Monday, September 1, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Dir: Frank Capra, 1946, bw (9.0*)

AFI and Time Mag Top 100
This perennial Christmas favorite actually spends a lot of its time on the dark side, during a terrific fantasy sequence where main character George Baily, one of James Stewart's most famous and lovable roles, has had bank misfortunes drive him to despair, when an angel trying to gain wings (Henry Travers as Clarence), shows him what his life would be like had he never lived, the ultimately positive effect his life has had on others. This optimistic and idealistic philosophy is typical Capra and what a lot of people wanted to hear in 1946, and the film has had a long tour of popularity as a family film, especially at Christmas. Donna Reed is perfectly "wifely", Gloria Grahame is perfectly flirtatious as the local single woman who gets all the guys' motors funning, prompting policeman Ward Bond to say "I'm going home for lunch and see what the wife's doing! Lionel Barrymore is his brilliant self, as Henry Potter, the Old Scrooge personified, the evil bank man more concerned with profits than people, the one we all love to hate. Based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". No Oscars in 4 nominations, as Best Years of Our Lives won nearly all the big ones.

Note: Ironically, the film originally made no money, and the studio let the copyright expire, so TV stations later all ran it often since it was free, boosting its viewings, so its popularity is ironically due to a legal loophole!


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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