Genre: Drama/Family/Fantasy
Premise: An ambitious man watches his life pass him by while sacrificing his dreams to help others. Feeling like a failure later in life, he tries to commit suicide, only to have an angel show him what the world would’ve been like had he never existed.
About: Directed by the great Frank Capra and starring the amazing James Stewart, It’s A Wonderful Life had quite the interesting life of its own. The film didn’t do well initially at the box office, but later became a staple on television networks leading up to Christmas, where audiences eventually fell in love with it. Director (and co-writer) Frank Capra had a fascinating career as a director. He won 3 (count’em THREE) Oscars as a director in the 30s. However, after World War 2, his optimistic endearing films didn’t play to a world whose mood had turned cynical. In fact, “It’s A Wonderful Life” was considered by many critics (at the time) to be the film that signified Capra was no longer in touch with the public. Amazingly, Capra made his last movie nearly 30 years before he died, a rarity for directors.
Writer: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, Jo Swerling, Philip Van Doren Stern and Michael Wilson
Details: 130 minutes


Gotta admit, this one always gets me. Things get a little emotional at the Scriptshadow compound when the end of It’s A Wonderful Life plays. I mean, I’m not confirming any tears here. The so-called “visual evidence” of drenched tissues reported on some websites is completely fabricated and/or tampered with. But as each year passes, and Christmas seems less like a magical experience and more like a government-driven holiday to make us open our wallets, Frank Capra and James Stewart remind me just how sweet and nice the holiday can be.

Yeah yeah, emotions and all that. This is still a screenwriting site, so when I popped “Life” in this year, I still needed an angle to explore the film from. It came to me rather quickly. I realized I wanted to know what made a story timeless. What makes something worthy of coming back to year after year? Because, as you know, the majority of movies we watch leave our brains by the time we’re back in the parking lot. If we could discover even a piece of what makes a screenplay timeless, we could all become better writers.

For those who haven’t seen It’s A Wonderful Life, it’s set during the 20s, 30s and 40s, and centers around an idealistic dreamer named George Bailey. George lives in a tiny town called Bedford Falls that he can’t wait to leave. If there’s a country George isn’t planning on travelling to, it isn’t on the map yet. And so when he hits his 20s, he readies himself for that life of adventure.

But then his father dies, who happened to be the president of the family business, an old Building and Loan that is the only respite the town has from the evil Mr. Potter, a dastardly old weasel who holds the town hostage with crippling loan terms that leave him rich and everyone else desperate. Since the Building and Loan is the only thing standing in the way of him controlling the town completely, Mr. Potter will stop at nothing to take it down.

In order to keep the town out of Potter’s hands, George is forced to take his dad’s place, and thus begins a series of events over the years where the timing is never right for George to get away. Soon he’s married with five children, barely getting by, wondering what his life would’ve been like had he followed his dreams instead of helping others. On the night he plans to commit suicide, an angel appears and gives him a spectacular gift: He shows him what the world would’ve been like if George Bailey had never lived.

Watching It’s A Wonderful Life this time around, it didn’t take long to realize why it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s all about universal timeless themes, things that man had to deal with a thousand years ago and things that man will still be dealing with a thousand years from now.

Helping others versus helping yourself is the main theme that plays throughout “Life.” There’s also the theme of sacrifice. There’s the theme of the underdog. There’s the theme of struggle – trying to make it through each day, despite the countless obstacles we face. We have a villain who stands for corruption and greed, something every town, city, and country experiences on some level. We have the power of love. We have the importance of family. These are things that every human being knows. Contrast that with, say, Green Lantern. What, if any, part of that movie connects with audiences on a deeper level? What timeless themes does it explore?  Of course, just covering these bases isn’t enough. You still have to do it in an entertaining way. You still have to construct a story that’s dramatically compelling.  And Capra and his 200 screenwriters achieve that in spades.


