It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Review

George Bailey (Stewart) had big dreams, he was going to see the world and do anything and everything to make his life brilliant and get away from small town Bedford Falls. We are taken on the journey of his life up to the present day as an angel called Clarence watches to see how he can help him as he contemplates suicide. This really is seen as such a classic film, a classic Christmas film for that matter. But it really is one of the most depressing films ever, until the last ten minutes! It is a film that you must watch over the Christmas period and you will fall in love with George Bailey.

Throughout the film we witness how George gave up everything he ever wanted to help out the people of Bedford Falls. The way his father had before him with the family business of the building and loans company. Managing to keep it from Potter (Barrymore) who was trying to own everything in Bedford Falls. Ripping the people off when it came to money. George was lucky to break even whilst trying to help everyone. He was due to travel around the world and see things, but as his father died as he was about the leave, that stopped him from ever getting out of Bedford Falls.

He also falls in love with Mary who he suddenly sees as a grown woman rather than a young girl. A very memorable scene when he promises her the moon. If she wants he’d put a lasso on it and pull it down. Romance is better in old films and older times it has to be said.

At times he resented that he never got to leave his younger brother Harry who’s live he saved as a child went off to war and became a hero for saving other solders. He was due to be home for Christmas. The film spans over a lot of years and on Christmas Eve we witness the total breakdown of such a strong man. When Uncle Billy has a run in with Potter and accidentally leaves $8,000 in the newspaper. Potter being Potter does not just give it back to him, he keeps it and this starts the downfall. When Billy tells George the money is gone, this shows us a side of George we have never seen before when he starts to really lose it. Without that money jail and bankruptcy would be intermit for George and the building & loans company.

We then have to watch as George goes home a broken man and begins to take out his frustration on his children and wife Mary. Shouting at them to stop doing trivial things and then leaving the house. Getting drunk in a bar, and then crashing his car into a tree. The worst part happens yet as he stands at a bridge getting ready to jump in the water to kill himself, as he’s worth more money dead than alive. Clarence appears in the water and George jumps in to save him, or does Clarence save George? But from this moment Clarence shows George what life would have been without him. How Harry wouldn’t have survived, Mary would have stayed an old maid, Bedford Falls would have become Potterville and Mr Gower would have poisoned a young boy and sent to prison.

Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

With showing George how different everything would have been without him Clarence really is trying to push him in the right direction and realise what a wonderful life he really did have. In that moment when George asks to live again and realising that he is back to reality, the joy and celebration is really fantastic to watch. You feel like you actually want to celebrate with him as it is such a happy moment. From then on it only gets better as the whole of Bedford Falls help George out and raise the $8,000 dollars to stop him being arrested.

It’s moments like that in films which really help you to evaluate your own life and think that things really aren’t that bad. Especially the ending as Clarence gets his wings remember “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”. It’s strange that a story which seems so depressing at times can have such an uplifting ending and really fill you with joy in the end. You just have to realise that in life sometimes you might not get exactly what you want, but the life you have has a direct effect on the people around you.

So just remember that it’s a wonderful life.

10 thoughts on “It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Review

    • Yeah, it’s pretty crazy how things work out. But it really does have that Christmas feel to it, maybe as they started putting it on TV around Christmas?


      • Probably – or the fact that the climax is set on Christmas Eve.

        Fun Fact: It fist started getting played to death on TV in the 70’s because the original studio let the copyright expire. So local stations could play the hell out of it and not have to pay a nickel to do so.

        Strangely enough, it was that endless playing of it that led to it becoming regarded as a classic!


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