It's A Wonderful Life

Liberty Films Released 1947




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Movie Summary

Frank Capra

It's A Wonderful Life is a film directed by Frank Capra starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and was released on December 20, 1946. It was based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern. It's A Wonderful Life is about a man named George Bailey who wants to take his own life on Christmas Eve because a mistake that has caused extreme financial hardship at his business. Before he can complete the act, he is stopped by his guardian angel named Clarence Odbody played by Henry Travers and given a great gift: a chance to see what the world would be like without him in it. Through this insight, the film shows that each person's life has a great impact on all the people around them. At the time of its release, the film was considered a box office flop but over time it has garnered much praise, culminating in an inclusion on the American Film Institute's 100 Best American Films Ever Made list. It's A Wonderful Life is today considered a treasured classic film and is rebroadcast every year during the Christmas season.



Metacritic Score

  • 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    This couldn't be other than a Capra picture, the humanness of its story the dominant factor at every turn of situation. His direction of the individual characterizations delivered ...

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It's one of those ageless movies, like "Casablanca" or "The Third Man," that improves with age. Some movies, even good ones, should only be seen once. When we know how they turn ou...

  • 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    The most well-loved of all Christmas movies.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (20)

    • George: (excitedly) Hello, Bedford Falls! Merry Christmas!...Merry Christmas, movie house!...Merry Christmas, Emporium!...Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building And Loan!...Hey! Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!
      Potter: (with a grumpy and sarcastic attitude) Happy New Year to jail. Go on home...they're waiting for you!

    • Clarence: Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
      George: That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport.
      Clarence: Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry. You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

    • George: Do you know the three most exciting sounds in the world?
      Uncle Billy: Sure, "Breakfast is served, "Lunch is served, "Dinner is served."
      George: No. Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.

    • Pop: I know it's soon to talk about it.
      George: Oh, now Pop, I couldn't. I couldn't face being cooped up for the rest of my life in a shabby little office...Oh, I'm sorry Pop, I didn't mean that, but this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save three cents on a length of pipe...I'd go crazy. I want to do something big and something important.
      Pop: You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we're helping him get those things in our shabby little office.
      George: I know, Dad. I wish I felt...But I've been hoarding pennies like a miser in order to...Most of my friends have already finished college. I just feel like if I don't get away, I'd bust.
      Pop: Yes...yes...You're right son.
      George: You see what I mean, don't you, Pop?
      Pop: This town is no place for any man unless he's willing to crawl to Potter. You've got talent, son. I've seen it. You get yourself an education. Then get out of here.
      George: Pop, you want a shock? I think you're a great guy. (to Annie, listening through the door) Oh, did you hear that, Annie?
      Annie: I heard it. About time one of you lunkheads said it.
      George: I'm going to miss old Annie. Pop, I think I'll get dressed and go over to Harry's party.
      Pop: Have a good time, son.

    • George Bailey: (with great emotion) Dear Father in Heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me... (begins to cry) show me the me the way.

    • George Bailey: (making a wish with a wishing machine) I wish I had a million dollars...Hot dog!

    • Ma Bailey: First Harry, now George. Annie, we're just two old maids now.
      Annie: You speak for yourself, Miss B.

    • Mary: (after George makes a wish on wishing machine) What'd you wish, George?
      George Bailey
      : I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...

    • Annie: Boys and girls and music. Why do they need gin?

    • George Bailey: I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that.

    • Voice of Clarence: (inscription written inside of book left as a gift) "Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."

    • George Bailey: Well, you look about the kind of angel I'd get. Sort of a fallen angel, aren't you? What happened to your wings?
      Clarence: I haven't won my wings, yet. That's why I'm called an Angel Second Class. I have to earn them. And you'll help me will you?
      George Bailey: Sure, sure. How?
      Clarence: By letting me help you.
      George Bailey: I know one way you can help me. You don't happen to have 8,000 bucks on you?
      Clarence: No, we don't use money in Heaven.
      George Bailey:: Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!

    • Little Violet: (concerning young George Bailey) I like him.
      Little Mary: You like every boy.
      Little Violet: What's wrong with that?

    • Annie: (as she gives her donation to help George pay off his debt) I been savin' this money for a divorce...if ever I got a husband.

    • Zuzu Bailey: (after a bell on their Christmas tree rings) Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings
      George Bailey: That's right...that's right. (looking toward Heaven) Attaboy, Clarence.

    • Clarence: You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?

    • George Bailey: You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?

    • George Bailey: Now, come on, get your clothes on, and we'll stroll up to my car and get...Oh, I'm sorry. I'll stroll. You fly.
      Clarence: I can't fly! I haven't got my wings.
      George Bailey: You haven't got your wings. Yeah, that's right.

    • Uncle Billy: (after Potter mentions that George Bailey didn't serve in the war) After all, Potter, some people like George HAD to stay at home. Not every heel was in Germany and Japan.

    • Nick the Bartender: (to Clarence after he tries to order a strange drink) Hey look, mister. We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give the joint "atmosphere". Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer? (raises fist)
      George: Nick, hold on. Just give him the same as mine. He's no trouble.
      Nick: Okay. (walks away to get drink)
      George: (to Clarence) What's the matter with him? I never saw Nick act like that before.
      Clarence: You'll see a lot of strange things from now on!

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Classics, inspiring stories, Family Dramas, altruistic behavior, family tragedy