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It's A Wonderful Life: The flop that became a Christmas classic


It is hard to imagine that when director Frank Capra’s popular holiday film, “It's A Wonderful Life” made its debut in 1946 that it was actually a cinematic bomb. And this is despite all it had going for it including starring one of America’s biggest stars of this era, James Stewart.

But over time as the film became part of the public domain in 1974 (thus freeing up its copyright and having to pay royalties), “It's A Wonderful Life” would become beloved through its free viewings on numerous TV stations over the years.

This would last for many years until finally the copyright was restored along with the film’s rights thus limiting its broadcast to just NBC. 

So while some of the other most popular holiday films can be viewed across a wide array of streaming platforms, “It's A Wonderful Life” has a far limited offering via NBC.

Lucky for us, the film distribution rights are far more liberal, and so locally you will have a weekend’s worth of opportunities to see this beloved film at our local Celebration Cinema Woodland.  

“It's A Wonderful Life” is actually a pretty dark film as holiday features go. The story is set in post-war America and features a self-doubting savings-and-loan manager whose battle against a greedy banker tries to change his life despite the challenges he finds life throws his way.  

The story moves into the fanatical once an odd, trainee-angel named Clarence arrives in town. 

Folks have often drawn comparisons to the works of Dickens, who also used dark imagery to help propel the narrative forward to its eventual happy ending. 

But just like life, getting to what one calls happiness often takes twists and turns and this is the enduring charm of this holiday classic.

So while you have plenty of Christmas films to select to stream, this one is best viewed in the theatre—unless of course you like your “It's A Wonderful Life” with commercial breaks that are sure to destroy the mood and charm of this Capra movie classic. 
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