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This isn't the first time I've seen "It's A Wonderful Life", but it
still leaves me cold. And it's primarily because the Dickensian
"what-if?" hook that redeems George Bailey in the end isn't enough to
make up for the brutal treatment of that character up until that point.
I know that's a minority opinion; my family thinks I'm nuts. But look,
Bailey's a dreamer, brimming with a youthful ambition that gets snuffed
out time and again by his obligation to Bedford Falls. Sure, there's a
message here, that he protects the town from predatory capitalism, but
to see the man struck down by one cruel twist of fate after another is
beyond frustrating; and the payoff feels cheap in comparison.
This is a classic for a reason, and who knows, maybe I'll grow into it. But as it stands, its charms are wasted on me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is about life and all its aspects. The highs and lows, and it makes you realize how important the whole thing is. Not just your successes. As you follow George through his life you see a lot of yourself or people close to you that relate to him or the characters that surround him. The issues he goes through with his hearing, and saving his boss from poisoning someone. The pranks and stress that balance life. And the courtship, and the issues contained within, that bring them to the life the have. It shows every aspect from early childhood to late adulthood. I for one, use this movie as a mirror to my life and it helps me appreciate all that I have and will have.
A VISIT WITH JIMMY STEWART: Inside 'Wonderful Life,' a Wonderful Life
"'It's a Wonderful Life' sums up my philosophy of filmmaking ... to exalt the worth of the individual, to champion man ... and to dramatize the viability of the individual." _ director Frank Capra
JAMES STEWART, whom Frank Capra lovingly described as being "unusually usual," the movies' quintessential Everyman, sat down to reminisce about "It's Wonderful Life" on Nov. 16, 1987, not quite 40 years after it had opened in theaters across the country. Then 79, Stewart, in his familiar crackling Indiana drawl, explained that the movie was never really intended as a Christmas film. RKO, the movie's distributor, originally planned to premiere it on Jan. 30, 1947. But its big color film set for the holidays, "Sinbad the Sailor," had to be put on hold when Technicolor went on strike. Enter black and white 'Life" instead on Dec. 20, 1946. "Christmas was just sort of part of it, and a wonderful way to end the movie," Stewart said. "The picture didn't do well when it opened because -- and I know Frank (Capra, the movie's director) feels the same way -- it was right after World War II, and the substance of the film wasn't what people wanted to see. They wanted something sort of relaxing, a rejuvenating film, a lot of comedy -- Red Skelton, Martin and Lewis, who were just coming into their own just then. The war was a tough thing to take for the people back home here. I think they wanted something sort of wilder than this." Another thing didn't help box office when 'Life' opened: a real white Christmas that year. Snow blasted the eastern U.S. Ironically, the film actually had been shot from May through July 1946 at RKO's Encino Ranch during 80-degree weather. Snow was simulated by use of 3,000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of plaster, 300 tons of gypsum and 6,000 gallons of chemicals. The "snowstorm" that occurs when Stewart's character, George Bailey, attempts suicide took three weeks to create and required the largest special effects crew assembled for a movie up to that time. "Frank didn't even have the story for 'It's Wonderful Life' on paper when he invited me over to his house one day. He told me, 'I have an idea for a picture,' and started taking about an angel named Clarence who hadn't won his wings, and that I'm gonna commit suicide, and he said, 'I'm not telling this very well.'' I said, 'Frank, if you want to do a picture about an angel named Clarence who hasn't won his wings, I'm your man." The movie was Stewart's favorite. "For quite a few reasons," he said. "Number one, it was the first picture I got to do after the war, and maybe for that reason, it's sort of a sentimental favorite. But beyond that, I think the picture had the main sort of things that mean so much to me ... an idea with two basic points: There's no man who is born to be a failure, and that no man is poor who has friends. Now, from the those two sentences, the secret of the movie is made." A number of things were improvised, like the recurrent bit where George keeps knocking off the knob on the Baileys' banister railing. "The first time I walked by, it was loose and it came off when I grabbed it. We just left the bit in. Frank and I never discussed it."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is the inspirational story about a frustrated businessman named George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) who on Christmas eve wishes that he was dead because of a man who made him want to do that named Mr. Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore), then Bailey no longer exists and an angel (played by Henry Travers) tries to teach him what it feels like to be dead and how wonderful life can be. The American film institute had the perfect reason to rank this film as # 1 on their 100 most inspirational movies list because of how inspiring of a movie that director Frank Capra made it out to be and of which I consider to be the best movie of 1946.
I was never much of a fan of older movies, especially not movies as old
as It's a Wonderful Life. Being the ignorant teenager I was, I was
turned away from the black and white film. The only other film I had
ever seen in black and white was 12 Angry Men, which I had to see for
my American government class. Although I surprisingly really enjoyed
that film, I was in no hurry to see another like it.
Years later, while going through a rough time in my life, I came across this movie on this very website. I had known the film existed for years, but upon reading the IMDb page I became curious. Maybe it was just because I was lacking direction in life needed an inspiring message, or the fact it was one of the most redone plots in cinema history. Whatever it was, I set all my ignorance aside, looked the full movie up online and gave it a watch.
