It's a Wonderful Life: Wikis

  
  
  
  
  

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It's a Wonderful Life
Directed by Frank Capra
Produced by Frank Capra
Written by Short story:
Philip Van Doren Stern
Screenplay:
Frances Goodrich
Albert Hackett
Jo Swerling
Frank Capra
Starring James Stewart
Donna Reed
Lionel Barrymore
Henry Travers
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Editing by William Hornbeck
Studio Liberty Films
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) December 20, 1946
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,180,000[1]

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

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a 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 the contributions he has made to his community.

Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic and a staple of Christmas television around the world. Theatrically, 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. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes … it was initially 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."[2]

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

Christmas Eve finds George Bailey (James Stewart) deeply troubled. Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers), Angel Second Class, is assigned to save him and earn his wings. Joseph, the head angel, reviews George's life with Clarence. At the age of 12, George (Bobby Anderson) saved the life of his younger brother Harry (Todd Karns) who had fallen through the ice on a pond, though George lost the hearing in one ear. Later, as an errand boy in a pharmacy, George saved his grief-stricken boss, druggist Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), from mistakenly filling a child's prescription with poison.

George's dream has been to see the world. He repeatedly sacrifices his dreams for the well-being of others until Harry graduates from high school and can replace him at the Bailey Building and Loan Association, vital to the people of Bedford Falls. On Harry's graduation night in 1928, George discusses his future with Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), who has had a crush on him since she was a little girl. Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) and Harry break the news to George his father has had a stroke, which proves fatal. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a heartless slumlord and majority shareholder in the Building and Loan, tries to persuade the board of directors to stop providing home loans for the working poor. George persuades them to reject Potter's proposal, but they agree only on the condition that George himself run the Building and Loan. He gives his college money to his brother.

When Harry graduates from college, he unexpectedly brings home a wife, whose father has offered Harry an excellent job in his company. George cannot deny his brother such a fine opportunity. Once more, George has to set aside his ambitions.

After their wedding, as George and Mary leave town for their honeymoon, they witness a run on the bank that leaves the Building and Loan in danger of collapse. Potter offers George's clients "50 cents on the dollar," but George and Mary quell the panic by using the $2,000 earmarked for their honeymoon to satisfy the depositors' needs until confidence in the Building and Loan is restored.

George and Mary raise a growing family. George starts up Bailey Park, an affordable housing project. They and the other residents no longer have to pay Potter's high rents. When World War II erupts, George is unable to enlist, due to his bad ear. Harry becomes a fighter pilot and is awarded the Medal of Honor for shooting down 15 enemy aircraft, including one that would have slammed into a U.S. transport ship full of troops.

On Christmas Eve, 1946,[3] Uncle Billy is on his way to deposit $8,000 for the Building and Loan when he runs into Mr. Potter. He proudly shows Potter the front-page article about Harry receiving the Medal of Honor. Potter grabs the newspaper angrily and later discovers the money inside; he keeps it. When Uncle Billy goes to deposit the money, he finally realizes it is missing. Frantic searching fails to turn it up. In desperation, George appeals to Potter for a loan to save the company, but Potter turns him down and swears out a warrant for his arrest for bank fraud.

Henry Travers as Clarence Odbody after "saving" George

George, facing "scandal and bankruptcy and prison", gets drunk to escape his woes. Driving wildly in a snowstorm, he crashes his car into a tree near a river. Completely devastated, George staggers to a bridge that spans the river, intending to commit suicide, and feeling he is "worth more dead than alive" because of a $15,000 life insurance policy. Before George can leap in, however, Clarence jumps in first and pretends to be drowning. After George rescues him, he reveals himself to be George's guardian angel.

George responds skeptically to this revelation and bitterly wishes he had never been born, so Clarence shows him what the town would have been like if he had never existed. In this alternate reality, Bedford Falls is called Pottersville and is home to nightclubs and pawn shops; Bailey Park was never built; Mr. Gower was convicted of poisoning the child and spent many years in prison; Martini (William Edmunds) no longer owns the bar; Violet (Gloria Grahame) is a dancer who gets arrested as a pickpocket; Uncle Billy has been in an insane asylum for years; Harry is dead, since George was not around to save him, and the soldiers Harry would have saved also died; Mrs. Bailey is a hardened widow running a boarding house, and Mary is an unmarried librarian.

