It's A Wonderful Life (U)

Review by Rebecca J Madrigal

THIS movie may have you doing one of two things - either reaching for a large box of tissues or reaching for a large bucket!

This is a feel-good, feel-sad movie that you either love (and always watch when sad, or at Christmas, for its touching belief in the goodness of human nature) or it repulses you with its sentimental twaddle and teary-eyed story.

So, have tissues at one side and a bucket at the other and we will begin - decide which you need at the end.

James Stewart is a small-town business man who's loan company collapses. Unable to cope with the strain of coping with this, he decides to commit suicide, but is saved from this by an elderly angel, who is desperate to earn his wings, (bucket or tissues?)

Stewart begins to wish that he had never been born, feeling that the world would be a better place without him. And yes, you've guessed it, in time honoured movie tradition, Stewart is taken back and shown how different the town and the people would have been without him.

But while the movie is sentimental, it comes without the goo attached to most modern-day efforts and, at times, comes with a hardness to the story, especially when Stewart turns on his own family. There is a belief in family and human values but this is not viewed completely through rose coloured spectacles, and the less desirable issue of greed is underlined throughout the film.

Stewart was nominated for an Oscar, even though it is the type of role which fits him like a glove, and he excels at every opportunity, turning in a beautiful and moving performance.

Henry Travers plays the life-saving angel and, believe me, this is how angels should really look - a sweet old man and a superb performance; however hard-hearted you are, the angel tugs at the heart strings every time. We could all do with a Clarence!

A superior cast, including Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame and Ward Bond, make this easy viewing.

But you will have to watch it to see if Clarence earns his wings!

So, tissues or buckets, it's up to you?

Black & White (1946), 129 minutes

DIRECTOR / PRODUCER: Frank Capra
SCREENPLAY: Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett;

PREVIOUS DVD CLASSICS: Kind Hearts and Coronets. Click here...
Sunset Boulevard. Click here...
Some Like It Hot. Click here...
His Girl Friday. Click here for review...