The outcome was nothing short of life changing. George Bailey (James Stewart) was a very likable character, which made him easy to feel for throughout the movie. The other actors were great as well, making the film feel natural. Hailing from a small town myself, I could relate the family-like atmosphere of the townsfolk. Capra did an excellent job at capturing that quality.
But what truly made the film the greatest of greats was the fact it delivered a message we can all truly relate to and appreciate. It was a message that left me feeling that maybe my life wasn't so bad after all. It left me feeling I had purpose.
This film now holds a special place in my soul and I've grown to greatly enjoy classic films, possibly even more so than films today. If I were to recommend just one film for everyone to see before they died, without any shadow of a doubt my answer would be Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my favorite movie of all time. I just saw a school do the play and they did just as an excellent job as the movie. My cousin does a radio show of this play also and thy do an excellent job. I like the message of the movie and how everyone came together at the end to help. It also shows how mean some people can be so they can get what they want, but it does not help them as people will turn away from you like what Potter tried to do to George with the missing money. I like how they brought Mary and George together and especially like the dance scene when they fell in the pool and then when they walked home and saw the house that they end up getting. How George stated home so that his brother could go to college, which meant George gave up his dreams for his brother. Showing what like would have been like without George was a scene as it shows that with you around life is good and if some of things did not happen then things and people could be worse off. I also like watching this in the black and white version vs watching the color. The color I think spoils it. The message comes out a lot better in Black and White.
Like many people I had heard about this film and seen the parodies or
things inspired by it but had never sat down to watch the actual film.
However now I am pleased to say that I can understand why this film is so beloved by people and continues to stand the test of time. It's now not just one of my favourite Christmas films but one of my favourite films of all time.
It has everything. It has a strong story (inspired by a Christmas card no less), heart and mixes comedy and drama effortlessly. It's also a beautiful love story between Mary and George as well as showing us the importance of friendship and loyalty.
I can't fault this film - wonderful.
There are some films that I have trouble writing a review of because of their greatness. Frank Capra's masterpiece It's A Wonderful Life is one of those beautiful masterpieces. It's difficult to make a normal review about a film such as this. It's rare that a masterpiece as great as this is shown to the world. Few characters and stories are as engaging as George Bailey (James Stewart) or his story. This movie deserves a commentary rather than an actual review. The movie gets everything right in telling this story. George Bailey gets an opportunity that would benefit every person who has ever lived- he gets to see what the world would have been like without him. George is the perfect character for this journey. He is the closest to being a real person out of every other character I've ever seen in cinema, even Rocky Balboa. George Bailey is full of love, kindness, and optimism, and he has dreams of going places and doing big things. However, he is unable to achieve these things, and gives them up to help his family and friends. We all can relate to this kind of disappointments, and they can make us all better people. And he is obviously disappointed when he makes these decisions, but he ultimately does the right thing. Then there comes a time where he is desperate. George is a good person, but he despairs when he has upset everyone he knows and is in danger of going out of business and going to jail. He is shattered, and decides to kill himself. George has been such an optimist the entire movie, that seeing him despair is truly disheartening, and yet it's believable when he falls apart because George is so human and capable of anger and sadness. But when his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) shows him what the world would have been like without him, he thinks. He realizes how many people he's affected, how many lives he's touched. Because he loves people so much, seeing his loved ones not recognize him is terrifying. After this night, he learns how wonderful his life is, and how much he alone has touched so many others. This message and journey is more inspirational than those of any other movie I've ever seen. Jimmy Stewart is George Bailey. He plays this brilliantly written character with absolute conviction and love. Few actors have felt as real as Stewart. He talked like a real person when he acted. He stuttered like a real person, and didn't always think through what he said, just like a real person. He gives a chilling performance, one of the greatest in any film. George Bailey is It's A Wonderful Life, just as Rocky Balboa is Rocky. He is part of this amazing story, backed up by an outstanding supporting cast, including Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter (one of cinema's greatest and most despicable villains), and Henry Travers as Clarence. No film could ask for more. A+
I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.I have loved looking at this movie. It gets better with time. A good moral message. The days of good story lines are gone. This movie gives you the warm hometown feelings that are needed at the Holiday Season time of year.
What would the world be like without you? A question many of us take
for granted or even don't understand.
This movie not only touches on the fact that each one of our lives are so intertwined that when you remove a single link, the whole chain falls apart, but also it touches on the importance of family, caring for others, and the most important fact, that without God, our lives are meaningless.
Harry Bailey, Played by Jimmy Stewart, is feeling like hes more of a burden than a blessing, but through the grace of God, he is given a rare gift...a gift to see what the world would be like had he never been born.
This journey is guided by the often misguided angel, Clarence. Who, while he doesn't have his wings yet, is still the perfect one to guide Harry along the way. The fact that a sub-par angel can open the eyes of a 'sub-par' man, is a point that is often missed by viewers. It shows that no one is perfect, but everyone, no matter how imperfect, can still help others.
A must watch for everyone.
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