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It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra(1946) 


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       Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore

       Nothing I can say would truly do justice to this film. While most people view it as a sappy Christmas story, it is oh so much more. George Bailey, like so many of us, is a man who has had to watch all of his dreams fly away in order to fulfill the responsibilities of life. He has always acted selflessly and for the good of other, no matter the cost to himself. We get to see this from the time he was a boy, to the time his father dies, to the time his brother gets married, to the depression, to WWII. In his darkest hour, on Christmas Eve, he decides it would be better for everyone if he was dead. Even on the verge of suicide, George acts selflessly saving another man from drowning. That man turns out to be Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class, who shows George what the world would be like if he had never lived. The vision is a dark and twisted version of his hometown and friends. It is actually a very dark and depressing sequence. As has been said, Capra delivers happy endings, but he makes you work for them. And of course, once George, and the viewers, realize how wonderful life really is, just being with the people you love, we get our sappy, happy ending. But boy did we work for it. If you don't get watery-eyed during the finale of this film, you're heart is probably two sizes too small.

       Only Capra could have made this movie, which is probably why no one before him was able to make it work. Donna Reed is fantastic. Lionel Barrymore is suitably evil. The supporting characters are all wonderfully cast.

       Jimmy Stewart, who is always likeable on-screen, is perfect as George. Stewart is able to show George's growing bitterness and resentment at how his life has gone. He shows us George's happiness and unhappiness. The overwhelming despair when he's about to loose it all. The terror as he tours Pottersville. The indescribable joy as he makes it back to Bedford Falls and the people he loves. Through Stewart's performance, he takes us all through the full emotional gamut, and makes the payoff, sappy and Capra-corny as it may be, all the more satisfying.

       A perfect film, not just for Christmas, but for anytime. I watch it several times every year and never fail to end up blubbering like a baby by the end.

It's a Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra was reviewed by MadMikeyD 

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