70 years ago, we were introduced to James Stewart as George Bailey, the richest man in town, in Frank Capra’s classic, It’s A Wonderful Life.
Based on the Philip Van Doren Stern short story, “The Greatest Gift”, Frank Capra‘s It’s A Wonderful Life follows the story of George Bailey, portrayed famously by James Stewart, as a down-on-his-luck man who is shown what his town of Bedford Falls would be like had he never been born. It makes you laugh, makes you think, and good god the amount of tears this film leaves me in is unprecedented.
The film also stars the impeccable Donna Reed as my Queen Mary Hatch, Henry Travers as Clarence Odbody, Lionel Barrymore as the antagonistic Mr. Potter, and Thomas Mitchell as the uncle that is arguably the stupidest man in town, Uncle Billy. It’s A Wonderful Life has become a holiday staple in legions of households, not only because of how well written the plot progresses or the lovable characters, but I believe it is because of the immense heart it possesses that it has managed to transcend generations. The film appeals to the everyday person who believes they coulda been a contender, the loving partner who adores their spouse regardless how much of a dick he is being, and the individual who does not realize just how impactful their existence truly is for those around them.
Throughout its seventy year history, the film has garnered loving acclaim from critics and audience members alike, even though its initial release was not beloved as much as it is now. Regardless of its poor box office performance, It’s A Wonderful Life was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture. It is featured in a number of American Film Institute (AFI) lists; some of the most notable include:
- #1 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Cheers
- #9 for George Bailey on the 100 Heroes list and #6 for Mr. Potter on the 100 Villains list.
Expressing My Undying Love For Donna Reed As Mary Hatch
Donna Reed’s portrayal of Mary Hatch is essentially flawless in this film. It is mind-blowing to learn this was her very first starring role after a number of supporting roles prior to. Reed manages to articulate so much in just a look and Mary really is kind of a bad ass, isn’t she?
She Has Killer Dance Moves That Leave Them Stunned
She Is So Witty And Doesn’t Give A Shit About Being Inappropriate
She Volunteers During World War II WHILE ALSO Being An Amazing Parent To Their Four Children
This was an aspect to George’s character I really disliked. I will always understand his frustration with not leading the jet-setting life he intended on… But for God’s sake, man. Mary Hatch is the greatest fucking catch in the entire world, let alone Bedford Shitty Falls. There is one instance where George states,
“Why did we have to have all these kids?”
And I despised him at this moment which is probably what they were going for but I digress. I fall in love more and more with Mary with each watch because of just how amazing that woman is. She is arguably the most selfless person in Bedford Falls and is such a loving, caring mother and wife. Ugh sorry for gushing but I can’t help it…
I will probably write a future article about how Mary is the greatest human alive but if you’re looking for similar works, check out the following people who share the same sentiment about the Goddess that is Mary Hatch:
- Vivian Kane: “Why Doesn’t Mary Bailey Get More Respect?”
- Jen Juneau: “Why we’re still crushing hard on Mary Hatch Bailey from It’s ‘A Wonderful Life’
LEST WE FORGET: On Top Of Everything Else, She Donates The $2,000 Saved For Their Honeymoon To Keep The Building And Loan…
God damn it Mary, can you marry me? Can I go back in time and get you to fall in love with me? I’LL GIVE YOU THE MOON, MARY!
That Moving Gym Floor That Turns Into A Pool? 100% Real
During a scene at the high school where George and Mary are absolutely tearing up the dance floor, the floor behind them opens up to reveal a legitimate pool. When I first saw the film I wondered how long it must have taken the set designers to create a retractable floor and working pool since it was the 1940s and such film architecture must have been a daunting task…
Turns out, although a majority of the film was filmed on pre-built sets, the dance was filmed on location at Beverly Hills High School. “Better known as the Swim Gym, the school is currently in the process of restoring the landmark filming location.”
There Are A Ton Of References To It’s A Wonderful Life In Film And Television
The film has appeared in numerous works ranging from Gremlins to Beavis and Butthead. For more references, check out this great Den Of Geek article.
1. Beavis And Butthead: “It’s A Miserable Life”
The Season 6 special features an angel visiting the pair, showing them how much better off the world would be without them.
2. One Tree Hill: “Pictures Of You”
In a Season 4 episode of the hit teen drama, One Tree Hill, the kids are tasked with doing an impression of a celebrity or famous character. Chad Michael Murray‘s Lucas chooses the iconic Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls! scene, particularly when George wishes the Building and Loan a merry Christmas (~0:40 of the YouTube video)
3. Bruce Almighty: Lassoing The Moon To Have Sex
In this scene, Bruce (Jim Carrey) utilizes his God-like abilities to execute the promise George made to Mary in which he claims he would lasso the moon for her. Bruce actually manages it and causes his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston) to fall for his seductions.
George Bailey: Well, you look about the kind of angel I’d get. Sort of a fallen angel, aren’t you? What happened to your wings?
Clarence: I haven’t won my wings, yet. That’s why I’m called an Angel Second Class. I have to earn them. And you’ll help me will you?
George: [sarcastic] Sure, sure. How?
Clarence: By letting me help you.
George: I know one way you can help me. You don’t happen to have 8,000 bucks on you?
Clarence: No, we don’t use money in Heaven.
George: Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!