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It's a Wonderful Life
Year:
1946
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Family
IMDB rating:
8.7
Director:
Frank Capra
James Stewart as George Bailey
Donna Reed as Mary Hatch
Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter
Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy
Henry Travers as Clarence
Beulah Bondi as Mrs. Bailey
Frank Faylen as Ernie
Ward Bond as Bert
Gloria Grahame as Violet
H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower
Frank Albertson as Sam Wainwright
Todd Karns as Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds as Pa Bailey
Mary Treen as Cousin Tilly
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 ...
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Reviews
One of the Greatest Films Ever Made
The drama fantasy It's a Wonderful Life is directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore and it takes place in a modern day small town.

The film starts off with angels talking about how a man, George Bailey (Stewart), needs help to make his life better. The angels decide to send a second class angel, Clarence, to go and help him. But before sending him they give him all the important details of his life. The first one that is shown was when George Bailey was a child and saved his brother's life and stopped the shopkeeper he worked for from selling poison tablets. Then it showed when George Bailey was older and how he dreamed of traveling the world but at any chance he got he had to do some sort of work for the loan shop he was in charge of. He fell in love with a young woman named Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) but struggled to gain her as his wife. This film is excellent and has a morale that everyone needs to hear, a timeless classic.

Frank Capra directed this film brilliantly. It was truly sentimental and he made it so you could feel the emotions of George Bailey. There were quite a few classic moments that he created in this film such as when George asks Mary is she wants for him to lasso the moon for her. Capra truly created an excellent film.

The writing of this film was pure bliss. There are not that many films out there that have a sense of purity such as this one and that is intended for all audiences. There were many ups and downs on this ride and it left you completely satisfied.

The acting by the whole cast was remarkable. James Stewart gave a great performance as George Bailey never being able to get what he really wants and being extremely stressed by all the tasks that he has to do. Donna Reed was great as the love interest, providing much support for Stewart's character to grow off of. Lionel Barrymore was great as the big business man in town trying to buy up everything and keeping Bailey down. Excellent performances for an excellent film.

Overall I give this film a strong 9/10, it is truly a timeless classic from the legendary Frank Capra. I recommend this to absolutely everyone young and old, it is a truly heartwarming story that has already gone down in film history.
2010-08-20
"To My Big Brother George, The Richest Man In Town"
I've always thought that the reason It's A Wonderful Life has had such enduring popularity is that more than in any other film it shows what can be the value of a single individual and the contribution to the greater good they can make.

George Bailey as portrayed by James Stewart is the kind of every man hero we can all identify with. He's got the every day problems to be sure, raising and providing for a family, but he's got bigger problems than that. Fate has made him the rallying point of opposition in his small town of Bedford Falls to the "richest and meanest man in town", embodied in Lionel Barrymore.

It's a real David vs. Goliath battle. Barrymore seems to have unlimited resources at his disposal. Samuel S. Hinds as Peter Bailey put it so well to him in asking what are you doing all this for? Barrymore does have more money than he could ever possibly use. A little charity wouldn't hurt him.

Remember the basic plot outline. A whole lot of people in Bedford Falls one post World War II Christmas Eve see that their friend George is toting a heavy load of mysterious origins. Their prayers reach the heavens where an angel is dispatched to aid.

But before Henry Travers the angel arrives, he's given the story of George Bailey's life. And we see the kind of struggles he's had, the sacrifices he's made for the good of a whole lot of others. We've also seen a greedy and grasping Potter, grabbing everything that George Bailey cannot save.

Something happens that day before Christmas through no fault of his own, Bailey is in big trouble. It's driven him to the brink of despair. That's why the angel is sent down. He shows him the alternate universe that would have been had he never existed. It's something each and every one of us should try to do, step outside ourselves see just what our contributions can be.

But I think what Frank Capra is trying to say in this greatest of his films is that having done that and we realize we haven't contributed to the greater good of humankind, we resolve to do so. It's a simple, but profound lesson.

What if Potter got the same opportunity? In a sense Charles Dickens did just that in A Christmas Carol. Would Lionel Barrymore change? It's an interesting point of speculation.

In addition to those cast members already mentioned a whole group of players who worked with Capra before grace this film. Add to that some others and you have a perfectly cast feature picture.

Donna Reed has an interesting part as well. Your choice of mate is real important in life. Had she not been as loving and supportive to George Bailey, he might very well have taken a different route in life. Mary Hatch Bailey became a signature part for her, more identified than her role in From Here to Eternity which got her an Oscar. It certainly was the basis for her TV series.

