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Daniel Corleone's Movie Reviews (1781)

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It's a Wonderful Life 
It's a Wonderful Life review
4/4 stars

It starts out with an angel trying to earn his wings, Clarence Odbody played by Henry Travers. A story of 2 youthful brothers named George Bailey (James Stewart) and Harry Bailey (Todd Karns) was one of the first scenes. You see 2 young girls trying to win George’s heart, eventually the role of Mrs. Bailey would go to Mary Hatch, portrayed by Donna Reed (who was not the Director’s first choice by the way based on “the making” feature). Characters that would later on play a huge role in George’s transformation are the druggist Mr. Gower, Mrs. Bailey, Uncle Billy (cheerful but careless), Mr. Martini (affable bar owner), Violet Bick (seductive blond siren), Ernie Bishop, Bert, Sam Wainwright (a rich businessman who encouraged George to go join him in the plastics business), Nick (the bartender) and even Mary and kids. A huge amount was lost and because of this, the Bailey Building and Loan Association would go to bankruptcy and people would be jailed for the inopportune incident. George tries to kill himself to jump over the bridge after going thru misery: business going down, shouts at his kid’s teacher, accidentally looses it in front of his family, got punched by a concerned husband, and bumped his car into a tree. Clarence “saves his life” by jumping into the water to be rescued by George. In the same breath as Back to the Future 2, Clarence shows an “alternate world” without him being born. The main protagonist was surprised the heartless Henry F. Potter (well performed by Lionel Barrymore) has taken over Bedford Falls turning it into a mini Las Vegas area with night clubs. He finds out more harsh realities if he was not born such as Mr. Gower’s arrest, Harry dying at a young age and Mary becoming a widow. He prays to God and everything is back to normal, only better. A “miracle” occurred according to Mary. She reaches out to people who George knows and each one, even the bank examiner, contributed a donation to help Mr. Bailey’s predicament. Clarence eventually get’s his wish and it all ended well.

Most films in the past few years have themes related to sex, violence, racism, swearing, and negativity. Blue and green screen, CGI and other effects have been used to enhance the movie experience. Only a select few can catch the audience’s attention with the purity of the story, realism and believability/sympathy of the characters portrayed. Rarely do we see effective supporting casts play vital roles on a silver screen to make the story better. Many people don’t know that It’s a Wonderful Life did not win an Oscar or even break any box office records. As mentioned on the special features, the film’s true magic emanated thru repetitive viewings on television. Like cult classics Donnie Darko and Shawshank Redemption whose popularity and market grew thru video, this became a classic for the ages because of its concepts of the importance of life, family, friendship, religion and being thought provoking. Such memorable characters like Forrest Gump, Phil Connors (Groundhog Day) and Any Dufresne, George Bailey had to endure so many obstacles, reflecting if his life was worth it. This film had everything, unforgettable characters (young boy who had dreams of travelling and constructing buildings but his plans changed when his father passed away and then come to grip with the realities of existence/a loveable angel/a supportive wife, etc.), clever plot, timely background sound, World War II reference, a roller coaster of emotions (mood was perfect since there was fun, darkness, anger, regret, triumphant, sort of like Star Wars in a way) for viewers to enjoy and suitable direction. One might think because of the film created in the 1940’s it would be too much dialogue, but the more you watch it, the better it gets. There was no dull moment, you empathize with George when he was down, smile when he is saved by Clarence, wife and friends. You hated the guts of Henry Potter for being too greedy, selfish and insensitive to George’s predicament. One can reflect, how you felt your life currently is, what you do while alive, and how you treat your family and friends. Each one of us has an angel guiding us. One can believe a great movie is made when after several viewings, you never get tired and still learn/enjoy from it. This indefatigable classic loved by many did it without sex, violence, swearing, or any special effects. It’s just an extraordinary optimistic film for everybody to enjoy.


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