One of the biggest reasons It’s A Wonderful Life works is because you freaking LOVE the main character. I mean, could you design a persona more lovable than George Bailey? The man is the ultimate selfless human being. He sacrifices all his dreams to keep the Building and Loan from folding. He sacrifices them again so his brother can go to college. He gives his OWN money to people if the money from the bank isn’t enough. As a kid, he sticks up to the villain, Mr. Potter (heroes who aren’t afraid of villains are always likable)! Even in death, George Bailey is still giving. When he decides to commit suicide, it isn’t out of selfishness. It’s because he knows he’s worth more dead than alive, and that the money his family will get from his life insurance policy will allow them to survive.

It is through all this giving that I began to notice something. These days, screenwriters only make their characters “good” at the beginning of their script, in the form of a “save the cat” moment, designed to make you “like” them. The problem is, the audience has become keen to this device and aren’t as easily tricked. They know when you’re conning them, and therefore a save the cat moment can actually backfire. The reason George Bailey is so damn likable is because his acts of kindness never end! They happen again and again and again. That consistency makes us trust him, makes us believe he’s a good guy. And that’s why we like him so much.

Capra also understood that a great hero is nothing without a great villain. We need someone to root against just as much as we need someone to root for. Mr. Potter is almost as memorable as George Bailey, and I think it’s because of one clever choice. Putting Potter in a wheelchair. Making Potter a “cripple” distracted us from the fact that Potter is essentially a caricature. He is mean just to be mean. But dammit if that wheelchair doesn’t distract us from this truth. Villains aren’t supposed to be in wheelchairs, we say. And so, like a magician’s misdirect, it makes us think that Mr. Potter is indeed, a real person.

Capra is also wise enough to know that if a bad thing is going to happen to our hero, the villain must always be a part of it. What good is having a villain if they aren’t orchestrating your hero’s downfall! So there’s a key scene late where Uncle Billy, George’s bumbling second-in-command, misplaces 8000 dollars, which will ultimately lead George into the tailspin that results in his attempted suicide. I mean sure, you could’ve stopped there. That was enough to get the story where it needed to go. But Capra took that one extra step and made Potter realize Uncle Billy’s mistake, and snatch the erroneously placed money when he wasn’t looking.

Then of course, there’s the ending, where everyone comes to George’s house and gives him money to bail him out. You know this moment because you’ve seen it in dozens of movies. However, this is the ONLY FILM IN HISTORY where it’s actually worked. Why? Because, of course, it’s SET UP. Actually, it’s born out of a thousand set-ups. We’ve seen, over the past two hours, as George has personally helped all of these people. So the fact that they would help him back in his time of need goes unquestioned. Nobody who’s ever used this copycat ending seems to realize this, which is why every subsequent attempt has been a disaster.

It’s A Wonderful Life is about characters. It’s about struggle. It’s about holding true to your values. And it’s about good versus evil. What’s more universal than that??

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[x] genius

What I learned: Have your hero KEEP being good instead of just giving him a contrived “save the cat” scene early on. This consistency will lead to an authenticity in your character, which will result in us trusting and rooting for him.

  • First

    “there’s the ending, where everyone comes to George’s house and gives him money to bail him out”

    Reminds me of the ending in Bingo when all the the people he met on his adventure come to his bedside at the hospital.

  • ArabyChic

    I love this movie – I think it’s a lot darker than its syrupy reputation.

    It’s amazing that a character so seemingly unflawed could be so likable. That’s one of the things they teach us isn’t it? Without a flaw, your audience won’t connect to your main character. One of the things people forget is that even though George is a “Good Guy”, he has many moments of doubt and taking out his frustrations on innocent people – whether they be his uncle, a sweet old teacher, his wife – etc. Because even though he is good he is still ruled by a flaw that leads him to look at everything other people have with jealous eyes. Through out the movie, all he can see is what he doesn’t have… until the end. He always does the right thing, but he hates that he has to. To me this is such a huge part of why he is truly “good” while still remaining one of the most likable characters in history. He is a reluctant hero till the end – but always does what’s right.

    • Poe_Serling

      “… it’s a lot darker than its syrupy reputation.”

      Great point. I always felt if you turned off the sound and just watched the images after George decides to commit suicide on the bridge that the film almost plays out like a horror movie…. here you have a frantic man running around a bleak and inhospitable town… graveyards.. abandoned houses… friends and relatives who don’t recognize you… and so on.

      • ArabyChic

        Same here. I always thought that last part played like a Twilight Zone episode. There’s one shot especially where after George isn’t recognized by his own mother he bounds down the porch to the street and – with a wild look in his eyes – turns his head. For one moment he’s looking right at us with those wild and crazy eyes. And it’s even creepier because it’s Jimmy Stewart, who’s the sweetest guy ever.

        • walker

          Alfred Hitchcock was able to use Jimmy Stewart’s persona to great effect in all four of the films they made together. There are uncanny moments similar to the one you describe in all of them, particularly in the 1956 Man Who Knew Too Much, when he sedates his own wife before he tells her their son has been kidnapped, and throughout the masterpiece Vertigo, where his actions are obsessive and border on a necrophiliac fascination with the Judy Barton character. The scene where he is buying her clothes and they have a little tiff is beautiful drama and the kind of thing that is almost always overlooked even by Hitchcock’s enthusiastic admirers.

          • ArabyChic

            Couldn’t agree more. Especially in Vertigo, he becomes such a cold and detached protagonist.

            Anthony Mann also used Stewart’s nice guy image to great effect by having him play men driven by revenge, especially in the Naked Spur.

            God I love that guy.

          • filmklassik

            I love him too, and kudos for bringing up the Mann westerns, which more than anything else (yes, even more than VERTIGO) made the public realize just how dark and obsessive the all-American Stewart could really get.

          • Malibo Jackk

            In Naked Spur, it was those closeups of Steward’s face.
            and those sinister blue eyes.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Some of it is common sense. The need to pepper the script with drama and conflict.
            Otherwise, they’re just shopping.

      • Acarl

        Yes! With the sound off it is very similar to ‘The Trial’.

        • Poe_Serling

          I saw that one a few years back during my infatuation with all things Orson Welles.

          Much like the film itself… I only remember bits and pieces of the imagery… Anthony Perkins as the lead.. and a dream-like quality to the scenes/plot. :-)

    • shewrites

      You are so right, Arabychic. George’s reluctance to make the choices he does and his irritability at the town people because of that is what makes him imperfect therefore real.
      Great review, Carson.

    • Cfrancis1

      You nailed it. George may be a selfless person but he’s also human. He gets frustrated and angry and lashes out. But we roll with it because we understand his frustrations and know that at heart he’s a great guy. I don’t think this film is syrupy sweet, either. It definitely goes into dark territory. Which is what makes the ending so satisfying and emotional. He’s been through hell and back and deserves all the great stuff that happens to him.

      Man, they used to show this movie around the clock in December on all sorts of stations. But I think Turner took control and now they only show it once on TCM or one of those stations. Haven’t seen it in a while but I so want to watch it right now!

  • davejc

    Interesting factoid: There was concern by the government during the war that Capra was a Nazi sympathizer. And then after he made It’s A Wonderful Life the concern was he was a communist due to the film’s anti-capitalist sentiment.

    • witwoud

      According to an FBI memo: “With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.”

      • Citizen M

        It worked! Is there anyone more hated than bankers nowadays?

  • Brock_Rox

    The whole film is about sacrifice. Part of what makes George so likable is that we can see that he could do anything he wanted to in life. It is set up early on in the film that he wants to travel the world and yet he gives all of that up for his family. Although he doesn’t actually die for others, he gives up his hopes and dreams for others, essentially living a life that he didn’t want but he knew that he had to. That’s next to the ultimate sacrifice. I think a lot of people can relate to giving up on your own plan for life and re-prioritizing everything when it throws certain problems your way. He is an example of what we should aspire to be and CAN be if we choose. I think one of the things that makes a great protagonist is making sure that the audience WISHES we could be that person.

