Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life is a film which delivers on all levels. Originally overlooked on its original release, the film only became popular due to a clerical error that led to the film falling into the public domain – meaning that television stations could show it free of charge. It was this heavy rotation that brought the film back to the public conscience and rightfully lifted the film from obscurity to masterpiece status.
James Stewart gives a mesmerising performance as George Bailey, the small town dreamer with high aspirations who, following a series of setbacks in life, ends up running the family business; a local building and loan.
Based on the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern It’s A Wonderful Life is a true cinematic masterpiece that would melt the coldest of hearts. I know that statement is a tired cliché – but it is very true. The heart of the film is James Stewart’s magnificent performance, his first in many years due to his WWII military service. Stewart shows excellent range in his “everyman” persona that that has made him a legend. He is easily able to show George grow from a young man in his early twenties to a middle aged business man without the use of prosthetics or fancy cinematic gimmicks.
Budgeted at $3 million, It’s A Wonderful Life grossed just $3.3 million at the US box office following its release in January 1947.