4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
The colourized version is amazing. But quite aside from that, I think this film (colour or B&W) is actually quite underrated. Sure it's hugely popular, but it's still widely thought of as a mere Christmas movie. Few film buffs would think to put it on a par with, say, Sunset Boulevard, which came out just a few years later. I'm not so sure. IWL may get looked down on because it has a kind of Norman Rockwell feel to it, and Clarence the angel is kind of silly. But what makes this movie great is the tremendous inner tension that Jimmy Stewart brings to the hero, George Bailey. Oh, George does the good boy thing and stays in Bedford Falls year after year for the good of others but the sense of sacrifice and inner conflict are always there--at least until the very end. That's what makes this movie endure while more traditional "Christmas" films like "White Christmas" and "Miracle on 34th Street" fade away into film history.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2004
This uplifting film directed by Frank Capra was released in 1947; still being watched years later, It's a Wonderful Life is a true classic. Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed it was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. The message this story portrays is timeless; not only that no one is poor who has friends, but also that you reap what you sow. When George Bailey (Stewart) was a young man he was driven by his dreams and desires to explore the world and build great things. Unfortunately, George's dreams were repeatedly put on hold by his sense of obligation to his deceased father, the struggling family business, and his friends in Bedford Falls. After years of living in the small town that he always longed to escape and doing a job he never really wanted, impending bankruptcy causes George to hit an all time low. Contemplating suicide, it takes a guardian angel to make him see all the good things that he accomplished in his life and how many lives around him that he touched beginning when he was just a boy. James Stewart gives an emotional performance; whether he is praising his father's morals and decency as a human being, praying to God for guidance, or celebrating his new outlook on life the viewer can relate to his passion, desperation, or joy. Throughout his life George Bailey sowed and nurtured many friendships and in the end he reaped the rewards of each and every one. I give it five stars.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2003
Back in the 70's I went to see "It's a Wonderful Life" at a theatre that specialized in old movies. I hadn't heard much about this one but I thought I'd take a chance since it boasted both Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. What a major surprize that screening turned out to be. It was as though someone had dug up a previously forgotten movie on par with "The Wizard of Oz". I don't know how this movie drifted into obscurity for so many years but it has really busted out of it now, hasn't it!
What this movie offers is a solid family experience with a lesson for all. At first it seems like just another "good" movie as we see the life of a young man (Gearge Baily) being recounted by some angels up in heaven. All seems well but it also appears that the weight of the world keeps getting added to George Baily's back one pound at a time. In time this happy life reaches a breaking point and then we start to see the real beauty of the story. George Baily's guardian angel, Clarence, grants him his wish to see what life would be like if he (George Baily) had never been born. Now all those minor and major incidents in George's life that we saw in the first two thirds of the movie suddenly take on a very special meaning. We see how those things affected the lives of so many people and (this IS a Capra movie afterall) always for the better. In case you haven't seen this movie, I'll leave the plot hanging there. The ending is truly heart-warming.
This movie has a lot going for it besides the plot. The directing is terrific as is usually the case in a Frank Capra movie. The acting is terrific with Stewart taking the lead as George Baily. Henry Travers may have been a lesser known character actor in his other roles but he achieved immortality (forgive the pun) as Clarence ASC. Donna Reed is well-cast as the girl-next-door who grew up to be Mrs. George Baily. Lionel Barrymore is terrifically sinister in the role of Old Man Potter. There are plenty of others who make this movie great. Indeed, the nature of the plot has a seemingly record number of role-players who are essential to the story.
If you haven't yet seen this movie, then you have been missing a real treat. When you do get around to seeing it, I recommend that you see it from the start. It's really impressive the way everything eventually fits together so neatly. This movie is like a warm hug on a sad day. It will really pick you up!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
The colour version is great, it's like watching the movie for the first time. Highly recommended!! This is such a classic and everyone should know this movie. It has such a special message that is still valuable today.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2002
The American Film Institute calls this movie the 11th greatest movie ever made. This movie will completely change your perspective on life. I strongly suggest watching this movie, for it will have a meaningful impact at the way you understand things.
on December 14, 2003
"It's a Wonderful Life" is often thought of as a Christmas movie -perhaps because it has become a tradition to show the movie on television every year in December. Only a very small part of the story takes place during the Christmas season, though, and that's at the film's conclusion. "It's a Wonderful Life" is most likely considered a Christmas film because it embodies the "Christmas spirit". No other movie has championed the spirit of giving and sacrificing one's own desires for the good of others so successfully as this film.
"It's a Wonderful Life" stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a bright ambitious man who is also considerate and generous to a fault. He is so considerate and generous that he has always sacrificed his own happiness and goals so that others might pursue theirs. When bad luck strikes a final blow, it seems like all of his generosity has brought George nothing but dissatisfaction and a bad end. An angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) is sent to Earth to convince George that he has had a wonderful life, after all, and one that is very much worth living.
"It's a Wonderful Life"'s message is more idealistic than realistic. And I'm not sure that advocating constantly putting the happiness of others ahead of your own is at all wise. But this is a wonderfully entertaining and well-constructed film nonetheless. Jimmy Stewart is due much of the credit for the film's success. This is one of his finest performances. Perpetual self-sacrifice could easily grow tedious, and George Bailey would be a saccharine character in the hands of a lesser actor. But with the help of a terrific script, Stewart makes George sympathetic and interesting. The supporting cast does a fine job. The cinematography and art direction are excellent. "It's a Wonderful Life" is simply a pleasure to watch, which is why it has become a Christmas classic. Recommended for viewing on cold winter nights. Somehow that works best. It will make a Jimmy Stewart fan out of you.
on December 14, 2003
This movie has it all...and it is a wonderful movie for those who thinks they wish they were never born or they think they are worthless in life. Everyone has a reason for being here on this earth, and this movie is a perfect example to show why.
