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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful film. One of best i've seen

Author: Lisa Walsh from United States
8 November 2012

This is one of my favorite movies of all time and a Christmas tradition in my household. This film is about sacrifice for the greater good. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) having big ideas of the world around him and continually puts his desires behind the good of the town. Another thing this movie shows perfectly that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are all linked to each other and play a important part in each others lives. After George looses his way and a angel shows what the world would be like without him he soon realizes how important he was to the people and town around him. This will always be considered a classic in cinema and a great movie to watch every year during Christmas. So we can all remember the good and bad of the present year and when new years comes around we try to make the next year better for others and ourselves. This is a must see for any family or fan of cinema.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Author: SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain from United Kingdom
13 September 2012

As undeniable classic in every imaginable way. It's A Wonderful Life is the feel good Christmas movie above all others, despite the fact it paints a fairly depressing picture. It tells us not to take life for granted, and that we shouldn't be so selfish as to assume our life is for our own benefit. It clearly highlights how Jimmy Stewart's life has influenced all those around him. As his life takes a nosedive and his dreams go unfulfilled he begins to lose all hope. Other than the necessary schmaltzy ending, the film is well grounded in reality and avoids insincere sentiments. Capra's wonderful handling of the material make this a surprisingly gripping film, one that may climax at Christmas, but can be watched anytime of year.

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3 out of 5 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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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Depressing movie

Author: poche112
29 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life... Yea RIGHT! SPOILERS It's Christmas season and I just sat thru my 10000th viewing (or so it seems) of 'It's a Wonderful Life.' I movie that everyone but me seems to find a happy and uplifiting story that centers around the holiday season. I see it as something different, and I cannot find one small glimmer of hope in the life of the poor pathetic main character of George Bailey.

Poor George was born with but one ambition for his life, to get the hell out of Bedford Falls and to see the world. This movie is but one long look at his miserable failure. In the movie we are taken thru the life of George Bailey, introduced to his family and his freinds as we are shown what looks at first glance to be an unfortunate chain of events that keep poor George trapped in the prison of a town called Beford Falls.

He meets the love of his life, Mary, and despite his explaining his intentions of getting the dust of that small town off of his shoes; she traps him into marriage. This is due in no small part to his rivalry with childhood friend Sam Wainwright. None the less, he and Mary save and plan for their eventual departure from Bedford Falls, and once again George is crushed. His dream nearly within his grasp, a failure of the family buisness (The Building and Loan,) caused by the incompetence of his familt to run the buisness and the economy (manipulated by his arch nemmissis Mr. Potter,) force him to give away all that he has hoped and dreamed for to "save the family buisness."

Later, as world war two is raging, George's possibilties of getting out of Bedford Falls are again dashed by the evil Mr. Potter, who through is political influence has managed to ensconse himself as the head of the draft board, thereby using a slight hearing deficiency to keep George from joining the armed forces. That way the evil robber barron Potter can keep our George under his control, at home, in dismal old Beford Falls.

After that crushing blow to his dream, George becomes complaicent and allows Mary to saddle him with FOUR children. Ultimately dashing all hope of ever leaving Beford Falls. When an IDIOT relative misplaces a large sum of money that belongs to the Building and Loan, the money is stolen by the evil Mr. Potter and a crisis ensues. Poor George is driven into drpression and contemplates suicied.

Up to this point we can only feel sorry for poor George, we are shown his troubled life from his perspective; but, here is where this movie takes a turn. Just as George is about to end it all, an angel in the form of a dumpy old man named Clarence shows up and saves George from his untimely demise. What happens next is most enlightening.

Our George tells Clarence that he wishes that he had never been born. His wish is grated and we get to see what life in Bedford Falls (now Potterville) would be like if George Bailey had never been born. We are shown in great detail how each and every person in the town was better off because of George Bailey. Everyone that is EXCEPT George.

