It’s a Wonderful Life

By Dan Clendenin

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

By the time Frank Capra (1897–1991) was about thirty years old, he was one of Hollywood’s most famous and successful film makers. His movie It Happened One Night (1934) won five Academy Awards. His autobiographical film It’s a Wonderful Life had a much different fate. It received mixed reviews when it was released in 1946, and did poorly at the box office. The classic Christmas story stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, who suffers the loss of his personal dreams but who, with the help of his guardian angel Clarence Odbody, begins to see his life in a profoundly different way. Later, the film was placed into the public domain, and as a consequence television stations could broadcast the movie for free. Today, IAWL is widely acknowledged as one of the best films ever made, and for many families watching it has become a Christmas ritual. Both Capra and Jimmy Stewart said that it was their favorite film. I’m publishing this review now, and in conjunction with the book by James Dillon called The Gospel of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (2021), as an opportunity for a faith-n-film discussion group during the upcoming Advent season.

Dan Clendenin: dan@journeywithjesus.net

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