It's a Wonderful Life

Infobox Film
name = It's a Wonderful Life


image_size = 200px
director = Frank Capra
writer = Screenplay:
Frances Goodrich
Albert Hackett
Jo Swerling
Frank Capra
Short Story:
Philip Van Doren Stern
starring = James Stewart
Donna Reed
Lionel Barrymore
Jimmy Hawkins
producer = Frank Capra
distributor = RKO Radio Pictures
released = 20 December 1946
runtime = 130 min
language = English
country = United States
budget = $3,180,000 [Cox 2003, p. 27. Note: The original budget had been set at $3 million.]
amg_id = 1:25590
imdb_id = 0038650

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a 1946 American film produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" written by Philip Van Doren Stern.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II and stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) who is sent to help him in his hour of need. Much of the film is told through flashbacks spanning George's entire life and narrated by Franklin and Joseph, unseen Angels who are preparing Clarence for his mission to save George. Through these flashbacks we see all the people whose lives have been touched by George and the difference he has made to the community in which he lives.

The film is regarded as a classic and is a staple of Christmas television around the world, although, due to its high production costs and stiff competition at the box office, financially, it was considered a "flop." The film's break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793760,00.html "The Price of Liberty" "Time", 26 May1947] ] An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes... it was 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." [Eliot 2006, p. 206.]

"It's a Wonderful Life" was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, but the film has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, and placed number one on their list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Plot

On Christmas Eve 1946, George Bailey is deeply depressed, even suicidal. Clarence Odbody, an Angel Second Class, is sent to Earth to save him — and thereby earn his wings. An unnamed senior angel tells Joseph, the head angel (both of whom are represented by galaxies), to review George's life with Clarence, highlighting all the good he has done: George as a boy (Bob Anderson) saved the life of his younger brother Harry at the cost of the hearing in one ear; weeks later, George stopped his boss, local druggist Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), from accidentally poisoning a child while grief-stricken over the death of his son (from influenza).

From childhood, George's greatest ambition has been to see the world, to become an architect and design bridges and skyscrapers everywhere. However, George repeatedly has to sacrifice his dreams. Four years older than Harry, he puts off going to college until Harry graduates from high school to take over the family business, the Bailey Building & Loan Association, essential to many of the disadvantaged in Bedford Falls. But on Harry's graduation night, as George discusses his future with his date Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) -- who has had a crush on him since she was a little girl, although George either doesn't realize it or believe it, and tries to remain emotionally detached -- his father suddenly has a stroke and dies. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the owner of most of the town, seizes the opportunity to gain control of the Board of Directors and decides to end the "sentimental hogwash" of home loans for the working poor. George persuades the board members to stop Potter; they agree, but only on condition that George himself run the business.

Harry goes on to college, but George's hopes of leaving Bedford Falls upon his return are dashed once again when Harry unexpectedly brings home a new wife. Her father has offered Harry a job in his company too good to turn down. Although Harry offers to do precisely that to help his brother, George cannot bring himself to ruin his brother's prospects.

George's mother and Mary appear to independently conspire to set George up with Mary, despite her having a boyfriend -- Sam Wainwright (Frank Albertson), an insouciant friend of George working in New York City, who has the catchphrase "Hee haw!" -- and the two eventually get married. On their wedding day, as the Great Depression looms, George and Mary see a run on the bank that leaves the Building & Loan in serious danger of going under. Potter, sensing another opportunity, offers its clients "50 cents on the dollar", but Mary has George use the money intended for their honeymoon to lend the townspeople what they need to sustain them and quell the panic. It is just enough; at the close of business, the Building & Loan has exactly $2.00 left. Later, Mary (with the aid of cabbie Ernie and Bert the cop) concocts an elaborate mock tropical honeymoon despite the pouring rain, dripping into their house.

George then starts up Bailey Park, an affordable housing project, with bar owner Martini and his family as the first homeowners. They and the other residents are rescued from paying high rents in Potter's Field, and their homes "are worth twice what [they] cost… to build." Potter tries to derail the competition by tempting George with a job at eight times his current salary, but George realizes that Potter is trying to bribe him and vehemently rejects the offer.

Over the next several years, George and Mary raise a growing family. When World War II erupts, George is unable to enlist due to his bad ear. Harry becomes a Navy pilot and is awarded the Medal of Honor for shooting down 15 enemy aircraft, including two kamikaze planes that were about to crash into a Navy troop transport. [ [http://www.filmsite.org/itsa2.html Review by Tim Dirks] ; [http://www.objectivistcenter.org/ct-1833-wonderful_life.aspx Review by Robert L. Jones] ] [ Goodrich, Hackett and Capra 1986, pp. 135, 200. Note: The original script has a production note indicating a photograph of the destroyer Harry Bailey has saved, but later, George describes the saving of a transport, obviously referring to a ship.]

On Christmas Eve, while on his way to deposit $8,000.00 for the Building & Loan, Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) encounters Mr. Potter and, bursting with pride, shows him the newspaper article about his nephew, about to be honored by the President. Absentmindedly, he leaves the deposit envelope with the $8000 in the folds of the newspaper; Potter discovers it later in his office, but since Billy left the bank without officially depositing it into the B&L account, Potter keeps the money without crediting the account. This is also the day the bank examiner is to inspect the Building & Loan's records; he arrives to find the money missing and George and Billy frantically ransacking the place looking for it. Returning home, George sees his whole life as a massive failure. In desperation, George appeals to Mr. Potter for a loan to rescue the company; Potter turns him down when all the collateral George can offer is $500 equity in a $15,000 life insurance policy. Potter cruelly remarks George is "worth more dead than alive." Later, George crashes his car into a tree during a snowstorm and runs to a nearby bridge, intending to commit suicide.

Before George can leap in, Clarence the angel jumps into the water. After a shocked George saves him, Clarence reveals himself to be George's guardian angel and pleads to help him.

George bitterly wishes he had never been born. Clarence then shows him what the town would have been like if George had never existed. Bedford Falls is called Pottersville and is mostly a slum with Main Street dominated by pawn shops and sleazy bars. Bailey Park was never built; the land is part of a desolate cemetery. George's home remains a run-down, abandoned mansion. George sees the people he knows and loves, but in this alternative world, none of them recognize him and their lives are hard and grim. His mother is a widow running a boarding house, and Mary is a spinster librarian; both are lonely, embittered women. Uncle Billy has been in an insane asylum for years, while Harry is dead, since George was not around to save him when he fell through the ice. Consequently, the men Harry would have saved in the war have also perished. Violet is a dancer who gets arrested as a pickpocket. Mr. Gower was convicted of poisoning the child and is reduced to panhandling. Martini no longer owns the bar. Ernie and Bert, although still friends, are much darker characters, and think George is insane when he claims to know them.

George returns to the bridge and calls upon Clarence, and then to God, to let him live again. His prayer is answered and George is returned to the moment he met Clarence. George runs home, filled with a new appreciation of what he has accomplished. There, he finds that his friends and family have collected a huge amount of money to save George and the Building & Loan from scandal and ruin. Seeing how many lives he has touched, and the difference he has made to the town (and having helped Clarence earn his wings), George Bailey realizes that despite his problems, he really has a wonderful life.

Cast

As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):For a full cast and production crew list, see: IMDb profile. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/fullcredits It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Full credits] ]

Featured cast

The contention that James Stewart is often referred to as Capra's only choice to play George Bailey is disputed by film historian Stephen Cox, who indicates that "Henry Fonda was in the running." [http://blockbuster.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=382 Blockbuster MediaRoom: "It's a Wonderful Life."] "Blockbuster Inc". Retrieved: 2 June 2007.] Cox 2003, p. 6.]

Although it was stated that Jean Arthur, Ann Dvorak and Ginger Rogers were all considered for the role of Mary before Donna Reed won the part, this list is also disputed by Cox as he indicates that Jean Arthur was first offered the part but had to turn it down for a prior commitment on Broadway before Capra turned to Olivia de Havilland, Martha Scott and Ann Dvorak. Ginger Rogers was not considered.

