It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

its a wonderful life poster 1946 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Jimmy Stewart, Classic film

Story is all over the place

Movie Info

Movie Name: It’s a Wonderful Life

Studio: Republican Entertainment

Genre(s): Drama/Family/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 20, 1946

MPAA Rating: Not Rated



George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) finds himself at a crossroads. His life has not turned out the way he planned. His goals of traveling the world fell through and left him trapped in the town of Bedford Falls. When an accident causes him to lose the payment to the Building and Loan, George Bailey finds himself facing the threat of jail time. This and the stress of the holidays is too much for George who contemplates suicide…George’s only hope is an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) trying to earn his wings. Clarence is going to show George how important his life has been…but will it work?

It’s a Wonderful Life is Frank Capra’s ode to small town living. Based on the story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern, It’s a Wonderful Life has become a Christmas classic despite its dark, dark nature. It was well received, but a box office wash due to the expensive production set-up. It did earn a number of award nominations (losing the Academy Award to The Best Years of Our Lives).


Buffalo Girls won’t you come out tonight?

Capra turned to many of his old stand-ins for the cast and the cast is what makes the movie work. Jimmy Stewart gives one of his best performances as George Bailey and it is because his demeanor makes Bailey so likable. It is this likability that makes it hard to watch scenes where he is upset and lashing out at his family because of his feelings he’s failed at life. Equally impressive is the evil Mr. Potter played by Lionel Barrymore. He is totally unlikeable and possibly one of the most evil men in cinema history. That makes a sketch done by Saturday Night Live in 1986 on the “lost ending to It’s a Wonderful Life” even better when the people of Bedford Falls realize Potter has their money perfect justice for a character that actually gets away with his crime.


Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings

I always found the story of It’s a Wonderful Life a bit disjointed. The first part of the movie is presented in flashback as a story told to Clarence on the history of George Bailey. This goes on a long time and the idea of Clarence the Angel sometimes seems to get sideline by a traditional storytelling. Clarence then meets with George and shows George a world without him. It becomes almost a sci-fi/Twilight Zone film for about fifteen or twenty minutes as George wanders around the sucky version of Bedford Falls. The story then goes back to present day, present reality to finish off the movie. The structure is just very strange and a bit odd for the time period.

The movie fell into public domain and was a staple on television channels for years and years. It was hard to find a channel where It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t playing. A lawsuit ensued and it was protected again in the 1990s and now is shown in limited showings…trying to establish a tradition. It’s been worked over many times, different colorizations attempts and different makers, but it has endured proving that the film itself has had a wonderful life.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response