    And don’t discount the power of Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal. He is basically the Tom Hanks before Tom Hanks was born. You can’t help but love him.

    Great film all around.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for the holiday treat, Carson. And a timely one, too – It’s A Wonderful Life is on NBC tomorrow night.

    • John Bradley

      Just DVR’d it!

      • Poe_Serling

        Good for you… it looks like your holiday time will be spent on catching up with the classics.

        So, what did you think of Vertigo??

        • John Bradley

          My DVR had some problems today, darn Comcast. I ended watching half of The Lady Vanishes on Netflix. So I’m halfway through that and 1/3 through Vertigo. My girlfriend is back home and her attention span is not the best for either movie. So I will finish both later this week. I’m enjoying both so far, probably Vertigo a bit more.

  • walker

    This film is certainly more ambitious than many critics seem to realize, even now.
    The darkly fantastical “Nighttown” sequence is justifiably celebrated, and the subplot involving the Donna Reed/Gloria Grahame duality is beautifully effective, due in large part to Grahame’s brilliant performance.
    In my first script I couldn’t resist a few references to IAWL, including a good-hearted oaf named Sam Wainwright. Hee-haw.

    • walker

      I feel compelled to add that my original comment did include appropriate and visually stunning paragraph breaks.

  • Ambrose*

    If you get a chance, read the short story, ‘The Greatest Gift’, by Philip Van Doren Stern, that the movie’s script was based on.

    You’ll see how much the bevy of screenwriters fleshed out the original story. You can probably find it on the internet.

    But Capra’s original cut of the movie was much darker than what the studio released. And even the title was different. See below:

    • ArabyChic

      That’s brilliant.

    • drifting in space

      Love it.

    • Brian Lastname

      This is absolutely fantastic.

  • Ambrose*

    If I’m not mistaken, one of the reasons that the movie became so popular over the decades since it was released was because of that new-fangled contraption called “television”.
    As millions more people came to watch it each Christmas it became a holiday classic and tradition.

    I heard years ago that the main reason for the heavy rotation was because the film reportedly was in the public domain for many years so TV stations could air it for free. Hence they ran it many, many times during the Christmas season.
    I don’t know if that’s true or not.

    • ArabyChic

      It’s true. It fell into public domain because it was at first such a failure that no one thought it was worthwhile to keep ownership of.

  • MWire

    So now we have to save multiple cats? This could lead to a serious imbalance in the dog/cat quotient.

    • drifting in space

      That is so cute, LOL.

    • John Bradley

      I always give my villains a “kick the dog” moment. Man, whoever came up with these terms was definitely a cat person=)

    • Malibo Jackk

      Reminds me of a scene from The Birds.

  • garrett_h

    If I was trying to write a “timeless classic” I’d follow your advice Carson. Timeless themes. Likable protag. It has to be PG, but still a little dark. And also, I’d base it around some holiday. Because that gives the networks a blueprint for when and where to show it.

    I haven’t seen It’s A Wonderful Life in a while, but I remember watching it just about every year as a kid on winter break. Another one is A Christmas Story. TNT shows it around the clock during the holidays.

    Both of those movies have protags we can relate to. Every adult knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with life, just like George. Every kid knows what it’s like to want THAT ONE THING for Christmas, just like Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun. We relate to them. And I always tune in to relive those moments I spent over the years with George and Ralphie, as well as with my brother, cousins, parents, etc.

    That’s what makes a movie timeless. Not so much the film, but the memories you make watching it with family and friends. The best movies are an experience. I don’t think you can manufacture that. Some things just become magical.

    • Poe_Serling

      It’s also interesting how certain films can grow on you over time.

      When I first watched the holiday favorite White Christmas, I couldn’t understand the appeal at first… I kept thinking that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye seem way too old to be in the military, their thirtyish girlfriends act and dress like teenagers, the plot sorta limps along, etc.

