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It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Two-disc Collector's set


Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers.

Rating: G

Run time: 130 mins.

Genre: Christmas

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

It's No. 2 on my list of the Best Christmas Movies and the great news is that for Christmas 2007 there's this new edition featuring the recently colorized version of this classic movie PLUS the original black and white - both in pristine condition.

This heartwarming Christmas favourite is worth watching in any season of the year.

Virtually ignored when it was released, Frank Capra's classic story of everyman George Bailey discovering his dull, small-town life really does have meaning slowly grew into a legendary film that is now an indelible part of the Christmas season

Just back from four years as a decorated pilot leading bombing missions against the Nazis during the Second World War, James Stewart slipped right back into the acting groove as Bailey. The son of a building loan company owner who is a poor businessman, but a friend to the poor and oppressed people of Bedford Falls, George dreams of going to college and travelling the world.

But when his father suddenly dies, George puts off his college plans to nurse the company along until his brother Harry gets back from college and can take over. But the more George yearns to leave "this crummy town", the bigger the obstacles seem to get. The one bright spot in his frustrated life is marriage to the lovely Mary (Donna Reed)

The Building & Loan is a thorn in the side of miser Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore in full Scrooge mode), who owns just about everything else in town. Unable to legally shut it down, Potter seizes his chance to destroy it when fate presents the opportunity one Christmas Eve.

Facing ruin, George contemplates killing himself so Mary can cash in on his insurance. It's at this point that an angel called Clarence (the marvellous Henry Travers) intervenes.

Capra does a masterful job of laying out how life in Bedford Falls could have turned out if George Bailey had never lived - a thought-provoking message for anyone looking for meaning in their life.

Amusing, sad, moving and ultimately life-affirming, It's A Wonderful Life features a great cast, fine script and terrific sets. The amazing winter scenes look totally realistic, despite being filmed during a California heatwave.

This magical movie, shot in vintage black and white, has been given a great digital restoration by Paramount. The newly colorized version is also included here and it is fantastic! The colours are natural and it looks picture perfect. The set also includes a "making-of" documentary plus an interview with Frank Capra Jnr.



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