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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
I never changed my mind about a picture so completely
I have seen this film several times now, and the first time it really had me suckered. George Bailey really did have a wonderful life, after all. His wonderful friends and family got together to do a wonderful thing for him in his time of trouble. And Clarence got his wings... pass the Kleenex, quick!

Then I started to think: George Bailey never got to travel the world and fulfil his potential to be a great architect. All his dreams faded and died as he struggled to run a business and raise a family. And what thanks did he get? His father dropped dead and landed him with the family business. His brother sold him out by getting married to the boss's daughter and landing himself in Easy Street. His uncle makes him liable for a larceny rap by losing thousands of dollars. OK, friends make up the shortfall and even the bank examiner joins in the goodwill, but - back in the cold, real world, maybe in January - George would still have to explain where the money had gone. If he couldn't do that he would still be seen as an embezzler of company funds. And meanwhile that nasty, villainous Mr Potter has got a nice little Christmas present - no sign of him making nice and handing it back.

And then there's Pottersville - wow! Bars, music and women. A dance with Gloria Grahame - preferably a horizontal Mambo - would be worth any red-blooded man's hard earned cash, surely? (Ms Grahame played at my local UK theatre in 1980. She was still as sexy as hell and, apparently, a lovely person to work with.) Of course, you could always listen to the snow fall and watch 'The Bells of St Mary's' instead.

So, from snuffling into my sleeve at first viewing, I am now horrified at the crabbed, stifled, thwarted, frustrated, cramped 'life' it tells us we should consider 'Wonderful'.
2015-01-13
"Aah!" or should that be "Argh!"
Watching this film in the wake of the banking crisis, it is apt to have a different effect on the viewer than that intended. The actions of George Bailey and his father amount to a long justification for "sub-prime" mortgages,"sub prime" being a euphemism for "lending to people who have no chance of paying you back" which has lead to the present day bank bailouts which means that responsible people now must pay for the actions of the irresponsible. Why does doing this make George and his dad the good guys?

Why, for that matter, are we told that George's father only made enough money to send one of his kids to college? Is that meant to be good? Surely, in the real world, that would make him a poor father? He has clearly never heard the truism "charity begins at home" although he did have enough money to hire a black servant..perhaps he should have saved the money he spent on her to put his kids through college? Just a thought.

Obviously Hollywood will never get to grips with the real life implications of the Bailey's irresponsible lending policies, ie people being lumbered with unpayable mortgages and losing their homes. No, this is the land of magic pixie dust where good intentions always lead to good outcomes. The reality is transformed into a one dimensional baddie, an evil capitalist who could come straight out of the Stalinist propaganda of the period (in fact this film could have easily be shown in the USSR without a single cut whereas it was -rightly- a box office flop in the US). Oh, if only there weren't these greedy evil people, if only banks could lend money to good people without worrying whether they could pay it back, then how much nicer the world would be!

Around this childish morality, a sanctimonious and saccharine story is built. Even by Hollywood's golden age standards it is extremely sentimental. I must say in passing, I've attempted to watch this film many times, but this this is the first time I've managed to make it all the way through and only through gritted teeth.
2013-12-25
A classic Stewart classic
I`ve just read all the other comments about this amazing and everlasting classic, and there's nothing more to add. I really, really love watching classics, especially Stewart-Classics, 'cause he's in my eyes next to Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Rich Widmark, Sean Connery and many others like Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra or Burt Lancaster one of the greatest actors of all time.

This movie, although produced simply, is THE Christmas story, which can be watched every year, by everyone. Stewarts great and breathtaking character-performance is so brilliant, none of our modern actors would be able to act in this classic style.

10/10 with no doubts!

Greetings from Austria to all American movie-fans!!!!
2000-12-28
Capra's most cynical movie, and why he's right.
Criticizing It's A Wonderful Life is almost an act of treason in this country, but if ever a movie deserved a closer look, it's this one.

Far from being a celebration of the importance of the individual, or of small-town life, "It's a Wonderful Life" depicts most citizens of Bedford Falls as timorous weaklings. Moviegoers identify with the hero, George, of course, but he's the exception in this movie, not the rule. If any general lesson is to be learned from the story, it's that a willful leader is the only thing preventing ordinary small-town folk from losing not only prosperity, but morality.

The evidence is plain: Without George Bailey to hold the town together, it becomes Pottersville, which is a Hays Code version of Gomorrah. The townsfolk haven't got the courage or sense to manage their own affairs without a leader. In Bedford Falls, that's either corrupt Potter or long-suffering George. The only other characters with any backbone are Harry Bailey and Sam Wainwright, and they both left town. What remains are virtual ciphers like Mr. Gower, Uncle Billy, Ernie, and Bert.

America doesn't exactly burst at the seams with self-reliant citizens, according to Frank Capra. So why does this movie merit a healthy 7 rating? Two reasons:

1. Because it has undeniable power. Capra was a good director-- but a great propagandist. He made patriotic short films for the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1948-- and "It's a Wonderful Life" was made in 1946, smack in the middle of that period. The film is a masterpiece of manipulation. People love it, watch it over and over again every year, never noticing that its real message is deeply cynical, presenting little hope for mankind, and almost no faith in it. Indeed, it is almost fascistic in the way it champions the idea of a single leader (or worse, divine intervention) taking charge over ineffectual ordinary middle class people.

