It is Christmas Eve in the small town of Bedford Falls. George Bailey (James Stewart) is feeling down. He has devoted his life to others, often sacrificing his own dreams for the good of his family, friends and community in an effort to keep open a Building and Loan bank. The greedy Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) will stop at nothing to put the Building and Loan out of business.
George gets into trouble when his Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), misplaces $8,000 of the Building & Loan's money. The money falls into Mr. Potter's hands on the same day that the bank inspector is checking the Building & Loan's books. George is stuck in a tremendous bind, and contemplates suicide. However, God answers his prayers, and sends down the Guardian Angel Clarence (Henry Travers) to try and save George.
Within 23 days it would have been Thomas Mitchell`s (Uncle Billy) 121th birthday.
* July 11, 1892
† December 17, 1962
1,500 film-makers, actors, critics and other movie professionals in Hollywood have chosen It’s a wonderful life the most inspirational films of all time. AFI distributed a ballot in November 2005 with 300 nominated inspiring movies to a jury of over 1,500 leaders from the creative community. Source / More (Web)
Release date: December 20, 1946
The movie was shot at:
The Beverly Hills High School (The dancing contest).
The town of Bedford Falls was totally recreated with a huge set.
Best Actor ->James Stewart
Best Director ->Frank Capra
Best Film Editing
Best Picture ->Frank Capra
Best Sound, Recording
It’s a wonderful life was colorized in the eighties. Director Capra called the colorization process an insult for him and his dead colleagues. Source / More (Book)
In the early 1940s, writer Philip Van Doren Stern penned a short story called The Greatest Gift which he printed on 200 holiday cards and sent out to friends and family. RKO Pictures bought the story a few years later for $10,000, and sold it to Capra. He translated the script into It’s a wonderful life.
James Stewart spent World War II in the Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot and squadron commander. It’s a wonderful life marked his return to acting and his first post-war film.
In 1947, the FBI branded It’s A Wonderful Life as subversive.
The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
At $3.7 million, this was a very expensive independent production. The film was panned by some critics and was not a box-office hit. In its initial box office run, it only earned $3.3 million.
James Stewart said that George Bailey was his favorite character.
Stewart was very interested in starring in North by Northwest, begging director Alfred Hitchcock to let him play Thornhill. Hitchcock claimed that Vertigo’s (1958) lack of financial success was because Stewart looked too old.
May 20, 1908
James Maitland Stewart
July 2, 1997
James was born and grew up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA. He made his acting debut in a boy scout play.
After graduating from Princeton in 1932 with a degree in architecture, he joined the University Players whose members included such future stars as Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan.
His first motion-picture appearance was in 1935 in The Murder Man. Stewart's career gained momentum after his well-received Frank Capra films, including his Academy Award nominated role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
James served in the US Army Air Forces in World War II and was heavily decorated.
After the war, Stewart returned to the theater in Harvey (1947) (he later re-created the role in the 1950 film version of the play).
During the 1950s, he took on more challenging roles and expanded into the western and suspense genres, thanks largely to collaborations with directors Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock (Rear window (1954), The man who knew too much (1956), Vertigo (1958)).
James undertook some television projects in the 1970s, but with little success. Late in life Stewart made a series of popular appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, reading his own poetry.
1985 Honorary Award
1960 Nominated Best Actor for: Anatomy of a Murder
1951 Nominated Best Actor for: Harvey
1947 Nominated Best Actor for: It's a wonderful Life
1941 Won Oscar Best Actor for: The Philadelphia Story (1940)
1940 Nominated Best Actor for: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Michael Munn -> Jimmy Stewart : The Truth Behind the Legend
Donald Dewey -> James Stewart: A Biography (1996)
Jonathan Coe -> Jimmy Stewart : A Wonderful Life (1994)