Happy tears is a thing too. George is taken through a world in which he feels he is non-being at the first. I am crying out loud at the ending of this movie, when George bounding through the door, excitedly surrounding himself with a zeal for life. I am just so EXCITED. He is now grateful for the thing which irritated him. He is overflowing with love for his children and his wife. That warmth makes me cry.
I'm not familiar with most of Capra's films and I've resisted watching It's A Wonderful Life for its fame as sappy Christmas film. And fuck, ok this is sappy and schmaltzy as fuck, but it is also an amazing film with complex storytelling made to look easy. What really made me watch it was Capra talking about it in "Five Came Back".
I can't help but wonder how fresh and modern this film looks even today. Together with "A Matter of Life and Death" and "Heaven Can Wait", it must have formed the modern conventions of fantasy drama. This film has comedy and it also has drama, it has a lot of meaningful conflict and multi-faceted characters. It also has some interesting visual effects and cinematography, as well as hints of coming post-modernism.
Just as sentimental & feel-good as everyone says, but there's also real failure, depression, and viciousness from Stewart that gives him layers. The villain is absurd cartoon. Donna Reed is another well-rounded role, very likeable. "Stars" talking intro is just dumb, sorry. Evil Pottersville hilarious moralizing & the section goes far far too long. Ending is both unlikely and cheesy.
I read a brilliant review by Chad Perman (the founder of Bright Wall/Dark Room) that beautifully articulated why 'It's A Wonderful Life' resonates with me as a film. He writes how it deftly balances both dark existential dread and a hopefulness for existence: "Our lives mean something, despite the limitations of our time on earth, because our actions will outlast us. We ripple on."
capra's d-movie sensibilities achieve perfection here. the alchemical task of constructing something so nauseatingly american - so maudlin, so weepy, so proud, so absolute - is a national aesthetic heritage which unarguably reaches its pinnacle with this movie. god bless capra... has there ever been an artist as earnest??
As sappy-optimistic as it gets while still feeling sincere. A feel good movie for the ages with an inventive script, great acting, pleasant photography, and a lovely message. This is a film everyone should watch, preferably with those you love the most. You have value, and even when the world comes crashing down and you feel more alone than ever, there are those who would lose something irreplaceable if you were gone
A heartwarming film (thanks especially to James Stewart's natural charisma) that has all the elements for a great story and has them put together neatly: it's a very mature production that is a breeze to watch. However, something about its extremely Christian American, moralistic vibe (as with many more post-code 30s and 40s films) limits the fullness and authenticity of the experience for me.
I guess this is kind of a great film, although nauseatingly over-popularized. And the more I see of Capra, the more I am fed up with his Americanism, sappy moralistic happy endings (the ridiculous whitewashing of corrupt American politics at the end of Mr. Smith pisses me off to no end), & I can't help but feel like there's an undercurrent of white supremacy permeating his entire oeuvre. But that's Hollywood I guess.
Capra's majestic moral tale not only offers genuine cinematic pleasures (as in George's amazing extreme close-up of utter desperation) and the divine snowstorm shots on the bridge, it also confronts the intersection of human lives and the causal impact that an ethics of integrity can have versus the 'corrosion of character' in US capitalism. A topical film on debt (not only economic but also theological) it glows!