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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.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Frances Goodrich (screenplay), Albert Hackett (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
628 ( 599)
Top Rated Movies #24 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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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
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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:

They're making memories tonight! 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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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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:

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The pictures in the Granville house are all from George's brochures (but larger) that he threw away. See more »

Goofs

Dr. Campbell comes out of the Bailey Building & Loan board meeting at 0:34:32 (2007 DVD) to tell George the board voted down Potter's motion to dissolve the Bailey Building & Loan institution subject to one condition -- at this point, 0:34:42, the camera is focused on Dr. Campbell with Uncle Billy looking at George and the scene cuts to a shot focused on George but with Uncle Billy looking at Dr. Campbell who states the condition: that George accept his appointment by the board to become executive secretary. 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

Beware of the many edited 16mm/"Public Domain" prints still floating around somewhere on home video. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Other Voices: Creating 'The Terminator' (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Best Things in Life are Free
Music by Ray Henderson (as Henderson)
Lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva (as DeSylva) and Lew Brown (as Brown)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Best feel good movie ever? Quite possibly.
11 February 2002 | by Aidan McGuinnessSee 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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