Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Release Date: Jan. 7, 1947 (USA)
Running Time: 130 min
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance
Commentary It's a Wonderful Life is my second favorite movie of all time. I've watched it about a dozen times, sometimes on videotape and sometimes on TV during some of its numerous showings around Christmastime. It's a very warm and moving picture, unlike almost anything else, especially today. The acting and storyline are superb. Although I've memorized the plot, the ending still makes me cry sometimes.
It's a Wonderful Life tells an important life lesson we often forget and need to be reminded of from time to time, that is to be thankful for what you've got, especially for your friends and loved ones who care about you.
Plot Summary It's a Wonderful Life takes place in the small fictitious town of Bedford Falls and concerns the life of George Bailey, played by James Stewart. George is a very kind and considerate man who goes out of his way to help his friends and family and fight off Mr. Potter, a heartless tycoon who wants to buy out the town. George is also very ambitious, longing to travel around the world and strike it rich, but his good nature always gets in the way of his ambition.
One day, George is struck with a tragic blow when he accidentally loses $8000 of his company's money and it looks like he'll have to go to jail. On the verge of suicide, Clarence, his guardian angel, shows up and shows George what the world would be like if he'd never been born. Once George sees how horrible the world would be without him, he begs Clarence for a second chance at life. Clarence gives him this chance and everything works out beautifully.
Philosophy The main message of It's a Wonderful Life is to be thankful for what you've got. Traditional family values are emphasized in this film. Although I very much like and agree with the overall message, a few key ideas in the movie are obviously dated. The biggest problem I see is that the movie has a very anti-feminist attitude. The horrible fate in store for George's wife Mary if George didn't exist would have been for her to become an old maid and a librarian. On the other hand, considering that this movie was made long before women's liberation, I can forgive them.
Here's the original trailer.
Here's the famous heartfelt ending.
Pictures of It's a Wonderful Life Script, Soundtrack, Quote Collection, MP3