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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
A flawless movie that never grows old.
"It's A Wonderful Life" is a 1946 movie directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time: the three-time Oscar-winning director, Frank Capra.
The film is set in a fictional North American village, and tells the story of an ordinary guy, George Bailey (James Stewart in the role of his life) from his childhood to his adult age.
The first hour of the film is like a summary where we witness some events of George's life: his first love (the astonishing Donna Reed playing the role of the woman everybody would like to marry), the death of his father, his wedding... But the real aim of this introduction is making us feel utterly identified with Stewart's character: a good man who has been constantly sacrificing his dreams to help his family (renouncing to go to University to stay in charge of the family business), his friends (lending them money through his company whenever they need it) and many other members of his community.
Capra then focuses on an unfortunate incident of George's current life that leaves him totally broken and makes him believe his whole existence so far has no sense, what finally will lead him to attempt suicide.
Then, an angel from heaven appears to help George by letting him see how different (and worse) the life of all the people he knows would have been if he hadn't been born. In other words: in the middle of an incredibly intense family drama, Capra did something that nobody had done before (and nobody would dare to do again) in movie history: he changed completely the gender of the story... after almost 2 hours of movie!!! Therefore, a drama film suddenly became a fantasy film... but, surprisingly, it worked perfectly well because those last 30 minutes still remain as one of the most touching endings in movie history.
Curiously, the movie was not only a flop, but it was also defeated in the Oscars by "The Best Years of Our Lives", incidentally, my favorite movie of all time. But what is harder to believe is that Stewart wasn't awarded for one of the most outstanding performances ever given by an actor.
Fortunately, as years went by, this masterpiece eventually reached the critical recognition it always deserved and nowadays it's constantly included in the lists of greatest motion pictures ever made... including mine. It became even more legendary when TV channels all over the world started to show it on TV every Christmas since the 1970s decade.
But "It's A Wonderful Life" is much more than a Christmas movie: it's a gripping and moving work of art, a masterpiece that never grows old, but mostly, a film you never get tired of watching over and over again. I think that's the best compliment for any movie.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
My favorite movie of all time.
"The Best Years of Our Lives" is a movie from 1946 directed by William Wyler, one of the greatest directors of the classic Hollywood. The film, which takes place in a little town of the USA, is a drama about the problems that several veterans of the Second World War have to overcome when they come back home.
The three main characters (Al, Fred and Homer) meet by chance in the plane that is going to take them back home after the war. They live in the same town but they'd never met before. During the journey they share their experiences and they become friends immediately. The rest of the movie we are going to witness how difficult is going to be for all of them to come back to their lives due to the physical and psychological scars that the war has caused to them.
Never before have I seen in my entire life such a touching and moving film like this! Everything in it fits perfectly. It's incredibly entertaining and at the same time is absolutely thought-provoking because the characters seen on the screen and the situations they cope with are universal and timeless, thus anyone can feel identified with them. Nevertheless, many would argue that the length of the movie (almost three hours) may be a drawback but I don't agree. In fact, the producers (as usual) organized a test screening before the official premiere, to check what the audience didn't like about the film, but the people considered the plot so haunting and gripping that the producers eventually decided not to modify a single scene of the movie, which is not very frequent.
Widely praised by critics and awarded with 8 well-deserved Oscars (including best motion picture), this masterpiece soon became a huge box office success that still remains (adjusting the ticket price to inflation) as one of the most top-grossing movies of all time. I never get tired of watching it and every time I do it I can't help thinking: "it's a real shame they don't make movies like this anymore!".
"The Best Years of Our Lives" is definitely my favorite movie of all time, by far (alongside "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial").