that device not unlike the ghosts who visit Scrooge, and that tale was written long before It's A Wonderful Life was made. So I don't get that, either.

There were some fun moments, and who doesn't like Jimmy Stewart. But a revered classic? I guess I don't get it. I gave it a 5.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

No man is an island unto themselves!

Author: elvircorhodzic from Bosnia
23 July 2016

IT's A WONDERFUL LIFE is definitely one of the most beloved and most watched films of all time. Simply enter human warmth and kindness in the festive atmosphere. Great script and a story that follows the life of one man, his family and his fellow citizens will not leave anyone indifferent. The magical atmosphere and timeless magic simply forces us to become part of the film. Given the time period and the retrospective of life, it is hard not to find yourself in one of the situations.

Director Capra went on a series of films about the little people with real human virtues. Again, one protagonist dominant. In this case, dissatisfied with their lives. Capra wants to show something that is long lost. Family, friends and hard work are actually a wonderful life.

James Stewart as George Bailey hit the famous director. Not only because of its irresistible charm and manners that had a chance to hone working with the most beautiful and famous women in Hollywood, but for the link in the mode of dealing in the character George Bailey and the actor. Furthermore, his character, although at first glance may be too mean, really has a great depth, and excellent Stewart interpretation gives it weight. Stewart's acting phenomenon I personally never liked her, but his fantastic performance I will never challenged.

Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey is quiet and modest woman who truly loves and appreciates his wife. The character is so simple and quiet to the stunning strength has exactly the moments when it is most needed. Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter essentially it is a greedy materialist, passion for money in his being destroyed any shred of humanity, but he is not satisfied and with all his strength his personal dissatisfaction wants to convey the awareness of other people. I have to be skeptical and say that today these people are incredibly much.

No man is an island unto themselves! Globally, the story in this film does not have a universal character. However, we can hardly resist the impression that we are all part of a whole, and unbreakable bond. I am not a supporter of the belief that there is "someone up there" who maintains the world's balance. Simply have eyes and see what happens. However, I think it's Capra lukewarm fiction and mild levity created because of those feelings.

This movie is full of optimism, the story is touching. The man is an unusual way realized, despite all the problems, how is life actually delightful.

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