When George becomes agitated by the whole situation, Bert the policeman has to intervene. They tussle. George flees to the bridge and begs God to let him live again. His wish granted, a jubilant George runs home to happily greet the men waiting to arrest him. A flood of people enter with donations to save George and the Building and Loan. George's friend Sam Wainwright sends him a line of credit for $25,000 via telegram. In the middle of the impromptu celebration, the newly-arrived Harry proposes a toast to his big brother, "the richest man in town." Seeing how many lives he has touched, George Bailey finally realizes that he truly has a wonderful life. As the group sings "Auld Lang Syne", George finds a note from Clarence thanking George for helping him get his wings.

Cast

Actor Role
James Stewart George Bailey
Donna Reed Mary Hatch Bailey
Lionel Barrymore Henry F. Potter
Thomas Mitchell Uncle Billy
Henry Travers Clarence Odbody
Beulah Bondi Mrs. Bailey
Frank Faylen Ernie Bishop
Ward Bond Bert
Gloria Grahame Violet Bick
H. B. Warner Mr. Gower
Todd Karns Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds Peter Bailey
Lillian Randolph Annie
Mary Treen Cousin Tilly
Frank Albertson Sam Wainwright
Virginia Patton Ruth Dakin Bailey
Charles Williams Cousin Eustace
William Edmunds Mr. Martini
Bobby Anderson Little George Bailey
Ronnie Ralph Little Sam Wainwright
Jean Gale Little Mary Bailey
Jeanine Ann Roose Little Violet Bick
George Nokes Little Harry Bailey
Danny Mummert Little Marty Hatch
Sheldon Leonard Nick, the bartender
Charles Lane The rent collector
Jimmy Hawkins Tommy Bailey
Karolyn Grimes Zuzu Bailey
Larry Simms Pete Bailey
Carol Coomes (AKA Carol Coombs) Janie Bailey
Charles Halton Carter, bank examiner (uncredited)
Joseph Kearns Angel Joseph (voice, uncredited)
Evelyn Moriarty Girl in the bar (uncredited)
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer Freddie (Mary's high school suitor)
Max Wagner Cashier/Bouncer at Nick's Bar
Tom Fadden Bridge Caretaker (uncredited)
Stanley Andrews Mr Welch (uncredited)
George Bailey (James Stewart), Mary Bailey (Donna Reed) and their youngest daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes).

Casting

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."[4][5]

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 offered the female lead, but turned it down because she considered it "too bland". In Chapter 26 of her autobiography Ginger: My Story, she questioned the decline of the role by asking her readers: "Foolish, you say?"

A long list of actors were considered for the role of Potter (originally named Herbert Potter): Edward Arnold, Charles Bickford, Edgar Buchanan, Louis Calhern, Victor Jory, Raymond Massey, Vincent Price and even Thomas Mitchell.[5] However, Lionel Barrymore, who eventually won the role, was a famous Ebenezer Scrooge in radio dramatizations of A Christmas Carol at the time.

Jimmy the Raven (Uncle Billy's pet) appeared in You Can't Take it With You and each subsequent Capra film.[4][6]

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.[7][8] 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.[9] RKO created three unsatisfactory scripts before shelving the planned movie with Grant going on to make another Christmas picture, The Bishop's Wife.[10][11]

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,[12] and threw in the three scripts for free.[7] Capra, along with writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett—with Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker brought in to "polish" the script[13]—turned the story and what was worth using from the three scripts into a screenplay that Capra would rename It's a Wonderful Life.[7] The script underwent many revisions throughout pre-production and during filming.[14]

Seneca Falls, New York claims that when Frank Capra visited their town in 1945, he was inspired to model Bedford Falls after it. The town has an annual It's a Wonderful Life festival in December.[15] In mid-2009, The Hotel Clarence opened in Seneca Falls, named for George Bailey's guardian angel.

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 4 acres (16,000 m2), 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.[6] 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 avoid the need for dubbed dialogue when actors walked across the earlier type of movie snow, made up of crushed cornflakes.[16] Filming started on April 15, 1946 and ended on July 27, 1946, exactly on deadline for the 90-day principal photography schedule.[10]

The RKO ranch in Encino, the filming location of Bedford Falls, was razed in the mid-1950s. There are only two surviving locations from the film. The first is the swimming pool that was unveiled during the famous dance scene where George courts Mary. It is located in the gymnasium at Beverly Hills High School and is still in operation as of 2008. The second is the "Martini home", at 4587 Viro Road in La Canada Flintridge, California.[17]

During filming, in the scene where Uncle Billy gets drunk at Harry and Ruth's welcome home/newlyweds' 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.

Capra filmed an alternate ending that was subsequently cut wherein Uncle Billy remembers misplacing the money in the newspaper when he unties a string, and Potter receives a "comeuppance".[5]

A number of alternative endings were considered with Capra's first script having Bailey falling to his knees reciting The Lord's Prayer (the script also called for an opening scene with the townspeople in prayer). Recognizing that an overly religious tone did not have the emotional impact of the family and friends rushing to rescue George Bailey, the closing scenes were rewritten.[18][19][20]

Reception

It's a Wonderful Life premiered at the Globe Theatre in New York on December 20, 1946[10] to mixed reviews. While Capra considered the contemporary critical reviews to be either universally negative or at best dismissive,[21] 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."[22] 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.",[23]

The film, which went into general release on January 7, 1947, placed 26th in box office revenues for 1947[24] (out of more than 400 features released),[25] 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, Britain's Channel 4 ranked It's a Wonderful Life as the seventh greatest film ever made in its poll "The 100 Greatest Films" and in 2006, the film reached #37 in the same channel's "100 Greatest Family Films". It currently ranks 29th on the IMDb's top 250.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its 10 Top 10, the best ten films in ten "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.[26][27]

Somewhat more iconoclastic views of the film are occasionally expressed. In 1947, film critic Manny Farber wrote, "To make his points [Capra] always takes an easy, simple-minded path that doesn't give much credit to the intelligence of the audience", and adds that there are only a "few unsentimental moments here and there."[28] Wendell Jamieson, in a 2008 New York Times article which was otherwise positive in its analysis of the film, posited that the film "is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife."[29]

The film's elevation to the status of a much-beloved classic came decades after its initial release, when it became a television staple in the 1970s and 1980s Christmas seasons. This 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."[30] 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."[30]

Awards and honors

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.[31]

It's a Wonderful Life received five Academy Award nominations:

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.[32]

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

Release

Ownership and copyright issues

Ancillary rights

Liberty Films was purchased by Paramount Pictures, and remained a subsidiary until 1951. In 1955, M. & A. Alexander purchased the movie. This included key rights to the original television syndication, the original nitrate film elements, the music score, and the film rights to the story on which the film is based, "The Greatest Gift".[33] National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to the film soon thereafter.

However, a clerical error at NTA prevented the copyright from being renewed properly in 1974.[34] Despite the lapsed 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.[35] The film became a perennial holiday favorite in the 1980s, possibly due to its repeated showings each holiday season on hundreds of local television stations. It was mentioned during the deliberations on the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.[36]

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 to the copyright. While the film's copyright had not been renewed, the plaintiffs were able to argue its status as a derivative work of a work still under copyright. It's a Wonderful Life is no longer shown as often on television as it was before enforcement of that derivative copyright. NBC is currently licensed to show the film on U.S. network television, and traditionally shows it twice during the holidays, with one showing on Christmas Eve. 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, while NBC's broadcast rights are licensed from Trifecta Entertainment & Media (which holds television distribution of the Republic/Paramount theatrical library, including the back catalog of DreamWorks, a studio which Paramount owned from 2006-08).[37]

Due to all the above actions, this is one of the few RKO films not controlled by Turner Entertainment/Warner Bros. in the USA. It is also one of two Capra films which Paramount currently owns despite not having originally released it - the other is Broadway Bill (originally from Columbia, remade by Paramount as Riding High in 1950).

