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It's a Wonderful Life
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Reviews & Ratings for
It's a Wonderful Life More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Good Holiday Film!"

Author: gwnightscream from United States
24 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers star in this 1946 drama. This takes place in the small town of Bedford Falls and focuses on mild-mannered man, George Bailey (Stewart) who longs to go to college and eventually travel the world. His plans change when his father passes away and he takes over his business. George also reunites with childhood sweetheart, Mary Hatch (Reed) and soon they get married. George has always put his plans on hold in order to help the needs of others. Soon, he gets down on his luck when he tries saving his father's failing company from shrewd, wealthy businessman, Henry Potter (Barrymore). George meets guardian angel, Clarence (Travers) who is sent to help him in his time of need and shows him what his life would be like without him. George learns his life is wonderful with him in it and that his good deeds will help him in return. Stewart & Reed are great in this and have good chemistry. I recommend this good holiday film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Unabashed Sentimental Capra

Author: SnoopyStyle
21 December 2013

George Bailey (James Stewart) is at the edge of financial ruin. He thinks his life has amounted to nothing and is about to jump off a bridge. An angel named Clarence is assigned to give George a second chance by showing him what if he was never born.

This is an unabashed sentimental tear jerker. The movie starts with George's life as it is. His dream is to travel the world, and create great monuments. He is constantly dragged back to the unimpressive little Bedford Falls and the family Savings and Loans. He is a good guy who constantly does the right thing.

This is classic Frank Capra. The nice guy struggles but always win in the end. This sentimental melodrama is especially fitting for the Christmas period, and derives its iconic status from the constant showing during those times. The failure in its original run is a long forgotten memory.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Don't read reviews about this film. Just watch it.

Author: humbleradio from Tokyo, Japan
24 December 2012

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is simply a masterpiece. A perfect film.

There's no need to take it apart scene by scene or examine its plot, its themes or do a character study of George Bailey. No need to attach more meaning than was intended, to imagine symbols where they don't exist, or to ignore the ones that do. No need at all. For if you are one of the many, the growing many who cannot watch this film without tasting tears, tears of joy, tears of sadness, then you know exactly what I am talking about - that further discussion would only serve to diminish the film's beauty.

There are few films that are in this category, that hit notes as true as this. "Casablanca" is one, "It's a Wonderful Life" is another, where everything comes together, where magic is not only seen in one scene, but in every scene, every line, every look and moment in the film. Pure magic. That's what this is, folks. Pure magic. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

And the less talk about it the better. We talk too much nowadays, anyway.

Just watch it and let it move you to joy, to tears, and tears of joy.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It Truly Is A Wonderful Life

Author: bayardhiler from United States
20 December 2012

In 1946, America, and the rest of the world for that matter, had just witnessed and won the most destructive war in mankind's history. They were trying to rebuild their lives from this and the Great Depression as well and as such, Hollywood got into the act by producing a number of movies that instilled hope in their audiences. Perhaps the greatest of these movies is Frank Capra's timeless film "Its A Wonderful Life" staring the late, great James Stewart as everyday man George Bailey in small town America, Bedford Falls. George has spent his entire life in Bedford Falls, longing to see the outside world but never able to get past the confines of the small savings and loans that he is in charge of. Then, one Christmas Eve, George's Uncle, Billy (played by the memorable character actor Thomas Mitchell) makes a terrible mistake that could ruin them both forever and George begins to think that everything would be better without him. It just so happens that heaven hears his and others' prays and sends an angel named Clarence (played by the understated but talented Henry Travers) to show him how wrong he is. In a Scrooge like role, we also have the great Lionel Barrymore in an excellent performance of Henry Potter, "the richest and meanest man in town" and in her most famous role, Donna Reed as George's loving and devoted wife. This is a movie that will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, and leave you with a sense that no matter how bad things get, there is always hope. "Its A Wonderful Life" is by far the greatest Christmas movie that has ever been produced and for that matter, will ever have been produced due to the time that it was made in and its message of how we all affect our fellow man, often times without even realizing it. So, I urge you to watch this movie and take in its message of hope and also, remember, no man is a failure as long as he has friends. 10 out of 10.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

wasn't the first and won't be the last of the classic's I 'get around to', but so far, it's one of the best

Author: witster18 from United States
7 December 2012

I didn't feel comfortable in my skin a few years back. My friends and family considered me 'the movie buff'. In a way, I was. I'd seen about 4,000 movies, and covered literally everything worth watching since 1980, but I hadn't broken into the vault of classic films. I'd seen a few.

