I’m not a classic movie kind of guy. It’s not that I don’t appreciate or like the classics; it’s just that I spend so much time watching modern day films that I rarely have a chance to sit down and watch the ageless ones. Such is the case with It’s a Wonderful Life, a movie that has been around for over 60 years, a movie I had never seen. It’s a travesty, I know.
Now out on a 2-Disc Collector’s Set, It’s a Wonderful Life includes both the original black and white version, the colored version, a making-of documentary and a “special tribute to Frank Capra, narrated by his son, Frank Capra Jr.” You never know with these classics if they’ll be able to stand the test of time – some greats fifty years ago just don’t hold up well these days. Thankfully, It’s a Wonderful Life stands up beautifully; it’s captivating, entertaining, funny and depressing all at once, and is a true masterpiece.
James Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who has always dreamed of being someone and going somewhere. Though he has had his mild successes and is well respected within the community, every time he tries to go somewhere else, he finds himself drawn back in to his town for one reason or another, whether it is to help his dying father or his struggling neighbors. He lives a life of pure selflessness, but he wants to live for himself. It’s not until an angel shows him what life would be like had he never existed that he truly realizes just how important he is.
Stewart is terrific in the lead, delivering a heartwarming, down-to-earth character who can make us laugh and cry interchangeably. Of course, I didn’t actually cry, but Stewart’s performance, coupled with a terrific screenplay Capra’s direction, touches a chord that few films do these days. The movie can be somber and depressing without shoving it down our throats, and at times leaves you desperate waiting for the next scene in hopes that things get better. Just when things are looking up, something happens to bring us back down to earth, and the reality that all good things come to an end – but it doesn’t mean that more good things can’t follow.
There’s not much else to say. It’s a Wonderful Life is a great film the whole family can enjoy. Touching and enthralling, It’s a Wonderful Life is truly a timeless classic.