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It's a Wonderful Life More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Additional trivia for "It's a wonderful life

Author: eldberg from Sweden
24 December 2005

Some music for this film was borrowed from Alfred Newman's score written for the 1939 version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Notably the hallelujah choir which can be heard when George is running down the street shouting "merry Christmas" at everybody. This wonderful music is available on CD in a Russian recording from 1996, with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conductor William T Stromberg, on the label "Marco Polo". (disc number 8.223750) That CD also contains other interesting scores, a suite from "Beau Geste" and one piece from "All About Eve". Some music has been reconstructed by Stromberg because the original music was lost.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film

Author: Collie_M from Ireland
15 August 2013

When my father proposed this black and white film about a guardian angel for me to watch years ago, as a teenager, my initial reaction could hardly have been a more overwhelming 'no.' But after persistence that for weeks was just below the surface, waiting to be unleashed every evening pickings on the television were slim, one especially uneventful night I succumbed and with a sigh agreed to watch it with mostly the intention of getting him off my case. Little I knew it would be the best film recommendation I had ever, and likely will ever receive.

Most of the superlatives have been used up when describing this film so I will not go into them in too much detail again. The term perfection is thrown around loosely but I believe this is one of the very few films that can claim wear that lofty tag with comfort. Jimmy Stewart gives a stunning performance as George Bailey, one of the most endearing characters in cinematic history. The whole cast is excellent and the on- screen chemistry between George and Mary is a sight to behold.

The true power in this film is how it manages to, almost effortlessly but with complete conviction, leave a profound emotional impact upon the viewer. It is a film that the viewer can get so emotionally connected to and can relate to so deeply that it can become part of that viewers person and change their outlook, philosophy, and indeed, their life. Personally I have seen the film too many times to remember and it still manages to leave a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

It is perhaps ironic that years after that first viewing, I mirrored my father in turning pest and badgered my group of college housemates into watching. It is perhaps the best measure of a film's greatness that six sceptical 20year old college students could sit down, abandon the alternative option of an alcohol-propelled night out, and sit in silence as the film happened and blink away tears in the semi-darkness as the bells signalling the end of the masterpiece tolled.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

In my opinion the best movie ever made

Author: Jack Pedder from United Kingdom
15 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Without wishing to seem like some kind of overly sentimental la-dee-da type, I genuinely believe that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is the greatest movie ever made.

Perhaps if all you concentrate on is the potential sexism or the child acting, you could find shortcomings with the picture, but in the grand scheme of things, when you look at the movie as a whole, there is something so good, so sweet and human about 'It's a Wonderful Life'. The heartfelt central performance from Jimmy Stewart (I believe tipping Vertigo to be his best role) is magnificent, just by his face, during scenes like the one where he prays at the bar, Stewart sucks you in, makes you as invested in the wellbeing of George Bailey as the citizens of Bedford falls. But as good as all the performances are (Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore included) they are not the driving force behind what makes Wonderful Life great. That I don't think I can explain.

There's just something there you know… something almost mythic and beyond understanding. The tale of how good men can be made to suffer for the hatred of others, and at times how goodness seems doomed to fail, it doesn't sound that happy a concept and despite being hailed as one of the most uplifting things ever, It's a Wonderful Life does not have that happy an ending… I mean… once you really look at it… Potter is still striving towards the destruction of Bailey building and loan and will continue to haunt George's children an grandchildren, Mary is stuck at home with a load of kids who keep getting sick all the time, and George in his depression has neglected many of those who would have liked him otherwise and his childhood dreams are seemingly shattered forever… Honestly if you skip the final message Wonderful Life is depressing hell! But it's not is it? It's beautiful… a testament to the goodness of humanity…. It is a celebration of mediocrity that can not be argued with. "Yeah I'm going to jail… Isn't it great!?" Regardless of the world around, the knowledge that this moment here and now is perfect, dominates everything.

The idea that one man can change so many lives has cemented itself into the modern consciousness. It's a Wonderful life has actually managed to become a cliché in itself. A Christmas necessity… I don't really think it needs to be viewed at Christmas, it packs a punch all year round… but it has made a mark on people.