      Now the AMC channel (I believe) runs it on a 24-loop during the Christmas season, and I’ve tuned in religiously for the past several years. And guess what? I find myself enjoying the film more and more… I’ve come to appreciate the story for what it is: simply two people helping out an old friend in need… with some great songs, dancing, and year’s worth of sentimentality. The perfect gift for a wintry day.

      • wlubake

        The song White Christmas was popularized in the movie Holiday Inn. That’s one that is jarring to revisit. When Crosby broke out a blackface number called “Abraham” to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, I started to wonder how the networks felt they could still show it.

        • Poe_Serling

          “The song White Christmas was popularized in the movie Holiday Inn.”

          That is a fun fact. I often hear the film Holiday Inn mentioned around this time of the year, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it.

          • K.B. Houston

            Another fun fact: “White Christmas” is the No. 1 selling record (song) of all time. Learned it at a trivia contest. Kinda surprising…

  • Paul

    What happened to the Thursday’s Article?

  • JakeBarnes12

    Anybody remember “Capra’s” restaurant in Malibu?

    It was on the PCH in that lot where there’s a new place every six months. Think there’s an Indian burial ground beneath it.

    Ate there a couple of times. Capra’s Oscar was in a glass case as you walked in the door, so it’s the nearest I’ve ever been to an Oscar (so far :))

    Must admit I was tempted to do a little smash & grab but then I asked myself what George Bailey would do and left my hammer in my jacket.

    Little testament to that movie’s power to inspire the best in people.

  • Ambrose*

    One of my favorite scenes in the movie is right after George jumps into the river to save Clarence.
    They’re drying off and talking in the room with the bridge guy.
    Just watching the facial expressions and physical actions of that bridge guy to what they’re saying makes me laugh every time I watch that scene.
    It’s “little” touches like that with a seemingly unimportant character that helps make your movie come alive. And he doesn’t even have to say a word.

    The classsic dance scene at the high school where the gym floor opens up and they fall into the swimming pool was filmed at Beverly Hills High.

    The characters of Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver became the names of two other famous tv and movie characters.

    I read this years ago and it offers some interesting insight, stories and trivia on the making of the movie, including the list of possibilities for each role when they were casting.—Scene/dp/1556526369/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387473272&sr=1-2&keywords=it%27s+a+wonderful+life

  • filmklassik

    I too enjoy IAWL (though I haven’t seen it in many years) but I’m curious to hear from Carson and his “Shadow Riders” their thoughts about the lack of comeuppance for the villain.

    From a writers perspective, does this omission bother anybody? And could such an omission ever fly today?

  • John Bradley

    I used to have a prejudice against movies from this era. Now I see these movies as great learning devices. In the last couple months I’ve watched Gone with the Wind and Arsnic and Old Lace. I am adding It’s a Wonderful Life to my list this month. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Ambrose*

      Watch ‘Bringing Up Baby’, if only for Cary Grant’s physical comedy.

      • John Bradley

        I had Vertigo saved on my DVR and all the talk about it on this thread made me decide to watch that today. I’ve seen a bunch of Hitchcock, just have never happened to watch this one. I’m hitting play now=)

      • Crystal

        Cary Grant is brilliant in everything!

    • Crystal

      Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, Sullivan’s Travels, The Third Man, The Maltese Falcon, The Shop Around the Corner

      • wlubake

        Such a fan of The Philadelphia Story. Thought it would have been great for a remake a few years back. Clooney in Cary Grant’s role. Matthew Perry in Jimmy Stewart’s role. Of course, this was back when Matthew Perry was making movies. Never thought of an actress who could step into Hepburn’s role, though, and do it justice.

        • Crystal

          Now I’m sad this doesn’t exist.

      • wlubake

        Add lots of Hitchcock. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a must, too.

    • filmklassik

      I dig movies from that era. I dig movies from most eras, actually (well, not the last 20 years or so). But my favorite eras for motion pictures are 1946-1951 (the height of film noir), and 1966-1981 (the height of the auteur years).

