AFI Movie Club: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFEwas named 20th on AFI’s Top 100 greatest American films of all time. It’s ranked # 1 on 100 Years…100 Cheers and #9 on 100 Years…100 passions, and George Bailey is listed at #9 on AFI’s 100 Heroes list. James Stewart is ranked #3 on AFI’s list of the greatest stars in cinematic history. 

Go “Behind the Scene” with Jimmy Hawkins of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE in this exclusive AFI video.

MOVIE TRIVIA

DID YOU KNOW? Writer Philip Van Doren Stern sent out his short story “The Greatest Gift” as a 21-page Christmas card, which provided the original concept for IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. David Hempstead, a producer at RKO Pictures, ended up getting a hold of it and purchased the movie rights for $10,000. 

DID YOU KNOW? The script went through many drafts and was worked on by acclaimed writers Dorothy Parker and Dalton Trumbo. 

DID YOU KNOW? IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFEwas James Stewart‘s first film after four years of military service during World War II. 

DID YOU KNOW? Olivia de Havilland, Martha Scott and Ann Dvorak were all considered for the role of Mary, which was ultimately played by Donna Reed in her first major starring role. 

DID YOU KNOW? The biggest snowstorm in the history of movies (at the time) was created for IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, requiring 300 tons of limestone and fifty tons of white plaster. Special effects expert Russell Shearman developed a new, more realistic looking snow especially for the picture. 

DID YOU KNOW? From 1974 through 1993 the film’s copyright lapsed allowing for networks to broadcast the film throughout the holiday season, contributing to IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE’S popularity all over the world. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

Click Here to Find Out How to Watch IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Now

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE – Reelgood

CONVERSATION STARTERS

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • What ultimate questions does George Bailey explore in the film? What events would have unfolded had George Bailey never been born? 
  • Why do you think Frank Capra made the film a Christmas movie? How would the backdrop of a different holiday or season affect the story? 
  • Clarence writes to George: “No man is a failure who has friends.” What does he mean by this? 
  • When was the first time you watched IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE? 
  • With whom do you like to watch IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE?  
  • How would you rank IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE?

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT AFI MOVIE CLUB?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience. Learn more in our FAQ section.

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