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This is a seriously enjoyable watch for the New Year. I've been meaning to watch it for quite a few years but couldn't get my hands on the movie, living in Asia. Just watched it online last New Year Eve and it was amazing. I love how they portrayed the life's little coincidences. How little gestures can change a person's life. It's sweet and great and I don't know what else. My favorite scene is when George woos the girl. Seriously sweet how they did it in the 19s. The character of George is funny and true. I also love how they portrayed the family. Love how they dawned on the importance of loving relationships and seriously it brought me back to the innocent self I have been as a child. This is really going to make it to my next New Year's watch list.
It's Christmas Eve in the town of Bedford Falls and George Bailey, a
man who has spent his entire life sacrificing for others, is thinking
of taking his life. Knowing George is in trouble, though perhaps not
the extent, his family and friends pray that God help him. And that's
exactly what He does -- in the form of an angel named Clarence.
Throughout the bulk of the film, Clarence is brought up to date on
George's life (as are the viewers). From childhood to adulthood, he
sees that George has been a heroic noble soul, giving until it hurts
and then giving some more. In order to save George, Clarence must show
him what an impact he has had on the world and those he loves.
James Stewart's performance is flawless. One of the core strengths of the film is how it covers so much emotional ground. From happy to sad to angry to loving, Stewart masters it all. He's an actor who appeared in virtually every kind of film and that helps here as he has to handle drama, romance, comedy, fantasy...even a little action thrown in for good measure. His performance in this film is my earliest recollection as a child of being in awe of an actor.
Lionel Barrymore gives a career-defining performance here. For generations to come, he would be remembered as the villainous Mr. Potter. He had a storied career, full of so many different parts and very few of them were bad guys. One of his best roles was the gruff but lovable and wise Dr. Gillespie in the Dr. Kildare series for MGM. So it's kind of ironic that Barrymore is best known for portraying a thoroughly rotten man. But that's the talent of the man. He breathed life into Potter and made him so hissable.
Such a great cast. The wonderful Henry Travers has his career-defining role, as well. Who doesn't love Clarence Odbody, AS2 (Angel Second Class)? The heavenly Donna Reed. She positively glows in this film. As a kid watching I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I think it again every time I watch this movie. Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as the ORIGINAL Bert & Ernie. Gloria Graham as the sultry Violet Bick. Samuel S. HInds and Beulah Bondi as the Bailey parents. The amazing Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy. Who can forget H.B. Warner's moving performance as Mr. Gower? William Edmunds as Martini and Sheldon Leonard as Nick the bartender. Todd Karns as Harry Bailey. And all those wonderful child actors playing the Bailey kids as well as those in the flashbacks. Just a perfect cast.
Frank Capra, one of my absolute favorite filmmakers, does such a brilliant job at directing here. Amazing pace. The film never slows down but never feels rushed. He worked from a script that had many authors. Normally, this would be a terrible sign for a film and would almost certainly mean it was a disjointed mess. But that couldn't be further from the truth in this case. The script is tight, flawless even. Wonderful lines, memorable scenes. So many memorable scenes. It's hard to even pinpoint which to talk about because the entire movie is one classic scene after another. But I'll try. There are brilliant scenes like "George Lassos the Moon," the bank run, the childhood confrontation with a grieving Mr. Gower, or the wonderful ending. But here are two of my favorites. The phone call scene where George and Mary share a phone. Such a sensual, romantic scene as they give into their feelings. The prayer in the bar is such a moving scene. Stewart's performance is so powerful here it's criminal he didn't win an Oscar for this role. So many more unforgettable scenes I could mention.
I think of it as the greatest film ever made. I know there are some who will knock that. I realize there are all kinds of technical and cultural reasons that this film or that is the greatest. Citizen Kane, for example. While I love Kane or the Godfather films or countless other contenders, most of them are purely dramatic works that don't have for me what this film has: compelling rewatchability. It's my favorite film. It's as simple as that. I have seen it countless times. It's a beautiful story with Dickensian touches. A charming, funny, dramatic, sentimental, romantic, uplifting movie that makes me happy.
What makes a 'Christmas' movie? The fact that it's set during Christmas
or that the movie itself is about Christmas? I personally believe that
the movie's message is as important as how much fake snow is laying
about the set and amazingly, this iconic picture remained unwatched
until yesterday. But what better film is there to get one feeling all
festive? This is a heady cocktail of festive spirit, comedic satire and
morality tale in the finest tradition of Charles Dickins and frankly,
even a stone-hearted cynic like myself had to wipe my eyes away as the
cast gathered to sing Auld Lang Syne at the end. There are plenty of
reasons why this remains the definitive Christmas movie.
James Stewart plays George Bailey, unassuming everyman who can never quite live the adventurous life he wants. Cursed to living in the sleepy town of Bedford Falls, he ekes out a living at his late father's building & loan company at the expense of a more lavish lifestyle for his wife Mary (Donna Reid) and their four children while giving the townspeople some respite from the financial might of local scrooge Mr Potter (Lionel Barrymore). But when his business partner Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses their last $8000 on Christmas Eve, despondent George is tipped over the edge and he finds himself at a bridge, staring into the icy waters below with dark thoughts in his head. But when an angel with no wings called Clarence (Henry Travers) is dispatched to intervene, he shows George how life in Bedford Falls would have been if George had never been born.
