The Best Christmas Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s time to dust off the best of all Christmas movies and reaquaint yourself with George Bailey

The best Christmas movies come from the most inspiring stories, and It’s a Wonderful Life has been inspiring the best of us for years.

From its humble origins to its place as one of the best Christmas movies ever, the tale of It’s a Wonderful Life is a story in its own right. The film focuses on a man named George Bailey. He is in the midst of a powerful depression and attempts to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Annually this story touches the hearts of many, and has been rated not only as one of the best Christmas movies ever made but simply one of the best movies ever.

The Story

It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, who is ready to commit suicide over life’s apparent lack of meaning. His guardian angel (second class) appears to show him what life would be like if he had never been born, and George comes to realize the profound impact he has had on other people’s lives — in other words, every life has meaning.

It’s unlikely that author Philip Van Doren Stern realized he was writing one of the best Christmas movies in history when he penned a short story no one wanted to publish entitled “The Greatest Gift”. Van Doren Stern had it printed as a Christmas card, which came to the attention of Hollywood studios. The rights to the story passed through several hands before landing with Frank Capra, who came up with the title It’s a Wonderful Life.

The Movie

It’s part of Christmas lore by now that the movie didn’t do particularly well at its premiere. Facts are, however, it wasn’t as dire as some people make it out to be — the movie fared reasonably well at the box office and was nominated for several awards. It also received some good reviews — but it was a failure in the studio’s eyes, and in 1947 an anonymous source even reported it as Communist propaganda for making its villain a banker.

And Capra himself has been as amazed as anyone by the movie’s success. He didn’t set out to make one of history’s best Christmas movies. In fact, he didn’t even necessarily think of the film as a Christmas movie. Capra claimed that he made the movie to represent the individual’s belief in himself and combat a trend of atheism.

Regardless of his intentions, however, It’s A Wonderful Life has clearly found a place in Christmas hearts around the world, and will remain one of the best Christmas movies around for years to come.