Produced and directed by Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life is based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s 1939 short story “The Greatest Gift.” Released in 1946, the film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a good man 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 would be had he never been born.
The film was the first post-WWII film for both Capra and the film’s star, James Stewart. Its dismal financial showing seemed to prove that Capra and Stewart – who had been in the Air Force and off the screen for four years – were no longer the A-listers they had been. In spite of this, the Motion Picture Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw fit to nominiate It’s a Wonderful Life for five Oscars. With the considerable boost from over forty years of television screenings, the film has gone on to become one of the most inspirational and beloved movies in American cinema. It has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American Films ever made.
2 hrs., 10 min.
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