Best Movies by Farr
It's a Wonderful Life Poster
Released Runtime Category
1947 130 The Essentials, Drama, Family
Director Language
Frank Capra English
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

It's a Wonderful Life

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What's it About

On Christmas Eve, 1946, small-town banker George Bailey (Stewart) finds himself embroiled in a scandal, and overwhelmed by the feeling that he is a personal failure. Stopped from leaping to his death by awkward guardian angel Clarence (Travers), Bailey recounts his eventful life on the road to ruin, from his marriage to high-school sweetheart Mary (Reed) to his final showdown with town tyrant Mr. Potter (Barrymore).

Why we love it

The quintessential Frank Capra film and a heartwarming holiday treat year in and year out, "Life" is the ultimate optimistic statement on the value of love, life, and community. Capra's masterful handling of the bittersweet storyline  in which Bailey sacrifices his own dreams to run the family savings-and-loan business and keep his hometown of Bedford Falls out of Potter's greedy paws — is pure Hollywood magic. Reed and Barrymore give exceptional performances, but Stewart, in one of his all-time great roles (and a personal favorite), is the dynamic, all-too-human force holding it all together. Revived in the '70s after languishing in copyright limbo, "Life" is nostalgic and achingly sentimental, but doesn't shrink from portraying the dark side of American life. If "Zuzu's petals" don't put a lump in your throat, wait till a revivified George finds a special surprise waiting for him back home. Let those tear ducts flow, because "It's a Wonderful Life."

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"