Originally dubbed Herbert Potter, a long list of actors were considered for the pivotal role of Mr. Potter (Henry F. Potter): Edward Arnold, Charles Bickford, Edgar Buchanan, Louis Calhern, Victor Jory, Raymond Massey, Vincent Price and even Thomas Mitchell. However, Lionel Barrymore, who eventually won the role, was a famous Ebenezer Scrooge in radio dramatizations of "A Christmas Carol" at the time, and the similarity of Scrooge to Mr. Potter is obvious, so it is likely that he was first choice for the role. Jimmy the Raven appeared in "You Can't Take it With You" and each subsequent Capra film.Cox 2003, p. 24.]

Production

Background

The original story "The Greatest Gift" was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in November 1939. After being unsuccessful in getting the story published, he decided to make it into a Christmas card, and mailed 200 copies to family and friends in December 1943. Ervin, Kathleen. [http://www.failuremag.com/arch_arts_its_a_wonderful_life.html "Some Kind of Wonderful."] "Failure Magazine". Retrieved: 2 June 2007.] [ Cox 2003, p. 29–31. Note: It was not a true "Christmas card" but rather, a 24-page manuscript sent as a pamphlet.] The story came to the attention of RKO producer David Hempstead, who showed it to Cary Grant's Hollywood agent and, in April 1944, RKO Pictures bought the rights to the story for $10,000 hoping to turn the story into a vehicle for Grant. ["Tempest in Hollywood." "New York Times" 23 April 1944, p. X3.] RKO created three unsatisfactory scripts before shelving the planned movie with Grant going on to make another Christmas picture, "The Bishop's Wife."Weems, Eric. [http://www.eeweems.com/capra/_wonderful_life.html "Frank Capra online."] Retrieved: 2 June 2007. The project went through many hands including Howard Hughes who reportedly was interested.] [Cox 2003, p. 26. ]

At the suggestion of RKO studio chief Charles Koerner, Frank Capra read "The Greatest Gift" and immediately saw its potential. RKO, anxious to unload the project, sold the rights in 1945 to Capra's production company, Liberty Films, which had a nine-film distribution agreement with RKO, for $10,000, [ Capra 1971, p. 376. Note: Capra claims the script was purchased for $50,000.00.] and threw in the three scripts for free. Capra along with writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (with Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson and Dorothy Parker brought in to "polish" the script) [ Cox 2003, p. 23.] turned the story and what was worth using from the three scripts into a screenplay that Capra would rename "It's a Wonderful Life."

Filming

"It's a Wonderful Life" was shot at the RKO studio in Culver City, California and the RKO Ranch in Encino, where "Bedford Falls" was a set covering four acres, assembled from three separate parts with a main street stretching 300 yards (three city blocks), with 75 stores and buildings, a tree-lined center parkway and 20 full grown oak trees. For months prior to principal photography, the mammoth set was populated by pigeons, cats and dogs in order to give the "town" a lived-in feel. Due to the requirement to film in an "alternate universe" setting as well as during different seasons, the set was extremely adaptable. RKO created "chemical snow" for the film in order to preclude the use of dubbed dialogue when actors walked across the earlier type of movie snow, made up of crushed cornflakes. [ Cox 2003, pp. 23–24. ] Filming started on 15 April 1946 and ended on 27 July 1946 (exactly on deadline for the 90-day principal photography schedule).

The RKO ranch in Encino, the filming location of Bedford Falls, was razed in the mid-1950s. Because of this there are only two filming locations still remaining from the film. The first is the swimming pool that was unveiled during the famous dance scene where George courts Mary. The second location is the Martinis' new home and neighborhood in the fictional Bailey Park.

During filming, in the scene where Uncle Billy gets drunk at Harry and Ruth's engagement party, George points him in the right direction home. As the camera focuses on George, smiling at his uncle staggering away, a crash is heard in the distance and Uncle Billy yells, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" Equipment on the set had actually been accidentally knocked over; Capra left in Thomas Mitchell's impromptu ad lib.

