In 1946 and 47 audiences did not embrace this Christmas fantasy from Frank Capra. It never broke even at the box office. Studio executives viewed Frank Capra as having lost his magic touch.
Perhaps, it was the end of the second World War. People did not want a fantasy to embrace. The wounds were still too fresh.
However, after the copyright ran out in the 70s, television stations began showing it around the Christmas season. A new generation embraced the film and so it has been. What would Christmas be like with It’s A Wonderful Life on NBC or DVD?
I grew up in a town like Bedford Falls. I knew people like George Bailey and Henry Potter. The Baileys were the hard-working decent folks who went out of their way to help someone. The Potters were the family that lived on the mountain looking down on the valley where my hometown was. They kept to their own kind, their distinct species.
There is something to be said about the differences between mountain dwellers and valley dwellers. The air in the valley is not as thin as on a mountain. It has a rich tapestry like a hand woven quilt. The wealth of the valley is the people.
As one elementary school classmate said to me, “Each night I see the lights on the mountain from my bedroom window. I wonder what if I could live where clouds touch and heaven is that much closer.” Over the years I have pondered on what she said. My conclusion is that valley life is the lot of most humans on this planet traversing the cosmos and searching for a place out there.
The mountain life is for those who dwell between valley and heaven. In the final analysis perhaps this is as close to heaven as these mountain dwellers will get—these Henry Potters who have lost their humanity in the material things around them. For them people are a means to an end.
The George Baileys have their reward in the lives of those they touch each day on this planet. A smile, a handshake and a hug are inestimable treasures.
There is a 2 Disc Collector’s Set with a colorized version as well as the pristine black/white. The black/white presents the stark reality of life.
So, if you want drama, romance, intrigue, angels, alternate realities, and a heart-warming story as good as homemade vegetable soup on a winter’s day, then this film with a great cast (James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, Henry Travers, and others) is definitely a stocking stuffer.
Or gather the family around and watch this delightful film. Ask yourself—What if I had not been born? How would the world be without me in it?
Then, think what is it that you do each day on this planet to make your life of value? Are you living life well? Will the tales others tell about you after you are gone be ones which you could embrace as a true reflection of what you were and what you meant to those who remember you?
Blessings this holiday season and always remember: if you have true friends, you are a very rich person on this globe. . . .
Historical note: It was nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture. The postwar drama, The Best Years of Our Lives, won the Oscar and all the praise back in the late 40’s.
G. D. Williams © 2010
Angel wings and Christmas bells: