Monday, April 18, 2016

Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

The film was conceived and produced by David Puttnam, written by Colin Welland, and directed by Hugh Hudson. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. It is ranked 19th in the British Film Institute's list of Top 100 British films. The film is also notable for its memorable instrumental theme tune by Vangelis, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

The film's title was inspired by the line, "Bring me my chariot of fire," from the William Blake poem adapted into the popular British hymn "Jerusalem"; the hymn is heard at the end of the film. The original phrase "chariot(s) of fire" is from 2 Kings 2:11 and 6:17 in the Bible.

In 1919, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) enters the University of Cambridge, where he experiences anti-Semitism from the staff, but enjoys participating in the Gilbert and Sullivan club. He becomes the first person to ever complete the Trinity Great Court Run – running around the college courtyard in the time it takes for the clock to strike 12. Abrahams achieves an undefeated string of victories in various national running competitions. Although focused on his running, he falls in love with a leading Gilbert and Sullivan soprano, Sybil (Alice Krige).

Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), born in China of Scottish missionary parents, is in Scotland. His devout sister Jennie (Cheryl Campbell) disapproves of Liddell's plans to pursue competitive running. But Liddell sees running as a way of glorifying God before returning to China to work as a missionary.

When they first race against each other, Liddell beats Abrahams. Abrahams takes it poorly, but Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm), a professional trainer whom he had approached earlier, offers to take him on to improve his technique. This attracts criticism from the Cambridge college masters (John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson), who allege it is not gentlemanly for an amateur to "play the tradesman" by employing a professional coach. Abrahams dismisses this concern, interpreting it as cover for anti-Semitic and class-based prejudice.

When Eric Liddell accidentally misses a church prayer meeting because of his running, his sister Jennie upbraids him and accuses him of no longer caring about God. Eric tells her that though he intends to eventually return to the China mission, he feels divinely inspired when running, and that not to run would be to dishonour God, saying, "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

The two athletes, after years of training and racing, are accepted to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Also accepted are Abrahams' Cambridge friends, Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers), Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell), and Henry Stallard (Daniel Gerroll). While boarding the boat to Paris for the Olympics, Liddell learns the news that the heat for his 100-metre race will be on a Sunday. He refuses to run the race – despite strong pressure from the Prince of Wales and the British Olympic committee – because his Christian convictions prevent him from running on the Sabbath.

Hope appears when Liddell's teammate Lindsay, having already won a silver medal in the 400 metres hurdles, proposes to yield his place in the 400-metre race on the following Thursday to Liddell, who gratefully agrees. His religious convictions in the face of national athletic pride make headlines around the world.

Liddell delivers a sermon at the Paris Church of Scotland that Sunday, and quotes from Isaiah 40, ending with:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Abrahams is badly beaten by the heavily favoured United States runners in the 200 metre race. He knows his last chance for a medal will be the 100 metres. He competes in the race, and wins. His coach Sam Mussabini is overcome that the years of dedication and training have paid off with an Olympic gold medal. Now Abrahams can get on with his life and reunite with his girlfriend Sybil, whom he had neglected for the sake of running. Before Liddell's race, the American coach remarks dismissively to his runners that Liddell has little chance of doing well in his now far longer 400 metre race. But one of the American runners, Jackson Scholz, hands Liddell a note of support for his convictions. Liddell defeats the American favourites and wins the gold medal.

The British team returns home triumphant. As the film ends, onscreen text explains that Abrahams married Sybil, and became the elder statesman of British athletics. Liddell went on to missionary work in China. All of Scotland mourned his death in 1945 in Japanese-occupied China.

Directed by Hugh Hudson
Produced by David Puttnam
Written by Colin Welland
Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student at Cambridge University
Ian Charleson as Eric Liddell, the son of Scottish missionaries to China
Nicholas Farrell as Aubrey Montague, a runner and friend of Harold Abrahams
Nigel Havers as Lord Andrew Lindsay, a Cambridge student runner partially based on David Burghley and Douglas Lowe
Ian Holm as Sam Mussabini, Abrahams's running coach
John Gielgud as Master of Trinity College at Cambridge University
Lindsay Anderson as Master of Caius College at Cambridge University
Cheryl Campbell as Jennie Liddell, Eric's devout sister (Janet Lillian "Jenny" Liddell)
Alice Krige as Sybil Gordon, Abrahams' fiancée (his actual fiancée was Sybil Evers)
Struan Rodger as Sandy McGrath, Liddell's friend and running coach
Nigel Davenport as Lord Birkenhead, member of the British Olympic Committee, who counsels the athletes
Patrick Magee as Lord Cadogan, chairman of the British Olympics Committee, who is unsympathetic to Liddell's religious plight
David Yelland as the Prince of Wales, who tries to get Liddell to change his mind about running on Sunday
Peter Egan as the Duke of Sutherland, president of the British Olympic Committee, who is sympathetic to Liddell
Daniel Gerroll as Henry Stallard, a Cambridge student and runner
Dennis Christopher as Charley Paddock, American Olympic runner
Brad Davis as Jackson Scholz, American Olympic runner
Music by Vangelis
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Terry Rawlings
Production company Allied Stars Ltd Goldcrest Films
Enigma Productions
The Ladd Company
Distributed by Warner Bros.(USA & Canada) 20th Century Fox
Release dates 30 March 1981 (Royal Command Film Performance)
Running time 124 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £3 million
Box office $58,972,904 (U.S.)

Chariots of Fire was very successful at the 54th Academy Awards, winning four of seven nominations. When accepting his Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Colin Welland famously announced "The British are coming". At the 1981 Cannes Film Festival the film won two awards and competed for the Palme d'Or.

BFI Top 100 British films (1999) – rank 19
Hot 100 No. 1 Hits of 1982 (USA) (8 May) – Vangelis, Chariots of Fire theme
American Film Institute recognition

1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
2005: AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores - Nominated
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - No. 100
2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
2008: AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Sports Movie

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rocky 1976

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky starts out as a small-time club fighter, and later gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The film also stars Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed.

The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million and shot in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts, becoming the highest grossing film of 1976, and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star. In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Rocky is considered to be one of the greatest sports films ever made and was ranked as the second-best in the genre, after Raging Bull, by the American Film Institute in 2008.

The film has spawned six sequels: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), and Creed (2015). Stallone portrays Rocky in all six sequels, wrote the first six, and directed four (Avildsen returned to direct Rocky V and Ryan Coogler directed Creed).