Colorization

Director Frank Capra met with Wilson Markle about having Colorization, Inc. colorize It's a Wonderful Life based on an enthusiastic response to the colorization of Topper from actor Cary Grant.[38] The company's art director Brian Holmes prepared 10 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)".[38] 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.[38]

Three colorized versions have been produced. The first was released by Hal Roach Studios in 1986. The second was authorized and produced by the film's permanent owner, Republic Pictures, in 1989, with better results. Both Capra and Stewart took a critical stand on the colorized editions.[39] The initial colorized versions of the film have been withdrawn, and the only version shown on TV is the original black-and-white version.[citation needed]

Home video market

Technological first: CD-ROM version

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 one of the first commercial feature-length films on CD-ROM for the Windows PC (Windows 3.1). Predating commercial DVDs by several years, it included such features as the ability to follow along with the complete shooting script as the film was playing.[40]

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. Prior to its release, Windows could only play back approx. 32,000 frames of video, or about 35 minutes at 15 frames per second. 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.[41]

VHS versions

Among the companies that released the film on home video before Republic Pictures stepped in were Meda Video (which would later become Media Home Entertainment), Kartes Video Communications (under its Video Film Classics label), GoodTimes Home Video, and Video Treasures (now Anchor Bay Entertainment). After Republic, 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 held by different companies; for example, the UK rights are with Universal Studios.

DVD / Blu-ray versions

The movie has seen multiple DVD releases since the availability of the DVD format. In the fall of 2001, Republic issued the movie twice, once in August, and again with different packaging in September of that same year. On October 31, 2006, Paramount released a "60th Anniversary Edition". On November 13, 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 new, third colorized version, produced by Legend Films using the latest colorization technology. On November 3, 2009, Paramount released a DVD version with a "Collector's Edition Ornament", and a Blu-ray edition.

Adaptations in other media

The film was twice adapted for radio in 1947, first on Lux Radio Theater (March 10) and then on The Screen Guild Theater (December 29), then again on the Screen Guild Theater broadcast of March 15, 1951. James Stewart and Donna Reed reprised their roles for all three radio productions. Stewart also starred in the May 8, 1949 radio adaptation presented on the Screen Director's Playhouse.

The film was remade as the 1977 television movie It Happened One Christmas starring Marlo Thomas and Wayne Rogers, with Thomas as the protagonist.

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.

The film 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 than actually dramatized. For example, in the opening scene Clarence just mentions George having saved his brother Harry after the latter had fallen through the ice.[42]

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, a stage adaptation presented as a 1940s radio show, was adapted by Joe Landry and has been produced around the United States since 1997. The script is published by Playscripts, Inc.

Philip Grecian's 2006 radio play based on the film It's a Wonderful Life is a faithful adaptation, now in its third incarnation, that has been performed numerous times by local theatres in Canada.[43]

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.

  • The Sesame Street Muppets characters Bert and Ernie share their names with the cop and the taxicab driver in the film. Longtime Muppets writer and puppeteer Jerry Juhl said he believed there was no connection and that this was a coincidence.[44] The Capra-esque episode Elmo Saves Christmas (1996), which featured a clip from the film, pokes fun at the persistent reports of a connection, having them look at each other in disbelief as George calls Bert and Ernie by name.[44]
  • In the Broadway musical Rent, the film is referenced by character Roger Davis, who tells Benny that he "can't wipe out an entire tent city, then watch 'It's a Wonderful Life' on TV."
  • In the Broadway musical In the Heights, the character Usnavi references the film in the song "Finale" with the line, "It's a wonderful life that I've known/Merry Christmas you old building and Loan!"
  • A 12th-season episode of Saturday Night Live showed the "fabled lost ending" of It's a Wonderful Life, where George (played by Dana Carvey) assaults Mr. Potter (Jon Lovitz) after discovering that Potter kept the $8,000 that Uncle Billy (Phil Hartman) misplaced, and has faked his disability all those years. George is joined in beating Potter by Mary (Jan Hooks) and Harry (Dennis Miller).[45]
  • Stephen Jay Gould's book Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History takes its main title from the film. The book proposes that the evolution of life, rewound and replayed multiple times, would yield a different world each time, just as life without George Bailey is Pottersville, not Bedford Falls.