I love this movie… I love every lingering second of it… every awkward happiness, every moving sadness, everything... It… It's just… Elation… as George runs down the street yelling "Merry Christmas!" to all the random passers by, as he bangs on Potters window like a madman, as he gives Zuzu back her petals, and that final scene… God that final scene… I actually find it kind of annoying now… I really don't want to cry… every time I want to retain my manliness and just go "What overly sentimental piddle paddle" but Jesus God! The bit that gets me… every time… it's when Harry raises the glass "Here's to my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town!" Then the whole room erupts into Old Lang Zyne and you see Jimmy's face smiling, by then I'm just gone. "No man who has friends can consider his life a failure" Even though it is never spoken, Clarence still has one of the greatest quotes of all time.

So I accept this review may seem a bit bizarre and yeah… it kind of is… but I find it hard to talk about this movie without rambling a little. So, to sum up, Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a very depressing, very uplifting, screwball comedy biopic that has an inspiring moral about humanity… Yeah that sounds about right… Honestly this movie is the best. It's almost a good thing it's not perfect because then it runs the risk of seeming cold and mechanical, which Wonderful Life isn't in the slightest.

I think if aliens come to earth planning to wipe out the human race after having seen all our wars and all our suffering, but they give us a chance to redeem ourselves… I think we should show them Wonderful life.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Life Changing Experience!!!

Author: sreenivas v ( from India
18 February 2010

Simply 'The Perfect' movie experience of a lifetime. Then again, its not just a movie, but something you can actually relate to. The fact that it was made almost 65 years ago, doesn't have any bearing on its relevance. Like the saying goes, 'The more things change, the more they remain the same'.

To be honest, I was going through a very similar situation that 'George Bailey' was in the movie, and I do have a habit of watching a 'feel good' movie to enliven my spirits whenever I am going through a bad phase. I must admit, it was one of the most sensible things I did in recent times. This movie has reinforced my belief that life is truly wonderful, and one should try to make the most of every moment. The old adage 'You reap what you sow' still holds true. Do good and no harm will come unto you.

Everything in the movie looks so believable and the performances by the entire cast so natural. It all about keeping the faith and hope, particularly when you feel you are down and out. I could watch this movie, each and every day for the rest of my life!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Why it's an icon

Author: escapoholic ( from Northbrook, IL
10 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

IAWL has inspired a number of imitations lately--one I would recommend is The Family Man with Nick Cage and Tea Leoni. But The Family Man didn't really stand up all that well on second viewing. IAWL has stood up under dozens.

First and foremost, there's Jimmy Stewart. His performance in IAWL is the performance of his or anybody else's lifetime. The role of George Bailey is as demanding as any could be--everyman's life, with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I really don't think anyone else could have done it. Do you really think anyone else could have done the bit as Mary's reluctant suitor after Harry comes back to town? (Spoiler) Is there a better reaction shot than when George enters their new home/wedding suite, showing its signs of having to be prepared at the last minute and yet almost outrageously ingenious, itself a little bit (of which there are many others) of classic filmdom? There are at least a dozen others like these and contrasting with them.

Second, there's the high concept (spoiler alert)--what if you could see how life would have been if you hadn't been born? Usually, this sort of thing falls flat, but when it works it's magic, and all the required setup is here to make it work.

Third, the portrayal of Bedford Falls, achingly nostalgic for us to experience in the 21st century. So many characters in such variety who nevertheless seem to belong together, and share an experience that is more than their individual selves. I think it's here that the Christmas motif plays in.

And one more, the message, which admittedly doesn't resonate with everyone, but should, dammit! "We have to stick together." I see some have complained about too much altruism, but I think they're missing the point. In the long run, George himself is better off for having been point man in the struggle to build community.

Because in the end, although it's "friends" that George is seen to have in abundance, it's really more than that. It's all of Bedford Falls, whose existence depends on people like George, who are the difference between its community values and the values of Pottersville.

In the end, the film is perhaps an argument for a life that never really was, but the dream or nostalgia of which we should never lose.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A classic everyone should know about.

Author: emasterslake from United States
3 June 2006

I just saw it recent;y for the first time ever.

And I'm very amazed on how well done this movie was made.

It takes place from 1910s-1946.

Jimmy Stewart portrays a man who wanted to follow his dreams but always ended up being a failure. He feels as if his life is falling apart. On X-Mas eve he thinks the world would be better off without him.

When all seemed hopeless. A man named Clarence who is said to be a guardian Angel will help him change his way of thinking.

Unlike other holiday movies, this one is one of those feel good movies and has a great moral to it. That every person who fails deserves a second chance.

I think every person should know what this movie is. If you haven't seen it yet, do so, cause this is a must see classic. And it be a perfect movie for the whole family to watch.

There's nothing too offending in the movie. No swearing, some drinking scenes, non-brutal fights, and I think it's perfectly fine for the kids to watch. Just to let you know that this movie is long and has some long scenes too.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It's A Wonderful Movie!

Author: Humphrey Fish from United States
12 April 2010

This was another one of the very first movies that I had ever seen in my life, and though it was a really long time ago, I still remember it, and I can say that this movie is one of the greatest movies ever to be made, it is a very remarkable movie that is also one of the greatest movies I have ever seen! This is really one movie that should be watched around Christmas time, no wait, not just Christmas time, anytime of the year, because it's a wonderful movie! Out of all of the Christmas movies that I have seen in my life, this has to be one of the greatest, this is also one of the greatest movies I have seen in my life, and you probably really great in my life! I remember that I was really cheering all throughout this movie when I first saw this, and of course Mr. Potter was really a crud, he in my opinion really deserved to be ranked in the list of the greatest movie villains of all time, because he really was a villain.

And of course what I really loved about this movie was the black and white cinematography, like with a lot of movies, I think that black and white camera format is great, I think that it adds a really dramatic and dark appearance to a movie, and it really added a dark, dramatic appearance to this movie, this movie is a movie that should stay black and white, because it is just perfect in black and white!

This may be really pointless to say, but if you have not yet seen this timeless classic movie, then you really need to see it, because you are going to enjoy every single second of it from start to finish, you really will, every bit of it you will enjoy!


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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Absolute Masterpiece

Author: Incalculacable ( from Perth, WA
20 December 2005

'It's a Wonderful Life' is one of the best movies of all time. It is directed by Frank Capra and starring movie legends such as Donna Reed and James Stewart.

It's a Wonderful Life shows the life of George Bailey, a kind, caring man. You see him right from childhood and even then he is giving to people. As he grows older, he has dreams of traveling. However, after a series of unfortunate events, he can't go on the trips as he has always wanted and he has to look after the family business - the bank. George gets tied down with a family and feels trapped in a world in which he doesn't want to belong and he finds himself trying to commit suicide.

This is a beautiful, touching yet dark film. You see so many emotions, attitudes and values in this such as envy, love, corruption, joy, hope, faith and despair, all beautifully portrayed by the actors. It runs along at a fast pace and has a beginning, middle and an end. It also has a moral, which is lacking in so many movies today.

It's A Wonderful Life is absolutely universal and timeless (you can enjoy it whether you are 8 or 80). I watched this when I was 12 and it became one of my favorite movies, which I know watch every Christmas. It sums up everything that Christmas is about.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"Aah!" or should that be "Argh!"

Author: Cheese Hoven from United Kingdom
25 December 2013

Watching this film in the wake of the banking crisis, it is apt to have a different effect on the viewer than that intended. The actions of George Bailey and his father amount to a long justification for "sub-prime" mortgages,"sub prime" being a euphemism for "lending to people who have no chance of paying you back" which has lead to the present day bank bailouts which means that responsible people now must pay for the actions of the irresponsible. Why does doing this make George and his dad the good guys?

Why, for that matter, are we told that George's father only made enough money to send one of his kids to college? Is that meant to be good? Surely, in the real world, that would make him a poor father? He has clearly never heard the truism "charity begins at home" although he did have enough money to hire a black servant..perhaps he should have saved the money he spent on her to put his kids through college? Just a thought.

Obviously Hollywood will never get to grips with the real life implications of the Bailey's irresponsible lending policies, ie people being lumbered with unpayable mortgages and losing their homes. No, this is the land of magic pixie dust where good intentions always lead to good outcomes. The reality is transformed into a one dimensional baddie, an evil capitalist who could come straight out of the Stalinist propaganda of the period (in fact this film could have easily be shown in the USSR without a single cut whereas it was -rightly- a box office flop in the US). Oh, if only there weren't these greedy evil people, if only banks could lend money to good people without worrying whether they could pay it back, then how much nicer the world would be!

Around this childish morality, a sanctimonious and saccharine story is built. Even by Hollywood's golden age standards it is extremely sentimental. I must say in passing, I've attempted to watch this film many times, but this this is the first time I've managed to make it all the way through and only through gritted teeth.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A true classic if there ever was one

Author: slymusic from Tucson, AZ
30 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What could I possibly write about "It's a Wonderful Life" that hasn't already been written? It is my favorite film starring my favorite actor James Stewart. Beautifully directed by Frank Capra, it is a masterpiece about the joys and trials of everyday life, and its main lesson is the fact that nobody is born to be a failure and that everybody is important. A struggling man named George Bailey (Stewart) sees life pass him by as he forgoes his opportunities to travel the world, go to college, and do all sorts of outstanding things. George considers himself a failure and never realizes what a great man he is until he meets his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him how different many people's lives would have been had George never been born.

"It's a Wonderful Life" contains such an outstanding cast that it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing these parts so effectively. Frank Capra had only James Stewart in mind for the all-American George Bailey, and he could not have made a better choice. Not to mention Donna Reed as George's sweet, comforting wife Mary; Lionel Barrymore as the cold, Scrooge-like Mr. Potter; Thomas Mitchell as the fun-loving, irresponsible Uncle Billy; Henry Travers as George's lovable, kindhearted guardian angel Clarence; Beulah Bondi as George's warmhearted mother; Samuel S. Hinds as George's caring-about-others-before-himself father; H. B. Warner as the drunken-turned-responsible druggist Mr. Gower; and on and on the list goes. Honestly, no other actors could have portrayed these roles so well.

Here are my favorite highlights from "It's a Wonderful Life," and there are quite a few. At the end, amidst all the donations and tears of joy at the Bailey residence, the one moment that almost never fails to bring tears to my eyes is George's discovery of the inscription on the inside cover of Clarence's copy of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer": "Dear George, Remember NO MAN is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence." George displays his darker side when he both yells at Uncle Billy for misplacing the $8,000 and lashes out at his family shortly thereafter. James Stewart's initial appearances in this film serve as a reminder of his prewar all-American image, particularly when George describes the giant suitcase he wants for his European tour, or when he talks quietly with his father at the dinner table, or when he confronts the scheming Potter, who threatens to dissolve the Bailey Building & Loan Association after the sudden death of George's father. Arguably the loudest and funniest scene in the picture involves the Charleston dance at the high school gymnasium, during which the floor opens up to reveal a swimming pool below. George and Mary spend their wedding night in the same dilapidated old house that they threw rocks at years ago, but the music and the candlelight dinner are just right (as actor Tom Bosley pointed out, if George has had a wonderful life in humble Bedford Falls, to a large extent it was Mary who made it so). Mr. Gower physically abuses young George (Bobbie Anderson) for not delivering a prescription, until Gower realizes what he had put in the capsules! George runs through Pottersville in shock at the unfamiliar buildings and the interesting music filtering through some of them. Upon Clarence's announcing that he is an angel second class, the night watchman (Tom Fadden) falls backward out of his chair! And finally, the film displays its sentimentality right from the opening shots, in which the humble voices of George's family and friends are heard praying for him.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a classic, no doubt about it. I enjoy it not only during the Christmas season but all through the year. James Stewart WAS George Bailey, and he has my utmost praise for such a fine performance. The film was Stewart's and Capra's favorite, and no wonder. Capra was passionate about the story, and Stewart gave it his all after five years of having not appeared in feature films. In short, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a truly remarkable film.

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