2. Because Capra proves himself right with his own movie. As an influential leader/filmmaker, he is skilled enough to make generations of sheep-like Americans cry and cheer at his movies, no matter how much he insults us.
2009-07-28
One of The Best Christmas Movie Made
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 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!
2016-12-17
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
A wonderful film. One of best i've seen
This is one of my favorite movies of all time and a Christmas tradition in my household. This film is about sacrifice for the greater good. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) having big ideas of the world around him and continually puts his desires behind the good of the town. Another thing this movie shows perfectly that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are all linked to each other and play a important part in each others lives. After George looses his way and a angel shows what the world would be like without him he soon realizes how important he was to the people and town around him. This will always be considered a classic in cinema and a great movie to watch every year during Christmas. So we can all remember the good and bad of the present year and when new years comes around we try to make the next year better for others and ourselves. This is a must see for any family or fan of cinema.
2012-11-08
Absolute Masterpiece
'It's a Wonderful Life' is one of the best movies of all time. It is directed by Frank Capra and starring movie legends such as Donna Reed and James Stewart.

It's a Wonderful Life shows the life of George Bailey, a kind, caring man. You see him right from childhood and even then he is giving to people. As he grows older, he has dreams of traveling. However, after a series of unfortunate events, he can't go on the trips as he has always wanted and he has to look after the family business - the bank. George gets tied down with a family and feels trapped in a world in which he doesn't want to belong and he finds himself trying to commit suicide.

This is a beautiful, touching yet dark film. You see so many emotions, attitudes and values in this such as envy, love, corruption, joy, hope, faith and despair, all beautifully portrayed by the actors. It runs along at a fast pace and has a beginning, middle and an end. It also has a moral, which is lacking in so many movies today.

It's A Wonderful Life is absolutely universal and timeless (you can enjoy it whether you are 8 or 80). I watched this when I was 12 and it became one of my favorite movies, which I know watch every Christmas. It sums up everything that Christmas is about.
2005-12-20
Perspective!!!!
This will be my 100th comment on this website, and, it stands to reason that I should pick an all time classic movie such as "It's A Wonderful Life"!! This film is Frank Capra's best film ever... A statement of this nature tells you how remarkable this movie truly is!! Jimmy Stewart was voted by one magazine as the second best performer ever in the history of Hollywood!! Only second behind Katherine Hepburn, making him rated the best actor in the history of movie making!! While some people may question this assessment of Jimmy Stewart, due to Jimmy Stewart's innocuous Huckelberry Finn disposition, I can empathize with this verdict of Stewart's acting on account of his precisely executed latent tendencies which ultimately resonated into an articulated anger!! Jimmy Stewart's acting is very itemized, and thus, it establishes emotions which are genuine, these emotions relegate Stewart to a vulnerability which was pertinent to the fact that his feelings which could no longer be bottled up inside of him, would make him obtusely erupt!! Donna Reed is in this movie, and her performance is very believable as well!! Lionel Barrymore is extremely adept at playing the role of the ogre (Mr Potter) who is metaphorically writhing in his acquisition of the Baily Building and Loan!! This movie is the classic Christmas movie of all time!!, "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Fantasia" as well as any other Christmas movie, do not capture the spiritual camaraderie related to the yuletide association with caring and benevolence that "It's A Wonderful Life" exemplifies so flawlessly!!What the film "It's A Wonderful Life" accomplishes is the ideology behind the true meaning of what Christmas signifies... This phrase in of itself sounds very rhetorical, however, with a movie like "It's A Wonderful Life" such an accolade is the genuine article!! "It's A Wonderful Life" resembles the movie "Best Years of Our Lives" in the manner by which a happy ending is attained the hard way!! Often times, we look at our lives and become demoralized at the uneventful banalities which perpetually plague us!! We are depressed at how money dictates virtually everything, and, as was the case with George Bailey, we become trounced by failure and despondence!! Adversities are what make us cohesive, considering that this film was made right after World War II concluded, we as Americans were thoroughly aware of such a fate!! The fatal predicament which besieges George Bailey in this movie arouses occasion for all of the good citizens of Bedford Falls to bond together and realize the importance of caring for each other!! Such a homespun philosophy was anything but an artificial panacea, and with it, Americans immersed themselves into a nationally guarded perspective of good will and compassion!! This film is outstanding!! The talent and the ideological premise to this film, has out-shined virtually every other movie made!! A socially responsible movie is entitled to the luxury of a heartfelt happy ending, especially if it has been earned!!! Films which make people feel fortunate are not breaking any rules which compromise the quality of a film!! All of these carefully devised components to this film make "It's A Wonderful Life" an absolutely magnificent movie!!
2007-08-16
Dangerous movie to see with you wife
The beginning was so so, but later we saw so many things we could talk about, to compare with nowadays.

Also, be careful - I just got into argument with my wife about wife's role in family. Almost went in fight.

You have been warned. Maybe you find something else to discuss/fight about.
2017-08-21
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