It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

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Gigi M.
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#1 Post by Gigi M. » Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:39 am

Amazon has just add to their pre-order list what it looks like a new edition of this film.

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Ives
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#2 Post by Ives » Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:56 am

If they include the alternate ending where they beat the crap out of Potter, I'm buyin' it.

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#3 Post by Barmy » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:42 am

Actually I heard they restored the original UK ending where James Stewart wakes up from a dream and finds himself back in the cave surrounded by gobs of crawlers.

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#4 Post by FilmFanSea » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:43 am

Ives wrote:If they include the alternate ending where they beat the crap out of Potter, I'm buyin' it.
I'd prefer an alternate ending in which the generous citizens of Bedford Falls beat the crap out of little Zuzu just before she utters, "Teacher says ..."

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Ives
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#5 Post by Ives » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:59 am

"Yer mouth's bleedin', Zuzu..."

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#6 Post by tryavna » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:12 pm

Ives wrote:If they include the alternate ending where they beat the crap out of Potter, I'm buyin' it.
Uncle Billy: Hey, he's not even crippled!
Potter: Wait a minute, I can explain everything--
George: Well, let's get 'em!

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#7 Post by kevyip1 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 9:08 pm

George Bailey falls into the water 3 times in the film. I wonder if there's any significance or symbolism to that...

He is also drenched in the rain, covered by snow, and in tears a few times. This is one soggy film.

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#8 Post by Gigi M. » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:37 am

Amazon has a cover up:

Image

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manicsounds
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#9 Post by manicsounds » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:51 am

Falls into the river 3 times, so post the cover 3 times!
Still nothing at the Paramount website

Greathinker

#10 Post by Greathinker » Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:38 am

Maybe this is a stupid thing to speculate, but the cover is in color, and under format amazon is saying "color" as opposed to "black and white". Possibly they're releasing both cuts in this 60th anniversary edition?

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#11 Post by Ashirg » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:34 am

It ain't gospel, but:
Features:
Featurettes
Trailers

Video:
Standard 1.33:1 B&W

Audio:
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Mono
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Mono

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#12 Post by Cinesimilitude » Sat Aug 26, 2006 11:33 am

I'd love to see this film in a colorized version, It sure wouldn't be my preference, but it would be interesting...

Unless this has some great features though, I'll wait for an HD version.

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#13 Post by manicsounds » Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:20 am

Full Screen Presentation
English & French Mono
English subtitles
The Making of It's A Wonderful Life - Documentary featurette hosted by Tom Bosley
A Personal Remembrance – A special tribute to Frank Capra narrated by his son Frank Capra Jr.
Original Theatrical Trailer

Exactly the same specs as the Artisan version.
Probably the same picture quality too, which I read the older one was excellent.

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Gordon
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#14 Post by Gordon » Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:26 am

No, not the same transfer, thankfully.

Better balance in the contrast, though perhaps slightly too dark, though that may just be my monitor. Detail is slightly improved on the new Paramount transfer and the grain structure is tighter. The left and right edges on the Paramount reveal a wee bit more info, too.

I would have greatly appreciated a fact-packed commentary by a scholar, but this is still a fine new edition.

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#15 Post by davebert » Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:12 pm

Lions Gate has been doing loads of re-releases recently of the few gems in Artisan's catalog, which they bought with the company a few years ago. Hence, Reservoir Dogs in a gas can tin, King of New York SE in a... I dont even know how thats different... and now Its a Wonderful Life.

So I wouldn't expect too much beyond a new logo stamp and the new packaging.

