How World War II Formed

It’s George Bailey’s turning point. Scruffy and desperate, he offers a Hail Mary prayer to a God who is not sure I am not a man who prays, but if you are there and can hear me, show me the way. I” am at the end of my rope.

Actor Jimmy Stewarts’ emotion is palpable in this scene, one that acclaimed actress Carol Burnett called one of the best acting works ever seen on screen. What may have escaped the public who saw “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which turned 75 this year, is that the tears that run down Stewart’s face are real, the actor later shared. Stewart had just returned home from serving as a flight leader in WWII and this 1946 film was his first film since he witnessed the horrors of war.

With this postwar mentality, Stewart and director Frank Capra take a movie titled “It’s a Wonderful Life” and turn it into an antithetical crescendo of a failed suicide attempt. Throughout the film, George Bailey’s life often seems anything but wonderful. Audiences watch as a young man with worldly dreams finds setback after setback, each like a nail in his own coffin. Trapped in his hometown, running the business of his late father, the story reaches a climax when George Bailey believes he is worth more dead than alive.

It’s a Wonderful Life” addresses real and resounding issues of self-esteem and failure. Fresh out of the war, Stewart is grappling with these trials himself, while shaping the deeply identifiable character of George Bailey. Without Stewart’s actual acquaintance with the dark, the Christmas classic’s redefined perspective on life couldn’t shine so unforgettably. When it was first released, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was not intended to be a Christmas movie. It initially flopped at the box office and the film’s copyright was not renewed, according to Turner Classic Movies.

This meant that in the 1970s, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was free to broadcast on the air repeatedly. Audiences began to notice this unhappy movie that flooded the airways at Christmas and thus a Christmas tradition was born. NBC, which now owns the rights to the film, airs “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. every year. In 2016, Variety reported that the show’s 42nd broadcast on Christmas Eve drew 4.5 million viewers. The film captures a period of American life filled with some of the most iconic historical events of the 20th century.

After serving in the Army Air Corps, Stewart had been absent from Hollywood for five years when he was offered the role in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He was initially hesitant to make the film, according to biographer Robert Matzen, but it was his only offer except for a film with his war service. It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the result of Jim’s wartime experiences because it unlocked this depth of soul in Jimmy … He had to learn to act again and that’s what you’re seeing on screen. It’s like lightning it just got caught in a bottle, “biographer Robert Matzen told CNN.

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