It’s a Wonderful Life Cast and Character Guide – GameSpot

There’s certainly no shortage of Christmas movies to watch this holiday season. Listing a few examples seems almost redundant since most have probably seen them dozens of times, but we’ll list them anyway. After all, how could we forget light winter frolics like bing crosby and Danny Kayehave fun with music white christmas (1954) or the hilarity in the big apple seen in Elf (2003)? Yet some may prefer a little more than a bite to their annual celebration of Christmas cheer, there are the many adaptations of Charles Dickens‘ existential merry ghost story of A Christmas Carol plus there are always holiday hostages die hard (1988), which yes, is absolutely a Christmas movie. Then, of course, there are those who want the feel-good feeling associated with the season, but also want a story with something more to say. Fortunately, legendary filmmaker Frank Capra (Mr. Smith goes to Washington) has crafted a movie that fits that description perfectly since 1946.

A first-generation Italian immigrant, Capra’s works have all featured commentary on the “American Dream” and its impact on the average worker just trying to earn a living. The auteur filmmaker has clearly succeeded in translating this overarching theme through his films, as Capra is a three-time Best Director Oscar winner, being nominated six times in total. What is Capra’s “best” film is undoubtedly up for vigorous debate, but when it comes to his most famous and well-known story, it’s hard to say anything other than It’s a wonderful life (1946).

Chances are even if you haven’t seen It’s a wonderful life, you have at least heard the title and have an idea of ​​the plot. The film follows virtually the entire life of George Bailey (James Stuart), who, despite constantly putting others before himself, feels on a perpetual downward spiral when it comes to his self-esteem and his ability to provide for his family. George eventually reaches a breaking point when $8,000 is misplaced and he wishes he had never been born. Amazingly, George’s wish is granted by an angel-in-training, who shows George an alternate timeline where he was indeed never born in hopes that the troubled man will realize all the good he has done for him. his family and friends.

Sadly, Capra and most of the incredible actors passed away, but their legacy with this iconic, timeless, and brilliant film still lives on all these years later. Still, as the film celebrates its 76th anniversary, we wanted to pay tribute to the incredible cast of actors and the iconic characters they inhabited that helped make Frank Capra’s ode to American partying the leader. – of work that we remember.

Keep in mind that the rest of the article will contain full spoilers for the movie, so in case you finally want to check out this all-time classic for the very first time, It’s a wonderful life is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Related: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ Redux: TV Episodes That Revamped the Holiday Classic

James Stewart as George Bailey

Image via Paramount Pictures

George Bailey is played by none other than James Stewart, who frequently collaborated with Capra on projects like You can’t take it with you (1938) and Mr. Smith goes to Washington (1939), with the film which earned Stewart one of his five Oscar nominations before receiving an honorary award in 1985. Stewart, like Capra, has always been intrigued by stories that challenge and explore the American dream, and he played a number of characters who represent the common man who is beaten and oppressed by the institutions of the country.

George’s life of painful selflessness began as a child, specifically when he saved his brother from drowning in a frozen lake at the cost of George losing hearing in one of his ears. Young George also helped his boss at the pharmacy, Mr. Gower (HB Warner), coping with the loss of his own son and moving away from deep alcoholism. While performing all these selfless actions, George completely forgets that he has a secret admirer since working at this pharmacy.

This admirer was Mary Hatch (Donna Roseau), who finally reveals his feelings for his longtime childhood friend as they are well into adulthood. Although George, being the kind-hearted pessimist that he is, doesn’t understand how someone as kind and beautiful as Mary could love him, it doesn’t take long for George and Mary to marry and found their own family, with their four children Pete (larry sims), Jane (Carol Combes), Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes), and Tommy (jimmy hawkin). With a group of medium-sized children to take care of now, George needed a way to support the family, and he found that in a banking and loan company where he and his uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) are able to provide fair and affordable home loans to the people of their hometown of Bedford Falls, much to the chagrin of their greedy and cruel business rival, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore).

