Capra is an old-time movie craftsman, the master of every trick in the bag, and in many ways he is more at home with the medium than any other Hollywood director. But all of his details give the impression of contrived effect.
I wasn't able to get reasonably straight about it for quite a while. I still think it has a good deal of charm and quality, enough natural talent involved in it to make ten pictures ten times as good, and terrific vitality or, rather, vigor.
By now everyone knows Frank Capra's holiday classic and the tears it so effortlessly conjures up year after year -- but it's easy to forget how truly vicious the film is, and how brilliantly James Stewart rises to the challenge.