Set in modern day 1970s, Rocky Balboa is a hard-living, but failing prize fighter from an Italian neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Between fights, he works as an enforcer for loan shark Anthony Gazzo, and is regarded by many of his neighbors as a bum. The World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed, announces plans to hold a match in Philadelphia during the upcoming United States Bicentennial. However, he is informed five weeks from the fight date, that his scheduled opponent, Mac Lee Green, is unable to compete due to an injured hand. With all other potential replacements booked up or otherwise unavailable, Creed decides to spice things up and give a local contender a chance to face him. He finds Balboa in the paper. He wants to fight Rocky because his name "The Italian Stallion" and his fighting style, being Southpaw, can be promoted.

Rocky meets with promoter Miles Jergens and agrees to the match. After several weeks of training using whatever he can find, including meat carcasses as punching bags, Rocky accepts an offer of assistance from former boxer Mickey "Mighty Mick" Goldmill, a respected trainer who always criticized Rocky for wasting his potential.

At the same time, Rocky begins a relationship with Adrian, a clerk at the local pet store. He gradually gains the shy Adrian's trust, culminating in a kiss. Her alcoholic brother Paulie becomes jealous of Rocky's success, but Rocky calms him by agreeing to advertise his meatpacking business at the fight. The night before the match, Rocky becomes depressed after touring the arena. He confesses to Adrian that he does not expect to win, but is content to go the distance against Creed and prove himself to everyone.

On New Year's Day, the climactic boxing match begins, with Creed making a dramatic entrance dressed as George Washington and then Uncle Sam. Taking advantage of his overconfidence, Rocky knocks him down in the first round—the first time that Creed has ever been knocked down. Humiliated, Creed takes Rocky more seriously for the rest of the fight, though his ego never fully fades. The fight goes on for the full 15 rounds, with both fighters sustaining many injuries; Rocky suffers his first broken nose and debilitating trauma around the eye, and Creed sustains brutal blows to his ribs with substantial internal bleeding. As the match progresses, Creed's superior skill is countered by Rocky's apparently unlimited ability to absorb punches, and his dogged refusal to be knocked out. As the final round bell sounds, with both fighters locked in each other's arms, they promise to each other that there will be no rematch.

After the fight, multiple layers of drama are played out: the sportscasters and the audience go wild, Jergens announces over the loudspeaker that the match was "the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring", and Rocky calls out repeatedly for Adrian, who runs down and comes into the ring as Paulie distracts arena security. As Jergens declares Creed the winner by virtue of a split decision (8:7, 7:8, 9:6), Adrian and Rocky embrace and profess their love to each other.

Directed by John G. Avildsen
Produced by
Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone as Robert "Rocky" Balboa, "The Italian Stallion"
Talia Shire as Adrianna "Adrian" Pennino, Rocky's love interest
Burt Young as Paulie Pennino, Rocky's friend, and Adrian's brother
Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed: Rocky's opponent and the heavyweight champion
Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill, Rocky's manager and trainer
Thayer David as Miles Jergens, the fight promoter
Joe Spinell as Tony Gazzo, Loan shark and Rocky's employer
Tony Burton as Tony "Duke" Evers, Apollo Creed's manager, trainer, and friend
Pedro Lovell as Spider Rico, A Puerto Rican boxer
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography James Crabe
Edited by Richard Halsey Scott Conrad
Production companies Chartoff-Winkler Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates November 21, 1976 (New York City premiere)
                      December 3, 1976 (United States)
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.1 million
Box office $225 million

Box office
Rocky grossed $5 million during its opening weekend and eventually reached $117 million at the North American box office. Adjusted for inflation, the film has earned nearly $460 million in North America at 2015 prices. Overseas Rocky fared just as well, grossing $107 million for a worldwide box office accumulation of $225 million. With its production budget of $1 million, Rocky is notable for its worldwide percentage return of over 11,000 percent. It was the highest-grossing film of 1976 in the United States.

Critical response
Rocky received mixed to positive reviews at the time of its release. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 4 out of 4 stars and said that Stallone reminded him of "the young Marlon Brando." Box Office Magazine claimed that audiences would be "touting Sylvester 'Sly' Stallone as a new star". The film, however, did not escape criticism. Vincent Canby, of The New York Times, called it "pure '30s make believe" and dismissed both Stallone's acting and Avildsen's directing, calling the latter "none too decisive". Frank Rich liked the film, calling it "almost 100 per cent schmaltz," but favoring it over the cynicism that was prevalent in movies at that time, although he referred to the plot as "gimmicky" and the script "heavy-handed". He attributed all of the film's weaknesses to Avildsen, describing him as responsible for some of the "most tawdry movies of recent years", and who "has an instinct for making serious emotions look tawdry" and said of Rocky, "He'll go for a cheap touch whenever he can" and "tries to falsify material that was suspect from the beginning. ... Even by the standards of fairy tales, it strains logic." Rich also criticised the film's "stupid song with couplets like 'feeling strong now/won't be long now.'"

Several reviews, including Richard Eder's (as well as Canby's negative review), compared the work to that of Frank Capra. Andrew Sarris found the Capra comparisons disingenuous: "Capra's movies projected more despair deep down than a movie like Rocky could envisage, and most previous ring movies have been much more cynical about the fight scene," and, commenting on Rocky's work as a loan shark, says that the film "teeters on the edge of sentimentalizing gangsters." Sarris also found Meredith "oddly cast in the kind of part the late James Gleason used to pick his teeth." Sarris also took issue with Avildsen's direction, which he described as having been done with "an insidious smirk" with "condescension toward everything and everybody," specifically finding fault, for example, with Avildsen's multiple shots of a chintzy lamp in Rocky's apartment. Sarris also found Stallone's acting style "a bit mystifying" and his character "all rough" as opposed to "a diamond in the rough" like Terry Malloy.

Four decades later, the film enjoys a reputation as a classic and still receives universal praise; Rocky holds a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's consensus states: "This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints." One of the positive online reviews came from the BBC Films website, with both reviewer Almar Haflidason and BBC online users giving it 5/5 stars. In Steven J. Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Schneider says the film is "often overlooked as schmaltz."

In 2006, Rocky was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Rocky received ten Oscar nominations in nine categories at the 49th Academy Awards, winning three:

Rudy 1993

Rudy is a 1993 American sports film directed by David Anspaugh. It is an account of the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles. It was the first movie that the Notre Dame administration allowed to be shot on campus since Knute Rockne, All American in 1940.

