December 22, 2014
Five Wonderful Facts About Movie Classic, 'It's A Wonderful Life'

The classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life is considered by many as one of the most beloved and popular films in American cinema. It has become synonymous with Christmas and is one of the top movies to watch during the holiday season. The film made its debut in 1946 and stars James Stewart as stoic George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. George tells his angel that he wished he'd never been born and Clarence responds by showing George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be if he never existed. Here are some interesting facts about this great movie classic.

1. When It's a Wonderful Life was released, it was considered a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that director Frank Capra was no longer capable of turning out the popular features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were.

 Movie Marqee
Movie DVD Cover

2. Who can forget George Bailey running through Bedford Falls in the snow to his loving family? But those snow scenes were filmed in July in 90-degree heat in Encino, California and there are several scenes where James Stewart appears to be sweating. Before It's A Wonderful Life, film snow was actually corn flakes painted white as reported by The The problem was all that crunching. Films that used corn flake snow had to go back and dub in the dialogue. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live so he asked his special effects department for some new snow. They came up with a combination of soap, water and foamite. Almost 3,000 tons of of the ice mixture were brought in to achieve the effect. This new snow formula proved so successful it actually won a technical award from the Academy.

 It's A Wonderful Life -George Baily wants to live again.
Finding ZuZu's pedals in the snow with Burt

3. At one point in the film, an inebriated Uncle Billy bids good night to his nephew George then wanders off screen. A crash is heard and Uncle Billy cries out, "I'm all right." That crash was a crew member accidentally dropping equipment during the take. Frank Capra decided to keep in the ad lib and paid the crew member an extra 10 dollars for "improving the sound."

Geoge Baily showing Uncle Billy the way.
George Baily showing Uncle Billy the way.

4. The scene where George and Mary dance the Charleston and a jealous rejected admirer of Mary's causes the couple to end up taking a dip in the pool was filmed at the Beverly Hills High School gymnasium which actually has its basketball court built over its swimming pool. The same set up was used in the Cary Grant from "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer." The school also boosts such alumni as David Schwimmer, Lenny Kravitz, and Jamie Lee Curtis as reported by Top Tenz.

George and Mary dancing before falling into the gym pool.
George and Mary dancing before falling into the gym pool.

5. It was Capra who went to Stewart to tell him the story that would become It's a Wonderful Life. Stewart recalled that Capra stopped telling the story before he was through and said, "This... this story doesn't tell very well, does it?" To which Stewart replied:"Frank, if you want to do a movie about me committing suicide with an angel with no wings named Clarence, I'm your man."

Frank Capra and James Stewart on set
Frank Capra and James Stewart on set

After nearly 70 years, It's a Wonderful Life is still considered one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and would also place number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time. Capra revealed that this was his personal favorite among the films he directed and that he screened it for his family every Christmas season.

If you are a die hard It's a Wonderful Life fan and love this movie as millions across the world do, you might want to read a related article from The Inquisitr which lists some of George Bailey's best quotes.

"Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!"