Movie Review – “It’s A Wonderful Life”

One of the famous Christmas classics is definitely a fantasy film, so, here’s the review.

Premise

George Bailey sacrifices everything he wants for the happiness of others.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey.
Donna Reed as Mary Hatch.
Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter.
Henry Travers as Clarence Oddbody.

Written by Philip Van Doren Stern, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra.

Directed by Frank Capra.

The full IMDB page is here.

High Point

The ending. Let’s face it; without those last few minutes, this wouldn’t be the kind of movie that gets aired every Christmas.

Low Point

The editing at times, particularly in the scene where the envelope is passed from Billy to Mr. Potter.

The Scores

To the best of my knowledge, this was the first parallel universe story anywhere, ever. That counts as original as far as I’m concerned. Also, when a new movie is released that uses similar themes, this is the movie that it’s accused of ripping off. I give it 6 out of 6.

The effects were minimal. It snowed, and Clarence faded in and out a couple of times. While those effects may have been impressive when this was first made, 56 years worth of technology have dated them considerably. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is the main reason this is so well known. People love to see redemption. The events in George’s life tie together very well. It feels long at first, but the culmination at the end is clear, and we see the effects of everything we saw earlier. Still, everything that was referenced later was clearly meant to be referenced later; there was no subtlety, and not a very smooth flow from moment to moment. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting by Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Henry Travers, and H. B. Warner (as Mr. Gower) was all excellent. The work by the rest of the cast was acceptable, but not up to the same level. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was probably dampened by the fact that I’ve seen this movie about once a year for my entire life. The fact that the ending still affects me tells me they did a great job. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was uneven. The directing was good, the cinematography was good, the musical scores was a set of notes that were quite blatant, and the editing had some serious problems in terms of cutting in and out, as well as in terms of continuity issues when switching from shot to shot. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is a good movie, but it’s not one that I’d watch at any other time of the year. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, It’s A Wonderful Life receives 32 out of 42.

6 replies on “Movie Review – “It’s A Wonderful Life””

  1. lost says:

    Editing
    I wonder how much of the clunky editing is a result of the movie being “edited for time” or “edited for content” or just plain “edited” to fit it into some view or other of what should be?

    And really, how fair is it to compare the originality of the story to the situation 50 years ago but dis the effects because they’re dated 50 years? (That said, they are a bit hokey, aren’t they?)

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Editing

      I wonder how much of the clunky editing is a result of the movie being “edited for time” or “edited for content” or just plain “edited” to fit it into some view or other of what should be?

      The version I watched for review was the “Original Uncut Version” released on DVD.

  2. eclectric says:

    Original?
    You forget that this is not the first “alternate universe” story. A man named “Charles Dickens” wrote one in the 19th century, about a man who had to discover what the future would be like if he continued in his miserly ways.

    • Foeclan says:

      Re: Original?

      You forget that this is not the first “alternate universe” story. A man named “Charles Dickens” wrote one in the 19th century, about a man who had to discover what the future would be like if he continued in his miserly ways.

      I wouldn’t really call that an alternate universe story. Scrooge is shown the past and present exactly as they happened/are happening, and what the future would be like if he continues on his current path. There’s no ‘what if things had been different’, just ‘what can I do now’. They don’t show what life will be like if he stops being a miser.

      • SteveB says:

        Re: Original?

        I wouldn’t really call that an alternate universe story. Scrooge is shown the past and present exactly as they happened/are happening, and what the future would be like if he continues on his current path. There’s no ‘what if things had been different’, just ‘what can I do now’. They don’t show what life will be like if he stops being a miser.

        The close of the story explicitly states that Scrooge’s future was not what the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come showed him, and that makes it an alternate universe.

        Even if we accept your cavil against A Christmas Carol for the sake of argument, there are other prior examples (e.g. Murray Leinster’s Sidewise in Time, originally published in 1934).

  3. jesusX says:

    Best Movie Ever
    This is my all time favorite movie. So I’m very biased. I own so many versions I don’t even remember which one I got first. I _MET_ Jimmy Stewart once, when I was younger (obviously, as he’s now passed on), and it was an awe inspiring moment, to see him in person. I watch my copies every year, and as the reviewer said, it still brings a tear to my eye.

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