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It's A Wonderful Life
2-Disc Collector's Set

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 130 Minutes

Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi, Gloria Grahame

Screenplay by: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra
Additional Scenes by: Jo Swerling

Directed by: Frank Capra

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: The Making Of It's A Wonderful Life A Personal Remembrace, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Mono, French Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scenes (28 Scenes)

Released: November 13th, 2007

 

 

New to this re-release of "It's A Wonderful Life" is the colorized version. I watched a few minutes of it, but I really couldn't stand it. I prefer how films were originally made, and how they were meant to be seen. With that said, I don't think I could really say much about artificial coloring. Please avoid the colorized version.

So, the real goods: the black and white version, in 1.33:1 full screen. The movie looks fantastic, given its age of over 60 years: it is not that grainy, and really looks quite sharp. The image quality is impeccably clean, too. My only nitpick is that there is a bit of noise at times, but it's not too bad. Bedford Falls certainly pops out on this transfer, and is really pleasing. This is a fine re-mastering job, that the movie so rightfully deserves.

 

There isn't much to say about the English Mono track. Fidelity is a bit low, but it doesn't sound tinny. All the dialogue, sound effects and music are quite clear. But of course, by today's standards, a bit limited. But this is how the film was recorded, and I'm sure some purists might not like the idea of this track being stretched out into 5.1. The important thing here is that you get to hear all the bells ring.

A French mono track is included, and there are subtitles in English and English closed captions. 
 



Not much, and a bit familiar, but better than nothing. First on deck is the mainstay documentary from 1990, The Making Of It's A Wonderful Life, hosted by Mr. C himself, Tom Bosley. Through a variety of stills, clips from the movie, archival interviews with the main players and Bosley's narration, the film's origins are told: the multiple writers who worked on the movie, the cast, the disappointing initial reception the film initially received and all sorts of stories from the production that are quite entertaining. Perhaps a bit on the fluffy side, nonetheless, it still is a nice tribute to one of the all great American films.  

A Personal Remembrance is a 14 minute piece hosted by Frank Capra Jr. The younger Capra introduces the audience to the touchstones of his father's work, before focusing on one of his finest and most cherished films. Like the Bosley documentary, a lot of stills and film clips are used to essentially tell the same story about the film's beginnings. But the key difference here, other than length, is the personal touch from Capra Jr., and extensive old interviews with the senior Capra and James Stewart. Like the first documentary, this is a nice watch for all fans of the movie - even if some of the information is repeated.

The movie's original Theatrical Trailer is included, as is a - ugh - preview for Paramount's 2006 "feel-good" comedy, "Last Holiday."  

 

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a true classic, and shows how timeless a film can be. This new 2-disc edition of the film now includes a colorized version, which is really not necessary. Thankfully though, the original black and white version is included, and you get a few, nice supplements. If this movie is not in your collection, then seriously - what are you waiting for?