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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:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Frances Goodrich (screenplay), Albert Hackett (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
628 ( 599)
Top Rated Movies #24 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... George Bailey
Donna Reed ... Mary Hatch
Lionel Barrymore ... Mr. Potter
Thomas Mitchell ... Uncle Billy
Henry Travers ... Clarence
Beulah Bondi ... Mrs. Bailey
Frank Faylen ... Ernie
Ward Bond ... Bert
Gloria Grahame ... Violet
H.B. Warner ... Mr. Gower
Frank Albertson ... Sam Wainwright
Todd Karns ... Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds ... Pa Bailey
Mary Treen ... Cousin Tilly
Virginia Patton ... 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:

The most loved Christmas film of all time! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, smoking and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

7 January 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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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:

Liberty Films (II) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The year during which Potter offers George a $20,000 annual salary is unclear, but assuming that the scene takes place in 1939, that amount is equivalent to $337,730 as of 2015. See more »

Goofs

In some colorized versions, Ernie the cab driver is seen in the last scene wearing a light blue shirt with epaulets and an Air Force "flying star" shoulder patch. The Air Force uniform did not include light blue shirts until 1949, two years after it separated from the Army and three years after this film was made, and did not include light blue shirts with epaulets until the 1970s and in any case never authorized shoulder patches with any type of light blue shirt. As the Air Force was still part of the Army at the time, and based on the light shade, Ernie's shirt was presumably khaki in real life. See more »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

Beware of the many edited 16mm/"Public Domain" prints still floating around somewhere on home video. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remote Control (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

My Wild Irish Rose
(1899) (uncredited)
Written by Chauncey Olcott
Performed by Thomas Mitchell
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A Great Influence...
4 March 1999 | by Coxer99See 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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