Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

Blu-ray + Digital  |  Paramount  | 1946 |  131 min |  Rated PG  |  October 29, 2019

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Director:    Frank Capra

Starring:    James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Audio

English: Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Mono 
German: Dolby Digital Mono
Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
French: Dolby Digital Mono
Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
Japanese: Dolby Digital Mono

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

| Film Synopsis |

George Bailey is a small-town man whose life seems so desperate he contemplates suicide. He had always wanted to leave Bedford Falls to see the world, but circumstances and his own good heart have led him to stay. He sacrficed his education for his brother's, kept the family-run savings and loan afloat, protected the town from the avarice of the greedy banker Mr. Potter, and married his childhood sweetheart. As he prepares to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel intercedes, showing him what life would have become for the residents of Bedford Falls if he had never lived.

| Video |

It's a Wonderful Life was recently restored from the original, though at times badly deteriorated, nitrate negative and two fine grain masters. The movie flows and lives on Blu-ray; some may even find its less aggressively sharp and more contained grayscale tones better to their liking compared to the UHD.

| Audio |

The last time It's a Wonderful Life released to Blu-ray, Paramount included a Dolby Digital mono soundtrack. The track has been upgraded to Dolby TrueHD two-channel mono for this release. The presentation offers no major departures from the previous, here simply presenting the film's sonic essentials with pleasant clarity and good front-center placement. Music plays with fine front-end detail and appropriate spacing.

| Special Features |
  • Restoring a Beloved Classic: Andrea Kalas, SVP, Archives at Paramount Pictures; and Laura Thornburg, Executive Director, Film Preservation at Paramount Pictures; discuss the 4K restoration process: the nitrate 35mm film source and the look that brings to the screen, the urgency in saving the negative, the digital restoration tools, grain management, the benefits of high dynamic range, the visual superiority of today's version compared to the original, blending elements from the nitrate negative and two fine grain masters, the UHD version's superiority, and more.

  • Secrets from the Vault: It's a Wonderful Life: Craig Barron, Creative Director/VFX Supervisor/Historian; and Ben Burtt, Sound Designer/Filmmaker/Historian discuss Frank Capra's career success, departure from Columbia, and founding of Liberty Films. In that context, the piece looks at this film's construction: shooting winter in summer, creating proprietary artificial snow for the film, the manner in which sound is used in the film, the film's cinematography, cut footage, the film's failure at the box office on release, and gaining traction on television. It ends with a look through some home footage from the film's wrap party.

  • It's a Wonderful Wrap Party: Vintage footage from the It's a Wonderful Life wrap party previewed in the above supplement.

| Overall Reaction |

The film finds new life on Blu-ray. The restoration work is very impressive. The movie is, of course, one of the great cinema classics. Paramount has included a few new extras to sweeten the deal. Very highly recommended.

Summary (out of 5)

Film:       4.5

Video:    4.5

Audio:    4.0

Extras:    3.0

Overall:  4.0