It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG   |    |  Drama, Family, Fantasy


It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Poster

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.

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8.6/10
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  • James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • James Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


9 December 1998 | dweck
Atop my Top Ten
I am a film lover from 'way back, having even served a stint as a newspaper movie critic. Entries in my personal list of Greatest Films of All Time include "Fantasia," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Casablanca," "Singin' in the Rain," "North by Northwest," and "The Sound of Music. But sitting atop all of them, as undisputed champ, is "It's a Wonderful Life."

I have seen it hundreds of times (dating back to, oh, when I was a teenager I suppose, and our local PBS station ran it as part of a pledge drive). I drive my wife and family to distraction when we watch it together because I quote all the dialogue along with the actors.

I cry every time--and this is after viewing upon viewing--when Harry Bailey toasts his big brother George as "...the richest man in town." The emotions in that scene are so true and pure that I can't help but be affected by them.

The performances are unparalleled. Stewart is brilliant as a small-town dreamer who loses and finds his way. His superlative acting abilities cause us to identify strongly with him (how many of us have lamented--even to ourselves--that no one seems to notice the sacrifices we've made?), which is, I think, why the movie bears up under so many repeat viewings. Reed is just lovely here, the epitome of sunny girlfriend, caring lover, devoted wife, dedicated mother.

Capra's talent as a screenwriter are all over this script. He knows just how hard to tug the heartstrings without becoming overblown or phony. And his technical wizardry is evident too. I've never seen--before or since--more natural-looking onscreen snow.

Watching IAWL has become a tonic, a pick-me-up when I really need one--whether it's the Christmas season or not. Its message--that each one of us is important and has *something* to contribute to the greater good--is one about which the world could use some reminding from time to time.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real. It was located at Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles, California.


Quotes

Mr. Emil Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.
Giuseppe Martini: Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Ma Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that's why he's in trouble.
Ernie Bishop: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God.
Mary: ...


Goofs

When George is asking where the Building and Loan is and Violet is getting arrested there is a big crowd at "The Indian Club" where they are standing. Then George sees Ernie in his taxi and runs up to him and gets in the cab. In the back ground The Indian Club can be seen now across the street with hardly anyone in front.


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.


Alternate Versions

The film was colorized three times. The first colorized version of the film was produced by Hal Roach Studios (now Sonar Entertainment), the second by Republic Pictures. A third colorization of the film was produced by Legend Films for Paramount, the film's current copyright holder, in 2007.


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)

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Family | Fantasy

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