The full extent of Mr. Potter's deviousness is never revealed to the other characters in the film, and he is never brought to account for sequestering the $8,000, although Capra filmed an alternate ending that was subsequently cut wherein Potter receives a "comeuppance." Later, a "Saturday Night Live" skit reprised the scene, this time with Potter comically brought to account.

While George sees what life would be like without him, Harry's would-be grave displays the dates 1911–1919, contradicting Clarence's statement that Harry died at the age of nine.

Reception

"It's a Wonderful Life" premiered at the Globe Theatre in New York on 20 December 1946 to mixed reviews. While Capra considered the contemporary critical reviews to be either universally negative or at best dismissive, [Capra 1971, pp. 372–373.] "Time" magazine said, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a pretty wonderful movie. It has only one formidable rival (Goldwyn's "The Best Years of Our Lives)" as Hollywood's best picture of the year... Director Capra's inventiveness, humor and affection for human beings keep it glowing with life and excitement." [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793342-1,00.html Time, New Picture, 23 December 1946] Retrieved: 8 June 2007.] Bosley Crowther, writing for "The New York Times", complimented some of the actors, including Stewart and Reed, but concluded that "the weakness of this picture, from this reviewer's point of view, is the sentimentality of it — its illusory concept of life. Mr. Capra's nice people are charming, his small town is a quite beguiling place and his pattern for solving problems is most optimistic and facile. But somehow they all resemble theatrical attitudes rather than average realities." [ [http://movies2.nytimes.com/mem/movies/review.html?title1=&title2=It%27s%20a%20Wonderful%20Life&reviewer=BOSLEY%20CROWTHER&v_id=25590&pdate=19461223&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, Screen in Review, 23 December 1946] Retrieved: 8 June 2007.] One motion picture industry source reported to the FBI in 1947 that the movie resembled Communist propaganda in its making a banker the most despised person in the story. [Chen, Will. [http://www.wisebread.com/fbi-considered-its-a-wonderful-life-communist-propaganda#memo1 "FBI considered 'It's A Wonderful Life' Communist Propaganda".] , "Living Large on a Small Budget", 24 December 2006. Retrieved: 8 June 2007. Note: Despite how Chen characterizes the contents of FBI memo, the FBI analyst does not take a stance on the question, only reporting without comment what his industry source claimed.]

The film, which went into general release on 7 January 1947, placed 26th in box office revenues for the year (out of more than 400 features released), one place ahead of another Christmas movie, "Miracle on 34th Street".

In 1990, "It's a Wonderful Life" was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.

In 2002, Channel 4 ranked "It's A Wonderful Life" as the seventh greatest film ever made in their poll, "The 100 Greatest Films" and in 2006, "It's A Wonderful Life" reached #37 in Channel 4's "100 Greatest Family Films" poll. "It's A Wonderful Life" currently ranks 30th on the IMDB's top 250.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten" — the best 10 films in 10 "classic" American film genres — after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. "It's a Wonderful Life" was acknowledged as the third-best film in the fantasy genre. [ [http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=46072 "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres."] American Film Institute, ComingSoon.net, June 17, 2008. Retrieved: June 18, 2008.] [ [http://www.afi.com/10top10/fantasy.html "Top 10 Fantasy."] American Film Institute Retrieved: June 18, 2008.]

Awards and nominations

Prior to the Los Angeles release of "It's a Wonderful Life", Liberty Films mounted an extensive promotional campaign which 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" also wrote an editorial in which it declared the film and James Stewart's performance, to be worthy of Academy Award consideration. [Wiley and Bona 1987, p. 163.]

"It's a Wonderful Life" received five Academy Award nominations:
* Best Actor for James Stewart
* Best Editing for William Hornbeck
* Best Director for Frank Capra
* Best Sound Recording for John Aalberg
* Best Picture for Frank Capra

"The Best Years of Our Lives", a gritty and topical drama about servicemen attempting to return to their pre-World War II lives, won most of the awards that year, including four of the five for which "It's a Wonderful Life" was nominated. (The award for "Best Sound Recording" was won by "The Jolson Story)." "The Best Years of Our Lives" was also an outstanding commercial success, ultimately becoming the highest grossing film of the decade, in contrast to the more modest box office returns of "It's a Wonderful Life." [Finler 1988, p. 177.]