      And I love IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE… *like* GONE WITH THE WIND (especially the first half)… but find ARSENIC AND OLD LACE forced and unfunny. Plenty of people admire it though.

      • lonestarr357

        Strip away Cary Grant’s mugging (which feels so very unnatural because…well, it’s Cary Grant) and ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is pretty funny. Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre, in particular, are terrific.

    • Crcbonjour

      Start watching classic film & watch all you can! It’s some of the best story telling ever done, no tricks, EFX, GREAT characters, everything. It’s why we still want/need to make movies and a reminder of how great they can be…..even memorable!! It was my “film school” and is why I love movies. First see the films, then rewatch for the lessons, i.e., be entertained, then study dialogue, timing, acting, lighting, setting, location, costumes……soak it all in. Sturges & Wilder typically wrote & directed; Hawks, Wyler, Huston, Curtiz, Stevens, Ford, Lean, Cukor….other directors to look for whose films rarely failed & hence had great scripts, casts.
      Enjoy. Off to TCM, or Netflix….

      Oh and NBC actually bought “It’s a Wonderful Life” and took it out of public domain & the bums only show it twice a year at most. Worth OWNING. TCM cannot show it. No one can. So very Mr. Potter!

      • John Bradley

        That’s some great advice. I try to watch a couple movies like that a month and keep an open mind.

        • Crcbonjour

          Thanks, I’m glad you think so. The more you watch, the more you’ll see things that some film makers try to do today, or utilize now, that will be VERY familiar and/or inspiring.

          Interesting comparison: watch Titanic….you likely have. Then look for “A Night to Remember” and decide. Effects and all, I think you’ll be surprised.


  • Joe Beatty

    A couple of quick historical points about the film. It was originally intended as a vehicle for Cary Grant, when RKO bought the rights of the original story, “The Greatest Gift,” but Grant went on to make another Christmas movie, “The Bishop’s Wife.”

    Also, Ginger Rodgers turned down the part played by Donna Reed.

    Finally, as to the villain, Potter, being in a wheelchair. As you say, it makes the villain’s character more memorable. However, it was also done out of necessity, because of Lionel Barrymore’s medical condition. He had great difficulty walking. After 1937′s “Captain Courageous,” he was never seen standing and walking unassisted in a film. There are disagreements as to how this medical condition came about. Most film historians say it was caused by breaking his hip. Others argue that it was arthritis. Some say it was a combination of the two. Regardless, it can been seen of taking advantage of a problem, and turning it into an asset as to the character of Potter.

    • filmklassik

      Never knew that about Lionel Barrymore. Makes perfect sense though as if memory serves he played a wheelchair-bound character in KEY LARGO as well.

  • wlubake

    I went to college with a guy named George Bailey. We weren’t friends, but at a small school like ours, I’d see him all the time at parties, etc. Every time I saw him I’d say, “I wish I had a million dollars. Hot dog!”
    To this day I think he has zero clue why I said that. Probably thinks I’m nuts.

    • klmn

      He might be right.

      Can’t say for sure. Just speculatin’.

  • Guest

    I thought the only black and white movie Carson liked was Sunset Boulevard.
    According to him the black and white takes him out of the story

    • Ambrose*

      Maybe Carson watched a colorized – gasp! – version of the movie.

      • Andrew Orillion

        There is a colorized version, we had a copy at the video rental place I used to work at. No one ever rented it.

  • K.B. Houston

    So glad you reviewed this Carson. And so glad you gave it a rare “genius” rating, which is undoubtedly deserves.

    It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my TOP 5 favorite movies EVER. And I HATE how it gets lumped in with all the other corny Christmas movies every year. It’s a Wonderful Life is brilliant. I’m not religious in any way, and I actually try and avoid Christmas as much as I can, but this movie just touches those chords so deep inside your body, the ones that every human being on this planet has.

