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One of America's Favorite Christmas Movies Has a Wonderful Life of Its Own: 72 Percent of Viewers are Younger Than the Movie
DVD Chronicles 'The Making of It's a Wonderful Life,' Including Interviews With Stewart and Capra
Blockbuster(R) Stores Stock Up on Holiday Classic; VHS and DVD When families gather this holiday season, millions of them will get in the holiday mood with the tale of a small-town man named George Bailey whose ordinary life is now inspiring new generations of viewers.
Fifty-five years ago, director Frank Capra and star Jimmy Stewart created what Capra called "a timeless tale." And in fact, when VCRs and DVDs cue up "It's a Wonderful Life" this holiday season, 72 percent of the adult audience will be younger than the film.
"Of the thousands of films I'm responsible for procuring for Blockbuster each year, this one remains my favorite," says Dean Wilson, executive vice president, content, worldwide for Blockbuster. "I first saw the film with my father in 1966 on a black-and-white television. He had first seen the film with his father during its original theatrical release, and this holiday season I will be able to share it with my daughters on DVD."
The DVD release includes the retrospective, "The Making of 'It's a Wonderful Life'," which chronicles the history of the film and includes interviews with the late Capra and Stewart, as well as facts and anecdotes about the making of the movie. The DVD, as well as VHS, will be for sale or rent at most U.S. Blockbuster stores for the holidays.
"It's a Wonderful Life" History, Facts and Trivia
(from the DVD, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Film
-- Frank Capra and James Stewart both said "It's a Wonderful Life" was
their favorite film of their careers.
-- Though the film was nominated for five Academy Awards(R), it did not
receive an OSCAR(R). Four of the OSCARS(R) for which it was nominated
went to William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives," also released
-- One requirement of the Production Code was that criminals in films
were to receive punishment for their crimes. Mr. Potter was never
penalized for his misdeeds. Capra said he received more mail on that
subject than any other aspect of the film.
-- The town of Bedford Falls is one of the longest sets ever constructed
for a movie -- 300 yards long, which is three city blocks, and over
four acres. The set included 20 full-grown oak trees transplanted
onto the set, 75 stores and buildings, a bank with a marble front, a
post office and a library.
-- The snowy scenes were shot during a record-breaking heat wave in the
summer of 1946, and Capra gave the cast and crew a day off in the
middle of filming to recover from the heat.
-- The snow in the film was made from gypsum, plaster, shaved ice,
foamite and soap. It was an innovation, which Capra challenged his
crew to create for the film to replace the old standard of corn flakes
that had been painted white. The corn flakes looked great, but they
were too loud for dialogue to be taped if anyone moved through the
snow. Dialogue had to be dubbed in separately. This new innovation
eliminated that problem.
-- The gym floor that opens into a swimming pool is real and is in
Beverly Hills High School.
-- The mischievous young man who opens the floor to reveal the pool is
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer of the "Our Gang" comedies.
-- Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey and delivers the famous line at
the end of the film, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his
wings," also played Debby Brougham in the 1947 holiday classic "The
Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant.
-- The movie was based on short story called "The Greatest Gift," written
by Philip Van Doren Stern, who couldn't sell the story so he printed
up 200 copies and included them in his Christmas cards in 1943.
-- RKO Radio Pictures purchased "The Greatest Gift" from Philip Van Doren
Stern for $10,000 and had three separate screenwriters work on the
idea. But RKO was never quite satisfied with the scripts and shelved
-- Capra and Liberty Films purchased the script to "The Greatest Gift"
from RKO Radio Pictures for $10,000. Capra rewrote the screenplay and
changed the name to "It's a Wonderful Life." He added such key
elements to the film as the characters of Clarence and Mr. Potter.
-- Capra also wrote Jimmy, the raven, into the script as Uncle Billy's
pet. The raven appeared in the Capra film, "You Can't Take It With
You" (1938), and he included it in every subsequent feature film.
-- While RKO had wanted Cary Grant for the lead, Capra says he never
wanted anyone but Jimmy Stewart to play his George Bailey.
-- Capra originally asked Jean Arthur to play the part of Mary Bailey.
He also considered Olivia De Havilland, Ann Dvorak and Ginger Rogers,
but was delighted with Donna Reed and later said she was the perfect
-- The movie wasn't a big box office success at the time of its release.
In the early 1970s, a clerical error allowed the copyright to expire,
allowing television stations to play to film as often as they wanted.
It was during these frequent airings in the '70s that the film became
a holiday tradition.
-- Frank Capra on "It's a Wonderful Life":
"That's a great film. I love that film. It's my favorite film and in
a sense it epitomizes everything I've been trying to do and trying to
say in the other films. Only it does it very dramatically with a very
"The importance of the individual is the theme that it tells. That no
man is a failure and that every man has something to do with his life.
If he's born, he's born to do something."
-- The American Film Institute ranked "It's a Wonderful Life" number
11 on the list of Top 100 movies of all time -- the only holiday movie
on the list.
Blockbuster stores will stock up on new releases, games and holiday favorites to meet the higher demand for entertainment throughout the holiday season. Blockbuster stores are open throughout the weeks of Christmas and New Year's, two of the chain's busiest weeks of the year. Holiday hours in most U.S. stores are as follows (local stores hours may vary): Christmas Eve 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Christmas Day, noon - midnight; New Year's Eve, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; New Year's Day, 10 a.m. - midnight.
Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI) is a publicly traded subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA)(NYSE: VIA.B) and is the world's leading renter of videos, DVDs, and video games with more nearly 7,900 stores throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. The company may be accessed internationally at blockbuster.com. Viacom is the No. 1 platform in the world for advertisers, with preeminent positions in broadcast and cable television, radio, outdoor advertising, and online.
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SOURCE: Blockbuster Inc.
Contact: Liz Greene of Blockbuster Inc., +1-214-854-3190
Web site: http://www.blockbuster.com/