George Bailey (Stewart) has so many problems that he is thinking about ending it all - and on Christmas! As the angels discuss George, the film shows his life in flashbacks. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence (Travers). Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn't been for all his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget about suicide?
Trivia: The opening credits list a copyright date of 1947, but distributor RKO rushed IAWL into theaters December 20 1946, to replace 'Sinbad the Sailor' whose Technicolor prints were not ready. It went into general release January 1947. The rush probably cost Capra and his partners their indie studio Liberty Films, whose first production opened in a record blizzard back east and failed to make back its money; it also wound up losing out at the Oscars against a powerful postwar drama 'The Best Years of Our Lives' rather than facing a much weaker Oscar field in 1947. Then again, confusion over its copyright date seems to have allowed it to slip into public domain for about 20 years from 1973, leading to its constant (cost-free) play at Christmas time, cementing its reputation as America's favorite holiday movie.DougM
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