Spin-off

In 1990, a made-for-television movie called Clarence starred Robert Carradine in a new tale of the helpful angel.[46]

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.[47]

See also

References

Audio/video

Notes

  1. ^ Cox 2003, p. 27. Note: The original budget had been set at $3 million.
  2. ^ Eliot 2006, p. 206.
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Plot Synopsis". allmovie.com. http://www.allmovie.com/work/25590. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Blockbuster MediaRoom: It's a Wonderful Life. Blockbuster Inc. Retrieved: June 2, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Cox 2003, p. 6.
  6. ^ a b Cox 2003, p. 24.
  7. ^ a b c Ervin, Kathleen A. Some Kind of Wonderful. Failure Magazine (n.d.). Retrieved: June 2, 2007.
  8. ^ Cox 2003, pp. 29–31. Note: It was not a true "Christmas card" but rather, a 24-page pamphlet.
  9. ^ "Tempest in Hollywood." New York Times April 23, 1944, p. X3.
  10. ^ a b c Weems, Eric. Frank Capra online. Retrieved: June 2, 2007. Note: The project went through many hands including Howard Hughes who reportedly was interested.
  11. ^ Cox 2003, p. 26.
  12. ^ Capra 1971, p. 376. Note: Capra claims the script was purchased for $50,000.00.
  13. ^ Cox 2003, p. 23.
  14. ^ Goodrich et al. 1986, pp. 135, 200.
  15. ^ McDonald, Joan Barone. "Seneca Falls: It’s a ‘Wonderful’ town." The Buffalo News, November 16, 2008. Retrieved: December 29, 2008.
  16. ^ Cox 2003, pp. 23–24.
  17. ^ Wayne, Gary. "Hollywood on Location: the '40s." seeing-stars.com. Retrieved: August 25, 2009.
  18. ^ Cahill 2006, p. 105.
  19. ^ Dirks. Tim. "Review." filmsite.org. Retrieved: August 25, 2009.
  20. ^ Jones, Robert L. "Review." objectivistcenter.org. Retrieved: August 25, 2009.
  21. ^ Capra 1971, pp. 372–373.
  22. ^ Time, New Picture, December 23, 1946 Retrieved: June 8, 2007.
  23. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "'It's a Wonderful Life', Screen in Review." The New York Times, December 23, 1946. Retrieved: June 8, 2007.
  24. ^ Willian 2006, p. 4.
  25. ^ American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (online database).
  26. ^ "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres." American Film Institute, ComingSoon.net, June 17, 2008. Retrieved: June 18, 2008.
  27. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy." American Film Institute Retrieved: June 18, 2008.
  28. ^ Manny Farber, "Mugging Main Street", The New Republic, January 6, 1947, reprinted in Farber on Film, Library of America, 2009, pages 307-9
  29. ^ Jamieson, Wendell. "Wonderful? Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life." The New York Times, December 18, 2008. Retrieved: December 20, 2008.
  30. ^ a b Cox 2003, p. 11.
  31. ^ Wiley and Bona 1987, p. 163.
  32. ^ Finler 1988, p. 177.
  33. ^ 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 on a CD in 1988. Cox 2003, pp. 12–14.
  34. ^ U.S. Copyright Office, Catalog of Copyright Entries, New Series, Renewals sections in the 1973–1974 volumes.
  35. ^ Renewal Registrations, p. 1614, Catalog of Copyright Entries, January–June 1971. U.S. Copyright Office. The United States copyright of "The Greatest Gift" will expire in 2038, 95 years after its publication.
  36. ^ The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1995: Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on S. 483 ... September 20, 1995. By United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary, United States. Published by U.S. G.P.O., 1997, pp. 16, 73, 126. ISBN 978-0160543517.
  37. ^ Alsdorf, Matt. Slate.com: "Why Wonderful Life Comes but Once a Year." slate.com, December 21, 1999. Retrieved: September 10, 2009.
  38. ^ a b c Edgerton, Gary R. "The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue." Journal of Popular Film and Television, Winter 2000. Retrieved: October 5, 2007.
  39. ^ "It's a Wonderful Life" Chicago Sun-Times, January 1, 1999. Retrieved: February 24, 2008.
  40. ^ Burr, Ty. "ABC'S OF CD: Delivering the Future." ew.com, Entertainment Weekly, 2009. Retrieved: May 29, 2009. Note: Voyager Company's Hard Day's Night, released in May 1993, slightly predated the Kinesoft product. It was originally advertised as an Audio CD.
  41. ^ "Peter Sills: Developer BIO." mobygames.com, 2009. Retrieved: May 29, 2009.
  42. ^ Rodgers 1994, p. i.
  43. ^ Jang, Howard. "Introducing... 'It's a Wonderful Life'." artsclub.com, October 23, 2009. Retrieved: December 20, 2009.
  44. ^ a b Carroll, Jon. "A Few Tiny Errors." The San Francisco Chronicle January 3, 2000.
  45. ^ " 'It's a Wonderful Life' Lost Ending." Saturday Night Live. Retrieved: December 21, 2008.
  46. ^ "Clarence." IMDB. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
  47. ^ Review by James Berardinelli

