It's a Wonderful Life (5 stars)

It's a Wonderful Life


You know Christmas has arrived when Frank Capra’s perennial festive season favourite receives its annual reissue. The 1947 classic is one of the most inspirational films of all time, as well as being a fine romance, a terrific comedy and genuine tearjerker. This year the film celebrates its diamond anniversary.

For anyone who’s been living in a cave for the past 60 years Capra’s film is a morality play about an Everyman named George Bailey (James Stewart) who loses his love of life, attempts to end it, and is shown by an angel how his smalltown home of Bedford Falls would be worse off without him.

Now enshrined as one of the best films ever committed to celluloid, what’s less well known about IAWL is that its star Stewart initially turned down the role of Bailey, because he didn’t feel up to making the film so soon after serving in World War II. It was the great Lionel Barrymore (who plays the film’s Scrooge-like villain) who talked Stewart into taking the part, which became the star’s favourite.

The film, which initially lost money at the box office, drew criticism for its political commentary on post-WWII American society and was branded ‘subversive’ by the FBI. Dorothy Parker did unaccredited work on the script, and although it was nominated for five Oscars, it won none, losing out to the sombre postwar melodrama The Best Years of Ours Lives. Bah humbug! (Miles Fielder)
GFT, Glasgow and selected cinemas, from Fri 14 Dec.

It's a Wonderful Life

  • 5 stars
  • 1946
  • US
  • 2h 9min
  • U
  • Directed by: Frank Capra
  • Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

Small-town boy Stewart runs into financial difficulties and is on the brink of suicide when an elderly angel descends to earth to show him all the good his life has done for those around him. Archetypal Capra sentimentality with a superbly detailed fantasy framework and one of Stewart's most lovable performances. One to…