It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
The great American classic of Christmas movies that is It’s a Wonderful Life is like the Casablanca of holiday films. Almost everyone has seen it and some adore it while others, let’s call them the naysayers, call it overrated. Loosely based on Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, Frank Capra’s film has passed through the ages like a classic novel that lustre the nostalgia of the old-fashioned Christmas.
George Bailey (James Stewart) is a young businessman and family man. He represents the guy next door or the good traditional American man. One day, his enterprises fails and he loses a big chunk of money. Seeing no other option other than the most fatal one, he is saved by an angel that will make him take a step back and see what would happened if he wasn’t even born. This will give him back the will he needed to continue his good life.
The films of Frank Capra all have a saccharine moral and an ending that unifies the audience. Facing a Howard Hawks, Capra’s vision is more populist and pedestrian. Hawks was a director who could bring a genre picture and elevate it with his themes and unique writing. On the other hand Capra was an inspired filmmaker and he was a fine director who liked to release the audience with his humor and comedies. It is when he had to face serious issues like the potential suicide of Bailey that his talent got short.
However, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most interesting Christmas movies and it couldn’t more of a classic. With the perfect guy next door actor in James Stewart, George Bailey takes us on a visit of our lives and reminds us that the holidays are purposed to make us stop from our crazy lives and take the time to meet our families and celebrate together.
This October 2016, Paramount Home Media released It's A Wonderful Life on Blu-Ray and they added to the pack a ''Making Of" and the "Original trailer". It was literally a Christmas gift in advance for the writer of those lines. The effect and the magnificent film just is more than perfect in its full enjoyment!