Part comedy, drama and fantasy film, Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life delivers on all levels, and its two hour running time manages to cram in a few important decades of US history. 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.
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.