In 2005, Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN (#24 by a panel of sports experts, and #4 by users). It was ranked the 54th-most inspiring film of all time in the "AFI 100 Years" series.

The film was released on October 13, 1993, by TriStar Pictures. It stars Sean Astin as the title character, along with Ned Beatty, Jason Miller and Charles S. Dutton. The script was written by Angelo Pizzo, who created Hoosiers (1986), which was also directed by Anspaugh. The film was shot in Illinois and Indiana.

Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger grows up in Joliet, Illinois dreaming of playing college football at the University of Notre Dame. Though he is achieving some success with his local high school team (Joliet Catholic), he lacks the grades and money necessary to attend Notre Dame, as well as the talent and physical stature to play football for a major intercollegiate program.

Ruettiger takes a job at a local steel mill like his father Daniel Sr., a Notre Dame fan. When his best friend Pete is killed in an explosion at the mill, Rudy decides to follow his dream of attending Notre Dame and playing for the Fighting Irish.

He travels to South Bend, Indiana to the campus but fails to get admitted to Notre Dame. With the help and sponsorship of a local priest, Rudy enrolls at Holy Cross College, a nearby junior college, hoping to get good enough grades to qualify for a transfer. He approaches a Notre Dame stadium groundskeeper named Fortune and volunteers to work for free. Having no place to live, Rudy sneaks in and out of Fortune's office at night through a window and sleeps on a cot. At first, Fortune is indifferent toward Rudy but later provides him with blankets for the cot and a key of his own to the office. Rudy learns that Fortune has never seen a Notre Dame football game from the stands, despite having worked at the stadium for years.

Rudy befriends D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame and a teaching assistant at Rudy's junior college, who offers to tutor Rudy in exchange for help in meeting girls. Suspecting an underlying cause to Ruettiger's previous academic problems, D-Bob has him tested and Rudy finds out that he has dyslexia. Rudy learns how to overcome his disability and becomes a better student. At Christmas vacation, Rudy returns home to his family's appreciation of his report card but is still mocked for his attempts at playing football and loses his fiancée to one of his brothers.

Rudy is finally admitted to Notre Dame during his final semester of transfer eligibility. He rushes home to tell his family, with his father announcing the news to his steel mill workers over the loudspeaker. Rudy persuades Fortune to promise to come see his first game if Rudy is permitted to suit up. After "walking on" as a non-scholarship player for the football team, Ruettiger convinces coach Ara Parseghian to give him a spot on the practice squad. An assistant coach warns the players that 35 "scholarship" players will not even make the "dress roster" of players who take the field during the games but notices that Ruettiger exhibits more drive than many of his scholarship teammates.

Coach Parseghian agrees to Rudy's request to suit up for one home game in his senior year so his family and friends can see him as a member of the team. However, Parseghian steps down as coach following the 1974 season and is replaced by former NFL coach Dan Devine. Coach Devine keeps Rudy on the team, but refuses to list him on the active playing roster. When Rudy sees that he is not on the dress list for the team's next-to-last game, he becomes angry and quits the team.

Fortune sees Rudy at the stadium and chastises him for giving up. Rudy learns that Fortune has seen his share of Notre Dame games because he was once on the team but has never seen one from the stands. Fortune had quit the team because he felt he was not playing due to his color. Fortune reminds Rudy that he has nothing to prove to anyone but himself, and that not a day will go by when he will not regret quitting. With that, Rudy returns to the team.

Led by team captain and All-American Roland Steele, the other seniors rise to Rudy's defense and lay their jerseys on Devine's desk, each requesting that Rudy be allowed to dress in his place for the season's final game. In response, Devine lets Ruettiger suit up for the game against Georgia Tech.

Steele invites Ruettiger to lead the team out of the tunnel onto the playing field. Fortune is there to see it, as promised. As the game nears its end with Notre Dame up 17–3, Devine sends all the seniors onto the field but not Rudy, despite urging from Steele and the assistant coaches. As a "Rudy!" chant begins in the stadium, the offensive team, led by tailback Jamie O'Hare, overrules Devine's call for victory formation and scores another touchdown instead, providing defensive player Ruettiger with one more chance to get into a game and thus be entered onto the official roster of Notre Dame football players.

Devine finally lets Rudy play on the final kickoff. Rudy stays in for the final play of the game, sacks the Georgia Tech quarterback, and to cheers from the stadium, is carried off the field on his teammates' shoulders.

An epilogue text states that since 1975, no other player for Notre Dame has been carried off the field. Rudy graduated from the university in 1976, and all his brothers later went on to college to earn degrees.

Directed by David Anspaugh
Produced by Robert N. Fried
Cary Woods
Written by Angelo Pizzo
Sean Astin as Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger
Jon Favreau as D-Bob
Ned Beatty as Daniel Ruettiger, Sr.
Charles S. Dutton as Fortune
Robert Prosky as Father John Cavanaugh
Jason Miller as Coach Ara Parseghian
Lili Taylor as Sherry
Mitch Rouse as Jim
Chelcie Ross as Coach Dan Devine
Ron Dean as Assistant Coach Joe Yonto
John Beasley as Assistant coach Warren
Vince Vaughn as Jamie O'Hare
Rudy Ruettiger – Cameo in a picture at the end of the movie, and in a crowd scene at the Georgia Tech game, behind Ned Beatty
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by  David Rosenbloom
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates October 13, 1993
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $22.8 million

Critical reception
Rudy received primarily positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the film "has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy's dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It's a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit." Stephen Holden of The New York Times observed that "For all its patness, the movie also has a gritty realism that is not found in many higher-priced versions of the same thing, and its happy ending is not the typical Hollywood leap into fantasy." In The Washington Post, Richard Harrington called Rudy "a sweet-natured family drama in which years of effort are rewarded by a brief moment of glory." Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times called the film "Sweet-natured and unsurprising...this is one of those Never Say Die, I Gotta Be Me, Somebody Up There Likes Me sports movies that no amount of cynicism can make much of a dent in."On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 84%, based on 37 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination."

American Film Institute recognition:

AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
Rudy Ruettiger - Nominated Hero
AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers: #54
AFI's 10 Top 10: Nominated Sports film

Monday, April 11, 2016

Jungle Book 2016

The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Marks, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on Rudyard Kipling's eponymous collective works, the film is a live-action/CGI reimagining of Walt Disney's 1967 animated film of the same name. The film stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken. Set in the remote jungle of India, the film tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan.

