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Plot: 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 wings. He shows George what things would have been like if he had never been born. In a nightmarish vision in which the Potter-controlled town is sunk in sex and sin, those George loves are either dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way and that his life has truly been a wonderful one. Runtime: 130 mins Release Date: 06 Jan 1946
Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like It's A Wonderful Life. Does it take me back to that place in my heart, that makes me long for everything that once was great and it could be again? Does it remind me of my childhood, Christmas in my home? No. Maybe it's just simply what I always wanted from life and every man I want to be. Everything about this film is well for lack of better words, perfect. No question to it any longer, the best performance by an actor I have ever seen. It's more than just beautiful, timeless or fair. All of Stewart is revealed. <more>
Everything coming together for Capra. Lionel Barrymore at his best, which seems to be his worst. Sometimes I think there is a reason why somethings happen. And I'm pretty sure there is some magical reason why this film was made. I'm 27 years old and saw it for the first time Christmas Eve of this year. I've watched it 3 times since. The only movie to ever make me cry. I probably wouldn't have all the answers for you, if you asked me why. I'm still trying to figure Stewart out and just how beautiful was Reed.What can I say? This movie is a life changing experience. Makes me feel good to be alive. What a wonderful little world it is. And if I waited my entire life, it would not be a waste of time.
No movie ever made has influenced me more than this classic. I had the honor of doing a play version of it about 5 years ago. I had seen the film thousands of times, had loved it, but I never really knew what it meant. During the course of the production, I suddenly felt alive. I felt that I wasn't having enough fun. I felt that I wasn't doing enough in my life. Crazy things, like kissing my mother or my father. I hadn't really hugged one of them in a while. It makes you think. It's more of a thinking person's film than a mere Christmas film. If you think it's just a <more>
Christmas film, I insist you watch it again and again, until you get the message.Stewart gives the finest performance of his career, in one of the most difficult characters ever portrayed. A character all of us are familiar with...a person looking to find himself/herself. It's the great struggle for finding what it is in life you really want to do. George Bailey teaches us so lessons throughout the film and in the end he teaches us the most important lesson of all, that life, although a long and winding road, truly is for lack of a better word wonderful...
A Wonderful Film and Timeless Classic (by FlickJunkie-2)
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 <more>
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.
Best feel good movie ever? Quite possibly. (by Aidan McGuinness)
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 <more>
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.
An acquaintance of mine recently commented that she thought there was an interesting correlation between this film and Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.George Bailey was the man that Charles Foster Kane would have liked to have been. Kane's tragedy was that like a hereditary king, he was thrust into the center of momentous events, and expected to live up to the duties. Unlike George Bailey, though, he had no real nemesis whose punches he had to block. Bailey was trying to better the lives of those around him, by foiling the actions of Potter.Also, while Kane became a more complex Mr. <more>
Potter, he never gave up the longing for a more simple life. This, of course, was personified by Rosebud; it was his Persian Flaw, but one which he never revealed to anyone lest they discover a chink in his armor. By contrast, Mr. Potter had no real longing for simplicity. He saw money and power as the only real gains in his life, and didn't care what anyone thought of him. Witness his speech in his attempt to woo Bailey to his side, "...you know I own almost everything in this town and most people hate my guts...". Potter, although powerful, like Kane, didn't have the same goals. He is very much the spider that Bailey says he is.Conversely, Bailey probably could do the job that Charles Foster Kane did. He was capable of handling a stressful job, and once warmed to it, did a good job. Unlike Kane, however, he would use the power of the Press for the common good, since that is his ultimate goal. That's a thought I find most amusing, actually: imagine Jimmy Stewart in the Welles production!
