Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Movie: It's a Wonderful Life

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

Producer and Director
Frank Capra

Original Music by
Dimitri Tiomkin (musical score written by)

Cinematography by
Joseph F. Biroc (director of photography) (as Joseph Biroc)
Joseph Walker (director of photography)
Victor Milner (director of photography) (uncredited)

Film Editing by
William Hornbeck

Art Direction by
Jack Okey

Set Decoration by
Emile Kuri

Costume Design by
Edward Stevenson (costumes)

Makeup Department
Gordon Bau .... makeup supervisor

We all know the story. George Bailey wants to leave the small town of Bedford Falls behind, and see the wide, wide world…but as John Lennon said, life is what happens while we are making other plans. George’s father has a stroke and George must assume responsibility for the barely solvent Building & Loan.

His valiant struggle to keep the Building & Loan afloat gives us a classic view of the many trials and tribulations of everyday life: he must try to protect the Building & Loan from his incompetent Uncle Billy, and Uncle Billy from himself. He must fend off the ever present depredations of Mr. Potter and his big money bank. He doesn’t want to fall in love, but he does, and soon has a brood of children, and is living in a tumble-down old mansion that is coming apart like an old sweater unraveling.

Things go from bad to worse, and when George thinks that he’s lost the fight and decides to chuck it all, Clarence the fledgling angel comes to his rescue, complete in his 16th century nightshirt. Clarence shows George what the world would have been like without him; and we get to experience, with George, the true significance of his “ordinary” life. Along with George, we get a new perspective on his “failure.”

Director Capra gives us the wonderful gift of affirming that one person can make a difference, that each and every life is important, and that success cannot be truly measured by material gain or fame, but by the courage of one man to persevere, no matter the odds, to protect those he loves and the values that he cherishes.

I watch this movie only once a year. It is my Christmas gift to myself. After the gifts are opened and everyone is busy playing with their new toys, I curl up in bed with a steaming mug of tea, wrap myself in a quilt that my husband’s great-grandmother made, and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

Merry Christmas to all!


  1. Noiree, i also love this Christmas movie.. Merry Christmas to you.:)

  2. This movie can get just about anyone in the Christmas spirit--it just pulls at your heart-strings.

  3. Noiree, you won't believe it, but I have never watched this film. I definitely have to watch it. I love Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner.

  4. I ABOSOLUTELY love this movie, Noiree!!! It was the very first black and white movie I ever saw at the age of 10!!! And Silentfilmfanatic, I loved The Shop Around the Corner too, except I haven't seen it in a long time!!

  5. Silent, I hope that you will enjoy it. Capra is known as the king of Feel Good, but his world is no bed of roses. He does not gloss over the reality of human suffering. However, as you are a fan of Jimmy Stewart, I think that his performance alone would repay your viewing. In my opinion, Stewart gave the best performances of his career under Capra's direction.

    Cagneyfan, with IAWL as the opener, it's no wonder that you became a fan of the classics! I will think of you during my Christmas viewing ;>)


  6. Just one word: timeless classic. OK, two words, but Life is one of those rare treasures that everyone will enjoy.

  7. My favorite movie of all time. Merry Christmas!