It's a Wonderful Life

( 73 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

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: 9/19/1995
  • UPC: 017153168624
  • Original Release: 1946
  • Rating:

  • Source: Republic Pictures
  • Format: VHS

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
Harold Landon Marty Hatch
Bert Moorhouse
Robert Peyton
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
Technical Credits
Frank Capra Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Gordon Bau Makeup
Joseph Biroc Cinematographer
Arthur S. Black Jr. 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 73 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(61)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Movie ever

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Holiday Classic...

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    Love this movie. Look forward to watching every Christmas.

    Love this movie. Look forward to watching every Christmas.

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    amazing movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    amazing movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's a Wonderful Movie!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's a Wonderful Life - WONDERFUL!

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    *Sigh* Jimmy Stewart, if I wasn't married, and you weren't dead...

    I love this movie. It's part of my holiday repetoire of must-sees. Without it, it just isn't Christmas.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Heaven Sent.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    My dreams come true.

    I've looked for It's a Wonderful Life in Color on DVD every year for years. If there is a finer movie than this I've not seen it. I wonder what America would be like if we were raised on this instead of movies made by the Potters of this world. PS Donna Reed as a puppy !! What a woman ! What a babe !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    didn't need color..

    Unlike today's films and remakes, that require color,special effects and crudeness this is not needed for the classics. At least not for fans like myself. I will not be buying this version, I'll keep my VHS.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's a Wonderful Movie

    I just saw this movie for the first time fairly recently and just loved it. Wonderful story, charming and lovable characters who you want to root for, maybe just a little bit of (still somewhat safe) social commentary. We're not all George Baileys, but consarn it if we don't all want to be like him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's A Wonderful Movie!

    It's a wonderful Life is a superb movie and is great to watch during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. It is a very heartwarming story and the actors are wonderful, especially James Stewart and Donna Reed but the rest of the cast is great too, especially Henry Travers, and the children who played Jimmy and Donna's children were also very good especially the adorable little girl who played their daughter Zuzu, (she also played Loretta Young's and David Niven's daughter in The Bishop's Wife). I highly recommend buying It's a Wonderful Life on DVD!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One amazing movie!

    This movie is one of my all-time favorites, along with White Christmas. If anyone feels like life is not worth living or if you feel down all the time, please watch this movie. It is one of the most inspiring movies I have ever seen! If you have not seen this movie yet please go and see it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The number one MOVIE in all the WORLD!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It truly is a wonderful life

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A True Classic of the best kind

    This film will never grow old. Although I have seen it at 25+ times and know all the lines, it is as fresh and lively every year I watch it. It has such a wonderful message, and although has a sad story of suicide and anger, shines through as one of the best films ever made. Jimmy Stewart IS George Bailey. His performance is absolutely extraordinary, and no one could have delved into the psyche of the character better than he. All of the acting is perfectly done, and Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed have a wonderful chemistry. I mean, who doesn't love singing along with them as they walk down the street singing 'Buffalo Gals' after the dance? It is absolutely priceless. Frank Capra was a film master, and no one could have made a better film. There is a story that Jimmy Stewart's wife told on a retrospective of a letter Jimmy Stewart received from a young man contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve. He picked up the gun and as he was about to pull the trigger, he heard famous lines from 'It's A Wonderful Life'. He dropped the gun, called the police, turned himself in, and wrote to Mr. Stewart from prison. What other film have you known to have such an impact on people? One of the best things to look forward to win Christmas comes. A masterpiece!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Recommended for all ages

    I have grown up watching this movie all my life and only now, have I truly come to appreciate it. Unlike all the other movies these days, it is nice to be able to watch a movie comfortably w/ my whole family. This movie is not only educational, but enjoyable and most certainly one of the greatest movies of all time. I recommend this to everyone, of all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not just the best Christmas movie ever

    This movie is without question, quite simply the best movie ever made, Christmas or otherwise. This movie isn't great just because we find it sentimental, though it is. It is the antithesis of what rivals it as the greatest movie ever, Citizen Kane. While Kane is ultimately cynical, ''Citizen Bailey'' is fulfilling and rewarding. It reaffirms our cultural belief that redemption comes through charity and that our real reward is not material. While Kane reaches the same conclusion, it does so without the hope or joy of It's a Wonderful Life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Where have all the good movies gone?

    I know, I know. We won't see a movie without either sex, drugs, violence, and profanity that makes it to the level of 'Classic' for a while (excluding Disney cartoons...wait, they'll never make it to 'Classic') but maybe that's what we need. I know that I'm a huge fan of Bond and Matrix, but it was refreshing to see Wonderful Life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wonederful memories

    This movie reminds me of how important I am in other people's live and how important it is to have friends.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews