8.6/10
386,875
943 user 177 critic

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Trailer
1:00 | Trailer
An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Frances Goodrich (screenplay), Albert Hackett (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,292 ( 207)
Top Rated Movies #24 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... George Bailey
Donna Reed ... Mary Hatch
Lionel Barrymore ... Mr. Potter
Thomas Mitchell ... Uncle Billy
Henry Travers ... Clarence
Beulah Bondi ... Mrs. Bailey
Frank Faylen ... Ernie
Ward Bond ... Bert
Gloria Grahame ... Violet
H.B. Warner ... Mr. Gower
Frank Albertson ... Sam Wainwright
Todd Karns ... Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds ... Pa Bailey
Mary Treen ... Cousin Tilly
Virginia Patton ... Ruth Dakin
Learn more

More Like This 

The Lion King (1994)
Animation | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Lion prince Simba and his father are targeted by his bitter uncle, who wants to ascend the throne himself.

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
Modern Times (1936)
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
Spirited Away (2001)
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino
Toy Story (1995)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy's room.

Director: John Lasseter
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles
WALL·E (2008)
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Director: Andrew Stanton
Stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin
Finding Nemo (2003)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Stars: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Up (2009)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

78-year-old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his house equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

Director: Lee Unkrich
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think.

Directors: Pete Docter, David Silverman, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs
The Kid (1921)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan
Inside Out I (2015)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen
Stars: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black
Animation | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Teen Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his universe, and must join with five spider-powered individuals from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
Edit

Storyline

George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never had the opportunity in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that prevents him from doing so is George's modest building and loan company, which was founded by his generous father. But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, with the promise of earning his ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Frank Capra's original 'It's a Wonderful Life'. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, smoking and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Gloria Grahame was cast as Violet Bick after MGM casting director Bill Grady showed some of her screen-tests to Frank Capra. See more »

Goofs

When Uncle Billy is counting the money at the bank for the deposit, we can clearly see the first few bills are 5's, followed by, at the most, 20 more bills. Considering that these would have been monthly cash payments on $6000 mortgages, it is unlikely that anything close to $8,000 could have been in that small stack of bills. It is about 1/3 of the size of the wedding money which is 1/4 of the amount. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mr. Emil Gower: [voice-over] I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.
Giuseppe Martini: [voice-over] Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Ma Bailey: [voice-over] Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: [voice-over] He never thinks about himself, God, that's why he's in trouble.
Ernie Bishop: [voice-over] George is a good guy. Give him a break, God.
Mary: [voice-over] I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.
Janie Bailey: [voice-over] Please, God, something's the matter with Daddy.
Zuzu Bailey: [voice-over] Please bring Daddy back.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A ringing facsimile of the Liberty Bell (without the crack) forms the backdrop for the studio logo, which is Liberty Films, and the opening credits are in a scrapbook with Christmas decorations. The bell reappears before the end credits, and the end credits have a Christmas card picture as a backdrop. See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was colorized three times. The first colorized version of the film was produced by Hal Roach Studios (now Sonar Entertainment), the second by Republic Pictures. A third colorization of the film was produced by Legend Films for Paramount, the film's current copyright holder, in 2007. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in My Family: It's a Window-Filled Life (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Written by Felix Mendelssohn
See more »

User Reviews

 
A Wonderful Film and Timeless Classic
6 December 2000 | by FlickJunkie-2See all my reviews

This film has become a Christmas tradition in my family. We watch it every year and never tire of it. Frank Capra is a master of creating films with a message that reinforce strong values. This is probably his greatest film in that regard. Both he and Stewart have publicly stated that this is their favorite film.

The message in this film is one of courage and sacrifice for the greater good as George Bailey, a man with big ideas about seeing the world, continually forsakes his own desires to do what is right for the town. The second message is that each life important. No matter how insignificant we feel we are, we are all inextricably linked to each other and play an important part in the fabric of one another's lives.

Capra's direction is brilliant. His genius is bringing human stories to life in a ways that not only make a point, but that totally involve the audience in the lives of the characters. He is always extremely optimistic about the human condition. He is known for testing his characters with overwhelming adversity to make them struggle to triumph in a way that causes the world to change and the character to grow. For this reason his films were always crowd pleasers and this film was the best of all in that regard.

Led by Capra's understanding hand, the actors all did a magnificent job. Stewart's wide-eyed enthusiasm and boyish charm, coupled with an unbending strength of character made him the perfect folk hero. Donna Reed was lovely and charming and attained the right balance between being supportive and inspirational. The romantic chemistry between her and Stewart was subtle and charming. Lionel Barrymore was towering as the greedy old skinflint who was trying to take over the town. Thomas Mitchell plays one of my favorite characters, as the bumbling Uncle Billy in probably his most memorable role.

This film is number eleven on AFI's list of best films of the century. It was nominated for five academy awards and won none. It was swept in 1947 by `The Best Years of Our Lives', a great film that won seven Oscars that year but in my opinion was the lesser film. History has corrected that minor injustice by rendering `It's a Wonderful Life' an enduring classic that is viewed and loved by generation after generation. Of course, I rated it a 10/10. I can't wait to see it again this Christmas.


237 of 278 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 943 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Greatest Gift See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,180,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,130,720
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Liberty Films (II) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Your Next Binge Watch Awaits

Looking for something to watch? Check out IMDb's "What to Watch" series to find out what's really worth watching.



Recently Viewed