It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra film, released originally by RKO Radio Pictures.
James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who sacrificed his dreams to help his town. When he considers commiting suicide, believing that he has achieved nothing worthwhile, an angel gives him a view of what the world would have been like if he had never lived.
Production and distribution
Filming started on April 15, 1946 and ended on July 27, 1946. The film premiered on December 20 1946.
The film was panned by some critics and was not a box-office hit upon initial release (placing 26th for the year, one place ahead of another Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street), although it did receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. It was only after its copyright was not renewed in 1974 that people began to take a second look at this film. It entered the public domain and many television stations began airing the film free of charge and royalties. In the 1980s (the beginning of the home video era) the film finally received the acclaim it didn't receive in 1946, thus becoming a perennial holiday favorite. The film's public domain success is often cited as a reason to limit copyright terms, which have been frequently extended by Congress in the United States.
Two colorized versions have since been produced; they are widely considered to be of inferior quality to the black and white original. They are often held up by opponents of colorization as an example of the flaws associated with the process. For many years, some stations paid substantial royalties to show a colorized version as it was viewed as more profitable to show the colorized versions than the black and white original.
In 1993, Republic Pictures (whose predecessor, National Telefilm Associates, originally bought key rights to the film, including the original television syndication rights, the original nitrate film elements, the music score, and the story on which the film is based, The Greatest Gift) relied on the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Stewart v. Abend (which involved the movie Rear Window) to enforce its claim of copyright. As a result, the film is no longer shown as much on television (NBC is currently licensed to show the film on U.S. network television), the colorized versions have been withdrawn, and Republic now has exclusive video rights to the film (under license with Artisan Entertainment).
The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Myths & Rumors
A popular belief is that Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie were named after secondary characters in the film. This has been denied by the producers of Sesame Street.
Another rumour is that Pink Floyd album, Wish You Were Here, can be played along side the film with key events in the movie tying in with song lyrics. The similarities are said to be more noticeable than in the other claimed Pink Floyd movie sync with The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon.
- It's a Wonderful Life (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/) at the Internet Movie Database
- It's a Wonderful Shop, featuring classic images from the movie (http://www.cafepress.com/wonderful/)
- Essay on the deeper meaning of It's a Wonderful Life (https://noirdame.com/feature_articles/christmas/wonderful_life.php)