It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern self-published in 1943 and is in turn loosely based on the 1843 Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol.[4] The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his personal dreams, in order to help others in his community, and whose thoughts of suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers).[4]

It's a Wonderful Life
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Capra
Screenplay by
Based onThe Greatest Gift
by Philip Van Doren Stern
Produced byFrank Capra
Edited byWilliam Hornbeck
Music byDimitri Tiomkin
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • December 20, 1946 (1946-12-20)
Running time
131 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$3.18 million[N 1]
Box office$3.3 million[3]

Theatrically, the film's break-even point was $6.3 million, about twice the production cost, a figure it did not come close to achieving on its initial release. Because of the film's disappointing sales, Capra was seen by some studios as having lost his ability to produce popular, financially successful films.[5] Although It's a Wonderful Life initially received mixed reviews and was unsuccessful at the box office, it became a Christmas classic after its copyright lapsed and it fell into the public domain, which allowed it to be broadcast without licensing or royalty fees.[6]

It's a Wonderful Life is considered one of the greatest films of all time. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.[7] It was No. 11 on the American Film Institute's 1998 greatest movie list, No. 20 on its 2007 greatest movie list, and No. 1 on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.[8] Capra revealed that it was his favorite among the films he directed and that he screened it for his family every Christmas season. It was one of Stewart's favorite films.[9] In 1990, the film was designated as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

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