It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
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One of the most popular American films of all-time and
a perennial holiday favorite, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was not a huge hit
with either critics or audiences when it debuted in December 1946 (see
articles) but was nominated for
five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Jimmy
Stewart), and Best Director (Frank
Capra). After slipping quickly into obscurity, it began appearing on
television occasionally in the late 1950s. But when the film's
copyright lapsed in 1973, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE quickly became a staple of
American TV programming between Thanksgiving and Christmas and belatedly
earned its rightful place in the lexicon of American popular culture.
Ranked #11 on the American Film Institute's
list of Greatest Films,
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is an indisputable movie classic.
Beulah Bondi, and Thomas
Mitchell, three co-stars of Capra's
pre-war drama MR. SMITH GOES TO
WASHINGTON (1939), are reunited on the Bailey's front porch in IT'S A
WONDERFUL LIFE. For
Bondi, the film marked her fifth
and final production with
Stewart and the fourth film in
which she played his mother.
"Where's my hat? Where's my ... Oh, thank you, George. Which one
is mine?" --Uncle Billy.
George Bailey (Stewart) and
Mary Hatch (Donna
Reed) doing the Charleston at the high school dance -- a scene filmed in the
Beverly Hills High School gymnasium. For
Reed, an up-and-coming starlet under contract to
MGM, after having appeared in some
20 films, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE proved to be the big break in her movie
Gals" sung by Jimmy
Stewart and Donna Reed
(a .MP3 file).
(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins
- "Here's your hat. What's your hurry?" --George.
is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You...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. ... Then you can
swallow it, and it'll all dissolve see, and the moonbeams would shoot out
of your fingers and your toes and the ends of you hair ... am I talking
too much?" --George (a .WAV file).
- "Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?" --Man on Porch.
- "Oh! Youth is wasted on the wrong people!" --Man on Porch.
- "Oh, not just one wish. A whole hatful. Mary, I know what I'm
going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and 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 Coliseum. Then,
I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then
I'm gonna build things..." --George.
time you hear a bell rings it means some angel's just got his wings." --Clarence
(a .WAV file).
who had 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.
Stewart's Oscar nomination (the actor's third of five) proved he had
not lost his touch.
George Bailey telling Mary Hatch: "I don't want to get married -- ever -- to anyone! You understand
that? I want to do what I want to do."
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