It's practically an American tradition to watch this film with family at Christmas time each year. I just saw it for the first time myself a couple weeks before last Christmas, and I loved it. It's an uplifting, inspiring, dramatic, and at times laugh-out-loud funny story, with a cast that probably couldn't be improved upon if you tried. And, of course, it's directed by the superb Frank Capra, whose work I greatly admire. James Stewart gives a raw, totally honest performance, as the unforgettable George Bailey, who on Christmas Eve is shown exactly why the world, or at least Bedford Falls, can't do without him. And, there is my favorite line in the whole movie, out of so many memorable quotes, delivered perfectly by Lionel Barrymore, as the evil Mr. Potter: "And a happy new year to you. In jail!"
Oh my goodness, I am not going to spend much time describing this gold standard of Christmas movies. If you have seen it, you know what it is. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this and watch it now. It is funny, tense, sentimental, romantic and downright Capra-esque. I have liked Jimmy Stewart in everything I have seen him in. Was he that good, or did the camera just plain love him, like I heard said once about Steve McQueen. But it doesn’t stop there. If you notice the ensemble cast, you see represented some of the finest character actors out there. Between them it’s seems like we have seen one of them in every great classic movie. I don’t watch this every year any more - there is just too much to see out there this time of year. But I watch it every two or three years and besides, if I have some time to spare, I can practically review every scene in order in my mind. It is part of my Christmas consciousness. Wait, are you still reading this?
Lovely film. <em>'It’s a Wonderful Life'</em> is enjoyable, hearty and well crafted. It takes longer than I would've predicted to get to 'the event', but it's very much worth seeing the journey that comes before - as we see the arc of James Stewart's George. It all crescendos with an ending that you can't help but smile at. Stewart is excellent in the lead role, you really do see every single emotion that his character goes through. He is, by far, the standout performer, but there are of course good performances from the likes of Donna Reed (Mary), Lionel Barrymore (Henry) and Henry Travers (Clarence). I did notice a few weird cuts in there, not that I hold that against it or did it affect my enjoyment - it's just noticeable. I see, via other reviewers, that there's a colour version - Channel 4 showed the black-and-white version over here in the UK. I can't say I felt the need for colour, which is always a good sign. Wholesome. Not that it, evidently given the average rating, needs to be said by someone like me, but: I'd certainly recommend this.
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