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It's a Wonderful Life
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It's a Wonderful Life More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Every Life Makes A Difference

8/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
9 December 2012

For many this is a Christmas classic, watched every year and much beloved. For me, I've never seen it before. Heard of it; seen short clips of it; but never have I sat down and watched it straight through from beginning to end. Having now done that I can understand why it's such a beloved movie to so many people. It isn't necessarily a Christmas/holiday movie. The basic message would work at any time of the year; it just happens to be set (in its climax anyway) on Christmas Eve. And the message it presents is an important one that everyone needs to hear from time to time, in a world where it's so easy to feel discouraged: every person's life counts. Everyone makes a difference. That's the point here, and it's well made.

The movie revolves around George Bailey (James Stewart.) George starts out as a kid with big dreams of escaping his hum-drum (to him) home town of Bedfork Park and seeing the world. But it never works out. He ends up running the small savings & loan operation his father started, while his brother and his friends all seem to go on to bigger and better things - becoming heroes; becoming famous; becoming rich. George has a good life. He's married to a woman he loves (Donna Reed) and he has great kids and a lot of friends, but it just isn't what he always wanted. It's not completely satisfying for him. Eventually it all falls apart when the local ruthless banker (Lionel Barrymore) comes up with a way of bringing him down. With everything apparently out of control, George decides to kill himself, only to be rescued by the angel Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows him what Bedford Park would be like if he had never existed - and it's not pretty.

The story isn't complicated. It's simple and straightforward. Everybody does a good job in it. Personally, I thought there was perhaps a little too much emphasis on George's life and what brought him to the brink of suicide, and maybe not quite enough emphasis on George being confronted by the consequences of his non-existence. (And, in the alternative timeline, Bert the cop opening fire on George in the street seemed a bit - shall we say - excessive; not to mention dangerous!) Perhaps the opening, with God and the angels talking to each other as stars and other heavenly bodies was a bit too cute, but it's all within the expected standards of 1946.

It is a nice movie, and it does have a nice message. Your life does make a difference to a lot of people - probably more than you know, so be satisfied with it and rejoice in what you have. I can easily understand why so many consider it a classic. (8/10)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

it's a good movie

8/10
Author: garyfromct from CT
2 December 2012

I just saw IAWL for the first time last night. While it's not the best movie I have ever seen, it is very good and worth watching at least once. It is allegorical and thus shouldn't be held to exacting standards, as some reviews have done, in my opinion. The movie gets you to think about how your life impacts others and how we should treat one another better. For that I think it succeeds quite nicely. I think Jimmy Stewart did an excellent job of portraying George Bailey. He is fundamentally a good person, but like all of us, is given to bouts of anger and emotion, and lashes out against the people he loves. He quickly realizes his errors and apologizes for them. He is frustrated by his responsibilities and obligations intruding on his dreams, but he does the right thing in the end. We can all related to this and learn a few things by his example.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life

Author: ShibanPD from Cleveland, OH, USA
12 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is like a photo negative (or positive) of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The Ebenezer Scrooge character in Capra's film, Mr. Potter (played perfectly by Lionel Barrymore), rather than occupying the position of the main character, is the antagonist. The protagonist in the film is the Bob Cratchit character from Dickens' story, a man named George Bailey (played perfectly by Jimmy Stewart). The supernatural (or imaginary) visions and visitations in A Christmas Carol comprise the bulk of the story, whereas the same in It's a Wonderful Life take up less than fifteen percent of the movie's screen time, although it seems like much more. In A Christmas Carol, we have an extremely unlikable central character, who is shown what the world would be like if he doesn't change; in It's a Wonderful Life, we have an immensely likable central character, who is shown what the world would be like if he had never existed. This second part of the film—in which George's guardian angel Clarence (a delightful Henry Travers) shows George how "each man's life touches so many other lives"—is a fun-house-mirror look back at the first part—a fantasy that resembles a rough night of drinking: fun and frivolous at first—then serious, painful, and dire in the end. The first part of the film, which inhabits more than eighty percent of its screen time, tells George's life story: his abundant acts of altruism, which enable the continual thwarting of his repeatedly voiced ambitions; his continuation of his father's fiscal and ideological battle with Potter, in the name of the Bailey Building and Loan, an institution that represents the "community" side of the film's diatribe against the form of unbridled, unrelenting, anti-humanistic "capitalism" represented by Potter's monopolistic business interests; and George's union with Mary, his lifelong sweetheart, and their settling down in that quaint, provincially idyllic American town named Bedford Falls, which George had seemed so insistently focused on shedding like a cheap suit. The sad, decadent, cold, flashy, Vegas-like imagining of Bedford Falls sans George Bailey convinces him (and us) that his heart is much bigger than his ambition, and it belongs to the members of his hometown. The final sequence jerks buckets of tears, not through manipulation, but through the genuine redemption of a man whose life of selfless acts repays him in a way that only a town like Bedford Falls can.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An incredible revelation

Author: Peter Caldwell from New Zealand
18 February 2012

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are terrific as the main leads in this Frank Capra movie. Set very close to his own working class roots ( supporting cast and characters bear this out) and some nasty people thrown in to boot, this film holds the viewer's attention without getting overly sentimental.. Ever said to yourself " I wish I had never been born?" This film will clearly answer that question.

