Movie Review: It’s a Wonderful Life

…And how truly wonderful it is!

Although made in 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life is still a classic Christmas staple today. Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, this black and white film makes you rethink the real meaning of the holiday season. The movie starts off with two angels discussing George Bailey (Stewart), and how he wants to commit suicide. This causes the angels to flashback through George’s selfless life, beginning with George jumping into a frozen lake to save his brother from drowning, which causes George to lose hearing in one of his ears. They further highlight the countless things he has done for others such as, catching the pharmacist putting poison in a prescription, taking over his family’s Building and Loan business (which his brother is supposed to take over in the future) instead of traveling the world, and eventually giving away his honeymoon money to save the Building in Loan. George Bailey marries beloved Mary Hatch, restores an old home with her, and they have four children. However, once his brother returns home from college, he is married and has another job offer, leaving George stuck in Bedford Falls. Harry eventually serves in World War II, which George cannot do because of his hearing loss, and gets awarded the medal of honor. While preparing for his heroic homecoming, George’s Uncle Billy loses $8,000 from the Building and Loan, which ends up in the hands of Mr. Potter, the town’s robber baron. Fearing the criminal charges he and the Building and Loan may face because of this misplaced cash, George Bailey becomes drunk and prays to God for help. He takes out his frustration on everyone he knows, specifically his family. George finds himself standing on a bridge. As he is about to jump, another man seems to fall in and screams for help. The man who falls in is Clarence, one of the angels from the beginning of the movie, who was sent down to Earth to save George. Saving George will help Clarence earn his wings. George helps him out of the river and Clarence reveals to him that he is his guardian angel, as many people are worried about him. George tells him that he is worth more dead than alive, and that everyone in his life would be better off without him. In response to that, Clarence creates a world where George Bailey didn’t exist. Clarence and George take on this new reality without George Bailey: the pharmacist George helped with the poison went to jail, his brother died because George wasn’t there to save him, the Building and Loan went under, and Mr. Potter has taken over Bedford Falls, which is now known as “Pottersville”. George soon realizes he misses what he had before and starts to value his life. Clarence reverses his spell and George rushes home to his family. When he arrives home, everyone in Bedford Falls donates their own money to help pay for the missing $8,000. Harry calls George the “richest man in town” while everyone pools their money together. Clarence leaves a note for George which reads, “Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings!”, reminding George of how loved and lucky he is. He also reveals that he received his wings, which is followed by the sound of a Christmas bell. As the bell rings, George Bailey’s daughter says, “Everytime a bell rings an angel gets his wings”, unknowingly acknowledging Clarence’s set of wings. The movie closes out with everyone singing the holiday classic, “Auld Lang Syne”. It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t your basic Christmas or holiday movie. It encompasses the true meaning of Christmas, family, success, and life. Every single person should watch this movie, and then continue to watch it every year. It’s the perfect movie to watch, wrap yourself in a blanket, turn the fireplace on, make a cup of hot chocolate, and have the Christmas tree lit in the background with.

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