Feeling like a cross between "A Christmas Carol" and "The Shawshank Redemption", "It's A Wonderful Life" is probably the most powerful fable I've seen all year. Most of the film is spent building up the goody-two-shoes nature of George and watching his inevitable decline is harrowing and heart-breaking. But the film has plenty of laughs in there as well such as the moment Mary finds herself in an awkward spot behind a bush to the Charleston that ends up in a swimming pool. The other reason you completely buy into the story is Stewart - you can see and feel the pain as his world crumbles around him and his unmitigated joy once he realises the error of his ways provides the film with one of the most uplifting endings I can ever recall seeing. Stewart is the picture, even though he doesn't convince during the scenes when George is at his high school graduation (considering how much taller he was than everyone else, you'd think he'd been held back by seven years!). And if you were being picky, you might argue that some of the characters aren't as well defined as others (such as George's co-workers) and the colourised version is apparently pretty poor as Stewart himself reckoned that it made him feel sick.
But it's Christmas and now is not the time for petty criticism - this remains the benchmark that every Christmas film since has aspired to and falls so far short that it's embarrassing. Stuff like "Santa Claus: The Movie" or "Elf" have all the jingle bells you'd ever need but none of the magic. "It's A Wonderful Life" is not just the greatest Christmas film ever made but also a fabulous movie in its own right, a fantastically inspiring film that sends you on an emotional roller-coaster before bringing a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. It might not be terribly original or even plausible but watching it warms you up like a hot toddy after trudging through the snow and surely, that's the point. Merry Christmas everybody and God bless us, one and all!
The strangest thing about life is how much one person can really be a
importantly link to a whole. Whether it's by free will alone, divine
design/power, or even both it will never been known, what is known are
the results that one person does which can be extraordinary and part of
what creates the whole. This is a Christmas/fantasy film I really like
that I can come back to every once in a while. It really is a film that
actually is pretty dark but also does in a way make you feel good, but
most importantly causes you at times to evaluate your own life.
There really isn't much I can really say that hasn't already been said. What really matters is the story itself which like all great stories despite how much time has passed it is timeless. The film in a way is kinda a Christian film since there are some Christian themes as well as influence that intervenes.
George Bailey is kinda a Christian hero, and like most of them you actually feel a sense of heavy pathos for the guy. The guy had to unfortunately put all his dreams on hold, all to do the right thing for others. I like that he's a bit reluctant, he doesn't really want to be selfless, nor does he even enjoy doing the right thing which I'll admit is something I can emphasize with from time to time. However all the same he does it whether he wants to or not because there is no one else that will, or is even strong enough to. Like with most of Capra's films, they have one thing in common showing that being a good person isn't always the easiest thing to be.
Even though George doesn't look like he has all the breaks, personally I think he does, his life actually is pretty good, he's got lots of friends, he's not boring, is active does things with himself, sure not the biggest adventure or exactly an event a minute. To me I always believed sometimes the smallest adventures are biggest, because of what you do during your lifetime. Unlike the antagonist Mr. Potter whom really just like his riches he holds doesn't do jack squat with himself, I can understand where the guys misery originates from but it's no excuse nor give him the right to ruin anyone elses life.
Other than the drama, I really like the fantasy aspect which was the first or one of the first times they ever constructed an alternate scenario. This is a common place format now done in many TV shows even comic books, but this film was one of the first and I feel still the best. The alternate scenario I felt was believable because it sort of plays out the notion that we all think of everyday, what if we were out of the picture, or we made that decision instead, or did that. Indeed it would of been a very different world, and of course we see this world without Geroge which is practically a cesspool as we see the blowhole Mr. Potter has fraked up bad. It really is disturbingly believable as George and we see how miserable most residents are, grungy and dirty Bedford falls is, the people that have been deceased because he wasn't around.
The film has two really good messages, the first on the importance of exercising selflessness, it not just benefits the people around you but yourself as a person. But also about valuing your life that it really does matter whether you live or die, because of how much it is connected and affect the whole.
One person does matter because one can do a whole lot in a single lifetime.
Rating: 4 stars
I first saw this movie 5 years ago. Didn't know much, I remember an article mentioned it as the best Christmas movie ever made. I knew the director so i sat down and watch it. It was a big shock for me, the movie was the best thing i ever watched. It caught me at a time that I didn't appreciate much happy endings. I didn't want to see just a gathering of people celebrating all together in a house about how wonderful their lives are. No I'm not a misanthrope, I just thing movies with sad endings usually are more realistic and interesting and movies with happy endings are easily forgotten. That's the socking thing about "It's a wonderful life" it made me appreciate optimistic movies again after a really long time. James Steward gives an amazing performance, full of passion, comedy and drama, it's impossible not to sympathize his character. I watch this movie every Christmas. And yes this is a memorable happy ending.
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
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.
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!
*** 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.
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.
'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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