George's dear wife Mary ends up as a spinster. It would seem that her only prospect for landing a husbandl was George. Even though she had been persued in the first half of the movie by George's close friend Sam Wainwright. We can now plainly see that Sam's interest in Mary was only a rivailry with his friend George. With George out of the picture, Sam had no interest in Mary at all. No wonder then that she did everything in her power to trap poor George into marriage, and keep him by producing multible offspring.

At a blinding pace, the movie shows us how each and every person in the town of Bedford Falls has USED George Bailey. Taken his kindness and generosity for all it is worth and given nothing back. And, in the process, assuring that George's one dream of getting the hell out of Bedford Falls will never become a reality. Each and every person in that hell of a town had used George in their own way: the cab driver, the police man, the bartender, the list goes on and on. All had TAKEN from George and given nothing back.

In the end though, Clarence scares George so badly that he pleads for his old life back, and predictably his wish is again granted. The movie then tries to make us feel better by showing that this town of ungrateful takers has begun to realize that they NEED George Bayley. In a stirring closing scene, we see these "users" come to George and Mary's house to give money to help save George from prison. The movie closes with George having been saved from prosececution, only to be stuck in the same HELL that has been his whole life.

What is not shown at the end of the film is that the evil Mr. Potter, who stole the money that caused all the trouble in the first place, gets off scott free. Once again the evil robber barron Potter comes out on top, while poor old George is left to live out his misserable life serving the leitches of Beford Falls.

The moral lesson to all who watch the film is that no matter what your dreams, no matter how good a life you live; the evil in this world (be it low life leitches that take, take take; or corporate robber barrons like Potter) will ultimately triumph over you and crush your dreams.

Merry Christmas everybody!!!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Classic? Of its time and out of place, now.

Author: Brian Milnes from United Kingdom
30 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is on a huge number of people's best films of all time. Sadly, I think that says more about the people than the film. This was a feel-good film made in the aftermath of World War II and is supposed to reference the great depression. We shouldn't expect subtlety from such a morality tale, and truth is the characters are more like those from a Christmas Pantomime than from some carefully crafted, nuanced film plot. So Jimmy Stewart plays the Aladdin/Dick Whittington character, "George" who wants to go off and see the world but instead always does the "right thing" standing by the potentially downtrodden people of Bedford Falls. These, who would otherwise be at the mercy of archetypal villain, "capitalist/banker" Potter. ("Boo"! "Hiss"!) It takes nearly half of the film's two hours plus for George to be pushed into the arms of the pantomime's leading Girl, the saccharine sweet "Mary", by his mother!? The telephone scene in which he finally kisses her is utterly implausible, even risible. No wonder its original audiences and its writers didn't care for it. Then we have the major story arc of "Clarence" the Guardian Angel (= Fairy Godmother), who is trying to earn his wings by saving George from committing suicide (which would have disqualified paying out on his insurance policy). This is why the film is described as re-working of Dicken's Christmas Carol, and they are indeed, fairy-tale morality tales. Scrooge is redeemed, and George is saved from pointlessly topping himself and abandoning his wife and children. Of course there a whole load of holes in the plot line. Just one example; a call to his highly successful younger brother, whose life he saved, would surely have secured a loan to bridge the gap? And the film is misogynistic, sexist and racist: The "world without George" version of the bar in which he originally gets sozzled is just there for "men to get drunk, quick", associate with loose women and has a black guy playing the piano! OK, so Pantomimes are popular at Christmas...

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

an enduring classic that has only gotten better with age

Author: TheUnknown837-1 from United States
19 December 2009

James Maitland Stewart was one of the most inspirational and admirable actors who ever lived. Although his range of talents allowed him to effectively play whatever kind of role he wanted, he is remembered most for the roles where he stole the audiences hearts. He was nominated several times for an Academy Award, but won it only once and at that time felt that his friend Henry Fonda deserved it more. In my opinion, James Stewart should have won the Oscar at the very least three times. He deserved the one who received for "The Philadelphia Story" (1940). And he should have won it for his performances in "Vertigo" (1958) and his most beloved classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." This improving-with-age classic is generally marketed as a Christmas classic, but that's very one-dimensional. Yes, the perfect season to view it is during the said holiday season, but it's about much more than that. It's about life itself and the ups and downs of life and no matter how heavy the latter may be at times, it's well, it's a wonderful life.

In the film, James Stewart plays an ambitious young businessman who would rather do nothing but travel the world and build cities (perhaps a reference to Stewart's early ambitions to be an architect?) but his generous heart and the constant shortcomings of his friends continually puts him behind in his own life. When his troubles become so heavy and so depressing to the point where he ponders over suicide, he is visited by a strange man (Henry Travers) who turns out to be an angel wanting to show him how the world would have been if he'd never been born.

I guarantee you that most if not all storytellers of the past sixty-some years wanting to generate a character that would win over the hearts of the audience have used this masterpiece for reference. Jimmy Stewart was just warming up at winning over your heart with another collaboration with Frank Capra, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," here he just steals your sympathy with every scene he's in.

As for Stewart's supporting cast, well, let's just say he had a great collaboration to work with. The enchanting actress Donna Reid is fantastic as his love interest, Lionel Barrymore is superb as the conniving greedy businessman Mr. Potter, the great Thomas Mitchell gives another fantastic performance as Stewart's bumbling uncle, Ward Bond is terrific in his supporting role as the kindly town sheriff, and of course, I cannot leave out Henry Travers who is absolutely lovable as the guardian angel who comes to teach Stewart about the gift of life.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is one of those rare films. Like "Casablanca", it does not wear down even as decades go by. It's only gotten better with age. James Stewart said it was his personal favorite out of all of the movies that he made in his illustrious career in Hollywood. Is it my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie? No. But I will tell you this. It is so sweet and moving and enchanting and wonderful that I held back a lot of what I wanted to say in this review because I don't want to give any more away than what is necessary. There's only a handful of movies that I will do that for. Because there is so much to be seen here and every minute is absorbing and beautiful.

And one more thing. You know that feeling you get—that really, really good feeling in your soul—whenever you see a really, really good movie? If you want to revisit that sensation, see "It's a Wonderful Life" as soon as you can. And the beauty of it is, you don't even necessarily have to wait for the Christmas season to do that.

Rating: 4/4

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Take the kids

Author: rareynolds from Columbia, Maryland
24 December 2005

Just returned from seeing this at the AFI Silver -- had not seen it on the big screen before, so piled the kids into the van and drove down to Silver Spring to see it. What a movie! I'd seen it before, of course, but didn't expect to cry so much. The scene at the end, when the whole town shows up to pitch in to save the Building and Loan, was almost too much for me to bear. I just sat in the theater and bawled. It was a bit embarrassing.

Impossible to think of anyone else but Jimmy Stewart as George. If Stewart had never been born, quite likely this movie would never have been made! One can't help but wonder how the world would be different...

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:


