a bell rings..."
George Bailey (Stewart)
has the perfect life, a wife that adores him, beautiful children and a successful
business but one Christmas Eve his business partner Uncle Billy makes a
huge error that leaves Bailey Building and Loan owing huge amounts of money
to the bank. This throws George into crisis and he even contemplates suicide.
That's when he meets Clarence, his guardian angel who shows him what the
world would be like if he never existed.
When it comes to
defining the best Christmas movie of all time, there is one film that stands
out head and shoulders above the rest and that movie is 'It's a Wonderful
Frank Capra regaled cinemagoers in the 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington', 'Mr.
Deeds Goes to Town' and many a much loved piece of cinema but nothing comes
close to what he achieved with 'It's a Wonderful Life'. This is a movie
that defines the spirit of Christmas and also has a feel good factor that
hasn't really been surpassed since its 1946 release.
The story is simplicity
itself. An extremely good man, loved by his family and community is driven
to despair on Christmas Eve as his business and the lives of the people
it serves hangs in jeopardy after his Uncle Billy loses the money he has
to pay into Mr Potter's bank. Thinking that the only way out is to commit
suicide, George Bailey is visited by Clarence, a guardian angel who shows
him what the world would be like if he had never been born. This tale, while
a variant on 'A Christmas Carol', might be a simple one, it hits home and
will have you laughing and crying.
It is the central
performance from the always-wonderful James Stewart that drives the film
however. As George Bailey he creates an eternal everyman who everyone can
connect and sympathise with and it is probably a character that only he
could have played at the time. His support is also good with Donna Reed
as his devoted wife, Thomas Mitchell as the hapless Uncle Billy, Lionel
Barrymore as the villain Mr Potter and Henry Travers as angel in training
When it comes to
defining the best Christmas movie ever made you shouldn't go much further
than 'It's a Wonderful Life'. With a heart warming story that should chill
even the coldest of hearts, this is a movie that you cannot help but adore
and one that defines the term 'Classic'.
Presented in full
screen 4.3 with Dolby Mono soundtrack, the transfer is very good baring
in mind how old the movie is.
Frank Capra Jr. introduces a featurette about the career of his father,
Frank Capra and the impact of 'It's a Wonderful Life'. With archive interviews
with Frank Capra and James Stewart, the featurette looks at the impact of
the movie and how it is still so beloved now.
Hosted by Tom Bosley and featuring interviews with Frank Capra, Sheldon
Leonard and James Stewart this short documentary looks at the history of
movie and the impact it has had all over the world. The group talk passionately
about the movie and its themes, giving their take on why they think it is
just a festive hit.
The DVD treatment
for this classic movie is not as good as you might have hoped. The lack
of a commentary is disappointing and the featurettes are a little short
and too archive to really make an impact. While most of the people involved
in the film have not sadly passed away, but a more up to date retrospective
would have worked so much better.
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