It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life

4.7 74
Director: Frank Capra

Cast: Frank Capra, James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore


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Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life has received a treatment that is somewhere in the middle in terms of DVD quality. The new digital THX transfer is not completely pristine (there is noticeable dirt and grain through most of the film), but the sharpness and clarity of the black-and-white image raise it above any previously released version. The extra features,…  See more details below


Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life has received a treatment that is somewhere in the middle in terms of DVD quality. The new digital THX transfer is not completely pristine (there is noticeable dirt and grain through most of the film), but the sharpness and clarity of the black-and-white image raise it above any previously released version. The extra features, on the other hand, are good, though somewhat problematic. Instead of producing new features for the DVD, Republic Pictures has included two featurettes from 1990 and 1991 that were obviously transferred from video. The first is a 22-minute television special that supplies little more than interesting trivia. While it is shorter, at about 15 minutes, the second featurette hosted by Frank Capra Jr. is probably the better bet. Both cover much of the same ground, but the Frank Capra interview segments on the latter are more intimate and substantial; also, background on the original production is given at least a little more detail. The original theatrical trailer is also included, a significant piece of history since the film was not widely received as a classic until decades later. It's a Wonderful Life earns its place in any fan's collection with this decent transfer, but the lack of fresh and substantial extras tarnishes some of the luster.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
A holiday classic synonymous with Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most beloved of all American movies, as well as the film that both its director, Frank Capra, and star, James Stewart, considered the best of their careers. Stewart gives what may be his finest performance as George Bailey, an Everyman whose dream of leaving his small town and seeing the world is thwarted again and again by family responsibilities. Embittered, hopeless, and on the verge of suicide, George is rescued by an angel who shows him what life in the town would have been like if he'd never been born. For all its heartwarming sentimentality and homespun humor, what Capra's populist fantasy reveals most strikingly is the despair underlying the Norman Rockwell surface of small-town America. Stewart masterfully expresses the resentment and rage that result from George's almost masochistic selflessness, while Donna Reed, Ward Bond, and Gloria Grahame turn in superb supporting performances. A box-office failure, It's a Wonderful Life found a devoted new audience after it began to air regularly on TV, earning a very special place in the hearts of moviegoers.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The image of It's a Wonderful Life has undergone a complete transformation since its 1946 release. In its own time, Frank Capra's comedy-drama about the dark side of human nature was a modest failure, neither a box-office success nor a critical favorite, though it garnered some recognition in the form of 5 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. For the next 28 years, the movie remained a cult favorite among movie buffs and Capra fans. Then the movie's copyright was allowed to lapse and suddenly, during the early 1980s around Christmas (the season in which the film is set), it seemed possible to flip on the TV at random some nights and find the movie playing somewhere on the dial, and that went double for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year's. The public came out regarding the film as a lost classic; Capra lived just long enough to reap some of the belated acclaim, and his estate later benefitted from the sales of the films that he owned outright, such as Broadway Bill and Lady For a Day. The movie is in fact a dark, disturbing look at small-town American life between the two world wars, rife with class envy and fears of modernity, and featuring a before-its-time portrayal of George Bailey's middle-aged sense of failure that seems more appropriate for an American film of the Seventies. It is at once nostalgic and angry, and its reputation as a holiday chestnut has been mercilessly parodied for its conclusion on good spirits and generosity; Saturday Night Live, in particular, had vicious fun with it in a post-end-credits parody in which the people of Bedford Falls lynch Mr. Potter when they realize that he has the money.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Republic Pictures
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital, THX-Supervised Mastering]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Stewart George Bailey
Donna Reed Mary Hatch Bailey
Lionel Barrymore Mr. Potter
Thomas Mitchell Uncle Billy
Henry Travers Clarence
Beulah Bondi Mrs. Bailey
Ward Bond Bert
Carol Coomes Janie Bailey
William Edmunds Mr. Martini
Gloria Grahame Violet Bick
Argentina Brunetti Mrs. Martini
Sarah Edwards Mrs. Hatch
Frank Faylen Ernie
Jean Gale Mary (younger)
Karolyn Grimes Zuzu Bailey
Frank S. Hagney Potter's Bodyguard
Jim Hawkins Tommy Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds Pa Bailey
Todd Karns Harry Bailey
Sheldon Leonard Nick
Virginia Patton Ruth Dakin
Ronnie Ralph Sam (younger)
Lillian Randolph Annie
Larry Simms Pete Bailey
Mary Treen Cousin Tilly
H.B. Warner Mr. Gower
Charles Williams Cousin Eustace
Bob Anderson George as a Child
Lane Chandler Actor
Harold Landon Marty Hatch
Bert Moorhouse Actor
Robert Peyton Actor
Bob Scott Mickey
Frank Albertson Sam Wainwright
Danny Mummert Marty Hatch (younger)
Ray Walker Joe at Luggage Shop
Edward Keane Tom
Ellen Corby Miss Davis
Stanley Andrews Mr. Welch
Marian Carr Mrs. Wainwright
Tom Fadden Tollhouse keeper
Charles Halton Bank Examiner
Harry Holman High School Principal
Charles Lane Real Estate Salesman
John Farrell MacDonald House Owner
Garry Owen Bill poster
Almira Sessions Potter's secretary
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer Othello
Al Bridge Sheriff
George Nokes Little Harry Bailey
Harry V. Cheshire Dr. Campbell
Eddie Fetherstone Bank Teller
Dick Elliott Actor

Technical Credits
Frank Capra Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Gordon Bau Makeup
Joseph Biroc Cinematographer
Arthur S. Black Asst. Director
Russell A. Cully Special Effects
Frances Goodrich Screenwriter
Albert Hackett Screenwriter
William W. Hornbeck Editor
Emile Kuri Set Decoration/Design
Jack Okey Art Director
Clem Portman Sound/Sound Designer
Edward Stevenson Costumes/Costume Designer
Jo Swerling Screenwriter
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Richard VanHessen Sound/Sound Designer
Joseph Walker Cinematographer

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Feature Presentation
0. Chapter Selections
1. Opening Credits [3:41]
2. 1919: Saving Harry [1:41]
3. Mr. Gower's Drug Store [2:20]
4. "You Put Something Bad in Those Capsules" [3:53]
5. 1928: George Bailey, World Traveler [2:37]
6. Last Meal [4:45]
7. High School Reunion [2:11]
8. The Big Charleston Contest [2:49]
9. Walking Mary Home [11:12]
10. Harry's Surprise [7:14]
11. Courting Mary [7:44]
12. Wedding Day [9:54]
13. 320 Sycamore [3:38]
14. Bailey Park [10:06]
15. On the Nest [2:53]
16. December 24, 1945 [2:16]
17. Uncle Billy at the Bank [3:52]
18. Searching for $8,000 [7:23]
19. Something Wrong With Daddy [1:54]
20. No Help From a Warped, Frustrated Old Man [3:14]
21. At Martini's Bar [3:04]
22. On the Bridge [1:05]
23. Saving George [6:58]
24. At Nick's Place [6:01]
25. Pottersville [8:39]
26. "I Want to Live Again" [2:09]
27. Homecoming [4:32]
28. The Richest Man In Town [2:23]

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