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Quick Review - RKO's It's a Wonderful Life

It's a wonderful laugh! It's a wonderful love!

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Christmas fantasy drama film directed by Frank Capra, written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra, produced by Liberty Films, and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. It's based off of Philip Van Doren Stern's 1943 short story, The Greatest Gift. It stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound, but did not win any of those.

"You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down." - George Bailey


When frustrated businessman George Bailey contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve, his guardian angel comes down and shows him what life would be like if he didn't exist to remind him of the most important things in life.

My Favorite Part of It's a Wonderful Life

It's hard to choose one thing when it comes to this movie. I'd probably say the story, though. It's a Wonderful Life is based off of The Greatest Gift, which, in turn, is inspired by A Christmas Carol. So it's a Christmas film inspired by one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told starring one of the greatest actors ever directed by one of the greatest directors ever. That's a recipe for success if there ever was one. Frank Capra knows how to deliver an emotional and resonant story that just makes you feel everything. The story is a beautiful and touching family tale that just hits all the right notes. The last ten minutes of this movie are incredibly satisfying and emotional because the first two hours set it up so well.

My Least Favorite Part of It's a Wonderful Life

Really nothing here. There are a few scenes that haven't aged too well. There's a few moments of dialogue that aren't fantastic. But I don't really truly dislike anything about this film.

Why It's a Wonderful Life is Amazing

Like I said before, this film is a recipe for success. It's got all the greats, and it's the best film from every one of them. It's one of the best Christmas movies ever made. It's Frank Capra's best film. It's Jimmy Stewart's best film. It's a cathartic, fantastic family tale with incredibly compelling characters and this incredible story of life and the challenges that come along with it. It's hailed as one of the greatest films ever made, and it absolutely deserves that reputation.

Final Thoughts and Score

For reference, I watched It's a Wonderful Life on a plane at two in the morning after having traveled for ten hours. That's not a good environment to watch it in. And it still swept me away and has slowly creeped its way into my favorite films of all time.

So of course, it gets a Sweet. Age range is 8+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)

"It's a Wonderful Life"

Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 9.5/10

Story: 10/10

Characters: 10/10

Quality: 10/10

Directed by Frank Capra

Rated PG for disturbing themes and images, thematic elements

Released on December 20, 1946

2 hours and 11 minutes

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey

Bobbie Anderson as Young George Bailey

Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey

Jean Gale as Young Mary Hatch

Lionel Barrymore as Henry Potter

Henry Travers as Clarence Odbody

Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy

Beulah Bondi as Mrs. Bailey

Todd Karns as Harry Bailey

Frank Faylen as Ernie Bishop

Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick

Ward Bond as Bert

H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower

Frank Albertson as Sam Wainwright

Samuel S. Hinds as Pa Bailey

Bill Edmunds as Giuseppe Martini

Karolyn Grimmes as Zuzu Bailey

Carol Coomes as Janie Bailey

Larry Simms as Pete Bailey

Jimmy Hawkins as Tommy Bailey


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