Today I'm sharing my favorite Christmas movie. I have a feeling this falls in the favorites of a lot of people. What is shocking about this films is that when it was released, it received mixed reviews and was considered a box office failure. In fact, after the release the movie was so poorly received that it actually made people question whether director, Frank Capra, had lost his talent to produce good movies.
Since that time, It's a Wonderful Life has become a Christmas classic and is now considered one of the greatest films of all time. The American Film Institute lists it as one of the 100 best American movies ever made, landing at #11 in the 1998 movie list, #20 on the 2007 list, and is #1 on the list of most inspirational American films of all time. In 1990, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress included this movie in it's listings, designating it as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." It was also nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
It's a Wonderful Life is an American Christmas drama. It was produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946. The film is based on the short story, The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern. The movie centers around the life of George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who sacrificed his dreams time and again to help others. On Christmas Eve he reaches his limit and his imminent suicide brings an intervention by his, less than perfect, guardian angel (second class), Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). When George wishes he had never been born, Clarence shows him how his life has touched the lives of others and how different life would have been for his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and then entire town of Bedford Falls if he had not been born. It is after this revelation that George realizes that he really has a wonderful life.
Another interesting fact about this movie. It is said that James Stewart, due to the action Stewart saw in WWII, he became "flak-happy". Today this condition is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Stewart had considered leaving Hollywood for good but signed on to make It's a Wonderful Life with Capra who was also a vet. In many of the more angst driven scenes, it was said that it was in fact Stewart letting out some of his own emotions he was dealing with at the time. This movie was credited with helping him decide to continue acting. If you want to learn more about this, check out the book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen. He writes about Stewart's postwar period in the actor's career in this nonfiction book.
The western connection for this film is extremely easy. James Stewart of course is known for starring in some great westerns but did you know that Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy), Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi (Mrs. Bailey), Frank Faylen (Ernie), and Ward Bond (Bert) have also been featured in westerns. I had already mentioned Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu) as a western connection in a previous blog. It's no wonder this movie is so good considering it it packed full of western movie stars.
And now it is time for the tie-ín movie snack. I want to share a great recipe from Seeded at the Table's Jingle Bell Bites. (<--- click here for recipe) I know it is said that everytime a bell rings, an angel gets its wings but I am hoping that works when you munch on one too.
This recipe is quick and easy to make and just has six ingredients. I personally plan to make this recipe this week. It will be a great addition to the neighbor gift bags I am making this year. When a recipe is this easy, it's always great to make some extras to share for the holidays.
So now it is time to grab your snacks and settle in for another great Christmas movie!