Capra won the "Best Motion Picture Director" award from the Golden Globes, and a "CEC Award" from the Cinema Writers Circle in Spain, for "Mejor Película Extranjera" (Best Foreign Film). Jimmy Hawkins won a "Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Young Artist Awards in 1994; the award recognized his role as Tommy Bailey as igniting his career which lasted until the mid-1960s.

American Film Institute recognition

*1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #11
*2002 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions #8
*2003 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains:
**George Bailey, hero #9
**Henry F. Potter, villain #6
*2006 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers #1
*2007 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #20
*2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 #3 in the genre of Fantasy

Ownership and copyright issues

Liberty Films was purchased by Paramount Pictures, and remained a subsidiary until 1951. Paramount owned the film until 1955, when they sold a few of their features and most of their cartoons and shorts to television distributor U.M.&M. TV. Corporation. This included key rights to "It's a Wonderful Life", including the original television syndication rights, the original nitrate film elements, the music score, and the story on which the film is based, "The Greatest Gift". [Capra's re-editing of the original score by Dimitri Tiomkin was restored to the Tiomkin version by Willard Carroll in the 1980s and released in a CD in 1988. Cox 2003, p. 12–14.] National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to the U.M.& M. library soon afterward.

However, a clerical error at NTA prevented the copyright from being renewed properly in 1974. [U.S. Copyright Office, "Catalog of Copyright Entries", New Series, Renewals sections in the 1973–1974 volumes.] Despite the lapse in copyright, television stations that aired it still were required to pay royalties. Although the film's images had entered the public domain, the film's story was still protected by virtue of it being a derivative work of the published story "The Greatest Gift," whose copyright was properly renewed by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1971. The film became a perennial holiday favorite in the 1980s, possibly due to its repeated showings each holiday season. It was sometimes mentioned during the deliberations on the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.

In 1993, Republic Pictures, which was the successor to NTA, relied on the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in "Stewart v. Abend" (which involved another Stewart film, "Rear Window") to enforce its claim of copyright. While the film's copyright had not been renewed, it was a derivative work of various works that were still copyrighted. As a result, the film is no longer shown as much on television (NBC is currently licensed to show the film on U.S. network television, and only shows it traditionally twice during the holidays, with one showing primarily on Christmas Eve from 8-11 Eastern time) and now Paramount (via parent company Viacom's 1998 acquisition of Republic's then-parent, Spelling Entertainment) once again has ancillary rights for the first time since 1955.

Artisan Entertainment (under license from Republic) took over home video rights in the mid-1990s. Artisan was later sold to Lions Gate Entertainment, which continued to hold US home video rights until late 2005 when they reverted to Paramount, who also owns video rights throughout Region 4 (Latin America and Australia), and in France. Video rights in the rest of the world are still in the hands of different companies, for example, the UK rights are with Universal Studios.

Due to all the above transactions, this is one of the few RKO films not controlled by Turner Entertainment/Warner Bros. in the USA.

Technological first

In 1993, due in part to the confusion of the ownership and copyright issues, Kinesoft Development, with the support of Republic Pictures, released "It's a Wonderful Life" as the first commercial feature-length film on CD-ROM media for the Windows PC (Windows 3.1). Predating commercial DVDs by several years, this was one of the first true multi-media presentations of a classic film and introduced many advanced features. One of the most interesting of these new features was the ability to follow along with the complete shooting script as the film was playing.

Given the state of video playback on the PC at the time of its release, "It's a Wonderful Life" for Windows represented another first, as the longest running video on a computer. Previously to its release, Windows could only playback approx. 32,000 frames of video, or about 35 minutes at 15 fps. Working with Microsoft, Kinesoft was able to enhance the video features of Windows to allow for the complete playback of the entire film — all of this on a PC with a 486SX processor and only 8 MB of RAM.

