10 Interesting Facts About 'It's A Wonderful Life' That You Probably Did Not Know

December 11, 2017

Despite being a box office flop, It's a Wonderful Life has became immensely popular over time and a Christmas classic.

The American Film Institute ranked the film as the #1 Most Inspirational Movie of All Time.

interesting facts about Its a Wonderful Life

Here's 10 interesting facts about "It's A Wonderful Life" that you probably did not know:


When Uncle Billy drunkenly leaves the Bailey home, it sounds as if he stumbles into some trash cans on the sidewalk. In fact, a crew member dropped a large tray of props right after he went off-screen. James Stewart began laughing, and Mitchell quickly improvised "I'm alright, I'm okay!" Frank Capra decided to use this take in the final cut, and gave the stagehand a $10 bonus for "improving the sound."


Two of the writers called the finished film "horrid" and refused to see it when it was released.


While filming the scene in which George prays in the bar, James Stewart has said that he was so overcome that he began to sob. Frank Capra later re-framed and blew up the shot because he wanted to catch that expression on Stewart's face. That's why the shot looks so grainy compared with the rest of the film.


Films made prior to this one used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud, dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water. This mixture was then pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent, falling snow. 6000 gallons of the new snow were used in the film. The RKO Effects Department received a Class III Scientific or Technical Award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow.


During the bank run scene, Frank Capra rehearsed the scene between James Stewart and Ellen Corby several times. When Corby's character was asked how much money she needed, she replied $17, which was in the script. Just prior to the first actual take, Capra took Corby aside and told her to give Stewart an odd number. He thought it would be funnier. When she said "17.50" to Stewart; he was taken off-guard and impulsively kissed her, which was not in the script. Stewart's spontaneous reply was so genuine that Capra left the scene in the final film.


Despite being set around Christmas, it was filmed during a heat wave. It got to be so hot that Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate. The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.


According to an interview with Karolyn Grimes, the name Zuzu comes from Zu Zu Ginger Snaps. George makes reference to this near the end of the movie when he says to Zuzu at the top of the stairs, "Zuzu my little Ginger Snap!"


Actor and producer Sheldon Leonard said in an interview that he only agreed to play Nick the bartender so he would have money to buy baseball tickets.


Both James Stewart and Donna Reed came from small towns; Stewart from Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Reed from Denison, Iowa. She demonstrated her rural roots by winning an impromptu bet with Lionel Barrymore when he challenged her to milk a cow on-set.


It is the only film in history to originate from a greeting card. It was based on a "Christmas Card" short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, which was originally sent out to around 200 of Stern's friends and family in December of 1943. The short story was called "The Greatest Gift" and was inspired by a dream Stern had one night.

Sources: IMDB

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