Advanced Level >> Reading Comprehension >> Your students can always do with some more reading comprehension and different reading styles. In this example, read about a the appeal of 'It's A Wonderful Life'

The Appeal Of 'It's A Wonderful Life'


Read this short article about a classic old movie, then answer the comprehension questions about it.

At Christmas, people have both free time and money to spend. Around 50 new films from the United States will be released over Christmas, with all the major Hollywood names competing at the box office. The battle is set to be their toughest to date.

The list of famous directors and actors is endless. But experts say an established name is no guarantee of a movie's success.

Along with the new leases of life come the re-releases. One of the films that seemingly passed the Hollywood test of time is "It's A Wonderful Life", starring James Stewart.

Christmas evergreen

Re-released at the cinema and now available on video, Frank Capra's creation is considered a timeless classic.

One report reveals: "Only after it lapsed into public domain in 1973 and became a television Christmas perennial - at times showing up on several stations simultaneously - was the film accepted, and acknowledged, as the classic it truly is."

But It's A Wonderful Life fails to feature in the top 100 grossing movies of all time. These include The Sound Of Music ($163m since 1965) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ($184m since 1937).

Guardian angel

Some critics describe It's A Wonderful Life as an enchanting modern-day fairytale.

George Bailey (James Stewart) considers himself a failure and is on the verge of suicide. However, once rescued by his guardian angel, Bailey sets out to rediscover life that is wonderful - the image of the American dream.

Values may influence a film's popularity, but many experts say success is about marketing the product at the right place and time, such as Christmas.

But many say even big marketing budgets and stars do not ensure success, just as small budgets and unknowns are no guarantee of failure.

If you're puzzled as to what will be good or bad cinema this season, why not take this piece of advice from the great master, Frank Capra, himself: "If it hits you right off, it's good entertainment."


1. Why is Christmas such a competitive time for movie studios?

2. What was the event that spurred "It's A Wonderful Life" to become such a success?

3. What prevents the movie's protagonist from killing himself?

4. What does he go on to discover as the movie proceeds?

5. How important are an audience's values in the success of a movie?

6. What did the maker of "It's A Wonderful Life" consider the most important factor in a movie's success or failure? Premium

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