When Todd Karns who plays Harry Bailey toasts his brother he's saying that the riches of the world are not necessarily things that can be quantified. Your life is not measured in material things, but in how you use the material things given you.

And that universal lesson will be taught into eternity as long as It's A Wonderful Life is shown every year. Wouldst we all learn it.
2005-12-25
The ultimate in feel-good
Upon first inspection it is easy perhaps to understand why when first released, Frank Capra's Christmas movie, inspired by a simple seasonal card, was not well received. It is a movie that opens with a fantastical scene of a star, later revealed to be an angel, talking to a faceless God, the voice-over obvious, stilted in sweet humour, and immediately suggesting the film is going to be one that is too saccharine a pill to swallow. The thing is, beyond that, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the ultimate exercise in feel-good cinema, its virtue as such much parodied and referenced in TV and other films.

The film presents George Bailey, played by James Stewart who would go on to refer to the film as his own favourite, who stifles his lifelong dreams of travelling and discovery in order to save and run his father's Building And Loan Association. It has long been responsible for the affordable housing in his hometown Bedford Falls and he cannot see it lost to the scoundrel of the piece, Henry F. Potter, who is a major shareholder in the Building And Loan and the only man residents could otherwise turn to. After a run at the bank leaves the Building And Loan on the brink of financial ruin, and George's Uncle Billy misplaces $8000, in an act of desperation he attempts suicide, at which time he is saved by the angel Clarence. Understandably confused, he wishes he had never been born, and so his wish is granted.

If the plot seems familiar even though you have not seen "It's A Wonderful Life", it is probably because you saw the idea loosely re-worked in the Nicolas Cage film "The Family Man". For all its up to date technique, its colour, modern setting, etc, this version could not capture what made the original.

So, what did make the original? What could surprise people is how Capra clearly believed in the notion that you have to suffer the low to get the high. The second act of the movie gets really quite dark, with Bailey seeing what the world would be like without his birth, coming to understand just how important a person is to everybody else's existence, and bringing him to a full appreciation of his worth as a husband, father and friend. The finale is obviously that classic scene that we all know, even if we do not realise it, with his daughter's famous, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings", and despite how much you might think the whole thing sounds cheesy, silly, saccharine and sentimental, the power of the film is to bring a genuine tear of pure enjoyment to your eye regardless; for a while you are full of the joy of life and completely happy, no matter what.

A lot of the film's success comes down to how believable James Stewart makes the plight, and for any flaws you may find with it, its colourful characters, its tremendous performances, humour, heartbreaking moments, perfectly pitched highs and lows, and its' unabashed final sequence make this an inexplicably perfect film.

No wonder it remains at the top spot of many people's favourite Christmas films, and so it should.
2011-02-16
Its great movie to watch
In a movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) goes through out his life trying to help people in his home town living with his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and four children in an old house. Even though he understood that his father's business does not bring much income, people were his main focus. He lived with a dream that one day he will travel across the globe and will come back to build new buildings. Despite of his dream, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) prevents him from leaving his home town and is forced to take over his father's loan company. On the Christmas Eve, George's uncle Bill (Thomas Mitchell) loses $8,000 while he is attempting to deposit them into the bank account. Mr. Potter is the one who discovers the money but hides them from Mr. Bailey. As George realizes that after bank examiner finds out about missing money, he might go to jail and will loose his company, therefore he decides to ask Mr. Potter for help and give up his company. As he thought about his family, he was told that he is worth more dead when he is alive, and decided to commit suicide. Because of his family prayers, an angel Clarence (Henry Travers) was sent to save him and to show him how valuable his life is to the people he cares about by taking him to the time as if he was never born. I loved this movie because of its positive attitude. Some of the main characters are just perfect for their character in the movie. Even though James Stewart won an Oscar for his George Bailey character, my favorite character is the Mr. Potter. His bold head and cricket eyes are perfectly underline his grouchy character. Bailey's wife Mary is a perfect character as well. Her facial expressions are very clearly expressing her feelings. Her face did show an expression that she is deeply in love with George. Also you can see when she figured that George is in money trouble.
2011-07-28
Arguably James Stewart best performance
To be honest before I watched It's a Wonderful Life, I really don't like James Stewart. I watched him in Vertigo, Rear Window, and other Hitchcock's movie, and I don't like him at all, I think he was so typical and 1 dimensional. After I watched him in this movie, I start to like him, especially when he acted in the last part. Well I guest I just hate Hitchcock as a director, not Stewart as an actor.

