It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film created and directed by Frank Capra, based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s self-published short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which is partially based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. But did you know that the movie wasn’t popular when it was first released?
The 1947 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a box-office flop and didn’t gain popularity until the late 1970s, when the copyright expired and TV channels broadcasted it for free.
Who were the Main Actors in the Movie and How Old were They at the Time?
James Maitland Stewart was a military pilot and actor from the United States. Stewart’s film career spanned 80 films from 1935 to 1991, and he was known for his distinctive drawl and everyman screen persona. He embodied the American ideal in the mid-twentieth century with the strong morality he portrayed both on and off the screen. In 1999, he was ranked third on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American male actors.
Donna Reed was a well-known American actress. Her career lasted for more than 40 years, and she appeared in over 40 films. She is best known for her role as Mary Hatch Bailey in Frank Capra’s fantasy Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life. Reed received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Fred Zinnemann’s war drama From Here to Eternity.
From the night of the school dance in 1928 through Christmas 1945, James Stewart portrays George Bailey from the age of 21 to 38. During the April to July 1946 filming, Stewart was 37/38 years old. Donna Reed, 25, portrays Mary from the ages of 18 to 35. (Source: Britannica)
What was the Movie All About?
George Bailey has dedicated his life to serving the people of Bedford Falls. He has always wanted to travel but has never had the chance due to the rich skinflint Mr. Potter’s attempt to take over the entire town. All that stands in his way is George’s modest building and loan company, founded by his generous father.
On Christmas Eve, however, George’s Uncle Billy misplaced the company’s $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter discovers the misplaced money and conceals it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes he will be held accountable and imprisoned, and the company will fail, allowing Potter to take over the town.
He considers suicide, reasoning that his wife, their young children, and others he cares about would be better off without him. However, the prayers of his loved ones result in the arrival of a gentle angel named Clarence to earth to assist George, with the promise of earning his wings. He demonstrates to George what life would have been like if he had never been born. (Source: IMDB)
How Much Did the Film Earn?
The film’s break-even point at the box office was $6.3 million, or roughly twice the production cost, a figure it fell short of on its initial release. Capra was perceived by some studios as having lost his ability to produce popular, financially successful films as a result of the film’s poor box office performance. (Source: IMDB)