Author: dataconflossmoor from United States
16 August 2007

This will be my 100th comment on this website, and, it stands to reason that I should pick an all time classic movie such as "It's A Wonderful Life"!! This film is Frank Capra's best film ever... A statement of this nature tells you how remarkable this movie truly is!! Jimmy Stewart was voted by one magazine as the second best performer ever in the history of Hollywood!! Only second behind Katherine Hepburn, making him rated the best actor in the history of movie making!! While some people may question this assessment of Jimmy Stewart, due to Jimmy Stewart's innocuous Huckelberry Finn disposition, I can empathize with this verdict of Stewart's acting on account of his precisely executed latent tendencies which ultimately resonated into an articulated anger!! Jimmy Stewart's acting is very itemized, and thus, it establishes emotions which are genuine, these emotions relegate Stewart to a vulnerability which was pertinent to the fact that his feelings which could no longer be bottled up inside of him, would make him obtusely erupt!! Donna Reed is in this movie, and her performance is very believable as well!! Lionel Barrymore is extremely adept at playing the role of the ogre (Mr Potter) who is metaphorically writhing in his acquisition of the Baily Building and Loan!! This movie is the classic Christmas movie of all time!!, "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Fantasia" as well as any other Christmas movie, do not capture the spiritual camaraderie related to the yuletide association with caring and benevolence that "It's A Wonderful Life" exemplifies so flawlessly!!What the film "It's A Wonderful Life" accomplishes is the ideology behind the true meaning of what Christmas signifies... This phrase in of itself sounds very rhetorical, however, with a movie like "It's A Wonderful Life" such an accolade is the genuine article!! "It's A Wonderful Life" resembles the movie "Best Years of Our Lives" in the manner by which a happy ending is attained the hard way!! Often times, we look at our lives and become demoralized at the uneventful banalities which perpetually plague us!! We are depressed at how money dictates virtually everything, and, as was the case with George Bailey, we become trounced by failure and despondence!! Adversities are what make us cohesive, considering that this film was made right after World War II concluded, we as Americans were thoroughly aware of such a fate!! The fatal predicament which besieges George Bailey in this movie arouses occasion for all of the good citizens of Bedford Falls to bond together and realize the importance of caring for each other!! Such a homespun philosophy was anything but an artificial panacea, and with it, Americans immersed themselves into a nationally guarded perspective of good will and compassion!! This film is outstanding!! The talent and the ideological premise to this film, has out-shined virtually every other movie made!! A socially responsible movie is entitled to the luxury of a heartfelt happy ending, especially if it has been earned!!! Films which make people feel fortunate are not breaking any rules which compromise the quality of a film!! All of these carefully devised components to this film make "It's A Wonderful Life" an absolutely magnificent movie!!

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

See it for what it is

Author: SlipGun from United States
24 July 2004

It's a Wonderful Life is to cinema what The Fox and the Crow is to literature.

Don't get me wrong: This is a gem of a film, definitely worth watching at least once, but it really is more of a parable or short story than anything else. Its biggest drawback (aside from its length, which could use a trimming of about 30 minutes) is its cheap sentiment, done in typical Capra style. Beyond that, though, is a very simple yet potent film that serves as a reminder that the stories that work on a simple, allegorical level are often the ones that work best. I believe that due to it being a Christmas movie, people are willing to overlook its multitude of flaws, from the hokey acting to the weak script. It's interesting to see the rather bluntly portrayed themes here still work well today, though thankfully with more subtlety and complexity, such as the childlike wonder in Amelie, alternate realities in everything from the Groundhog Day to the Matrix and of course the very obvious character arc no good story should be without (although Capra is hardly the inventor of this basic centuries-old device, as one reviewer stated).

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16 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Pursuit of happiness? Only if you stay put!

Author: manuel-pestalozzi from Zurich, Switzerland
29 March 2006

So, if Jimmy Stuart had really lived I wouldn't sip a Martini now - but I would know and maybe even befriend a valuable citizen called MISTER Martini who lives because Lionel Barrymore died at the right moment? Or is it the other way round? I liked to speculate along those lines, when I was a child.

Watching It's a Wonderful Life made me quite mad. The message is pretty cruel. It goes like: you are needed here and don't you dare planning to go on a world trip or anything like that. It's for other folks only. This strongly smells of Calvin's doctrine of predestination which, some say, is one of the foundations of the spirit of the USA. The main character is practically denied a free will, due to the circumstances a non too benevolent god arranged for him. I must admit, Stewart's hysterical shrieks on the bridge, as it dawns on him how valuable he is for the community, sounded to me like the first signs of full fledged madness.

Ironically, the Potterville Stewart's character prevents through his sacrifice seems to be a much more thrilling place than the Bedford Falls he preserves, at least to a modern day audience. I am not against modesty, a good community spirit and loyalty, but inertia and values that are declared absolute and unchangeable will not help to solve the world's problems. I don't know how Frank Capra weathered the HUAC hearings, but the rigid categorizations of the citizenship this movie makes in order to propagate American values could well have pointed at him as a „Commie sympathizer".

James Stewart's George Bailey is the exact opposite of Gary Cooper's Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, made three years after this movie. The both represent American extremes in movies that I find overbearing and simplistic.

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