The film will be released in North America in the Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D formats on April 15, 2016.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man-cub raised by the Indian wolf couple Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves but Mowgli faces certain challenges and lags behind his wolf siblings, and Bagheera berates him for using human tricks like tool building, instead of learning the ways of the pack.

One day, during the dry season, all the animals in the jungle gather at the Peace Rock to drink the water that remains, as part of the Water Truce, abiding by the "Law of the Land" to not devour one another. The peaceful gathering is disrupted when the fearsome Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) makes his presence felt. He detects Mowgli's scent amongst the crowd and threatens his life since man is not welcome in the jungle. He holds the scars on his face as proof of man's cruel and destructive nature and issues a warning that when the Water Truce ends and the Peace Rock disappears, he will come for the boy and that the wolves should decide how many of their own kind they would be willing to sacrifice to protect a man-cub. Thus a debate and argument arises amongst the members of the wolf pack as to whether or not they should keep Mowgli. But before a general consensus is reached, Mowgli voluntarily decides to leave the jungle for the sake and safety of his pack. Bagheera volunteers to guide him to the human civilization.

However, en-route, Shere Khan ambushes them, injuring Bagheera while Mowgli manages to escape with the help of a herd of buffaloes. Mowgli, now alone, stumbles upon a thick canopy where he meets Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), an enormous Indian python who lures him in with promises of safety and an assurance that she knows who and what Mowgli truly is. Kaa's hypnosis shows Mowgli a vision of his father being killed by Shere Khan and of himself as an abandoned infant being found by Bagheera. Kaa's vision also warns of the destructive power of man's "red flower", a tool that "brings warmth and light and destruction to all that it touches". Having successfully wrapped Mowgli in her coils, Kaa attempts to devour Mowgli, but he is rescued by Baloo (Bill Murray), a bear.

In exchange for saving Mowgli's life, Baloo demands that Mowgli fetch him honey which is atop a cliff, to which Mowgli unwillingly agrees. Together, they form a close bond and Mowgli decides to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Shere Khan visits the wolf pack looking for the "man-cub" and kills Akela by throwing him off the cliff when he is told that Mowgli has left the pack. He demands that the boy be handed over to him and, confident that Mowgli will return again, appoints himself the new leader of the pack.

When Bagheera returns to fetch Mowgli, he discovers that Mowgli has decided to live with Baloo. Although tension is raised between the three, they all agree to sleep on it until the following morning. During the night Mowgli hears a cry for help and discovers that a baby elephant is trapped in a deep pit. Using his tricks developed with Baloo, he fashions a rope to rescue the baby elephant. Although Bagheera and Baloo are initally horrified (as elephants are regarded with a religous awe and are forbidden to be interacted with) they are soon astonished when an unspoken bond seems to be forged between Mowgli and the elephants.

Nevertheless, Bagheera still maintains the man-cub must leave the jungle, particularly now word of Akela's murder has begin to spread. Following Bagheera's instructions, Baloo unwillingly confronts Mowgli and lies to him that he never considered him a friend, hoping that Mowgli can change his mind about staying with him. But Mowgli is suddenly abducted by a group of monkeys who take him to an ancient ruined temple and present him to King Louie (Christopher Walken), a Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly "red flower". Bagheera and Baloo arrive just in time to distract the monkeys and manage to hold them off while Mowgli flees into hiding. King Louie chases Mowgli through the temple, causing it to crumble on top of him, but not before he informs Mowgli of Akela's demise.

Furious of the fact that Bagheera and Baloo kept him in the dark about Akela’s death, Mowgli decides to return back to the jungle and confront Shere Khan to avenge the death of his leader and put an end to his tyranny. But first, Mowgli ventures into the village where the humans live and for the first time, he sees his own kind from afar and gazes at them in amazement. He steals one of the burning torches and heads back to the jungle but accidentally starts a fire. Bagheera and Baloo follow him in close pursuit.

When the news breaks out that a man with the "red flower" is making his way into the jungle, all the animals gather at the Peace Rock. Mowgli confronts Shere Khan but sees how all the animals of the jungle cower in fear at the sight of the fire he holds. He throws away his torch into the water, allowing Shere Khan to attack him, but Bagheera, Baloo and the wolf pack manage to hold him off, thus buying Mowgli enough time to set a trap in the burning jungle. He lures Shere Khan into a dying tree with a fig branch and is able to coax him into stepping on it, causing it to break. Shere Khan falls to his death into the pit of fire below. The elephants later help to extinguish the fire by diverting the river. The animals of the jungle are astonished to see the man-cub emerge from the dying flames upon the back of the baby elephant.

Raksha then becomes the new Alpha and leads the wolf pack. Mowgli now accepts that he is not a wolf but a man and decides to do things the "human way". Mowgli is last seen sitting on a tree with Bagheera and Baloo, having at last found a true home.

Directed by Jon Favreau
Produced by Jon Favreau
                        Brigham Taylor
Written by Justin Marks
Based on        The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Neel Sethi as Mowgli
Ritesh Rajan as Mowgli's father
Voice cast
Bill Murray as Baloo
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera
Idris Elba as Shere Khan
Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa
Giancarlo Esposito as Akela
Christopher Walken as King Louie
Garry Shandling as Ikki
Brighton Rose as Grey Brother
Jon Favreau as Pygmy Hog
Sam Raimi as Giant Squirrel
Russell Peters as Rocky the Rhino
Madeleine Favreau as Raquel the Rhino

Music by John Debney
Cinematography Bill Pope
Edited by Mark Livolsi
Production company Walt Disney Pictures Fairview Entertainment
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release dates
April 4, 2016 (El Capitan Theatre)
April 8, 2016 (India)
April 15, 2016 (United States)
Running time 105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $28.9 million  (till 12-April-2016)

The musical score for The Jungle Book was composed by frequent Favreau collaborator John Debney. Favreau decided not to make the film a musical, nevertheless, he and Debney incorporated several songs from the 1967 animated film. "The Bare Necessities", originally written by Terry Gilkyson, will be included and sung by Murray and Sethi. "Trust in Me" and "I Wan'na Be Like You", written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, will be performed by Johansson and Walken, respectively. Richard M. Sherman wrote new songs for the film, including new lyrics for Walken's version of "I Wan'na Be Like You". Some of the lyrics to "Trust in Me" were spoken by Kaa in the film's teaser trailer.

