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It's a Wonderful Life


It’s a Wonderful Life: 1946 (NR) NEW
USA / Liberty films
94% (CF)

If people ask me what I personally think is the greatest movie ever made, this is the film I tell them. Stalker may be the greatest film I have seen as an art form, but in the more traditional terms of characters, story, arcs, themes, and especially the overall message of the movie this Frank Capra classic takes the cake. I originally saw this toward the end of my “Complete the AFI Top 100 List” period. I purchased the film on DVD (could not rent it from iTunes), so I popped it in one day thinking this would be just another notch on my cinematic belt. Boy was I wrong.

It is a charmingly uncomplicated movie about one guy’s life. Not only in how ordinary it is, but also how very special it is in its own way. Told from his childhood to his adult life we watch George Bailey grow up in Bedford Falls. A man with aspirations of wealth and dreams of travel; but due to fate, responsibility, and strange circumstances never leaves his small town. We see him marry, have kids, and care for the family business. We literally see him grow up on screen. But misfortune strikes and George is at a cross road where we begin the famous part of the movie where George sees what would have happened had he never been born with the help of his guardian angel Clarence. A scene that has been reimagined in countless TV shows.

What really makes this special is the final message which I believe is INCREDIBLY beautiful. The message that YOU ARE SPECIAL. That’s right you. The person watching the film and reading this post. You are special and you do matter in life. No matter how small or unimportant you think you are, you matter to someone and have done something very special in someone’s lifetime. That my friends, is a very beautiful message, one that echoes very loudly in the final scenes. And I admit it, as soon as George Bailey starts running through the streets of Bedford Falls screaming Merry Christmas, the tears start running down my face until I am weeping like a baby.

I recently got to see this movie on the big screen this past Christmas, and I had to leave the theater with my sunglasses on to hide the fact I was bawling my eyes out! This is a fantastic film with the classic pairing of James Stewart and Donna Reed; an inspirational story and ending. One I will be rewatching plenty of times more come the holidays. With plenty of tissues of course.