The popular Christmas film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE was first released in New York City December 20th 1946. Produced and directed by Frank Capra, it is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift”, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.
Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release. Theatrically, the film’s break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release and was seen as a major disappointment which suggested that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were.” However The film was nominated for five Oscars and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made. placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time which is shown annually at Christmas and has come to be regarded as a bona fide classic Christmas film the world over.