A soundtrack album is scheduled to be released on April 15, 2016 by Walt Disney Records.

In the Hindi version of the movie, composer Vishal Bhardwaj composed a song especially for the local release.

On January 13, 2015, the film's release date was postponed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures from October 9, 2015 to April 15, 2016. The film is scheduled to be released in the Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema in the United States. The Jungle Book held its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on April 4, 2016. It was released in 15 countries, a week ahead of its U.S. debut on April 15 in countries like Argentina, Australia, Russia, Malaysia and most notably in India on April 8. The release date in India was strategic for the film as it coincided with the Hindu New Year and was a holiday in most parts of the country.

Box office
In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggests the film will open around $60–70 million, with female and older male quadrants being the prime draw.

Internationally, it opened across 15 markets a week before its U.S. debut and faced competitions from newcomer The Huntsman: Winter's War and holdover Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which was entering its third weekend of play. The reason behind this was because Disney wanted to get some space before the studio's own Captain America: Civil War releases in early May as well as avialing school holidays and avoiding local competitors. It eventually grossed $31.7 million, debuting at first place in all markets and second overall at the international box office, behind Dawn of Justice which was playing across 67 markets.

In India, it scored the second biggest opening day for a Hollywood film, earning $1.51 million (behind Avengers: Age of Ultron) from around 1,500 screens and went on to score the second biggest Hollywood opening weekend of all time film with $8.4 million, behind only Furious 7 in terms of local as well as U.S. currency. It performed better than expected than its initial $5–6 million opening projection. Its opening weekend alone surpassed the entire lifetime total of Disney's two other live-adapations Cinderella and Maleficent. Elsewhere, it opened with $7.4 million in Russia, $2.8 million in Australia, $2.3 million in Argentina and in Malysia, it scored the biggest opening weekend for a live-action Disney film with $2.3 million. It will next open in key markets like China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Brazil and Mexico, as well as North America, next week. Korea will open on June 2 and Japan on August 11.

Critical response
The Jungle Book received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at its visual effects, faithfulness to both the animated film and original Kipling works and the performances of the voice cast. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 100%, based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. On Metacritic the film has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Exceptionally beautiful to behold and bolstered by a stellar vocal cast, this umpteenth film rendition of Rudyard Kipling's tales of young Mowgli's adventures amongst the creatures of the Indian jungle proves entirely engaging, even if it's ultimately lacking in subtext and thematic heft." Andrew Barker of Variety felt that this version "can't rival the woolly looseness of Disney's 1967 animated classic, of course, but it succeeds on its own so well that such comparisons are barely necessary." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph gave the film four stars out of five and deemed it "a sincere and full-hearted adaptation that returns to Kipling for fresh inspiration." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap also gave a warm reception, saying, "This 'Book' might lack the post-vaudeville razzamatazz of its predecessor, but director Jon Favreau and a team of effects wizards plunge us into one of the big screen's most engrossing artificial worlds since Avatar." Pete Hammond of wrote that the film had laughs, excitement, an exceptional voice cast and, most important, lots of heart, calling it a cinematic achievement like no other. He particularly praised Murray's performance and the visual effects deeming it "simply astonishing".

The film also garnered positive reception from Indian contemporary critics and publications such as The Times of India, The Hindu, India Today, The Indian Express, and The Economic Times.

Its visual effects and 3D photography received acclaim, with comparisons being made to the likes of Avatar, Gravity, and Life of Pi. Mike Ryan of Uproxx stated that "The Jungle Book is one of those handful of movies that belongs in 3D". Sarah Ward of Screen International wrote that the level of detail on display in the film "is is likely to evoke the same jaw-dropping reaction as James Cameron's box office topper." Idris Elba's performance in particular was also praised. Cath Clarke of Time Out compared his character of Shere Khan to Scar from The Lion King, calling him "baddie of the year".

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, adapting W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. It stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster in his final role. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture

Ray Kinsella is a novice Iowa farmer who lives with his wife Annie and daughter Karin. In the opening narration, Ray explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, John Kinsella, who had been a devoted baseball fan. While walking through his cornfield one evening, Ray hears a voice whispering, "If you build it, he will come." Ray continues hearing the voice before finally seeing a vision of a baseball diamond in his field. Annie is skeptical of his vision, but she allows Ray to plow the corn under in order to build a baseball field. As Ray builds the field, he tells Karin the story of baseball's 1919 Black Sox Scandal. As months pass and nothing happens at the field, Ray's family faces financial ruin until, one night, Karin spots a uniformed man in the field. Ray recognizes the man as Shoeless Joe Jackson, a deceased baseball player idolized by Ray's father. Thrilled to be able to play baseball again, Joe asks to bring others to the field to play. He later returns with the seven other players banned as a result of the 1919 scandal.

Ray's brother-in-law, Mark, cannot see the baseball players and warns Ray that he will go bankrupt unless he replants his crops. While in the field, Ray hears the voice again, this time urging him to "ease his pain."

Ray attends a PTA meeting at which the possible banning of books by radical author Terence Mann is discussed. Ray decides the voice was referring to Mann. Ray comes across a magazine interview dealing with Mann's childhood dream of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After Ray and Ann both dream about Ray and Mann attending a baseball game together at Fenway Park, Ray convinces his wife that he should seek out Mann. Ray heads to Boston and persuades a reluctant, embittered Mann to attend a game with him at Fenway. While at the ballpark, Ray again hears the voice; this time urging him to "go the distance." At the same time, the scoreboard "shows" statistics for a player named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, who played one game for the New York Giants in 1922, but never had a turn at bat. After leaving the game, Mann eventually admits that he, too, saw the scoreboard vision.

Ray and Mann then travel to Chisholm, Minnesota where they learn that Graham had become a doctor and had died sixteen years earlier. During a late night walk, Ray finds himself back in 1972 and encounters the then-living "Doc" Graham, as he was known, who states that he had moved on from his baseball career. He also tells Ray that the greater disappointment would have been not having a medical career. Graham declines Ray's invitation to fulfill his dream; however, during the drive back to Iowa, Ray picks up a young hitchhiker who introduces himself as Archie Graham. While Archie sleeps, Ray reveals to Mann that his father, John, had wanted Ray to live out John's dream of being a baseball star. Ray stopped playing catch with his father after reading one of Mann's books at 14. At 17, Ray had denounced Shoeless Joe as a criminal to his father and that was the reason for the rift between father and son. Ray expresses regret that he didn't get a chance to make things right before his father died. When the three arrive back at Ray's farm, they find that enough players have arrived to field two teams. A game is played and Archie finally gets his turn at bat.