Haven't we all at some point on the way home ... (by AlsExGal)
... arrived at our exit on the freeway and wondered, "What if I just kept driving?". That very modern - and yet timeless - feeling is at the heart of this film, before life was so complex, when the U.S. was dotted with small towns in which it was possible to be born, make a good living, and die, without ever leaving, save for military service.George Bailey is both an extraordinarily lucky and unlucky guy. He's unlucky because none of the plans he made for himself as a young man ever worked out - his loyalties to family and to his hometown always kept him pinned there. He's <more>
extraordinarily lucky because he has a wife and children that adore him. But one Christmas Eve when he is in his late 30's a crisis brought about by his uncle's stupidity is the last straw that causes him to wish that he was never born, and he gets that wish granted to him - to see the world as if he had never been born, and he does not like the view.It turns out over his life, George did a series of good deeds - some large some small - that changed the course of just about every life in his hometown. Basically, without the Bailey Savings and Loan, which without George would have collapsed in the 1920's at the death of his father, the only source of financing is Mr. Potter's bank, which makes Citibank look like a charitable institution. The town has thus been thrown into chaos, a place where alcoholism, prostitution, and broken homes abound. Now I could sympathize with George's horror at seeing the bad fate of just about everybody he knew save Mary, his wife. When George inquires about her fate he is told - "You won't like it. She's an OLD MAID"! Oh the horror! She in fact is the town librarian. To quote someone else on this subject - "in a town thrown into chaos she's an educated woman with a job - what's the problem?". Mary, before she even married George, is full of life and has a sense of style, but just subtract George from her existence and she becomes someone who dresses like a woman twenty years her senior and is deathly frightened of men? Pleeeease! Oh well, if I am going to watch the films of 1946 I'd better be prepared to deal with the values of 1946, but I digress.The fact is George probably WOULD have been better off without these ties that bind. He could have seen the world and done big things and slept like a baby without a worry. But the fact is he realized he cared about these people whose lives would be ruined without him, and that is probably why so many of us don't just keep driving when we hit our exit on the highway. We go home to the people we love and the problems that come with them.
This is a very good movie. Period. A "classic", I don't think so. This is a movie whose actual quality has been exceeded by its hype--though NOT because the producers or actors hyped it like the typical overblown and over-hyped Hollywood film . In fact, when it was released it was not particularly successful especially compared to other Frank Capra flicks .No, instead it reached legendary status for TWO reasons alone. It was a public domain video hence NO ROYALTIES REQUIRED FOR SHOWING IT AND its setting for the movie's conclusion was the holiday season. These two <more>
factors worked together to BLITZ the American public from the 1980s to the late 90s until its copyright status was restored . I remember these dark days, when It's A Wonderful Life was literally shown on half a dozen channels at the same time!! Not even GREAT movies should be shown that much! As a result, many began proclaiming it a classic while some others got awfully tired of seeing it--which is a shame because it's a very good film.
One of The Best Christmas Movie Made (by Christmas-Reviewer)
BEWARE OF BOGUS REVIEWS. SOME REVIEWERS HAVE ONLY ONE REVIEW TO THEIR NAME. NOW WHEN ITS A POSITIVE REVIEW THAT TELLS ME THEY WERE INVOLVED WITH THE MOVIE. IF ITS A NEGATIVE REVIEW THEN THEY MIGHT HAVE A GRUDGE AGAINST THE FILM . NOW I HAVE REVIEWED OVER 200 HOLIDAY FILMS. I HAVE NO AGENDA. I AM HONEST ABOUT THESE FILMS"It's a Wonderful Life" is one of the most beloved pictures of all time. The film core idea however has been stolen several times in less worthwhile television films. In fact the film was remade in 1977 for television with Marlo Thomas. That film however not only <more>
not have Jimmy Stewart it also lacked the Capra touch.However this is the classic movie that everyone loves and for a good reason "It's the best film ever to capture the Christmas Spirit". In this film George Bailey is at the end of his rope is contemplating suicide. The man is played by Mr Stewart. After a life of dreaming of leaving Bedford Falls and never able to do so. He wants to see the world and be an explorer. After a rough day at work he finds himself about to jump of a bridge but at the last moment an angel does a few tricks that prevents George from suicide. When Angel tells George "that he is there to rescue him" George laughs. Finally the angel shows George what his presence has meant to not only his family but to the people of Bedford Falls.This film has does not have one false moment. The casting is perfect. The story moves along at a brisk pace. The child actors are just as good as the adults. If you buy the DVD or Blu-Ray Set the colorized version should be avoided. This film plays better in black and white!