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) grew up in this American town, and did many things in his life that are very valuable to others (he saved his brother's life, he saved his father's banking company from a miser, he married his childhood sweetheart (played by Donna Reed), he saved his own boss from jail by refusing to give the poisioned pills to a customer, and more)...but George didn't realize that after he found out money was misplaced (really stolen by miser, Mr. Potter), and he was to go to jail. He tries to commit suicide but angel Clarence saves him, and showed him what life is like without George. George realized that the people he loves and likes don't recognize him (and his brother was dead because he wasn't there to save him), and wishes his life back, which it did happen after the cop asked him what's wrong. At the end, which really touched me, was the whole town comes in with money to help save George's banking company. The police decided not to arrest him, and it's a wonderful life for him again. Oh, and Clarence the angel finally got his wings!
I think it is a terrific movie and a good example for anyone to think about the next time you think you aren't worth anything to anyone in your life. I highly recommend this one...go see it!
on January 4, 2003
With the possible exception of either 'The Wizard Of Oz' or 'The Sound Of Music' there isn't a movie in history that has had more genuine and lasting appeal than 'It's A Wonderful Life'. Also recognized as director Frank Capra's masterpiece, better than fifty years past it's original release the film still garners new fans with every generation in spite of it's sometimes sticky sentimentality and outdated elements. I have yet to meet anyone who can resist watching it during the Christmas holiday season at least once; I myself dust it off every Christmas Eve without fail and even watch it occasionally in between.
'It's A Wonderful Life' nearly defies anyone to criticize it accomplishing another rare feat in cinema history. Though director Capra stacks the deck emotionally forcing the tears to well up in our eyes, he keeps the film well balanced with equal moments of humor, memorable true to life characters and even a dreadful nightmarish sequence that culminates with Jimmy Stewart realizing that life is indeed wonderful ("I want to live!"). Donna Reed and Stewart are the closest thing to perfection as a couple you are likely ever to see in a film; Capra's stock company of gifted and talented actors round out the rest of the cast. Each of them has an opportunity to shine in both the comedic and the touching moments, though clearly the focus is on Stewart. Perhaps the most memorable character in the film though is Henry Travers who portrays Clarence Goodbody ("Angel - Third Class.") Stewart's guardian angel; his warmth and charm offer a great contrast during the sequence of Bedford Falls without the benefit of George Bailey's lifeblood flowing through it. Contrariwise, Lionel Barrymore as the despicable Mr. Potter is also unforgettable - he is the only character that remains unmoved and unchanged by George's predicament and resolution as is demonstrated in the terrific finale.
It's hard to imagine this film being produced today and still manage to have all the qualities present here - just watch (and wince) at the 70's TV movie remake with Marlo Thomas if you doubt me. All the schmaltz, sentiment and the genuine affection that the characters show for each other would be simply glossed over; in the conclusion Clarence leaves his copy of "The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer" for George signing it "Love", a scene that I doubt would make it into a movie being made today. There are many good family and "feel-good" movies being made today but they don't begin to compare with this venerable holiday classic. Here's hoping that Hollywood won't get itchy to do another remake!
Worth noting: in the scene where we are first introduced to Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver the newspaper one of them is reading has a headline that blares SMITH WINS NOMINATION!; I assume this is a sly reference to the earlier Capra and Stewart movie 'Mr. Smith Goes To Washington'.
on December 27, 2002
This isn't really a Christmas movie, the story just takes place around Christmas. George Bailey has always wanted to be an explorer, but instead he lives in the same little town his whole life, marries his childhood sweetheart, and takes over his dad's savings and loan association, Now he is in danger of going bankrupt, through a mishap that is used to the advantage of the local evil codger and main competition to Bailey. Despondent, he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all.
Enter Clarence, a student guardian angel who is trying to earn his wings. Saving George Bailey will get him those wings, if only he can show George how the world would have been had he never been born. He reveals the impact George has had on others -- even saving lives --- to prove he is not a failure and very much needed and loved.
Keep an eye out for the grown-up Alfalfa (from the Little Rascals) as the jealous guy at the high-school dance who opens up the gym's swimming pool so the dancers fall in. It's priceless!
on November 30, 2002
Why not? It is ranked #11 on the American Film Institue's 100 Best Movies of All Time list. This is Frank Capra's prime and best direction. It should have won all the Academy Awards it
was nominated for. George Bailey (James Stewart) is just a ordinary small town man who when he was a child he had dreams of being famous and building things and travel around the world. Through life's events he never sets foot outside of Bedford Falls. On Christmas Eve, c. 1945, he becomes depressed that he fears he has misplaced $8000 to pay off a defecit. The meanest man in town, Henry F. Potter who tried to ruin George all his life, won't help him at all. George came crawling to the wrong person. George makes an attempt at suicide, but is saved thanks to his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody A-S-2 (angel second class). He shows George who wishes he had never been born at all, what life and the town would be without him. Things are different in multiple ways. It drives George crazy, until he can't take it any longer and asks for his life back. It almost brings a tear to your eye when George is sobbing on the bridge and says "Please, God, let me live again." Bert the cop finds him and George he realizes Bert knows him, his mouth is bleeding and finds everything the way it was before, and realizes how happy he was and how many lives he touched and just about everything wouldn't be the same without him. He really did have a wonderful life! His wife and childhood friend, Mary (Donna Reed) arranges all of George's friends, quite a whole lot, to help George out. Indeed, it is true that no man is a failure who has friends. When you see this astounding, inspiring and highly admired film, you'll realize that everyone in this world has a purpose in life and matters to everyone whether they realize it or not. MERRY CHRISTMAS!