The next morning, Mark returns and demands that Ray sell the farm. Karin says that they will not need to sell because people will pay to watch the ball games. Mann agrees, saying that "people will come" in order to relive their childhood innocence. Ray, after much thought, refuses to sell and a frustrated Mark scuffles with him. Karin is accidentally knocked off the bleachers during the scuffle. The young Graham runs from the diamond to help, becoming old "Doc" Graham — complete with Gladstone bag — the instant he steps off the field, and saves Karin from choking (she had been eating a hot dog when she fell). Ray realizes that Graham sacrificed his young self in order to save Karin. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine and being commended by the other players, Graham leaves, disappearing into the corn. Suddenly, Mark is able to see the players and urges Ray not to sell the farm.

After the game, Shoeless Joe invites Mann to enter the cornfield; Mann accepts and disappears into the corn. Ray is angry at not being invited, but Joe rebukes him: if Ray really wants a reward for having sacrificed so much, then Ray had better stay on the field. Joe then glances towards home plate, saying "If you build it, he will come". The catcher then removes his mask, and Ray recognizes him to be his father as a young man. Shocked, Ray realizes that "ease his pain" referred to John Kinsella, and believes that Joe was the voice all along; however, Joe implies that it was Ray himself.

Ray introduces his father to Annie and Karin. As his father heads towards the cornfield, Ray asks him if he wants to have a game of catch. They begin to play and Annie happily watches. Meanwhile, hundreds of cars can be seen approaching the baseball field, fulfilling Karin and Mann's prophecy that people will come to watch baseball.

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Produced by Lawrence Gordon
                       Charles Gordon
Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson
Based on Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella
Amy Madigan as Annie Kinsella
James Earl Jones as Terence Mann
Timothy Busfield as Mark
Kelly Coffield Park as Dee
Frank Whaley as Archie Graham
Gaby Hoffmann as Karin Kinsella
Dwier Brown as John Kinsella
Fern Persons as Annie's Mother
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appear as extras in the scene at Fenway Park.
Music by James Horner
Cinematography John Lindley
Edited by Ian Crafford
Distributed by Universal Pictures (USA)
TriStar Pictures (International)
Release dates April 21, 1989
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $84.4 million

In June 2008, after having polling over 1,500 people in the creative community, AFI revealed its "Ten Top Ten" — the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres. Field of Dreams was acknowledged as the sixth best film in the fantasy genre.

American Film Institute Lists
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies—nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
"If you build it, he will come."—#39
AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores—nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers—#28
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)—nominated
AFI's 10 Top 10—#6 Fantasy Film

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a slow-witted and naïve, but good-hearted and athletically prodigious man from Alabama who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century in the United States; more specifically, the period between Forrest's birth in 1944 and 1982. The film differs substantially from Winston Groom's novel, including Gump's personality and several events that were depicted.

Principal photography took place in late 1993, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Extensive visual effects were used to incorporate the protagonist into archived footage and to develop other scenes. A comprehensive soundtrack was featured in the film, using music intended to pinpoint specific time periods portrayed on screen. Its commercial release made it a top-selling soundtrack, selling over twelve million copies worldwide.

Released in the United States on July 6, 1994, Forrest Gump became a commercial success as the top grossing film in North America released in that year, being the first major success for Paramount Pictures since the studio's sale to Viacom, earning over US$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run. In 1995 it won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay for Eric Roth, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing. It also garnered multiple other awards and nominations, including Golden Globes, People's Choice Awards, and Young Artist Awards, among others. Since the film's release varying interpretations have been made of the film's protagonist and its political symbolism. In 1996, a themed restaurant, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, opened based on the film and has since expanded to multiple locations worldwide. The scene of Gump running across the country is often referred to when real-life people attempt the feat. In 2011, the Library of Congress selected Forrest Gump for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

In 1981, Forrest Gump watches a feather fall from the sky at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia. He recounts his life story to strangers who sit next to him on the bench, recounting his childhood in the town of Greenbow, Alabama.

On his first day of school, Forrest meets a girl named Jenny Curran, whose life is followed in parallel to Gump's at times. Despite his below average intelligence quotient, his ability to run at lightning speed (despite being a victim of polio as a young child) gets him into college on a football scholarship. After his college graduation, he enlists in the army, where he makes friends with Bubba, who convinces Gump to go into the shrimping business with him when the war is over. They are sent to Vietnam, and during an ambush, Bubba is killed in action. Gump ends up saving much of his platoon, including his Lieutenant, Dan Taylor, who loses both his legs as a result of injuries. Gump is awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

While Gump is in recovery for a shot to his buttocks, he discovers his uncanny ability for ping-pong, eventually gaining popularity and rising to celebrity status, later playing ping-pong competitively against Chinese teams in ping-pong diplomacy. At an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., Gump reunites with Jenny, who has been living a counterculture lifestyle.

Returning home, Gump endorses a company that makes ping-pong paddles, earning himself US$25,000, which he uses to buy a shrimping boat, fulfilling his promise to Bubba. Lieutenant Dan joins Gump, and although they initially have little success, after finding their boat the only surviving one in the area after Hurricane Carmen, they begin to pull in huge amounts of shrimp. They use their income to buy an entire fleet of shrimp boats. Lieutenant Dan invests the money in Apple and Gump is financially secure for the rest of his life. He returns home to see his mother's last days.

One day, Jenny returns to visit Gump and he proposes marriage to her. She declines, though feels obliged to prove her love to him by having sex with him. She leaves early the next morning. On a whim, Gump elects to go for a run. Seemingly capriciously, he decides to keep running across the country several times, over three and a half years, becoming famous in the process.

In present-day, Gump reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he received a letter from Jenny who, having seen him run on television, asks him to visit her. Once he is reunited with Jenny, she introduces him to his son, also named Forrest. Jenny tells Gump she is suffering from an unknown virus (possibly HIV, though this is never specified). Together the three move back to Greenbow, Alabama. Jenny and Forrest finally marry but she dies soon afterward.

