johnlink ranks IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

Here is another moment of shame. I consider myself a Jimmy Stewart fan. I love old movies. I have a degree in film. And, until tonight, I had never seen Frank Capra’s famous IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

I watched IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) on 12.20.09. It was (I hate to admit) my first viewing of the film.

NOTE: THIS RANKING UTILIZES THIS SITE’S ORIGINAL SYSTEMIC ARTICLE WRITING METHOD. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE RANKINGS WERE ARRIVED AT, HOWEVER, REMAIN THE SAME.

FILM

This is a wonderful film. Thematically, we get a powerful story which resists urges like throwing the villain into shame or making its hero infallibly perfect. On a visual level, Capra’s direction captures its subject with a vivid power which has not dated in the slightest. I found this film to be moving in a way I haven’t been moved by a feel-good film in awhile. This is probably due to the level of desperation its protagonist feels before finding redemption. I will say that the fantasy sequence plays a little long. Probably the segment at his house could have gone. But I’m really being picky. This was a film which is considered a classic, and I am happy to see it lives up to its hype. SCORE: 9

MOVIE

Jimmy Stewart is so charismatic that he propels this film constantly forward. Some films of this era drag, as filmmakers focused often on dialogue over visuals. This is not an experience which feels slow at any point. I expected this to be a good ‘film’, I was surprised at just how enjoyable a ‘movie’ it was. SCORE: 8

ACTING

Hard to believe Jimmy Stewart was 38 when this was released. He does an incredible job selling youth in the opening segments (though he plays more like mid to late 20s). Ditto Donna Reed. Their work together is stunning. Stewart goes places in this role that his more comedic turns sometime do not allow. It’s crazy to me, furthermore, that he played the old wily Professor in ROPE just a couple years later.

Loved Lionel Barrymore as the villainous Mr. Potter. He gave a performance which reminded me of the great Sydney Greenstreet villains of the Bogart films. SCORE: 9

WRITING

Marked down only because I found the fantasy sequence a little tedious. Maybe I’m a slave to the more traditional three-act structure, and I am being narrow-minded. But I felt like the fantasy was the only time the audience was not being given credit. We get it, move forward and let us see what happens!

Otherwise, the character development, pacing, and dialogue are exceptional. This is truly a classic film, one which I can’t believe I did not see until now. SCORE: 7

FINAL SCORE

FILM: 9; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 9; WRITING: 7

9+8+9+7+0=33

FINAL SCORE: 8.25

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~ by johnlink00 on December 20, 2009.

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