Wuthering Heights(9.5/10) and The Wizard of Oz(10/10) were two of my favorite films, both from 1939. I'd also seen 1939's Gone With the Wind(9/10), Dark Victory(9/10), and a few other classics:The Killing, King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, and some Hitchcock.

Citizen Kane, It's A Wonderful Life, and Casablanca sat embarrassingly on my watchlist. So did a litany of great classic films.

My journey to fill this void has been an exciting one.

It's a Wonderful Life is a great film for those who haven't given classic film a chance. It doesn't overstay it's welcome. The production values are strong, and the story is a template for many of today's films. Seriously, I can name 500 films from the last 2 decades that use this story/life-lesson, but I can't name one that does it quite as effectively as it's done here.

It's a film that is practically impossible to dislike.

James Stewart is fantastic, and many of the characters in the film teach us life lessons, not just the lead. Words like integrity, generosity, and sacrifice take on a whole new meaning.

The film doesn't really have the holiday vibe I was expecting until the last 40 minutes. The holiday season is nothing more than a platform to remind us of all that is important in life. That aspect of the film surprised me.

Good guys don't finish last. Why? Because when they're down, there's always someone there to pick them up.

I can see all the reasons why there are those like me that shy(d) away from Classic film. You have to take some of the customs of the day and the production stuff with a grain of salt and get past it. Or better yet, understand it. If you do - you'll find what's underneath to be fantastic. A week before the release of "The Hobbit", I think it's important to remember that as much care or more went into productions like this back in the day.

Now, I get all the references to this film that I missed over the last 40 years. I see the shots of the town and the snow that will forever be etched into my mind. It's amazing how all those "production and technology" issues from the time yield more memorable moments and shots than just about anything you'll see at the theater today.

This is a fantastic movie. 95/100

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Dudley
29 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Capra understood filmmaking. This is a movie that could be about anyone of us and a movie that might relate to the life of anyone of us.

Sadly the weak dismiss the movie as sentimentalist. I say the "weak" because they are threatened by how real and how close to life the movie actually is.

Our lives are full of sentiment and the same sentiments the movie stirs in the audience are as strong and relevant in 2012 as 1946.

Interestingly it gets pegged as a holiday or Christmas movie. I don't see it that way but maybe for many that is the time when they explore their own sentimental side.

Watch this movie in the dark and late at night. It will never disappoint the film-goer who drops there guard and believes they are a Bailey.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An incredibly excellent classic!

Author: Antonio Ramos from United States
15 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had only heard of this movie before and knew little of it. My curiosity was piqued when learning it was in the top 250 movies of all time. I watched it not knowing what to expect and what I received was beyond anything I could have imagined. We meet George Bailey and learn of his ambitions to travel the world and do great things in life. George helps many people in his young life and soon he struggles to keep his Bailey Bros loan building. George soon dislikes his life and wishes he was never born. He learns to appreciate the value of his life and the impact he has had on the lives of others after his wish comes true and we learn the importance of life and the joy we bring into others lives, joy we never knew we were responsible for. A wonderful life is an amazing film which will surely bring tears to one's eyes. Truly, this movie will be remembered for many years to come, and it is now on my top five Greatest Movies of All Time.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's A Wonderful Film!!!

Author: Desertman84 from United States
27 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a Wonderful Life is a Christmas drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, that was based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", written by Philip Van Doren Stern.The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.

As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody, who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary, who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life.