Belated success

The film's success, decades after its initial release, came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with it. "It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen," Capra told the "Wall Street Journal" in 1984. "The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I'm like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I'm proud... but it's the kid who did the work. I didn't even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea." Cox 2003, p. 11.] In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film's theme as "the individual's belief in himself," and that he made it to "combat a modern trend toward atheism."

Colorization

Director Frank Capra met with Wilson Markle about having Colorization, Inc. colorize "It's a Wonderful Life" based on an enthusiastistic response to the colorization of "Topper" from actor Cary Grant.Edgerton, Gary R. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0412/is_4_27/ai_59599089/pg_1 "The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue."] "Journal of Popular Film and Television", Winter 2000. Retrieved: 5 October 2007.] The company's art director Brian Holmes prepared ten minutes of colorized footage from "It's a Wonderful Life" for Capra to view, which resulted in Capra signing a contract with Colorization, Inc., and his "enthusiastic agree [ment] to pay half the $260,000 cost of colorizing the movie and to share any profits" and giving "preliminary approval to making similar color versions of two of his other black and white films, "Meet John Doe" (1941) and "Lady for a Day" (1933)". However, the film was believed to be in the public domain at the time, and as a result Markle and Holmes responded by returning Capra's initial investment, eliminating his financial participation, and refusing outright to allow the director to exercise artistic control over the colorization of his films, leading Capra to join in the campaign against the process.

Three colorized versions have so far been produced. The first, released by Hal Roach Studios in 1986, was poorly received. The second was authorized and produced by the film's permanent owner Republic Pictures in 1989, with better results. They are widely considered as inferior to the black and white original, and are often held up by opponents of colorization as examples of the flaws associated with the process. For many years, television stations paid substantial royalties to show a colorized version, figuring that color would attract more viewers. Both Capra and Stewart lived long enough to take a critical stand on the colorized editions (Capra died in 1991, Stewart in 1997). [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19990101/REVIEWS08/401010376/1023 "It's a Wonderful Life"] "Chicago Sun-Times", 1 January 1999. Retrieved: 24 February 2008.] The initial colorized versions of the film have since been withdrawn, and the only version shown on TV is the original black and white version.

On 13 November 2007, Paramount released a two disc special edition DVD of the film that contained both the original theatrical black and white version, newly restored, and a brand new third colorized version, produced by Legend Films using the latest colorization technology.

Theatrical versions

A musical stage adaptation of the film, titled "A Wonderful Life", was written by Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo. This version was first performed at the University of Michigan in 1986, but a planned professional production was stalled by legal wrangling with the estate of Philip Van Doren Stern. It was eventually performed in Washington, DC by Arena Stage in 1991, and had revivals in the 21st century, including a staged concert version in New York City in 2005 and several productions by regional theatres.

"It’s A Wonderful Life" was also adapted into a play in two acts by James W. Rodgers. It was first performed on December 15, 1993 at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The play opens with George Bailey contemplating suicide and then goes back through major moments in his life. Many of the scenes from the movie are only alluded to or mentioned in the play rather then actually dramatized, for example in the opening scene Clarence just mentions George having saved his brother Harry after the later has fallen through the ice. [Rodgers pg i]

Popular culture

"It's a Wonderful Life" has been popularized in modern cultural references in many of the mainstream media. Due to the proliferation of these references, only a few examples will suffice to illustrate the film's impact.

* One of the curious allusions to the film is the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie. Series creator Jim Henson and others involved with its production denied a connection and said that it was just a coincidence. The Capra-esque episode "Elmo Saves Christmas" (1996), which featured a clip from the film, pokes fun at the persistent reports of a connection. [ [http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Bert_and_Ernie:_It%27s_a_Wonderful_Life_Connection Bert and Ernie: It's a Wonderful Life Connection] ] [ Carroll, Jon. "A Few Tiny Errors." "The San Francisco Chronicle" 3 January 2000.]

* In the NBC television sitcom "Friends" in the episode "The One Where Old Yeller Dies" from season 2 of the series, Monica suggests "It's A Wonderful Life" to Phoebe, as a great movie that will lift her spirits.

