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It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

: Frank Capra
Writers: Frank Capra, additional: Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore,Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers

Synopsis: George Bailey is a hard working, good hearted young man who dreams of escaping the dull drums of small town life. But his dreams of college and world travel unravel before his eyes as his sense of responsibility to family and fellow man wins out, keeping him stuck at the family loan business. After his final let down, his will is broken and he stands poised to end it all on a snowy bridge at Christmas time. Along comes a fumbling but well meaning angel, who steps in to show George the importance George's life had on the people who cared about him.

Review: What more can be said about this truly great classic by Frank Capra. It's a Wonderful Life was Capra's personal favorite. He purchased the shelved project from the RKO studio, along with three previous attempts at a movie script. He then took the best elements from those scripts and wrote his own final script, giving it that magic Capra touch.

Frank Capra can pack more profound human emotions in one scene then many directors can do in an entire film. It's a Wonderful Life is nearly seamless in the the way each scene is a complete mini story that effortlessly flows into the next scene. Capra knows how to reveal the human soul and his films are alive with the richness of humanity.

The casting is sublime. James Stewart, freshly returned from his duties as a WWII bomber pilot was ready to make another film with Capra. He's the quintessential average guy and one heck of an actor. Donna Reed was a fresh faced contract player at MGM studio. Donna gives a small town, girl next door charm to her role. And good old Lionel Barrymore is the perfect 'Scrooge' as in the very scrooge like Mr. Potter. The entire cast is amazing at filling in the little nuances that make the town of Bedford Falls seem so real.

Some hardened movie fans won't give a serious look at this film. Viewing it as plain-vanilla as it has run countless times on TV, becoming a main stay of the Holiday seasons. But regardless of how commonly shown the film is, or how many times one has seen it, It's a Wonderful Life remains a remarkable film.