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"Itís A Wonderful Life"- {Blu-ray}- (Taylor)
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Paramount
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
11/3/09
Special Features:

Making of featurette

Review:

Itís A Wonderful Life is directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stewart and Donna Reed. Paramountís Blu-Ray Disc of the film presents it in the original Black and White, but also includes a colorized version on the second disc. Once again, however, Paramount failed to provide us with a review copy and I had to purchase the disc myself. ***

George Bailey is man who has always sacrificed himself for the good of his hometown. He has a seemingly-good life Ė a loving wife and several children. But a money issue ends up leading George to contemplate suicide. As a result, an angel is sent from heaven to help George by showing him how the world would be if he hadnít ever been born Ė and if he succeeds, he will earn his wings. Will he convince George that life is worth living after all? ***

Hailed as a great film and often parodied, Itís A Wonderful Life is a true classic. The film remains consistently popular 6 decades after its theatrical release, and after revisiting the movie for its Blu-Ray debut, it isnít hard to see how it holds up so well even to this day. ***

Itís A Wonderful Life brings together an all-star cast of some of the greatest actors who were in the business at the time, the most legendary of which being James Stewart. One of the most versatile and talented actors in the history of cinema, Stewart makes this one of this finest roles. Itís a part any one of us can relate to Ė who amongst us HASNíT been alone or distraught come the holidays at some point? Director Frank Capra had collaborated with Stewart in a number of films prior to this one, but Itís A Wonderful Life is perhaps the greatest example of this actor/director pairing. ***

Capra creates a believable world in this film, with a real man facing real problems. And although a good portion of the film centers around an angel coming to Georgeís aid, the somewhat supernatural concept of his gaining aid from above never detracts from the film feeling authentic or heartfelt. Not once in Capraís film does the story feel like it drags on, even though it has a run time of over 2 hours. ***

Yet another way you can see the impact the film has had on the world is that it has become one of the most frequently-parodied visual works of all time. It isnít at all uncommon to see parodies of the movie, even to this day. If you were ever wondering where all these ďwhat would the world be like if I had never been born?Ē storylines in various media came from, now you know! ***

Itís A Wonderful Life is a quintessential classic for the ages. You know a film has ďmade itĒ when it is this well respected and parodied alike. James Stewart gives one of the best performances of his career, and Frank Capraís direction makes for a solid film from start to finish that doesnít feel dated despite being over 60 years old. Itís easy to recommend this classic. ---

Image and Sound:

The film is presented here in both its original Black and White incarnation, and a colorized version. The black and white version looks absolutely incredible Ė far better than I would have expected a film of this age to look. The level of detail is strong and the black levels are consistent throughout. There are almost no major anomalies to speak of in the picture, showing that Paramount has kept the masters in excellent condition and done a solid remastering job. The colorized version is surprisingly good (I canít often say this for colorizations of black-and-white films), but does feel a bit awkward at times, and while watching it as somewhat of a purist I found myself longing for the original black-and-white version (which thankfully is here too.) Audio disappointingly doesnít get an increase to lossless, and the dialogue seems a bit on the quiet side. Fortunately, this isnít the kind of movie that calls for big-budget sound production, and this track gets the job done. Ultimately, the film looks and sounds very good on Blu-Ray.

Special Features:

Disappointingly, there are no new extras in this set. All we get is the ďmaking ofĒ featurette that was on the DVD. And even further adding to the disappointment is the omission of the Frank Capra featurette that appeared on some older DVD versions Ė which I gladly would have sacrificed the color version in favor of. Why couldnít Paramount get something new extras-wise for the 1080p debut?

Final Words:

Itís A Wonderful Life is a wonderful film. And while this Blu-Ray version features excellent picture quality, the lack of bonus material does come as something of a disappointment. Still, when the transfer quality is this excellent (not to mention the movie itself is as well), itís impossible not to recommend this package.

 

 
 
 
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