100 Movies You Need to See Before You Die

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Country: USA
Director: Frank Capra
Screenwriters: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

It's A Wonderful Life should be required viewing for anyone who hates more than they appreciate. James Stewart plays a guy who's weighed down by financial debts. Having hit rock-bottom, he decides to off himself. Then, an angel descends from the clouds and walks Stewart through his timeline in order to realize just how fortunate he is.

Director Frank Capra's classic ends with an iconic final scene: Stewart races through his town in jubilation, returns home, and smothers his family with hugs and kisses alongside a Christmas tree. Undeniably hopeful, It's A Wonderful Life overcomes any schmaltz through its strong acting and radical argument for community. —MB

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