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Obviously, it is also a wonderful film

  • Jul 13, 2003
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It was produced and directed by Frank Capra who collaborated with Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Jo Swerling on the screenplay. Nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Picture) it won none. Over the years, however, it developed a loyal following, largely comprised of those who appreciate Capra's films. Only in recent years has it received the recognition and praise it deserves. How to describe this film? It focuses on a thoroughly decent man named George Bailey (James Stewart) who, after being financially ruined by his evil rival Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), becomes despondent and attempts to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. George is rescued by his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), and permitted to learn what would have happened if he (George) had never been born. Only then does George fully appreciate how precious life is. Of course, the film has a happy ending.

Many people think this is a corny film but I do not. As in other films (notably in Meet John Doe), Capra celebrates certain basic values which guided and informed George throughout much of his life. When facing financial disaster which involves not only him and his family but countless others who entrusted to him their limited funds...and their own dreams for a wonderful life, George temporarily loses his faith in those values and his will to live without them. He regains his appreciation of life only after a near-death experience and a realization of how important his life had been to others. I am reminded of the situation in Thornton Wilder's Our Town when Emily Webb fully appreciates only in death what she had not previously while alive in a town very much like Bedford Falls..

It is noteworthy that Leo McCarey, a contemporary of Capra's, affirms many of the same values in films he directed such as Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's. When It's a Wonderful Life appeared in 1946, the World War II had only recently ended. Moreover, only 17 had years had passed since the stock market crash. Several contemporary accounts of American society during the mid-1940s note an excitement about opportunities which had been denied by the Great Depression and then delayed by the recent war. An entrepreneur, George Bailey's dream is to enable as many people as possible in Bedford Falls to own their own home. The film traces his efforts to make that dream a reality while he also marries Mary Hatch and they start a family. Yes, George is idealistic and somewhat naive but has business acumen. Regrettably, he is vulnerable to....

I am among those who cherish this movie and the values which it affirms. I am especially grateful for the documentaries, "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" and the special tribute to Frank Capra, "A Personal Remembrance" from "Frank Capra Jr.," which accompany it in its DVD format. Until recent years, seeing it again was among the highlights of my holiday season. What happened? By way of concluding this brief commentary, I presume to suggest that those who allowed this film to be overexposed on television every December should be strapped into their seats in a screening room, eyes held open with duct tape, and required to watch the following films (repeated over and over again) for 168 consecutive hours: Battlefield Earth, Barb Wire, Howard the Duck, It's Pat, Little Nicky, and Wild Wild West. I further suggest they be joined by those who have butchered directors' cuts such as Sergio Leone's of Once Upon a Time in America.

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More It's a Wonderful Life (1947 mo... reviews
review by . December 27, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
I looked up the writers of the classic Frank Capra flick It's a Wonderful Life. Capra's name was among them, and when I did some further-depth research about his own life, I was a little surprised to learn that he suffered occasional bouts of depression during an earlier downswing in his younger years. It seemed odd to me because It's a Wonderful Life doesn't come off as anything that could ever have been written by anyone who's suffered from depression. It comes off like more the fantasy of a screenwriter …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Its truley a classic. It is not just a great Christmas movie, but an overall great film. Who doesnt love James Stewart.
Quick Tip by . July 25, 2010
You always get a warm-hearted feeling when watching this film.
Quick Tip by . May 27, 2010
A heart-warming story!! Makes you want to believe in miracles.
Quick Tip by . May 04, 2010
Great movie, my second favorit.
review by . March 23, 2009
This rates up with my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I grew up on the Donna Reed show and remember that this was the movie I always saw her in and she was a lot more beautiful then. James Stewart is great as George Baily, the guy who wanted to help everybody and sacrificed his own financial success.     The idea that one doesn't realize one's worth until you are removed from the equation has been copied hundreds of times since but never as well as this movie.     Clarence …
review by . December 17, 2008
Such a classic movie. No doubt you've either seen it a million times or heard one of the many infamous quotes.     I enjoy sitting down to properly watch this movie almost as much as I enjoy catching glimpses of it playing on random store-front tv's because it always evokes that warm fuzzy feeling of goodness. There's nothing nicer than knowing a man who gives up everything in his life for others, eventually gets and understands that karma (of course they don't call it that in …
review by . December 17, 2005
I have seen hundreds of movies that move me, "It's a Wonderful Life" have been one of my favorite Christmas story as long as I can remember. Many people find it corny and old fashioned, I find it uplifting and as true in content today as the day it was made. No one could have portrayed the character of George Bailey like the unforgettable Jimmy Stewart....and Donna Reed and the entire cast.......Wow!!   I think Frank Capra must have had a sixth sense when it came to knowing who would cast …
review by . January 27, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This rates up with my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I grew up on the Donna Reed show and remember that this was the movie I always saw her in and she was a lot more beautiful then. James Stewart is great as George Baily, the guy who wanted to help everybody and sacrificed his own financial success.    The idea that one doesn't realize one's worth until you are removed from the equation has been copied hundreds of times since but never as well as this movie.    Clarence …
review by . September 15, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I watch this movie every year at Christmas and I think it is fabulous. The movie is based largely on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, except in this case instead of a scrooge we have George Bailey. George is a hardworking, decent, and kind man who runs a small bank in town. Unfortunately for him, the bad guy in the movie, Mr. Potter also runs a bank and wants a monopoly in the town. When one of George's employees loses a large sum of money Potter jumps in and tries to ruin George. Distraught …
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Robert Morris ()
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement.It's a Wonderful Lifewas not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic.--Robert Horton
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