James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame, H.B. Warner, Frank Albertson, Todd Karns, Samuel S. Hinds, Lillian Randolph, Virginia Patton Mary Treen, Charles Williams, Sarah Edwards, Harold London, William Edmunds, Argentina Brunetti, Sheldon Leonard, Bobby Anderson
George Bailey (James Stewart) spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town as we see in flashback. But in the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal. That's when his guardian angel, Clarence (Henry Travers), falls to Earth and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born.
I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I have seen this film for the first time last night. They play it every year, but I never bothered watching because I thought it was just another feel-good Christmas film. Well, it turned out to be a wonderful film.
Perfectly balanced between bittersweet and optimistic, It's a Wonderful Life is a joyous, wonderful film and timeless classic that will touch even the most cold-hearted.
The film offers and optimistic view, yet not banal, of life, full of confidence in mankind, and the ability to change the world for the better.
Besides the good feelings, the film will make you think about life, how each person makes a difference, and about how great life can be. But it does not stop there. In fact, the film delivers a powerful moral message: money don't make a man great, but his dignity and his values do, and also giving up your dreams for helping others is perhaps the best thing you could do.
Frank Capra's direction is brilliant. He did not only bring to life human stories, but he wonderfully managed to involve the audience in the lives of the characters, and after all George Bailey has gone through you won't even mind the happy ending.
The casting of the main actor could not be more spot on: James Stewart delivered an extraordinary performance, and with his extraordinary expressiveness managed to touch and to bring so much humanity into the character of George Bailey. Not least is the supporting cast: Donna Reed is wonderful as Mary, and her romantic chemistry with Stewart was charming; and Lionel Barrymore is at his best in Mr. Potter's shoes.
I am so glad Frank Capra had a vision to make this film.
Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? - Clarence