Be Careful What You Wish For (Film Review: “It’s A Wonderful Life”)


The one, the only holiday movie you’ll every truly need, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Life is always worth living and no man is alone if he truly has Friends.

SnapShot Plot

With the current remake of Mary Poppins hitting theatres and the new Broadway adaptation of the revered masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird, it seems like no Hollywood classic is off limits to the appetites of a new generation of filmmakers and their audience. And who knows? Perhaps the world’s favorite nanny and America’s mythic father figure/moral arbiter will fare well in redux, but I’m holding onto my hopes that nobody will touch the perfection that is Frank Capra’s holiday masterpiece, It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s the classic story of George Bailey, a good son and rising star in his quaint home town of Bedford Falls, NY who has big dreams of exploring the world rather than taking over the boring savings & loan business his father built over the years. And he might have made a clean break for it if not for falling head over heels in love with the girl-next-door beauty, Mary Hatch. Life is good until one fateful day when the threat of financial disaster and scandal causes George to doubt his very existence, convinced that his family and indeed, the whole town, would be better off if he’d never been born. Enter his guardian angel, Clarence to show George (in a very Dickensian A Christmas Carol way) exactly what the world would be like without George Bailey in it.


“I want to live again. . . I want to live again. . . please God, let me live again.”

Parting Shot

This is the movie that made an entire country fall in love with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, who brought such sincerity and pathos to their performances that they were forever associated with their roles in the picture. The movie arrived with a message so powerful that it has been distilled in countless films and TV shows since it’s arrival in 1946. A much needed feel-good picture poised to capture the hearts of the American public on the heels of the second World War. What many people don’t realize is that the film was inspired by a story entitled The Greatest Gift, by Civil War historian Philip Van Doren Stern who later went on to write the screenplay for It’s A Wonderful Life.

This movie has it all: incredible performances, richly drawn characters, immense heart and wry humor, a deep love story, and even a few heart-pounding action sequences. And in the sure hands of Frank Capra (who not only directed but also produced) the film managed to balance the Christian elements of the story with a universal tale of family and community without resorting to treacly preaching. You can transpose any other spirit guide onto the role of Clarence and still come up with the gold standard that is It’s A Wonderful Life.

This is – quite simply – an American masterpiece that transcends the generations, informing and reminding us of the best ideals to which we aspire. It’s a must-see for the holiday season, or any time we need to contemplate what it means to be a good person, friend and neighbor. Happy Holidays!

It’s A Wonderful Life is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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YouTube Trailer:


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