The original black-and-white Christmas movie has been colorized three times.
Money isn’t necessary to live a rich life, just look at George Bailey. In the midst of a financial crisis, the protagonist of It’s a Wonderful Life realizes he is worth far more than his actual monetary value. After being given a “great gift” on Christmas Eve by his guardian angel Clarence, George is reminded that “no man is a failure who has friends”…and of course, family!
Since its release over 75 years ago, the inspirational movie has gone on to become a staple of the holiday season. Now, with the most wonderful time of year upon us, familiarize yourself—if you aren’t already—with the classic Christmas movie that reminds viewers to take stock of what truly matters.
When did It’s a Wonderful Life come out?
The black and white movie, which has since been colorized, was originally released in 1946.
When was It’s a Wonderful Life colorized?
The film has been colorized three times. The first one was released by Hal Roach Studios in 1986.
Can I still watch it in black and white?
Who is in the It’s a Wonderful Life cast?
The film starred Academy Award winner James Stewart as George Bailey, a husband and father who finds himself at the end of his rope after giving up his dreams to help others. Donna Reed played George’s wife Mary Bailey. Lionel Barrymore portrayed the wealthy antagonist Mr. Potter, while Henry Travers played George’s guardian angel, Clarence.
The rest of the cast included Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy), Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu Bailey), Beulah Bondi (Ma Bailey), Gloria Grahame (Violet Back), Samuel S. Hinds (Pa Bailey), Todd Karns (Harry Bailey), Frank Faylen (Ernie), Ward Bond (Bert), H.B. Warner (Mr. Gower), Larry Simms (Pete Bailey), Carol Coombs (Janie Bailey) and Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy Bailey).
Was It’s a Wonderful Life based on a book?
Yes! The movie was based on a “Christmas card” short story—The Greatest Gift—written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, according to the American Film Institute. After it was published, actor Cary Grant brought the story to the attention of RKO, who purchased the screen rights, which were then sold to Liberty Films, who produced It’s a Wonderful Life.
What is It’s a Wonderful Life about?
The film centers around George Bailey, a man who dreamed of escaping his small town of Bedford Falls and seeing the world. “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 it’s 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,” he tells his father.
However, George’s dreams are dashed after his father unexpectedly passes away and he winds up working at his late pop’s business, Building and Loans. George settles down with a wife, Mary, and four kids. When money gets misplaced on Christmas Eve, George finds himself in a financial predicament and believes his family and friends would be better off without him. George wishes he had never been born…a wish his guardian angel Clarence grants to show George what life would be like without him.
Throughout the night, George realizes just how many people he’s impacted over the years. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Clarence tells George. The angel reminds George that he “really had a wonderful life” and that it would be a mistake to throw it away.
Why is It’s A Wonderful Life so popular?
While the holiday movie is ranked No. 11 on the American Film Institute‘s 100 greatest American films of all time, It’s A Wonderful Life was a box office flop when it first came out, placing 26th in box office revenues for the year. Per the American Film Institute, it wasn’t until “several decades” after the movie was released that it was established as a holiday classic with TV and cable companies airing it “repeatedly during the Christmas season.”
Who sends Clarence to George Bailey?
After listening to prayers in Heaven, God decides to send Clarence down to earth to assist George, a “discouraged” man who is thinking about ending his life. If Clarence succeeds with George, then he can finally earn the wings he has been waiting over 200 years for.
What does “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings” mean?
The iconic quote literally means just that. In the movie, angels aren’t automatically given wings. Instead, they must be earned. Clarence explains to George that every time you hear a bell ring, it means an angel has gotten their wings.
Why did George Bailey want to end his life?
George contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve after Uncle Billy accidentally loses Building and Loan’s $8,000 deposit, which could mean bankruptcy, scandal and prison. George turns to his business rival Mr. Potter for help, but what he doesn’t know is the banker found and kept their money. Mr. Potter tells George that he is “worth more dead than alive” and swears out a warrant for his arrest. After drinking, George makes his way to a bridge to jump off, but unbeknownst to him, his guardian angel intervenes.
How did Clarence save George Bailey?
Clarence saved George by jumping into the water first knowing George would rescue him. “I knew if I were drowning you’d try to save me,” Clarence tells George after the fact. “You did and that’s how I saved you.”
Where to watch and stream It’s a Wonderful Life
Where to watch It’s a Wonderful Life for free
Don’t have a subscription? The film is available for free on Tubi
Where to rent or buy It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life can be rented from Prime Video, Vudu or iTunes.
When will It’s a Wonderful Life be on TV this year?
Hoping to catch It’s a Wonderful Life on TV in the 2022 holiday season? Check TV Guide for listings here!
Where was It’s a Wonderful Life filmed?
Did It’s a Wonderful Life win any awards back in the day?
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