Frank Capra's more timeless films seem to be the caffeine of classic Hollywood. They're peppy, fun to consume and leave you with a positive buzz until the cold hard realities of your world set in.
One of the finest examples of this Capra rush is the holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life". The film adroitly tells the story of small-town hero George Bailey and the many lives he touches. It also throws in a miserable miser and an extended dream sequence ripped off from Dickens but does so in a way that almost outclasses "A Christmas Carol". Instead of spending time with a bitter old man you spend time with a genuinely kind soul as the world slowly crushes his spirit before building it back up again in a flurry of joy. The turns by James Stewart and Donna Reed are captivating in their kindness and humor. There is also some memorable supporting roles for the great Lionel Barrymoore and Gloria Grahame but the real star is the gloriously uplifting script. Sure, there are some cloying Hee-Haw moments and you don't get the satisfaction of seeing that miserable miser get his but the unfettered anti-cynicism is refreshing and makes this Capra's finest film this side of It Happened One Night.