Donna Reed

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It’s a Wonderful Life is a far bleaker entry than many of the other beloved films in the Christmas cinema canon. A Christmas Story is all about familial quirks, painted in Norman Rockwell hues. Even Die Hard never sees its everyman hero losing hope that he’ll save the day. But Frank Capra’s inspiring masterpiece puts us — and its protagonist George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) — through an emotional wringer and to the very brink of death before delivering a happy ending. Before we are shown the reason we must hang on to hope, even when life seems far from wonderful, we follow George through a fierce storm of emotional upswings and free falls. Through melodrama, Capra’s film communicates the intensity of our inner passions in a way that always rings true. Being something of a softie, it’s no surprise most of my favorite scenes in It’s a Wonderful Life are the ones that celebrate love. Here are six of the best.

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