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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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1,848 ( 95)
Top Rated Movies #25 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... George Bailey
... Mary Hatch
... Mr. Potter
... Uncle Billy
... Clarence
... Mrs. Bailey
... Ernie
... Bert
... Violet
... Mr. Gower
... Sam Wainwright
... Harry Bailey
... Pa Bailey
... Cousin Tilly
... Ruth Dakin
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Storyline

George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never had the opportunity in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that prevents him from doing so is George's modest building and loan company, which was founded by his generous father. But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, with the promise of earning his ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La vie est belle  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,180,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,270,000, 31 December 1947
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(colorized)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Walter Abel, Leon Ames, Edward Arnold, George Bancroft, Edgar Barrier, Charles Bickford, Edgar Buchanan, Louis Calhern, Charles Coburn, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Albert Dekker, Charles Dingle, Dan Duryea, Richard Gaines, Charles Halton, Henry Hull, Victor Jory, Otto Kruger, Gene Lockhart, Raymond Massey, Vincent Price, Claude Rains, Stanley Ridges and Lee Tracy were considered for Mr. Potter. Lionel Barrymore won the role because he was a famous Ebenezer Scrooge in radio dramatizations of "A Christmas Carol" at the time, and was a natural choice to play the heartless, miserly Mr. Potter. An added bonus was Barrymore had worked with Frank Capra before on You Can't Take It with You (1938). See more »

Goofs

When George and Clarence are drying off in the bridge keeper's shack, the postcard hanging by the thermometer on the wall next to the door, repeatedly disappears and reappears between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mr. Emil Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.
Giuseppe Martini: Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Ma Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that's why he's in trouble.
Ernie Bishop: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God.
Mary: I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.
Janie Bailey: Please, God, something's the matter with Daddy.
Zuzu Bailey: Please bring Daddy back.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A ringing facsimile of the Liberty Bell (without the crack) forms the backdrop for the studio logo, which is Liberty Films, and the opening credits are in a scrapbook with Christmas decorations. The bell reappears before the end credits, and the end credits have a Christmas card picture as a backdrop. See more »


Soundtracks

Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)
(uncredited)
Music attributed to John Reading
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Great Influence...
4 March 1999 | by See all my reviews

No movie ever made has influenced me more than this classic. I had the honor of doing a play version of it about 5 years ago. I had seen the film thousands of times, had loved it, but I never really knew what it meant. During the course of the production, I suddenly felt alive. I felt that I wasn't having enough fun. I felt that I wasn't doing enough in my life. Crazy things, like kissing my mother or my father. I hadn't really hugged one of them in a while. It makes you think. It's more of a thinking person's film than a mere Christmas film. If you think it's just a Christmas film, I insist you watch it again and again, until you get the message.

Stewart gives the finest performance of his career, in one of the most difficult characters ever portrayed. A character all of us are familiar with...a person looking to find himself/herself. It's the great struggle for finding what it is in life you really want to do. George Bailey teaches us so lessons throughout the film and in the end he teaches us the most important lesson of all, that life, although a long and winding road, truly is (for lack of a better word) wonderful...


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