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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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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.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #25 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... George Bailey
... Mary Hatch
... Mr. Potter
... Uncle Billy
... Clarence
... Mrs. Bailey
... Ernie
... Bert
... Violet
... Mr. Gower
... Sam Wainwright
... Harry Bailey
... Pa Bailey
... Cousin Tilly
... Ruth Dakin
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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:

Wonderful news...about wonderful people!...in a wonderful picture! It's a wonderful love! It's a wonderful laugh! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,180,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,270,000, 31 December 1947
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(colorized)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Uncle Billy ties a string around his finger to remind him to do things, but most of the time still manages to forget. See more »

Goofs

When drying off after his jump in the river, Clarence mentions his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He also mentions that George should check out what Mark Twain is currently writing. If he means 1945, the current year, Mark Twain wouldn't be writing anything, because he died in 1910. We don't know how he has the book. He couldn't have died with it like the night gown, because he says he's been waiting 200 years for his wings which would mean he died at least 131 years before it was published in 1876. Since Clarence is said to have "the IQ of a rabbit," and made a mistake regarding Harry's age in the sledding scene, and has apparently suffered multiple failures to earn his wings, he is likely confusing the date of his present assignment with a previous failed attempt to to assist peoples' lives on Earth in the past. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Smallville: Lexmas (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Stars and Stripes Forever
(1897) (uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
Performed by George, Tilly, and Eustace
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Best feel good movie ever? Quite possibly.
11 February 2002 | by See all my reviews

Here's a new definition of cold-hearted: a man or woman who remains completely untouched by the 1946 Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life". You can't not be moved by this wonderful little gem.

The acting is all great. One of the film's greatest strengths for me is making George Bailey - the star of the movie played by James Stewart - a nice normal man. He's not perfect and that's pretty much essential to the film's success because Bailey could be *any* man. The lesson of the movie is fairly simple - we all have our role to play in the world and we are all important. Most movies would make this into a schmaltzy affair but Capra delivered a touching, heart warming tale. Bailey consistently denies himself to allow others to live as he sacrifices his life to make sure people can have enough money to avoid having to sell-their-soul in debt to the evil H. Potter (alas not a Harry Potter...). His complete and utter humility is great - he doesn't see how much he accomplished until his guardian angel Clarence shows him. Again Clarence isn't played in the usual clichéd manner but more as a believable character who honestly loves Bailey for his strengths.

The movie is a success because you can't but want Bailey to succeed. The manner in which he does could be classified as corny but, because it's so deserved, that doesn't matter. The music, the set pieces, all the touches add to a wonderful movie and give you hope that life can indeed also be wonderful. A lovely mood-lifter. 8.8/10.


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