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Frank Capra
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Writing Credits:
Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

Not Rated.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby TrueHD 1.0
English Audio Description
French Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 1.0
Italian Dolby 1.0
German Dolby 1.0
Japanese Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 11/16/2021

• "Restoring a Beloved Classic” Featurette
• “Secrets from the Vault” Featurette
• “It’s a Wonderful Wrap Party” Featurette
• Colorized Version
• Recipe Cards


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


It's a Wonderful Life (75th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 21, 2021)

Because this 2021 “75th Anniversary Edition” of 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life stands as my seventh review of the holiday classic, I will skip my standard movie discussion. If you’d like to inspect my detailed thoughts, please click here.

To summarize, It’s a Wonderful Life offers a mostly enjoyable film. Its hokey moments can irritate but the final product remains endearing and charming much of the time.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

It’s a Wonderful Life appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a terrific presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed positive. A few slightly soft spots emerged, but those stemmed from the source and remained modest. The majority of the flick boasted tight, clear delineation.

Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent, and digital noise reduction appeared conservative. I feared the transfer would go overboard in that regard, but we still got a nice layer of grain throughout the film.

Blacks looked dark and deep, and shadows offered nice clarity. I thought contrast worked fine, as the movie usually presented a nice silver sheen. This became a really appealing image.

Though not exceptional, the film’s Dolby TrueHD monaural soundtrack was more than adequate for a 75-year-old movie. Speech seemed a little hollow but lacked edginess or other flaws, and the lines were always perfectly intelligible.

Though the music didn’t present much range, the score was clear and never became shrill or tinny. Effects fell into the same realm, as they may not have packed a great punch, but they sounded clean and reasonably accurate.

No signs of background noise or other source flaws marred the presentation. Given the age of the material, this was an acceptable auditory piece.

How did this 2021 “75th Anniversary” Blu-ray compare to the Blu-ray from 2016? The lossless audio on the newer Blu-ray showed a little more clarity than the lossy mono on the Blu-ray, but don’t expect a big jump in quality, as the nature of the source restricted improvements.

As for the visuals, they showed tremendous improvement. The 2021 disc looked tighter, with superior blacks/contrast and a much cleaner image. Without question, this turned into a radical step up in visual presentation.

Note that what I refer to as the “2021 Blu-ray” is really the “2019 Blu-ray”. Back then Paramount released a 4K UHD version that used a then-new restoration of the film. The 2021 Life simply repackages the 2019 disc.

And for the record, what I refer to as the “2016 Blu-ray” is really the “2009 Blu-ray”. The movie received its initial BD release in 2009 and the 2016 package just reissued that one.

This “75th Anniversary” Life obviously includes the same extras as the 2019 Blu-ray and the 4K UHD release. Restoring a Beloved Classic spans 13 minutes, five seconds and provides notes from Paramount Archives SVP Andrea Kalas, Paramount Film Preservation Executive Director Laura Thornburg, film scanner Eric Chilpa, and digital film colorist Michael Underwood.

Like the title implies, “Classic” examines attempts to bring Life up to snuff for 4K presentation. Some of this feels self-congratulatory, but I like the view of the techniques involved in the restoration.

Via Secrets from the Vault, we find a 22-minute, 11-second piece that features comments from VFX supervisor Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt. Both sit together to give us insights into the production, with an emphasis on technical areas.

Though “Vault” doesn’t provide a thorough overview of the movie’s history and production, it works pretty well. Burtt and Barron offer good insights and make this an informative chat.

Finally, It’s a Wonderful Wrap Party goes for eight minutes, four seconds. As expected, it offers footage from the celebration that greeted the shoot’s conclusion.

The film looks awful and lacks source audio, so we hear Wonderful Life score played over the material. As archival elements, these prove enticing.

Over on a second Blu-ray Disc, we get a colorized version of It’s a Wonderful Life. I take this job seriously and usually watch all of a set’s extras for my reviews, but this is where I draw the line.

I couldn’t possibly be less interested in a colorized rendition of Life, so I regard Disc Two as useless. If you want a color edition of the flick, though, have fun!

New to the 75th Anniversary package, we get exclusive recipe cards. Taken from the Official Bailey Family Cookbook, these teach us how to make pastry snails, minestrone, corn muffins, “home blessing” salad, glazed holiday ham, roast turkey, angel food cake, egg nog, vanilla moonbeam pies and “Mama and Papa Dollar cocktail.

Since the “75th Anniversary” set literally reproduces the 2019 version, we still miss all the extras from the prior Blu-ray. That means we lose a trailer and a circa 1990 “making of” show.

We’re really in “Malibu Stacy with New Hat” territory here. Maybe someday Paramount will reissue Life with substantial, extensive supplements and not just a tiny “upgrade” like these recipe cards, but for now, we just get the most superficial new addition.

Ultimately I maintain a lot of misgivings about It's A Wonderful Life as a film but I find it hard not to recommend it. Despite my love/hate relationship with the movie, I still usually get that urge to watch it at Christmas. The Blu-ray presents excellent picture along with age-appropriate audio and minor supplements. The “75th Anniversary” set seems good in an objective way, but for anyone who owns the 2019 release, it brings nothing new and worthwhile to the table.

To rate this film visit the original review of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

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