It's a Wonderful Life (1947)

 ●  English ● 2 hrs 11 mins

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This classic tale delves into the value of honesty, integrity, love, generosity and sacrifice through the trials and triumphs in the life of George Bailey, who has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never had the opportunity in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that prevents him from doing so is George's modest building and loan company, which was founded by his generous father. But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. However, the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, showing the depressed and suicidal George how his beloved town would have been if not for him. Can the guardian angel restore George's faith and give him the confidence to live and save his company?
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Donna Reed, James Stewart

Crew: Frank Capra (Director), Joseph Bailey Walker (Director of Photography), Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy

Release Dates: 07 Jan 1947 (India)

Tagline: They're going steady...straight to your heart!

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Did you know? After the war Frank Capra set up Liberty Films with George Stevens and William Wyler to make more serious, soul-searching films. This and State of the Union (1948) were Liberty's only productions. Read More
Capra's Christmas cracker shines anew.
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Camera and Electrical

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Film Type:
Colour Info:
Black & White
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Frame Rate:
24 fps
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They're going steady...straight to your heart!
It's a wonderful laugh! It's a wonderful love!
They're making memories tonight!
The most loved Christmas film of all time!
Frank Capra's..."It's a Wonderful Life".
Wonderful news...about wonderful people! a wonderful picture! It's a wonderful love! It's a wonderful laugh!
Movie Connection(s):
Referenced in: Ex Machina (English)
In the first scene where George finds his brother Harry's grave, the year of death is clearly visible but in the next scene, it is obscured by snow and George has to dig it out to find the year his brother died.

When the "old maid" Mary is closing the library door, she has a wreath in her right arm. The wreath disappears in the next shot.

Revealing Mistakes
In the drugstore when Mary leans over the counter to whisper in George's ear, a piece of tape suddenly appears on the edge of the counter between George's and Mary's heads. This was most likely done as a reference mark for the young actors so the focus puller could accurately pull focus.

Revealing Mistakes
James Stewart's toupee falls off after he and Donna Reed fall into the pool during the Charleston contest.

Errors in Geography
At the scene showing the new houses at Bailey Park, California hills are visible beyond the houses. The film is set in New York state, which only has much gentler, rolling hills.

When George crashes his car into the tree, there's not much snow on it, when he gets out of the car to have a look at the damage, there's lots of snow on the car.

When everyone is jumping into the pool during the dance, the same person jumps in twice.

On Christmas Eve when he is hugging Tommy, George is clean shaven. By the time he climbs the stairs to check on ZuZu he has a heavy 5 O'clock shadow on his face.

Audio/Video Mismatch
George jumps into the river to save Clarence. As he is rescuing him Clarence is screaming "help" but his mouth is not moving.
The song "Buffalo Gals" in the movie was an old vaudeville song.

"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 8, 1949 with James Stewart reprising his film role.

Many of Dimitri Tiomkin's cues from the score were replaced with excerpts from the RKO music library that included cues from Roy Webb, Leigh Harline and Alfred Newman's "Hallelujah" from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Jimmy Stewart refers to his daughter, Zuzu, as "my little ginger snap." a reference that was made by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) at the time.

The movie was originally slated for 1947 release, but when Technicolor was unable to deliver prints in time for RKO's Christmas time 1946 release of Sinbad, the Sailor (1947), Frank Capra's film was rushed into theaters. The titles were not re-shot, and thus bear a 1947 copyright.

After the war Frank Capra set up Liberty Films with George Stevens and William Wyler to make more serious, soul-searching films. This and State of the Union (1948) were Liberty's only productions.

Actor and producer Sheldon Leonard said in an interview that the only reason he agreed to play Nick the bartender in this film was so that he would have money to buy Dodger baseball tickets.

According to Robert J. Anderson, H.B. Warner really was drunk during the scene in which Mr. Gower slaps young George.

Gloria Grahame was cast as Violet Bick after MGM casting director Bill Grady showed some of her screen-tests to Frank Capra.

Both James Stewart and Donna Reed came from small towns; Stewart from Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Reed from Denison, Iowa. She demonstrated her rural roots by winning an impromptu bet with Lionel Barrymore when he challenged her to milk a cow on-set.

Vincent Price was initially considered for the part of Mr. Potter and Ginger Rogers was offered the role of Mary, but had turned it down.

After the film was finished, it was broadcast coast to coast by CBS and in other parts of the world by the state department.

The Greatest Gift, the short story that inspired the 1946 film 'It's a Wonderful Life', was first published in 1944. Clarence's boss uses that line in one of the opening scenes.

Potter and his bodyguard are always dressed the same. The exception is the scene when Potter's bodyguard wheels Potter into the bank; Potter's bodyguard is wearing a scarf while Potter isn't. Potter's wagon driver also dresses like him.

In the scene where George Bailey runs through the streets wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, there's a shot of a theater marque advertising for The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). Henry Travers, who plays Clarence, had co-starred in the film the previous year.

Despite being set around Christmas, it was filmed during a heat wave and turned out to be so hot that Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate.

This was the first and last time that Frank Capra had produced, financed, directed and co-wrote one of his films.

Frank Capra had estimated that the film would be shot within 90 days; and after the filming the whole cast and crew threw a party to celebrate.

Lionel Barrymore convinced James Stewart to take the role of George, despite his feeling that he was not up to it so soon after World War II.

The Bedford Falls set made use of 20 transplanted oak trees, and for the Winter scenes, 3000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of gypsum, 300 tons of plaster, and 6000 gallons of chemicals.

Two of the writers called the finished film "horrid" and refused to see it when it was released. The only one of Clifford Odets' ideas to appear in the finished script was George saving Mr Gower from poisoning a boy with pills.

Frank Capra filmed a number of sequences that were later cut; the only remnants are rare stills that have been unearthed.

Films made prior to this one used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud, dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water.

The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.

While filming the scene where George prays in the bar, James Stewart has said that he was so overcome that he began to sob right then and there. Later, Frank Capra reframed the shot so it looked like a much closer shot than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch that expression on Stewart's face.

James Stewart was nervous about the phone scene kiss because it was his first screen kiss since his return to Hollywood after the war. Under Frank Capra's watchful eye, Stewart filmed the scene in only one unrehearsed take, and it worked so well that part of the embrace was cut because it was too passionate to pass the censors.

The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real and was located at Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles.