It's A Wonderful Life
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Ruined by a miser on Christmas Eve, a suicidal family man sees life anew thanks to his guardian angel.
It's a Wonderful Life
Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton
- The making of It's a Wonderful Life
- A personal remembrance: A special tribute to Frank Capra narrated by his son, Frank Capra Jr.
- Original theatrical trailer
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This was Jimmy Stewart's first film role after serving in, literally, heroic fashion as a bomber commander during World War II. Despite being a star and subject to assignment in "morale roles" if he had so chosen, Stewart went into the Air Corp and flew a complete tour of 25 bomber missions. He also flew a number of other live missions that were tallied as flights where he trained air crews. When offered the chance to have those missions count against his tour of 25, he declined. If you know anything about the history of WWII, you know that bomber crew duty in the European theater was pretty much the most dangerous combat assignment in the war.
This DVD presentation is extremely well done. Whether from a clean print or a masterful restoration (or a combination of the two), the movie is free of artifacts of the type you find in old film prints or a rushed digital transfer. When you compare the actual film to scenes shown as examples in the two included documentaries, you can see what I mean.
And mentioning the two documentaries, they are very satisfying. One is hosted by Frank Capra Jr., the son of the famous director of the film. He narrates interesting facts about his father and this film in particular in a warm tone that makes you feel part of the process. The second feature is hosted by Tom Bosley (the father on "Happy Days"). That documentary is, I believe, somewhat longer. It goes into some of the casting choices that could have been made, which I always find interesting. Both have tidbits of history and trivia about the film that are anywhere from interesting to fascinating ... including an explanation of how the film was actually shot during a record heat wave!
"It's a Wonderful Life" has become arguably the top Christmas classic, in part due to its heavy exposure on TV, and in part because the film is so good it holds up under that heavy exposure very well. It is a must see for our family every Christmas season, and I have to say that I'm happy to own a DVD with a presentation of this high quality, so that I'm not subject to the random quality of prints shown on TV broadcasts.
I love having the option of choosing between color and black & white. Although if you're a die hard black & white fan of this movie, there's another Blu-ray release from 2011 (I think), which has the black & white film in widescreen.
This colorization is the newest version made from 2007 by Legend films. I think they did an absolute miraculous job colorizing the film. I was looking "fairly" closely through certain parts, and didn't notice anything that wasn't right. Absolute perfect job.
Anyway, I now no longer need to search and scan through all the channels at Christmas time. I've got my own copy I can load up whenever I want! That's what I cared about!
The Shop Around the Corner - 1940 (Features Jimmy Stewart. The original on which You've Got Mail is based).
It's A Wonderful Life - 1946
A Christmas Carol - 1951 (Alastair Sim version)
Holiday Affair - 1949
Christmas In Connecticut - 1945
Love Actually - 2003
The Holiday - 2006
The Family Stone - 2005
Miracle on 34th Street - 1947
It Happened on Fifth Avenue - 1947
All Mine To Give - 1957
Elf - 2003
About A Boy - 2002
Fred Clause - 2007
Blossoms in the Dust - 1941
Bridget Jones Diary - 2001
Sleepless in Seattle - 1993
While You Were Sleeping - 1994
Just Friends - 2005
You've Got Mail - 1998
Meet John Doe - 1941 (also a Frank Capra film )
Beyond Tomorrow - 1940
The Family Man - 2000
The Apartment - 1960
Penny Serenade - 1941
Christmas in July - 1940
Last Holiday - 2006
The Namesake - 2006
Legally Blonde - 2001
Remember The Night - 1940
Fanny and Alexander -1982
Hope and Glory - 1987
New in Town - 2009
Miss Potter - 2006
Lassie - 2005 (Peter O'Toole version)
Julie and Julia - 2009
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - 2009
Rocky (The Original)
The Godfather (Part I)
You may be wondering why some movies are missing from the list...I just simply (weirdly), don't care for them:
A Christmas Story
If you know of any other great holiday movies that I've missed...feel free to chime in. Enjoy!
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