Back to the movie, at first I don't like it because Stewart looks so older when he was playing as teenager Bailey -.-". After half of the movie I don't really care, I guess I am such a sucker for Christmas family movie, the golden part of this movie is the last part after Bailey met the angel, Stewart showed that he is good actor in this part. In the end this is good family movie if you like Christmas film.
2015-09-21
Ageing Beautifully
I had fond memories of "It's A Wonderful Life" but, somehow, it never made my top ten. The other night I felt the urge to see it again, from beginning to end, after that fun compilation from the AFI, 100 movies, 100 Cheers. The most surprising thing about this perennial classic is that it's not just a good movie but a sort of miracle. Age has made it more relevant, more powerful. Frank Capra is, without question, its miracle worker. His narration style was a first and in a way unsurpassed. As you may very well know, the film wasn't an instant success. A peculiarity it shares with most of the great works of art. The truth is something that needs time to be confirmed even recognized. James Stewart's performance lived from a 2006 stand point is, quite simply, extraordinary. Capra's films were known as "capracorn" in their day. Strange to think about it now because its sentimentality wasn't really sentimental but a need to find goodness in the darkest places. The great Capra not only found it, it unmasked it with the same relish that he unmasked evil and greed. My only regret is that on this times of technical prowess we'll never see again the likes of "It's Wonderful Life" But, trying to look on the bright side in the most Capraesque kind of way. "It's A Wonderful Life" will be around for ever.
2006-06-20
You Can't beat the Classics.
God forbid if they ever attempt to remake this movie in any way. I know they probably already have in different versions and ways of telling the story, but this is a movie that will never die. Like everyone else, I and my family watch this movie every Christmas eve. It's like a tradition in a lot of families who celebrate Christmas. The best thing about it, is that this movie never gets old. You know the story, you know what is going to happen every Christmas you watch this. But this movie has a very deep meaning to it that a lot of movies in the history of film DON'T have. Every Christmas eve I watch this it gets me in the perfect Christmas mood, and makes me forget about all the worries, problems, and struggles I have to put up with in life. This movie teaches me that everyone in the world can make a difference, and that everyone, no matter who you are has a purpose of existing. Even when its not the holiday season, I'll just watch a couple scenes of this movie just to put me in a good mood anyway. They just can't make movies like this anymore that teach you a very meaningful lesson. Even to people who don't celebrate Christmas can still enjoy this film. I can't wait for Christmas this year, for it is my favorite time of the year, and the time to be very happy in life.
2012-11-12
Sheer brilliance!
After strong performances in films such as "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" and "The Philadelphia Story", James Stewart confirmed his status as one of the greats with his performance as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life". This movie is, without a doubt, the best of all time.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that you can watch over and over again. It's movie that makes you think, about life in general and how each person makes a difference, and about how great life can be (hence the title "It's a Wonderful Life). Whilst making you think, it also entertains with many light hearted moments, particularly towards the end of the film.

The direction, sound and casting in "It's a Wonderful Life" are second to none. Yet it is the fact that almost any person can watch this movie and come away feeling inspired that makes it easily the best movie of all time!

A 10/10 without a doubt!
2000-04-18
Thought-provoking, heart-warming, and tear-shedding
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest movies of all time. When you are unhappy, watch it. When you are in trouble, watch it. When you think of suicide, watch it. It will make you happy immediately.

Act 1 shows that George Bailey helps a lot of people, starting from his childhood. In the second act, George gets married. These two acts are the build-ups. It becomes tense in the third act, where Uncle Bailey loses eight thousand bucks and George faces bankruptcy and imprisonment. Act 4 comes the climax, in which an angle shows to George how others' lives would be different without George. When all the people in town give money to help George through the crisis, I am moved and burst into tears.
2017-09-03
One of the greatest movie ever made in cinema history!!
When I heard about this movie for the first time, I thought it was just a forgettable and funny movie. But I was wrong. I saw this movie last Christmas and I did not find it funny, but I loved it, though! Everything is so great in this movie. The story is amazing. The characters are great, and the character's development is fantastic! the cinematography is grea, and the acting is fantastic. James Stewart was mind blowing. The whole movie is amazing,touching and encouraging. You cannot describe how good this movie is. Nor can you describe how good the message is.

This is the best feel-good movie ever. It's a life changing movie, actually. It makes you feel good to be alive. Do me a favor and watch this movie as soon as possible! When you're sad, think about the message this movie delivers, because you will get a smile on your face! I'm 14 years old. My English is not very good, but I hope this review was useful!
2010-03-14
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