Bibliography

  • Cahill, Marie. It's a Wonderful Life. East Bridgewater, Massachusetts: World Publications Group, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57215-459-9.
  • 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.
  • Rodgers, James W. It's A Wonderful Life: A Play in Two Acts. Woodstock, Illinois: Dramatic Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0-87129-432-X.
  • Wiley, Mason and Damien Bona. Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. ISBN 0-345-34453-7.
  • Willian, Michael. The Essential It's a Wonderful Life: A Scene-by-Scene Guide to the Classic Film, 2nd ed. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1556526367.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 film about an angel-in-training who gives a despondent man a look at what the world would be like if he had never been born.

Directed by Frank Capra. Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra.
They're making memories tonight!taglines

Contents

George Bailey

  • [during the run on the bank] You're thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money's not here. Your money's in Joe's house; that's right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin's house, and a hundred others. Why, you're lending them the money to build, and then, they're going to pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Foreclose on them?
  • [as everyone inside was about to go to Potter's bank for money] Now wait...now listen...now listen to me. I beg of you not to do this thing. If Potter gets hold of this Building and Loan, there'll never be another decent house built in this town. He's already got charge of the bank. He's got the bus line. He got the department stores. And now he's after us. Why? Well, it's very simple. Because we're cutting in on his business, that's why. And because he wants to keep you living in his slums and paying the kind of rent he decides. Joe, you had one of those Potter houses, didn't you? Well, have you forgotten? Have you forgotten what he charged you for that broken-down shack? Here, Ed. You know, you remember last year when things weren't going so well, and you couldn't make your payments? You didn't lose your house, did you? Do you think Potter would have let you keep it? Can't you understand what's happening here? Don't you see what's happening? Potter isn't selling. Potter's buying! And why? Because we're panicking and he's not. That's why. He's picking up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We've got to stick together, though. We've got to have faith in each other.

Clarence Oddbody

  • Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?
  • [Inscribed in a copy of Tom Sawyer] "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence."

Dialogue

Pop: I know it's soon to talk about it.
George: Oh, now Pop, I couldn't. I couldn't face being cooped up for the rest of my life in a shabby little office...Oh, I'm sorry Pop, I didn't mean that, but this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save three cents on a length of pipe...I'd go crazy. I want to do something big and something important.
Pop: You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we're helping him get those things in our shabby little office.
George: I know, Dad. I wish I felt...But I've been hoarding pennies like a miser in order to...Most of my friends have already finished college. I just feel like if I don't get away, I'd bust.
Pop: Yes...yes...You're right son.
George: You see what I mean, don't you, Pop?
Pop: This town is no place for any man unless he's willing to crawl to Potter. You've got talent, son. I've seen it. You get yourself an education. Then get out of here.
George: Pop, you want a shock? I think you're a great guy. [to Annie, listening through the door] Oh, did you hear that, Annie?
Annie: I heard it. About time one of you lunkheads said it.

Mary: What'd you wish, George?
George: Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful, Mary. I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here and go to college and see what they know... And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...

George: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.
Mary: I'll take it. Then what?
George: Well, then you could swallow it, and it'd all dissolve, see? And the moonbeams'd shoot out of your fingers and your toes, and the ends of your hair... Am I talking too much?
Old Man: Yes! Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: How's that?
Old Man: Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: Want me to kiss her, huh?
Old Man: Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people!

George: Mary... [picks up Mary's robe, which is lying on the ground] Okay, I give up. Where are you?
Mary: Over here in the hydrangea bushes.
George: Here you are. Catch. [He is about to throw her the robe, but reconsiders] Wait a minute. What am I doing? This is a very interesting situation.
Mary: Please give me my robe.
George: Hmmm...A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day.
Mary: I'd like to have my robe.
George: Not in Bedford Falls, anyway.
Mary: [thrashing around in the bushes] Ouch!
George: Gesundheit. This requires a little thought here.
Mary: George Bailey! Give me my robe!
George: I've heard about things like this, but I've never...
Mary: Shame on you. I'm going to tell your mother on you.
George: Oh, my mother's way up the corner there.
Mary: I'll call the police!
George: They're way downtown. They'd be on my side, too.
Mary: Then I'm going to scream!
George: Maybe I could sell tickets. No, no... Let's see. No, the point is, in order to get this robe...I've got it! I'll make a deal with you, Mary.

Dr. Campbell: I'm sure the whole board wishes to express its deep sorrow at the passing of Peter Bailey.
George: Thank you very much.
Dr. Campbell: It was his faith and devotion that are responsible for this organization.
Potter: I'll go further than that. I'll say that to the public Peter Bailey was the Building and Loan.
Billy: Oh, that's fine, Potter, coming from you, considering that you probably drove him to his grave.
Potter: Peter Bailey was not a business man. That's what killed him. Oh, I don't mean any disrespect to him, God rest his soul. He was a man of high ideals, so called, but ideals without common sense can ruin this town. Now, you take this loan here to Ernie Bishop...You know, that fellow that sits around all day on his brains in his taxi. You know...I happen to know the bank turned down this loan, but he comes here and we're building him a house worth five thousand dollars. Why?
George: Well, I handled that, Mr. Potter. You have all the papers there. His salary, insurance. I can personally vouch for his character.
Potter: A friend of yours?
George: Yes, sir.
Potter: You see, if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money. What does that get us? A discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty, working class. And all because a few starry-eyed dreamers like Peter Bailey stir them up and fill their heads with a lot of impossible ideas. Now, I say...
George: Just a minute — just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You're right when you say my father was no business man. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I'll never know. But neither you nor anybody else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was...Why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn't that right, Uncle Billy? He didn't save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what's wrong with that? Why...Here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You...you said...What'd you say just a minute ago?...They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken-down that they...Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about...they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be!
Potter: I'm not interested in your book. I'm talking about the Building and Loan.
George: I know very well what you're talking about. You're talking about something you can't get your fingers on, and it's galling you. That's what you're talking about, I know...Well, I've said too much. I...You're the Board here. You do what you want with this thing. Just one more thing, though. This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to Potter.

George: Look, who are you?
Clarence: I told you, George. I'm your guardian angel.
George: Yeah, yeah, I know. You told me that. What else are you? What...are you a hypnotist?
Clarence: No, of course not.
George: Well, then, why am I seeing all these strange things?
Clarence: Don't you understand, George? It's because you were not born.
George: Then if I wasn't born, who am I?
Clarence: You're nobody. You have no identity.
George: What do you mean, no identity? My name's George Bailey.
Clarence: There is no George Bailey. You have no papers, no cards, no driver's license, no 4-F card, no insurance policy...They're not there, either.
George: What?
Clarence: Zuzu's petals. You've been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.

Clarence: Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George: That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport.
Clarence: Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry. You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

George: Hello, Bedford Falls! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan! Hey! Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!
Potter: Happy New Year to you — in jail. Go on home — they're waiting for you!

Zuzu: [after a bell on the tree rings] Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
George: That's right, that's right. Attaboy, Clarence!

Taglines

  • They're making memories tonight!
  • Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! How could it be anything else?
  • It's a wonderful laugh! It's a wonderful love!
  • They're going steady...straight to your heart!
  • I wish I had a million dollars! Hot Dog!

Cast

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

It's a Wonderful Life
Directed by Frank Capra
Produced by Frank Capra
Written by Frances Goodrich,
Albert Hackett,
and Frank Capra.
Based on The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Joseph F. Biroc,
Joseph Walker,
Victor Milner (uncredited)
Editing by William Hornbeck
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures (original release),
Republic Pictures (video),
Artisan Entertainment (DVD),
Paramount Pictures (2005- )
Release date(s) January 7, 1947
Running time 130
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.18 million (estimated)
IMDb profile

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 movie that was directed by Frank Capra, starring Jimmy Stewart, produced by his own company (Liberty Films), and first released by RKO Radio Pictures.

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