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USA 1946
Directed by
Frank Capra
129 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

It's A Wonderful Life

Mr Ordinary Joe aka George Bailey (James Stewart) via divine intervention comes to realize the value of his materially less-than-successful life in Frank Capra's classic piece of post-war Norman Rockwellish propaganda for the American Way.

Owing quite a deal to Dickens' A Christmas Carol, its gee-shucks faux-naiveté and idealization of working-man honesty and small town community values not to mention its moral that generosity of spirit, no matter how bumbling, will triumph over capitalist venality, will have sentimentalists dewy-eyed and cynics grinding their teeth (the town's Scrooge-like plutocrat, Mr Potter, played by relish by Lionel Barrymore describes it with withering accuracy as "sentimental hogwash"). That the moral sink that Bedford Falls, Bailey's home town, becomes in George's hypothetical absence is precisely the image of America that the world now knows, thanks, ironically, to Hollywood, that primary agent of God-on-our-side consumer capitalism, should give the former group pause for thought but then when sentiment comes so easily who needs thought?




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