Potter is the one who throws George’s life into a downward spiral, as he steals the money Uncle Billy accidentally misplaced. Fearing that a federal investigation into the apparent embezzlement could send George into a state of fear, anger and depression, lashing out at his family of friends before contemplating suicide on a snowy bridge. When he wishes never to be born, that’s when Clarence (Henri Travers) miraculously falls from the sky, claiming to be an angel-in-training sent to help George out of his crisis. The new reality George finds himself in horrifies him. Bedford Falls is now run entirely by Mr. Potter’s greed, George’s brother Harry (Todd Karn) died in that frozen lake when they were children, and Mary grew up not knowing who George was.

George eventually finds himself on that fateful bridge, begging for the life he took for granted. George is then sent back to his original timeline and is overjoyed, enthusiastically wishing Merry Christmas to everyone he comes across. He returns home to his family and apologizes, but the problem of missing money is still present. The film’s final scene shows that no good deed goes unpunished, as all the friends and family members George has helped and aided over the years come together to collect the funds, leading to the start of a ant another fantastic year for the Bailey family.

Donna Reed as Mary Hatch

Image via Paramount Pictures

Yet another Oscar winner, Donna Reed (From here to eternity) plays George’s staunchly optimistic Mary Hatch, who functions as the perfect foil for George throughout the story.

Mary has been in love with George since they were children. For virtually any situation where George doubts himself, Mary is always there to encourage him and show him how important and generous he is to so many in the Bedford Falls community. She wishes George would put aside this overly cautious pessimism, she ultimately proves that opposites do indeed attract when she shows George her true feelings for him, leading to one of the film’s many iconic love scenes when George is so full of love and trust that he offers to lasso the moon and give it to her as a gift.

Years later, when Mary and George are married and have their children, Mary is the driving force behind George’s rebound from the Depression and his financial troubles. When George comes home and starts picking on her and the kids, Mary knows something bad is going on to make George behave this way. It doesn’t take long for her to discover the missing money and quickly hatches a plan, as it was she who informed her friends and family of the incident which of course led to their generous donations. Mary is more than a kind and devoted partner to George. She represents the idea that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of a solution in the end.

Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter

Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life
Image via Paramount Pictures

Another frequent Capra collaborator and fellow Oscar winner, Lionel Barrymore (Key Largo) plays the villainous Mr. Potter, who represents the corruption that money and power can have on a person as well as the societal systems that allow men like him to have their success.

Potter has always looked down on the Bailey family, believing that their tendency to be soft on people going through hard times is foolish and bad for business. This did little to sway the Baileys who, despite acknowledging Potter to be a cruel and sleazy man, went on with their lives and helped those in financial trouble through honest and benevolent methods. Potter certainly didn’t realize how just being nice to customers would be a successful business strategy, and he found himself losing more and more customers to George and Billy. This is what drives Potter to steal their money, even threatening and gassing George when a panicked Bailey comes to Potter for help. Although he suffers no direct repercussions, Potter ends up losing when the community comes together for George, showing that life goes on even when the greedy’s plans fail.

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Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy

Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life
Image via Paramount Pictures

Hey guess what? Another Capra veteran and another Oscar winner! Thomas Mitchell (carried away by the wind) plays the nice but distracted Uncle Billy.

Billy isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and he has a drinking problem, but his compassion for his nephew and his willingness to help him run the family business. He gets a bit arrogant when he gloats in front of Mr. Potter, which causes him to accidentally drop the money he just received from the bank. Although the mistake can almost lead to financial ruin, we all know things turn out well in the end, and George and Billy’s family relationship remains completely unscathed.

Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as Bert and Ernie

Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as Bert and Ernie
Image via Paramount Pictures

Bert (Ward Bond) and Ernie (Frank Faylen), who are the namesakes of legendary characters from sesame street (1969-2022), are two of the best friends the Bailey family could ask for.

Bert, a policeman, and Ernie, a taxi driver, have many connections to help George when he needs it, such as when George wanted to properly propose Mary in his dream house. They’re both the film’s main source of comic relief, but they’re also great examples of the many friends George makes in the film and that treating others with respect and dignity is the key ingredient to having a wonderful life.

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It’s a Wonderful Life Cast and Character Guide – GameSpot