What is remarkable about It's a Wonderful Life is how well it holds up over the years; it's one of those ageless movies, like Casablanca or The Third Man, that improves with age.It is due to the fact that it combines the characters, the story, the message, and the acting in one cohesive and flawless film.That is why it's easy to see why it isn't just a holiday favorite, but a great movie by almost any standards through out the decades.It is truly the epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience.In summary,this holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It's a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.

It's truly a wonderful film!!!!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's a Wonderful Film!

Author: lizberrywagner from United States
30 December 2011

"Each man's life touches so many other lives." ~ Clarence Oddbody, AS2

I believe "It's a Wonderful Life" is a favorite of many. It is certainly a favorite of mine. James Stewart's portrayal of George Bailey is, well, wonderful, and one of his very best performances. Lionel Barrymore is perfection as Mr. Potter, the richest and meanest man in town. Donna Reed is darling as George Bailey's beloved wife, Mary. And Henry Travers is charming and adorable as Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (Angel Second Class).

In the spirit of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", this is the story of a man who gets a rare glimpse of what the world would be like if he never existed. Through the magic of Frank Capra, we take a glorious ride with Clarence, a guardian angel who has yet to earn his wings. In answer to many prayers from the folks of Bedford Falls, Clarence is assigned to help George Bailey, the town's hero, in his darkest hour.

George Bailey is a man who has positively impacted many people's lives by putting the needs of others ahead of his own; but still, he has regrets. After giving up his own career aspirations, he steps into his late father's role of running the small Building and Loan business in order to continue his father's good work to help the folks of Bedford Falls and keep it out of Potter's greedy hands. He settles down and marries his childhood sweetheart and raises a family in the same small town despite his dream to travel the world and become an architect.

Mr. Potter, the heartless villain in the story, tries everything in his power to take down George Bailey and the rinky-dink Building and Loan Company. George manages to keep the company afloat, even using his own money at times, and continues to be loyal to the people of Bedford Falls - who depend on him for a chance to own their own homes. But one fateful day, $8,000 accidentally goes missing from the Building and Loan and George fears the scandal will take them down after all. Distraught and defeated, George contemplates suicide, believing he is worth more dead than alive. Enter Clarence, the gentle and child-like guardian angel, who shows George the way.

The sentiment in this movie is overwhelming and if it does not tug at your heart, you are not human. In classic Capra style, this film offers lessons in patience and perseverance, selflessness and self-respect, loyalty and compassion and faith and forgiveness. This movie is a magical journey of pure love.

Even though I have seen this film many times over, I still watch it every Christmas. It is one of my essentials.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

More than Merely a Christmas Film – A Film for Any Time

Author: TheHighVoltageMessiah from United States
25 December 2011

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" has become a staple of the Christmas season. It will invariably be played around the holidays, whether broadcast on T.V or picked out by a family from their DVD collection. But watching it again this year, I realized just how little it has to do with Christmas. To be sure, the famous final sequence takes place around then, but the full film is a broader celebration of life, humanity, and the human spirit. Confining it to simply a glorification of the Christmas spirit seems too narrow.

Through the story of the life of George Bailey and the lives of those around him, "It's a Wonderful Life" celebrates basic human kindness and compassion. It praises selflessness and putting others above oneself, as George does time and time again – forsaking his dreams for the betterment of those more unfortunate than he in Bedford Falls. It condemns greed, heartlessness, and fierce manipulation of fellow persons on Earth through Henry F. Potter, the shriveled and devious old businessman played to malicious perfection by Lionel Barrymore. It extols the worth of the life of any living being, no matter how poor or pitiful they appear and whatever their flaws may be. Consider the way George extends a caring hand to his dearly daffy Uncle Billy or to Violet Bick when she has fallen on hard times. Think of what he saves them both from when he could have easily cast them aside on account of their vices and imperfections, turning them away.

Are these values appropriate for Christmas? Yes, of course. But they are just as appropriate for any time. Calling this "a Christmas film" somewhat underestimates the power of its themes, themes that are ageless and universal (or so I would hope). This is a film that deserves to be kept in the heart all the year round.

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