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A Wonderful Life (1950)

Approved | | Short, Biography, Drama | 10 August 1950 (USA)
Sponsored by The Protestant Film Commission, this religiously-affiliated tale centers around citizen Henry Wood (played by Oscar winner James Dunn from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"), who ... See full summary »


William Beaudine


Alan Shilin (original screenplay)


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Cast overview:
James Dunn ... Henry Wood
Allene Roberts ... Mary Wood
Isabel Withers Isabel Withers ... Jennie Wood
Arthur Shields ... Pastor / Narrator
Robert Board Robert Board ... George
Madge Crane Madge Crane ... Grandma
Andrew Tombes ... Harry Jenkins
Donna Jo Boyce Donna Jo Boyce ... Mary Wood (age 9)
Jack Larson ... Richard Wood (age 16)
David Kasday David Kasday ... Richard Wood (age 7)
Sam Flint ... Ed Stevens
Dorothy Vaughan ... Mrs. Stevens
Isabel Randolph ... Mrs. Arthur
Ray Walker ... Mark Johnson
Bob Lowell Bob Lowell ... Bob - College Boy


Sponsored by The Protestant Film Commission, this religiously-affiliated tale centers around citizen Henry Wood (played by Oscar winner James Dunn from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"), who loved family and church, gave to the needy, and donated most of his money to charity. Now deceased, his somewhat neglected daughter reflects on his past and ponders that age-old question, did he indeed have such "a wonderful life"? Written by Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

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Short | Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

10 August 1950 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

A Crisis of Faith
5 November 2019 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

James Dunn has just died, and his daughter, Allene Roberts, is having a crisis of faith. It's been going through her mind for some time as she enters her last year of college, that kind, generous, church-going people like Dunn are always called upon to do the work, and receive no payment or credit. Every civic committee in his town has him as unpaid treasurer, because everyone trusts him. Now, with the War on, Miss Roberts thinks it's all for naught,

This short feature (43 minutes in length) in from the Presbyterian Church. It's directed by William Beaudine -- he directed a lot of the Church's movies in this period -- and narrated by Arthur Shields, who also plays the minister. We see Dunn's life from 1929 through his death, and his cheerful demeanor in times of hardship. Clearly, this was the message the Presbyterian Church wished to send: forward thinking, kindly, and trusting in G*d.

It's a straightforward effort, without much in the way of cinematic pizzazz. Doubtless that was its selling point, and the reason they hired Beaudine to do the job: given the good actors he had here, his nickname of "One Shot" because he didn't like to do retakes, meant an inexpensive shoot.

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