Daily Archives: March 3, 2010

It’s A Wonderful Life

Directed by Frank Capra
Produced by Frank Capra
Written by Short story: Philip Van Doren Stern
Screenplay: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling & Frank Capra
Starring James Stewart
Donna Reed
Lionel Barrymore
Henry Travers
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Editing by William Hornbeck
Studio Liberty Films
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) December 20, 1946
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Just before last Christmas I purchased a DVD three pack of Paramount classic holiday movies from Big W for just $16. The three movies were some of the all-time Hollywood classics: White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Bells Of St Mary’s. This was a real bargain and if you see these still available at Big W you really must get it. I also noticed that Big W were also selling White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life separately for $13 each. As I said $16 for three great movies is a real bargain.

“Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

I must also make a warning here as Big W are also selling It’s A Wonderful Life for just $5. This is not the bargain it seems as this cheap and nasty version is through a public domain company and not the official Paramount release. Years ago I bought a public domain copy that was released through MRA for what I thought was a cheap price. Unfortunately the soundtrack did not sync up with the movie correctly which meant that the voices did not match the actors lips, making the film completely unwatchable. Thus I learnt a very important lesson about not buying DVDs from public domain companies. (Although I have broken this promise since on an awful Laurel & Hardy box set that also had syncing problems!)

“A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town.”

Anyway onto Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, one of the most corny, hokey, old-fashioned, sentimental and truly wonderful classic films of all time. For some reason this is one movie that always gets me blubbering like a baby at the ending when the angel Clarence finally gets his wings. It is amazing that this one film can get me tearing up even though it is so corny. “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” For those who don’t know the story this film is about George Bailey, played by James Stewart, a man with big dreams that are never ever realised because he is always tied down to a small town. He wants to travel the world and become wealthy but circumstances always cause him to miss out on opportunities and means that he has to remain in sleepy Bedford Falls. Disaster strikes towards the films finale and George decides to end it all, until he meets Clarence, an awkward angel who shows George how terrible the world would be if he had never been born. Naturally Clarence shows George just how important he really is while George’s family and friends repay him for his years of service and generosity which helps him avert his disaster.

This film is an all time classic and one of my favourites, a truly great movie that one really has to see. I know that my review does not do the film justice. There are great performances from Stewart and Donna Reed, but it is Barrymore who shines as the films villain Mr. Potter. The film drips sentimentality, but it works, or else I would not blubber like a baby every time I watch the movie.