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It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life

4.7 74
Director: Frank Capra

Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore


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This is director Frank Capra's classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is


This is director Frank Capra's classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist (H.B. Warner) to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life. Capra's first production through his newly-formed Liberty Films, It's a Wonderful Life lost money in its original run, when it was percieved as a fairly downbeat view of small-town life. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday classic.

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.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Color]
[Dolby Digital Stereo]

Special Features

The Making of "It's a Wonderful Life" - A Documentary Featurette Hosted by Tom Bosley; ; A Personal Remembrance - A Special Tribute to Frank Capra Narrated by His Son, Frank Capra Jr.; ; Original Theatrical Trailer; ; Closed Caption

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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It's a Wonderful Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Any time you get stressed and are having 'one of those days' WATCH THIS MOVIE. It is timeless - it applies to everyday situations and will continue to do so forever. Don't listen to the person complaining that it is in color - IT'S IN BOTH black and white and color. It says so right on the box.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a holiday classic and should be in your collection. For its 60th anniversary, they've taken the opportunity to restore the film and create a brand new high-definition master. The new disc features a superior video presentation in the original full frame aspect ratio. PS - To the reviewer who complained about color... Only the packaging is in Color (and IMHO looks great!), the movie is in it's original B&W.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
Another great movie with James Stewart. Great to inspire you to value the life you have and enjoy the blessings of family and true friends. This is a well-developed storyline with endearing lead and supporting cast that you should hopefully find enchanting. A great story for the upcoming holiday and Holy-day season as well as a reminder to enjoy your life's "gifts" to the fullest, is the message of this heaven sent tale. If you enjoy this tale you may like to consider watching, The Bells of St. Mary's starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Both stories are very inspiring and great faith builders. A classic movie with modern applications is in this, It's A Wonderful Life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, Classic Movie that will stir your feelings. A time when the townspeople got together to do something good for someone who loved the town and didn't want to see it disappear. A town where one evil person was not allowed to control the town because the good people of the town would not let him. A time when the good was in ultimate control not the bad. This movie should make as aware IF THE GOOD PEOPLE DO NOTHING - THE BAD PEOPLE WILL TAKE CONTROL.
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Personal_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Love this movie. Look forward to watching every Christmas.
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SMeyerDestroysBooks4ever More than 1 year ago
amazing movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the one and only BEST christmas movie that was ever made. I watch it through out the entire year, my son's have bought me the color version and black & white version and I have it also with Marlo Thomas in the lead role It is just WONDERFUL.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a favourite movie of a freind--Mr. Jose Rouise Ramos. His kindness and encouraging words when I was in hopelessness and despair actually endears this movie to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story will keep anyone who suffers from depression on a positive outlook. It reminds us of what is truly inportant in life. The actors can replace anyone of us today. Keeping this story forever strong.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who watches ''It's a Wonderful Life'' and isn't moved at some point throughout the movie needs to have his or her pulse checked. Truly, this movie epitomizes what Christmas REALLY means - throughout our lives, our selfless acts really DO matter, on a scale so large we can't even see it. Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey truly IS every man (and woman) who've ever missed the forest for the trees. Every year, for the past 20 years, I've watched this movie on Christmas Eve, and I sob at the end every time. This year, my 11 year old daughter reminded ME that ''we have to watch 'It's a Wonderful Life' on Christmas Eve, dad!'' Talk about priceless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie epitomizes the truest meaning of love of your fellow man. Amazing to think about how many people one touches throughout their existence.I emplore anyone who is feeling down on themselves or their lot in lifeto watch this film -it can really make a difference in one's outlook-watching this film helped me through a dark time in my life
Guest More than 1 year ago
I consider myself a fairly good evaluator of movies. I didn't ''discover'' IAWL until mid-adulthood, but I marvel at it every time I watch it. I could write a short story on it's virtues, but suffice it to say, when George is called ''the richest man in town,'' I just start bawling everytime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a GREAT MOVIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have watched this film every year since I was a little girl and it has never gotten old. It is a wonderful story about how one man's life touches so many others and when he is gone he leaves an awfully big hole. This was the defining performance for James Stewart in a career spanning 60 years. It was also his favorite film. I was lucky enough to see this last year at a movie theater and I also got to me Karolyn ''ZuZu'' Grimes. A classic for years to come!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had always loved this movie. When I got the blue-ray player and saw that this movie was available in blue-ray, I had to get it. It came with both the original black and white version and a colorized version on 2 separate blue-ray disks. The picture is unbelievably clear in both the original black and white, and the colorized version which I thought was very professionally done with very natural looking color choices. This is one of those movies that I love to watch every Christmas and was very satisfied with this new blue-ray version of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You might say that it wouldn't be Christmas without watching "It's a Wonderful Life", and you probably would be correct. It has been a family tradition here for over 20 years. Just this past year our son has moved away and "suggested" he does not have the movie and wouldn't it be a great birthday gift. He now has a copy and has even suggested he may use it in his lesson plan when he teaches about the Great Depression. I guess it's not just for Christmas, anymore. Thank you, Frank Capra. And most of all, thank you, Jimmy Stewart, you made it a wonderful movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like the movie to it says the true meaning of Christmas.