Father and son are waiting for the school bus on little Forrest's first day of school. Opening the book his son is taking to school, the white feather from the beginning of the film is caught on a breeze and drifts skyward.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by 
Wendy Finerman
Steve Tisch
Steve Starkey
Screenplay by Eric Roth
Based on Forrest Gump 
by Winston Groom
Tom Hanks
Robin Wright
Gary Sinise
Mykelti Williamson
Sally Field
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Don Burgess
Edited by Arthur Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
June 23, 1994 (Los Angeles)
July 6, 1994 (United States)
Running time
142 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$55 million
Box office US$677.9 million

The film is based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom. Both center on the character of Forrest Gump. However, the film primarily focuses on the first eleven chapters of the novel, before skipping ahead to the end of the novel with the founding of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the meeting with Forrest, Jr. In addition to skipping some parts of the novel, the film adds several aspects to Gump's life that do not occur in the novel, such as his needing leg braces as a child and his run across the United States.

Gump's core character and personality are also changed from the novel; among other things his film character is less of an autistic savant—in the novel, while playing football at the university, he fails craft and gym, but receives a perfect score in an advanced physics class he is enrolled in by his coach to satisfy his college requirements. The novel also features Gump as an astronaut, a professional wrestler, and a chess player.

Two directors were offered the opportunity to direct the film before Robert Zemeckis was selected. Terry Gilliam turned down the offer to direct. Barry Sonnenfeld was attached to the film, but left to direct Addams Family Values.

Critical reception
The film received generally positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 72% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 83 reviews. At the website Metacritic, the film earned a rating of 82/100 based on 19 reviews by mainstream critics. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade.

The story was commended by several critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "I've never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I've never seen a movie quite like 'Forrest Gump.' Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It's a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream. The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction...The performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths...What a magical movie." Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the film "has been very well worked out on all levels, and manages the difficult feat of being an intimate, even delicate tale played with an appealingly light touch against an epic backdrop." The film did receive notable pans from several major reviewers. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker called the film "Warm, wise, and wearisome as hell." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that the film "reduces the tumult of the last few decades to a virtual-reality theme park: a baby-boomer version of Disney's America."

Critics had mixed views on the main character. Gump has been compared with various characters and people including Huckleberry Finn, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan. Peter Chomo writes that Gump acts as a "social mediator and as an agent of redemption in divided times". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called Gump "everything we admire in the American character – honest, brave, loyal." The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin called Gump a "hollow man" who is "self-congratulatory in his blissful ignorance, warmly embraced as the embodiment of absolutely nothing." Marc Vincenti of Palo Alto Weekly called the character "a pitiful stooge taking the pie of life in the face, thoughtfully licking his fingers." Bruce Kawin and Gerald Mast's textbook on film history notes that Forrest Gump's dimness was a metaphor for glamorized nostalgia in that he represented a blank slate by which the Baby Boomer generation projected their memories of those events.

The film is commonly seen as a polarizing one for audiences, with Entertainment Weekly writing in 2004, "Nearly a decade after it earned gazillions and swept the Oscars, Robert Zemeckis's ode to 20th-century America still represents one of cinema's most clearly drawn lines in the sand. One half of folks see it as an artificial piece of pop melodrama, while everyone else raves that it's sweet as a box of chocolates."

Box office performance
Produced on a budget of $55 million, Forrest Gump opened in 1,595 theaters in its first weekend of domestic release, earning $24,450,602. Motion picture business consultant and screenwriter Jeffrey Hilton suggested to producer Wendy Finerman to double the P&A (film marketing budget) based on his viewing of an early print of the film. The budget was immediately increased, per his advice. The film placed first in the weekend's box office, narrowly beating The Lion King, which was in its fourth week of release. For the first ten weeks of its release, the film held the number one position at the box office. The film remained in theaters for 42 weeks, earning $329.7 million in the United States and Canada, making it the fourth-highest grossing film at that time (behind only E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and Jurassic Park).

The film took 66 days to surpass $250 million and was the fastest grossing Paramount film to pass $100 million, $200 million, and $300 million in box office receipts (at the time of its release). The film had gross receipts of $329,694,499 in the U.S. and Canada and $347,693,217 in international markets for a total of $677,387,716 worldwide. Even with such revenue, the film was known as a "successful failure"—due to distributors' and exhibitors' high fees, Paramount's "losses" clocked in at $62 million, leaving executives realizing the necessity of better deals. This has, however, also been associated with Hollywood accounting, where expenses are inflated in order to minimize profit sharing. It is Robert Zemeckis' highest-grossing film to date.

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945. The film is now among the most popular in American cinema and because of numerous television showings in the 1980s has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.

Despite initially performing poorly financially because of high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box office failure that today everyone believes ... it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most acclaimed films ever made, praised particularly for its writing. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and number one on AFI's list of the most inspirational American films of all time. Capra revealed that the film was his personal favorite among those he directed, adding that he screened it for his family every Christmas season.

In Bedford Falls, New York, on Christmas Eve 1945, George Bailey is suicidal. Prayers for him reach Heaven. Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, is assigned to save George in order to earn his angel wings. To prepare Clarence, his superior Joseph shows flashbacks of George's life.

In 1919, 12-year-old George saves his younger brother Harry, who falls through the ice on a frozen pond, from drowning: this heroic act results in George losing his hearing in one ear. One day while working after school at the local drug store, he catches a deadly mistake made by his boss Mr. Gower, who had gotten himself drunk after news of the death of his son in the flu epidemic and accidentally poisoned a prescription.

On Harry's graduation night in 1928, George (James Stewart) discusses his dreams of travel and building things with Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), who has had a crush on him from an early age. After the sudden death of his father, George postpones his plans in order to sort out the affairs of the family business, Bailey Brothers' Building and Loan, a longtime adversary to Henry F. Potter, a greedy banker who is the richest man in town. Potter wishes to dissolve the Building and Loan, which has been preventing him from controlling the entire town. George convinces the board of directors to vote against Potter, which they will do so under one condition, George succeed his father, running the business along with his absent-minded uncle William "Billy" (Thomas Mitchell). He gives his college money to Harry, under the agreement that George will attend college after Harry graduates, whereupon Harry will assume the presidency of the Bailey Building & Loan.

When Harry graduates, he brings home a wife, whose father has offered Harry a job. Although Harry vows to decline the offer for the sake of their earlier agreement, George cannot deny him such a great opportunity and keeps running the Building and Loan. George and Mary get married and plan a dream honeymoon having saved up enough money, but on the way out of town witness a run on the bank and use the money to lend financial support until the bank reopens.