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#16 Post by Gordon » Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:33 pm

The new It's A Wonderful Life is from Paramount - the did photo-chemical preservation work to the prime elements and created safety elements and they also refurbished the sound element; the DVD had additional digital clean-up. But if Lion's Gate are planning to create top-notch new editions of the older Artisan titles, then bring it on - as long as the do it right, of course.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#17 Post by tojoed » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:42 am

Paramount are releasing a BluRay edition in the US in November.
One of the extras is a colourised version, I bet you can't wait.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#18 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:32 am

A really really lovely film. It was once very little known, a little charming, wonderfully dark film. But sadly it suffered a huge blow when the television started bombarding us with a nonstop running of It's a Wonderful Life every holiday season from the 1980s through 1990s. Folks got sick of it and now A Christmas Story is experiencing the same fate. It's a Wonderful Life is a gem that deserves to be left alone.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#19 Post by tojoed » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:56 am

Michael, I wasn't being disrespectful of "It's a Wonderful Life", just the colourised version. :D

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#20 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:14 am

tojoed wrote:Michael, I wasn't being disrespectful of "It's a Wonderful Life", just the colourised version. :D
Nononono. I was just throwing in my thoughts, not responding to anyone particular. :)

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#21 Post by Gregory » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:51 pm

I wanted to reply to a couple posts in the Alternate Oscars thread and gather some of my thoughts on this film, so I thought I'd do so here in the film's dedicated thread on the chance that some discussion might start up again during the holidays.
Titus wrote:
domino harvey wrote:I am not unsympathetic to Capra's strengths but this film contains none of them. Like the Wizard of Oz, this is a film that owes its inflated cultural relevancy to its omnipresent presence on television more than its actual merit. Not having seen this since I was a kid and remembering nothing save the same cultural markers we all have ingrained in our shared pop consciousness, I was surprised at how grating and obnoxious the film came across, particularly in James Stewart's annoying protagonist. There was never a moment I liked this film, but I didn't actively dislike it 'til the finale, wherein Capra rips off the single most emotionally moving moment of his oeuvre, the saving of the bank in American Madness, and turns it into stupid, cloying mush. Why are people throwing money on the table when Hee-Haw Industrialist has promised to wire over three times what Uncle Billy lost? Because they just want to feel good about themselves without having to really think about what's going on. That's as good a description as any for this film's fanbase.
That's a pretty cynical way of viewing the final scene (and the film's admirers). The wire from Wainright comes in late, after the scene had already morphed into a communal gesture of gratitude for the positive contributions George Bailey has made on their lives. The financial contribution wasn't really the point.
The ending is basically a "cash mob," which can be a great short-term help at the same time it can serve as a way of feeling good about fixing a situation that may again crop up weeks or months later because underlying problems have not been addressed. (There are real case studies I'm familiar with, where an outpouring of support for an independent bookstore granted a stay of execution but wasn't sustained because the fundamental economic conditions did not change, nor did most people's desire to order books from Amazon or in one-stop shopping at Walmart.) The film sets up rather extreme and simplistic dualistic map of American life which pits the "traditional family values" that give life to Bailey's benevolent vision of commerce against the pure evil and moral depravity of not only Potter but life in Pottersville. The way that highly relevant questions about economics, real estate planning, and social organization are pegged to simplistic notions of virtue vs. sin, love and friendship vs. estrangement and distrust, has long struck me as dubious and false. If humble, middle-class people can bail out our protagonists this time, that makes for a great happy ending, but how to address the problem of the corrupt Potters of the world overpowering and stealing from everyone the rest of the time? Capital and commercialism don't stem from bad people like Potter or Scrooge; they're forces of their own, answering to their own directives of control and accumulation.

The film, as it's so concerned with these counterposed economic realities, could have been more interesting if Potter hadn't been so blatantly evil, which obscures any practical differences between his model of commercialism and Bailey's vision of a more egalitarian and cooperative flow of capital. Pooling of resources is problematic in a country where so many are paranoid of "socialism" so the whole thing goes down as a sugar pill. Few viewers I guess (with the possible exception of those who have moved their money to credit unions during the last couple years) give much real thought to the real relevance of Bailey's speech about how "You're thinking of this place all wrong. Your money is in Joe's house, that's right next to yours, and in the Kennedy house and Mrs. Macklin's house and a hundred others. You're loaning them the money to build, and they'll pay it back." The real "promise" of postwar suburban development was quite different, and in fact obliterated local, family-owned businesses like those the film celebrates while shoveling money to the Potters. Oooops.
The waters were further muddied by the prejudices of the era that saw the city (seen in Potter's rental properties) as a breeding ground for vice, crime, greed, and broken families, whereas suburbia (seen in Bailey Park and the many other essentially identical developments which took over in the postwar era) is a place where family values (whatever they are, exactly) could flourish.

The film's view of family life and two-dimensional archetypes of the good housewife, the small-town vamp, and the miserable spinster (without George, Mary would have to become an unmarried librarian! Oh, the horror) are equally reactionary, especially seen in the immediate postwar context of taking women out of the workforce of their wartime jobs and putting them back into subservient domestic roles, which was an urgent political issue in its time, not a case of projecting later feminist thinking back onto the '40s and '50s. Yet all of this has fascinated me enough to return to the film over the whole course of my life, because even though it clearly doesn't go down well for me, it's a stunning and eloquent picture of cherished American values and how "we" see ourselves that I've learned immensely from. I think domino is probably right that the popularity of the film comes down to familiarity and sentimentality, which certainly comes as no surprise. Its picturesque, quaint version of what Christmas is about easily wins people over but is essentially false in so many ways. And yet I find myself moved by it in spite of everything (so no judgment implied about the sentimentality) and on some level wish things could be as simple as they are in the world of the film.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#22 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:37 pm

Gregory wrote:I think domino is probably right that the popularity of the film comes down to familiarity and sentimentality, which certainly comes as no surprise. Its picturesque, quaint version of what Christmas is about easily wins people over but is essentially false in so many ways. And yet I find myself moved by it in spite of everything (so no judgment implied about the sentimentality) and on some level wish things could be as simple as they are in the world of the film.
Gregory, have you seen the Bishop's Wife from the following year? It's a Christmas film of angelic intervention no less outwardly sentimental than Capra's, yet it comes across as genuine and humanistic. It's funny, because it's clearly made in the mold of a Capra film, but it does his most famous one-better-- The simple yet joyous scene where Cary Grant invites an average joe taxi driver to accompany him ice skating runs circles around the artificial "goodness" afforded by It's a Wonderful Life. And if you haven't seen American Madness, I think you'd appreciate Capra's more nuanced approach to the money and Potter-related issues that trouble in this one

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#23 Post by knives » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:53 pm

I have to agree with Dom (though I think the problems are mostly relegated to the alternate world sequence) and would also highly recommend The Bishop's Wife if just for the relationship between Niven and Young which is pretty close to the most successful attempt at this sort of overly sweet thing I've seen in part made better by the Miyazaki-esque attempt at creating no villains. It displays one of the most convincing showings of belief in the goodness of people I've seen. Going back to Capra I do think the film works when it it plays to the utter disappointment George feels with his own life, something the ending betrays greatly. It kind of functions as a split on adaptations of A Christmas Carol as the opening section is rather like the original Carol harshly detailing how he got to this dark place while also illuminating why his conclusions aren't correct. In that sense the alternate world is a betrayal of the story much like threatening Scrooge with death is a betrayal in all of those lame adaptations. Turning George into Jesus and making him the most important person in the world doesn't allow his everyman nature to stay and forces into text elements that were already better illustrated earlier in the film. George is not convinced to stop from committing suicide because of an appreciation of his own goodness or something like that. Instead he has to live otherwise the world would turn to hell. He's not really given a choice then especially when he was already illustrated to be selfless negating what little good can be culled from this scared straight ending.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#24 Post by Titus » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:08 pm

As one of the posters that motivated Gregory's interesting post, I feel compelled to respond to it, despite not having much of value to contribute.

I've seen the picture three times, I believe, and on none of those occasions did I feel the movie was especially concerned with the "conterposed economic realities" it presents. Perhaps this reflects my prejudices as a viewer rather than the actual concerns of the film, but I feel the movie is interested in the individual of George Bailey alone, and everything (and everyone) else that exists in the movie does so only as a means to an end. The material regarding commericalism, real estate planning, small-town vs. big-city values, etc. feels like window dressing, reinforcements of values and beliefs widely held at the time and co-opted by the film as a way to assert the importance of such an outwardly modest figure as George Bailey. When George gives his impassioned speech to the Building and Loan board after his father's death, the content of his argument isn't as important as how it reflects on George and what it says about him.

Similarly, I'm not as bothered as you by the one-note characterization of Potter. Every other supporting character is given the same kind of flat characterization. Nobody, apart from George, is given three-dimensionality. Is this a shortcoming? Maybe, but I don't think so. It was clearly a conscious choice on the part of Capra, a way to sharpen the film's focus on George. Potter's not given any redeeming characteristics, but he's not so much of an unbelievable ogre as to destroy the verisimilitude of the film. It's fair to say that such people exist in the world, I think. We're not given any details as to what lead Potter to become the man that he is because it's unimportant to the story. Presenting him as this kind of monster is dramatically compelling, and it makes sense in the black and white dualistic nature of the movie that you note. For all of George's frustrated dreams and ambitions, he's a happy and contented man at the end of the film, while Potter is alone and defeated. When George's brother toasts him, calling him "The richest man in town," it's as much an indictment of Potter as it is a celebration of George.

And regarding that ending - I think your observations regarding this being a short-term fix are apt, but the ending works for me regardless. Perhaps in real life, most similar situations will result in an eventual relapse, with none of the personal or professional problems having being entirely corrected or resolved. But angels rarely intercede on behalf of individuals and their personal problems in real life, either. The film is a fantasy. And the ending doesn't have much to do with the misplaced $8000. This was just a macguffin used to prompt George's dark night of the soul, having all of his frustrations finally boil over. That George is able to avoid jail due to his friends' generosity is nice, but not really the point. By the end of the film, George is no better off, materially, than he was in the previous day. But he's now cognizant of the importance and value of his life and the contributions he's made to the people around him, as well as the appreciation and gratitude those he's helped feel for him. The message Clarence leaves him with, about how "No man who has friends is a failure," or something to that effect, is corny, but it does express the film's main thesis (albeit in a kind of garbled way). George is a success because of his compromises and his willingness to abandon his own dreams for the good of those around him. Potter, a man whom George seems envious of at times, is a failure despite his power and wealth. It's a trite point, but also a noble one, and I appreciate the earnest, unapologetically sentimental manner in which Capra chooses to express it.

So I guess that while I understand your reservations with the picture, they aren't quite as problematic for me. I hope others chime in, though. There hasn't been much discussion about It's a Wonderful Life on this board. I love the movie, and while I know it's not very popular here, I think some discussion of it could be fascinating and insightful.

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Re: It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

#25 Post by onedimension » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:52 pm

One take is that it's George's psyche somehow distorting or sentimentalizing Bedford Falls- and maybe those scales fall away temporarily when he sees "Pottersville". But what's important, I think, because the film isn't trying to be a social document, is that it's close to depicting how a lot of people FEEL about their personal and economic choices- it's sort of in the national imaginary, even if it is simplistic, dubious, or false, and that's why those aspects of the movie resonate with people.

I've never really responded to Potter, though, as evil- he's crabby and alone, and not at all likable, but apart from keeping the Baileys' money, he doesn't pursue anything beyond his economic self-interest.

It would be interesting to think about the film as offering two different versions of capital, the social capital that ostensibly comes with being a conventionally good, community-minded "selfless" person and the economic capital that comes with being a self-interested businessman. Those things aren't incompatible, but the film dramatizes a rivalry between them, again, because they seem to be at odds in George's mind.

Another dark, unsentimental take (I forget whose) is that the film's ending essentially celebrates repression- George never travels the globe, or goes to college, or even leaves Bedford Falls, he never gets to sleep with Violet, etc. - but somehow all that self-denial is worth it because he has friends who support him in a crisis. How long the glow of the ending will last, and whether it's fair compensation is an open question, I guess, and I don't think it's at all implied that Bailey Building & Loan is out of the woods. The (kind of narcissistic) implication for George is that all his self-sacrifice was necessary to hold his community together.

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