It just goes to show that movies do not have to have all the special effects bells and whistles, deafening sound track and Dolby digital to capture viewer interest. Movies like this were made in a time when violence was often only suggested, not played in grizzly detail. There are certainly some dark themes. However you can't help being uplifted by the ending..

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

Author: s-tb from United States
15 November 2011

I have seen some very good films in my life, of that there is no doubt. This one though, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" I remember the first time I watched it, it was the holiday season I think my sophomore year of High School. Being a high schooler I tried extremely hard not t let my tears show, but it was no use, and I could see similar failures around the classroom. I haven't seen a movie that could reach such an emotional level with me since, probably the only one that ever came close was Lion King, when I was 5. This movie will always be on my top 5 list, and so far no contender has got even close to removing it from the #1, and 64 years after this movie has been made there still isn't, that is really saying something.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic and must watch

10/10
Author: avi-b-sharma from Nagpur, India
18 September 2011

Before I started watching it and even after watching around 50 minutes of movie, my first impression was not that good. As I am native American, I was even missing some links in this movie but then it absolutely changed !! After watching the movie as a whole (complete 2 hours and 9 min), I realized that this is one of the best movies which i have even seen. It gives us some teachings about how important are your friends are and what will be the world without you !! This is a must watch without thinking of what genre you usually watch or something, just remember the fact that after watching this movie you will realize the importance of friends and your presence... What are you waiting for ? GO WATCH !!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Its great movie to watch

Author: amikhalyuk from United States
28 July 2011

In a movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) goes through out his life trying to help people in his home town living with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four children in an old house. Even though he understood that his father's business does not bring much income, people were his main focus. He lived with a dream that one day he will travel across the globe and will come back to build new buildings. Despite of his dream, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) prevents him from leaving his home town and is forced to take over his father's loan company. On the Christmas Eve, George's uncle Bill (Thomas Mitchell) loses $8,000 while he is attempting to deposit them into the bank account. Mr. Potter is the one who discovers the money but hides them from Mr. Bailey. As George realizes that after bank examiner finds out about missing money, he might go to jail and will loose his company, therefore he decides to ask Mr. Potter for help and give up his company. As he thought about his family, he was told that he is worth more dead when he is alive, and decided to commit suicide. Because of his family prayers, an angel Clarence (Henry Travers) was sent to save him and to show him how valuable his life is to the people he cares about by taking him to the time as if he was never born. I loved this movie because of its positive attitude. Some of the main characters are just perfect for their character in the movie. Even though James Stewart won an Oscar for his George Bailey character, my favorite character is the Mr. Potter. His bold head and cricket eyes are perfectly underline his grouchy character. Bailey's wife Mary is a perfect character as well. Her facial expressions are very clearly expressing her feelings. Her face did show an expression that she is deeply in love with George. Also you can see when she figured that George is in money trouble.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Warm, heart-wrenching and reaffirms our faith in ourselves !!!

10/10
Author: Lord Aragon from Gondor
24 July 2011

I was very much aware of this film consistently being listed as one of the best movies EVER made. James Stewart has been one of my favorites for a longtime. This DVD had been lying with me for quite some time so I decided to give it a try. By God, I was stupefied, I did not write a review immediately just to see if this was not a flash in the pan, just an overdone, emotional blackmailer of a movie but this movie is simply brilliant. As an after thought maybe, its so hard to describe what one feels after watching this gem, this masterpiece. I am told it was a resounding flop when it was released, aah thats so unfortunate.

Everyone goes through the vicissitudes of life, and many a times it is so tempting to end it all, to blame each and everyone around for one's misery that we miss out on the differences one's life makes to others. This is Hollywood at its very best, this is what everyone needs to realize...............

Its a WONDERFUL LIFE... indeed...... ! See it and praise the Lord !

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the Greatest Films Ever Made

9/10
Author: Supachewy from United States
20 August 2010

The drama fantasy It's a Wonderful Life is directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore and it takes place in a modern day small town.

The film starts off with angels talking about how a man, George Bailey (Stewart), needs help to make his life better. The angels decide to send a second class angel, Clarence, to go and help him. But before sending him they give him all the important details of his life. The first one that is shown was when George Bailey was a child and saved his brother's life and stopped the shopkeeper he worked for from selling poison tablets. Then it showed when George Bailey was older and how he dreamed of traveling the world but at any chance he got he had to do some sort of work for the loan shop he was in charge of. He fell in love with a young woman named Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) but struggled to gain her as his wife. This film is excellent and has a morale that everyone needs to hear, a timeless classic.

Frank Capra directed this film brilliantly. It was truly sentimental and he made it so you could feel the emotions of George Bailey. There were quite a few classic moments that he created in this film such as when George asks Mary is she wants for him to lasso the moon for her. Capra truly created an excellent film.

The writing of this film was pure bliss. There are not that many films out there that have a sense of purity such as this one and that is intended for all audiences. There were many ups and downs on this ride and it left you completely satisfied.

The acting by the whole cast was remarkable. James Stewart gave a great performance as George Bailey never being able to get what he really wants and being extremely stressed by all the tasks that he has to do. Donna Reed was great as the love interest, providing much support for Stewart's character to grow off of. Lionel Barrymore was great as the big business man in town trying to buy up everything and keeping Bailey down. Excellent performances for an excellent film.

Overall I give this film a strong 9/10, it is truly a timeless classic from the legendary Frank Capra. I recommend this to absolutely everyone young and old, it is a truly heartwarming story that has already gone down in film history.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It Happened One Christmas

10/10
Author: mmallon4 from United Kingdom
22 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why yes I do cry like a baby over it's a Wonderful Life: every time. That ending is such a huge release after such as a dark and depressing alternative reality. I'm always left shaken up by it and need a break before I can watch another movie as well as making me want to make amends with loved ones. I'm sure everyone who watched It's a Wonderful Life thinks to themselves what the world would be like if they were never born. The struggle of George Bailey is relatable to a wide spectrum, and I know for myself it really hits home. Being stuck in a dead end town and feeling you will bust if you don't get away from it; having your life not going the way you intended it to while your siblings appear to be doing so much better than you. But in at the end George Bailey realises what he's got when it's all gone, above it all, God's greatest gift. It's a Wonderful Life takes placed in a world in which God exists (and can focus his time on this one person over the rest of the world, but I digress). I've never felt however for It's a Wonderful Life to have a religious agenda, it's merely just a plot device for the film's fantasy elements.

Lionel Barrymore's performance as Henry F. Potter I feel is a tie between his brother John's roles in Twentieth Century as the best performance from the Barrymore clan. Potter is one of the biggest douche bags in movie history; the archetype evil business mogul and ripe for comparisons with real life figures. In 2012 it was Mitt Romney, in 2016 it's Donald Trump. Not only has he no charitable side, he directly steals money in order to destroy his competition. Unlike other screen villains, Potter does not get any comeuppance as the end of the film, although you could say he's destiny as a sick, frustrated and lonely man who hates anyone that has anything he can't have is punishment enough. Potter isn't a total caricature though, he is more three dimensional than that. He's a man who knows how to conduct and run a business and understands that high ideals without common sense could ruin a town. But George Bailey is no fool, he is a natural born leader, even if he doesn't realise it. He stands up to Potter without giving it a second thought, runs a building and loan which is a real estate empire itself; even his father states to him that he was born older than his brother.

Moments like the make shift honeymoon suite in the broken down house which they later make their own or the recurring gag with the mantle at the end of the stairway represents the kind of writing which elevates It's a Wonderful Life above the majority of other movies. Like the greatest of films you notice something new on every viewing. Likewise nobody can do moments of intimacy like Frank Capra, the movie is full of scenes in which it is simply two actors talking with no background music, yet creates raw human emotional like no other. Take a scene such as George and Mary walking through a neighbourhood at night while George talks about his ambitions for the future, the rest of the world ceases to exist. Many will be quick to put down Capra's work as so called "Capracorn" or as Potter puts it, "sentimental hogwash". Get off your high horse and stop thinking you're above such emotion - cinema is about the manipulation of emotions.

It's hard not to feel sentimental for the representation of small town America on display. Bedford Falls itself is a town full of interesting and unique characters. It actually reminds me of The Simpsons. Potter himself is essentially the town's own Mr Burns in The Simpsons - the people of Springfield hate Burns but are dependent on him for their energy needs. Likewise the people of Bedford Falls hate Potter and would be dependent on him for their housing if it wasn't for the competition of the Bailey Building & Loan.

Due to its public domain status the film was shown on some TV networks in 24 hour marathons. I'd happily watch one of those network as I can't stop watching It's a Wonderful Life no matter what point in the movie I begin. Could you get a more perfect marriage between actor and director than James Stewart and Frank Capra? Collaborating on a perfect trilogy of films, with each one better than the last. It's a Wonderful Life? It sure is.

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