100 Movies to See Before You Die- “It’s a Wonderful Life”

It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 film directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Henry Travers, and Donna Reed. The film was largely considered a box office flop and it never made back its production budget in box office receipts. The film was also nominated for five Academy Awards but did not take home any wins. Despite the poor box office showing and the lack of any Oscars, It’s a Wonderful Life has gone on to become one of the classic films of the Christmas season. Without fail as Thanksgiving ends and the Christmas season begins you will be able to find this film broadcast all over television. The film has also found its way to a number of “best of” lists throughout the years. So does this film, which is so heavily linked in the minds of many to Christmas, a true classic or have those who thought so had a few too many eggnogs?

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Should this film be considered a classic? I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to watching this film. I remember watching it when I was really little and I thought it was quite a drag. Well, I’m glad I gave it another shot. What struck me the most about the movie was how dark and despairing much of the movie is. I think because it is shown at Christmas time sometimes we forget that the majority of this movie is not about sentimental one liners like angels getting their wings. A good portion of this film deals with a good man who finds himself in horrible circumstances and who has the opportunity to see what a world without him would look like. So don’t let sentimentality scare you away from a film that deftly handles both light hearted humor and tear jerking loss. The film is also wonderfully acted by all involved. James Steward and Donna Reed are an absolutely wonderful screen couple and make you believe and feel their romance and hardship. Yes, this one is definitely more than just a Christmas classic, it’s a classic worthy of all seasons.

Would I own this film? Tough call on this one. I’d probably only be inclined to watch it around Christmas time and it is so easy to find a broadcast of it that owning it really is not necessary. That said, if I found a good deal on a Blu-Ray copy of the film I might pick it up. It’s a truly great movie that transcends the sentimentality often attached to it.

Here’s one of the most memorable scenes from the film:

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