Antecedents

* Film historian and reviewer James Berardinelli elaborated on the parallels between this film and the classic Dickens tale "A Christmas Carol." In both stories, a man revisits his life and potential death (or non-existence) with the help of supernatural agents, in the end experiencing a joyous epiphany and a renewed view of his life. [ [http://www.reelviews.net/movies/i/its_wonderful.html Review by James Berardinelli] ]

* In an unintended side-effect, this film is the first one to demonstrate a "butterfly effect." When George is contemplating suicide, there is a heavy snow falling in Bedford Falls. However, when Clarence tells him, "alright, you've never been born," the snow stops. Later, to signify George's "return," the heavy snow falls once more.

ee also

* "It Happened One Christmas"

References

Notes

Bibliography

* Capra, Frank. "Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography". New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971. ISBN 0-30680-771-8.
* Cox, Stephen. "It's a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book". Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House, 2003. ISBN 1-58182-337-1.
* Eliot, Mark. "Jimmy Stewart: A Biography". New York: Random House, 2006. ISBN 1-4000-5221-1.
* Finler, Joel W. "The Hollywood Story: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the American Movie Business But Didn't Know Where to Look". London: Pyramid Books, 1988. ISBN 1-855-10009-6.
* Goodrich, Francis, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra. "It's a Wonderful Life: The Complete Script in its Original Form". New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986. ISBN 0-312-43911-3.
* Jones, Ken D., Arthur F. McClure and Alfred E. Twomey. "The Films of James Stewart". New York: Castle Books, 1970.
* McBride, Joseph. "Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success". New York: Touchstone Books, 1992. ISBN 0-671-79788-3.
* Michael, Paul, ed. "The Great Movie Book: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference Guide to the Best-loved Films of the Sound Era". Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1980. ISBN 0-13-363663-1.
* Wiley, Mason and Damien Bona. "Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards". New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. ISBN 0-345-34453-7.
* Rodgers, James W. "It's A Wonderful Life: A Play in Two Acts" Woodstock, Illinois: Dramatic Publishing, 1994 ISBN 0-87129-432-X

External links

* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4867975537967299162 It's A Wonderful Life - Feature Film on Google Video 2:10]
*imdb title | id=0038650 | title=It's a Wonderful Life
* [http://mymerrychristmas.com/2006/jimmystewart.shtml Jimmy Stewart Remembers "It's a Wonderful Life"]
* [http://ia310903.us.archive.org/3/items/oldtimeChristmasOTRKIBM/1947-03-10LuxRadioTheater-ItsAWonderfulLife.mp3 It's a Wonderful Life on Lux Radio Theater]
* [http://www.memorableplaces.com/iawlring/iawlringmain.html The It's A Wonderful Life Webring]
* [http://www.noirdame.com/blog/?page_id=5 Essay on the deeper meaning of It's a Wonderful Life]
* [http://www.zuzu.net Official website run by Karolyn Grimes, who played 'Zuzu' in the film]
* [http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/capra/wondlife.shtml Excerpts from Ray Carney's analysis of the film.]
* [http://www.filmsite.org/itsa.html Filmsite.org's extended review]
* [http://www.failuremag.com/arch_arts_its_a_wonderful_life.html "Some Kind of Wonderful" Frank Capra Examines Failure (from Failure Magazine, March 2001)]
* [http://www.yoursdaily.com/culture_media/movies/it_s_a_wonderful_movie "It's A Wonderful Movie" "YoursDaily.com"]
* [http://www.eeweems.com/capra/_wonderful_life.html The Making of "It's A Wonderful Life" Frank Capra Online]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412955/ "The Making of" It's a Wonderful Life" a documentary hosted by Tom Bosley featured in the Forty-fifth Anniversary Edition on home video]
* [http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-wonderful23dec23,1,4332540.story?page=1 On a wing and a prayer Los Angeles Times: "'It's a Wonderful Life' is a film classic, but the production wasn't always angelic."]
* [http://www.homevideos.com/revclas/83b.htm It's a Wonderful Life ... The Drama Review]
* [http://www.screenplay.com/downloads/scripts/It's%20a%20Wonderful%20Life.pdf Screenplay]


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