10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’
One of the most well-known movies in the history of cinema, It’s a Wonderful Life brings viewers holiday joy every Christmas season (or whenever they decide to watch it). Who among us doesn’t come across the title and immediately think of George Bailey (James Stewart) running through Bedford Falls, snow everywhere, as he wishes “Merry Christmas” to all he passes?
Considering its long-standing popularity, you might assume you know just about everything there is to know about It’s a Wonderful Life. But do you? Here are some nuggets that might surprise you.
A barber in Seneca Falls, New York, claimed that in 1945 he cut the hair of a man who identified himself as Frank Capra (the film’s director), who asked all about the town. This, many say, is proof that Seneca Falls is the inspiration for Bedford Falls.
Bobbie Anderson, who played young George, claimed that H.B. Warner (Mr. Gower) struck him for real while filming their confrontation, causing his ear to bleed and reducing him to tears.
While it’s beloved now, the movie was a box office disappointment. It cost $3.7 million to make and only earned $3.3 million. It even caused the end of Capra’s production company, Liberty Films, which was sold off to Paramount.
The Bedford Falls set was one of the largest American film sets ever created. It covered 4 acres and included 75 stores and buildings, a three-block main street and 20 full-grown oak trees.
Due to a clerical error in 1974, the film became a perennial holiday favorite by the 1980s. It entered the public domain after the copyright holder forgot to file for a renewal. TV stations everywhere could play it without having to pay for the privilege. There were repeated showings every holiday season on hundreds of local television stations nationwide.
Capra and Stewart both cited it as their favorite film, with the director screening it for his family every Christmas season.
Each year in Skagit County, Washington, in the town of Anacortes, local residents take part in “The Jimmy Stewart Christmas Run” on Christmas Eve. They bike, run or drive down Commercial Avenue in town and call out “Merry Christmas” to all the people, buildings and businesses they pass.
Frank Capra's 1946 classic led by James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore will again air on NBC and some of its sister cable channels in 2023.