A Walk On The Wild Side With Frank Capra (by rimnod)
A glance at the calendar tells me that we are now safely into February - Christmas and New Years have retreated back to wherever it is that they go to.... and the large balance of the year lies before us until they will intrude again. The smell of holiday ham and homemade pumpkin pie has been extinguished like a used up candle and the strains of Yule melodies have fled the air. Just the perfect time to take a look at "It's A Wonderful Life' from a different perspective and at an angle which is free from the traditional Christmas messages of redemption and human charity that the <more>
movie is usually seen to offer. What I am talking about here is...lechery.....lechery and lasciviousness pure and simple. I am referring to sexual degradation not only in the speculative chimera of Pottersville but also in that great American expository small-town oasis of Bedford Falls. If Frank Capra bothered to read the reviews of "It's A Wonderful Life" at the time the picture was first released at Christmastime in 1946--there is little doubt in my mind that he would have been at least slightly disturbed by the assessments made that his new movie was nothing more than just a slight variation from his past efforts. His penchant for fashioning heartwarming films that championed the individualism and strong character of the "little man" against the vagaries and injustice of the "system" had, after all, given rise to the pejorative term "Capra-corn". By 1946, however, it appears that Capra was working hard, if not to change his modus operandi, then to at least "spice it up a bit". That is part of the reason he gave us a view into the "dark side" of American society by highlighting the filth and sordidness of Pottersville. What few people remark on, however, is that dribs and drabbles of the parallel universe represented by the cesspool of Pottersville can be whiffed every now and then in Bedford Falls itself. You don't believe me? Well let me give you an example.Do you remember the scene in the movie where George Bailey is standing on a street corner shooting the breeze with his pals, Ernie the cab driver and Bert the cop? Yes --another nice sunny day in Bedford Falls. Then Violet Bick strolls by. She is accosted by George who has the impertinence to remark: "Say Vi that is some dress you got on there." Violet puts her hand on hip and protests: "This old thing--I only wear this when I don't care what I look like." She then shimmies across the street.... the camera following her receding wiggle for almost a good half block. Capra provides some cover for this ogling by having a middle aged bank clerk type pass by and then crank his head around to closely inspect her saunter. He, in turn, is almost flattened by an automobile that is crossing the intersection in the other direction the sex as death ethos . But this exercise in venality is not finished. The camera then switches back to George and the boys still staring at Violet....... who at this point must be nearing the edge of the horizon. Ernie pipes up: "How would you like to.....?" George cuts him off by blurting, "Yes!" The trance is broken and Bert stumbles away commenting that he has to go home and see what his wife is doing. Sly and sick Ernie then sarcastically cracks "family man". This is a scene fraught with sexual tension, voyeurism with masochistic tendencies and it is occurring in real time in broad daylight on a street corner in Bedford Falls. O.K.--want another example? One without that sexpot Violet Bick---who some reviewers have painted as the "Mary Magdalene" to George Bailey's suffering "Jesus". Well how about that virgins of virgins--little eighteen year old Mary Hatch? Everyone has witnessed the famous high school dance/pool scene where George and Mary end up soaking wet. The next scene shows them walking home in the dark--George is wearing an over-sized football uniform in lieu of his wet duds and Mary sports nothing more than a robe. This sweet couple gets right down to business by breaking out the windows in a neighborhood house. Then George tries to put a move on Mary at the instigation of a peeping-tom yelling from a nearby porch. Mary jumps out of her robe in the ensuing mêlée and is left shaking and naked in a nearby hydrangea bush. The use of the hydrangea represents, of course, only the most demented form of erotic symbolism. I always send my kids out of the room in anticipation of this scene.I could go on and give more examples --but I think you get the point. Even "old Annie" the house-maid is not immune from this carnival of lust and immorality.Please don't misunderstand me- here. I am not condemning the whole picture. I do indeed accept that "It's A Wonderful Life" is the "American Christmas Carol". It echoes the central idea of the Dicken's tale that we are all responsible for each other and it also adds to that idea the very American conception that "no man is a failure who has friends." Wonderful stuff really. But be aware when admiring the glitter of this holiday gold that it also contains the base alloy of sex and sin. Or put another way--it's o.k. to enjoy the rustic pleasures of walking across a beautiful, green farm pasture ----- just be careful to hold your nose and watch your step along the way.