    You mention Save the Cat — one of the biggest lessons I took away from Blake Snyder was making your story have a “primal” theme. It’s a Wonderful Life does it as good as any story I’ve ever seen or read. The concepts of sacrifice, suicide, love, family, work, money — we all understand these basic human functions, and we live them every day. This movie summarizes the human condition in connection with them like no other movie I’ve ever seen. It’s just absolutely amazing.

    I’m not even a big fan of old movies. I really just don’t like way people talk in them (transatlantic accents are one of the most pretentious things ever created), their subject matter and how they flow. But I absolutely LOVE this movie. It’s one of the most underrated of all time and I can’t wait until the next time I see it again.

    One last thing: I interviewed an abstract filmmaker last year for a newspaper I was writing for. He’s a teacher at a university, has been for 20 years. He did nothing but trash commercial cinema the whole time, but when I asked him his favorite movie ever… without hesitation: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

  • Andrew Orillion

    I’m surprised no one else has posted the infamous alternate ending to “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

  • James Lion

    I’ve heard that S. Spielberg has his cast and crew watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” (or used to do so) right before production on his movies, but I don’t know how many movies we’re talking about. I doubt he did it on “Jaws”.

  • EriJest

    There’s actually a screening of this movie in my town this Sunday. I’d like to read this screenplay before seeing the actual movie just to study it. Since it’s being rated Genius by Carson and all. I’d like to read and see for myself if it really IS genius or Carson was high on crack-infused eggnog. :) I don’t agree with Carson’s taste a lot of times but some times i do. erijest29ATgmailDOTcom Thanks in advance. I’m also looking for screenplays of HER and Frank or Francis, if any of you have these in posession and wouldn’t mind passing them along to me , i would greatly appreciated your generosity. Carson was talking about Voice in writing the other day, see i feel connected to Charlie Kaufman’s voice. Spike Jonze’s voice. I’d like to study their works and see how and why i feel connected to their works. When my backgrounds are completely utterly different from them. Thanks for the website and all its contributors. Penniless writer in the other side of the world like me lives on impossible hope like this.

  • Montana Gillis

    Another factor in the “timelessness” of a feel good movie like this, is the actors themselves. Here we have Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed who were both decent, good hearted people off the screen as well as in this movie. They were also outstanding actors… Check out Donna Reed with John Wayne in “They were Expendable” and you’ll — or is that “Yule” fall in love with her. Two of my favorite actors of all time. Also, the secondary characters from Martini to Mr. Gower were fleshed out to the point that we felt Mr. Gower’s pain and the pride of Martini getting his first house. Wow! I’m going to watch it again. Last thought… The fact that it’s in Black and White gives it an “added attraction bonus” during this nostalgic time of year when we all reminisce about a simpler, kinder, gentle time filled with sugar plum fairies and ………… (weeping here, give me a minute) sniff, sniff.

  • Murphy

    Wonderful Carson, just wonderful.

    This film means so much to me, much more than just Christmas. Due to various reasons I was raised by my Grandparents, all they had was a VCR the size of a fridge and a pile of old black and white movies and I literally grew up with James Stewart.

    This has been my favourite film since I can remember. It cannot be anything other than an excellent – I would have tossed your book away were it anything but! ;-)

    I still cry as soon as that bell rings, despite having watched this Eleventy million times.

  • fragglewriter

    I’ve never watched It’s a Wonderful Life, but definitely a good tip.

  • Crcbonjour

    Sometimes they can & do….it can work. MILD SPOLIER ALERT…..It did in “Inside Man” because the greater evil was a man who proved to have been rich from Nazi profits hidden in a safe deposit box. The protagonist (also suspected of a crime) gets a slight “bonus” from the crime (a bank robbery) albeit unknowingly.
    I thought it all ended up rather evenly in a unique sort of way.

  • Calavera

    Gosh, I’ve just finished watching it following Scriptshadow’s advice… What a wonderful movie !!!
    I agree 200% with all what is said in the review. Amazing themes, amazing main character, amazing screenplay. Genius and timeless.

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