George builds Bailey Park, which offers houses affordable to lower-middle income families who would otherwise have to live in Potter's overpriced apartments. Mary and George welcome the Martinis, a family of Italian immigrants who just bought of one the houses, and have a traditional blessing ceremony. Potter, frustrated at losing control of the housing market, attempts to lure George into becoming his assistant with a huge salary and the prospect of business trips to Europe, appealing to his yearning to travel. George is tempted, but rejects the offer.

During World War II, George is ineligible for service because of his bad ear, and instead leads a recycling campaign to collect metal and rubber for the war effort. Harry, however, becomes a Navy flier and is awarded the Medal of Honor, having intercepted a kamikaze that would have bombed an amphibious transport. On Christmas Eve morning 1945, the town prepares a hero's welcome for Harry. Uncle Billy goes to Potter's bank to deposit $8,000 for the Building and Loan. After bragging to Potter about Harry, Potter angrily grabs the newspaper from Billy along with the $8,000. Realizing the potential scandal would lead to the Building and Loan's downfall, Potter secretly hides the money.

When Uncle Billy cannot find the money, he and George frantically search for it. When the bank examiner arrives to review their records, Uncle Billy panics. George berates his uncle for endangering the Building and Loan, goes home and takes out his frustration on his family. He apologizes to his frightened wife and children, then leaves.

Desperate, George appeals to Potter for a loan. When George claims a life insurance as collateral, Potter mockingly says George is worth "more dead than alive". George gets drunk at a local bar, and gets in a fight with a man who is married to the teacher of one of his children (whom George had gotten in a phone tirade earlier). Mr. Martini, the owner of the bar, ejects George's attacker, but cannot catch up to George, who has driven away and crashes his car into a big tree. He staggers to a nearby bridge to commit suicide. Unbeknownst to him, Clarence has been watching him from the shadows.

Before he can jump, Clarence jumps in the river and pretends to be drowning. George rescues him, but does not believe Clarence's claim to be George's guardian angel. When George wishes he had never been born, Clarence shows him what life would have been like without him: Bedford Falls is now named Pottersville and is filled with cocktail bars, casinos, and gentlemen's clubs; Mr. Gower has recently been released from prison for manslaughter, having put the poison in the pills because George was not there to catch his mistake; The Building and Loan is defunct, as George never took over after Mr. Bailey's passing. George's friends Ernie, a cab driver, and Burt, a policeman, exist in this reality, but are darker individuals than the good friends he knew, suggesting George was a positive force in their lives.

George runs to see his own mother, who does not recognize him. She reveals that Uncle Billy was institutionalized after the collapse of the Building and Loan. In the cemetery where Bailey Park would have been, George discovers the grave of his brother. Clarence says the soldiers on the transport all died, as Harry was never there to save them, as George had never saved Harry from drowning. Mary never married, and became the local librarian. When George claims he is her husband, she considers him a stalker and screams for the police, causing George to flee and Burt to give chase.

George runs back to the bridge and begs for his life back. His prayer is answered, as Burt catches up to him, but only to say he was glad he found George as everyone was worried about him. George runs through the town joyously, wishing everyone he sees a merry Christmas, and is fine with his forthcoming arrest when he comes home. Mary and Uncle Billy arrive, having rallied the townspeople, who donate more than enough to cover the deficit and for Potter's warrant to be torn up. Harry arrives and toasts George, calling him "the richest man in town." A bell on the Christmas tree rings, and his daughter recalls the story that it means an angel has just earned his wings. George then sees a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer signed by Clarence, who reminds him that "No man is a failure who has friends".


James Stewart as George Bailey
Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey
Henry Travers as Angel Clarence Odbody
Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter
Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy Bailey
Beulah Bondi as Ma Bailey
Frank Faylen as Ernie Bishop, the cab driver
Ward Bond as Bert, the cop
Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick
H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower, druggist
Frank Albertson as Sam "I-A" Wainwright
Todd Karns as Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds as Peter "Pop" Bailey, George's father
Lillian Randolph as Annie, the Baileys' maid
Virginia Patton as Ruth Dakin Bailey, Harry's wife
Mary Treen as Cousin Tilly, employee
Charles Williams as Cousin Eustace, employee
Sarah Edwards as Mrs. Hatch, Mary's mother
Harold Landon as Marty Hatch
William Edmunds as Mr. Giuseppe Martini
Argentina Brunetti as Mrs. Martini
Sheldon Leonard as Nick, Martini's bartender
Bobby Anderson as Little George Bailey
Jean Gale as Little Mary Hatch
Jeanine Ann Roose as Little Violet Bick
George Nokes as Little Harry Bailey
Frank Hagney as Potter's mute aide
Charles Lane as Potter's rent collector
Karolyn Grimes as Zuzu Bailey
Larry Simms as Pete Bailey
Carol Coombs as Janie Bailey
Jimmy Hawkins as Tommy Bailey
Lynn O'Leary-Jameson as infant Janie Bailey
Charles Halton as Mr. Carter, bank examiner
J. Farrell MacDonald as the man whose tree gets damaged
Harry Holman as Mr. Partridge, high school principal
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as Freddie, Mary's annoying high school suitor
Dick Elliott as the fat man on the porch
Tom Fadden as the bridge caretaker
Stanley Andrews as Mr. Welch, teacher's husband
Al Bridge as the sheriff with arrest warrant
Marian Carr as Jane Wainwright, Sam's wife
Cy Schindell as the cashier/bouncer at Nick's Bar
Ellen Corby as Miss Davis
Adriana Caselotti as the singer in Martini's Bar[N 2]
Joseph Granby as Angel Joseph (voice)
Moroni Olsen as the Senior Angel (voice)

Directed by Frank Capra
Produced by Frank Capra
Screenplay by Frances Goodrich,Albert Hackett and Frank Capra
Based on "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by William Hornbeck
Production      Liberty Films
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures1
Release dates   December 20, 1946
Running time   130 minutes
Country      United States
Language English
Budget $3.18 million[N 1]
Box office $3.3 million (US rentals)

Awards and honors

Prior to the Los Angeles release of It's a Wonderful Life, Liberty Films mounted an extensive promotional campaign that included a daily advertisement highlighting one of the film's players, along with comments from reviewers. Jimmy Starr wrote, "If I were an Oscar, I'd elope with It's a Wonderful Life lock, stock and barrel on the night of the Academy Awards". The New York Daily Times offered an editorial in which it declared the film and James Stewart's performance to be worthy of Academy Award consideration.

It's a Wonderful Life received five Academy Award nominations: