10 Fun Facts about It’s A Wonderful Life

I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. By now, you probably all know the story – George Bailey’s life takes a bad turn and he is ready to give it all up until Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class rescues him and shows him how things would have been worse if George had never been born.

No matter how many times I see it, it still gets to me. But, here are a few facts about the movie you may not have known:

10. What a Bargain!

RKO Pictures bought the movie rights in 1946 for $10,000.

9. The Greatest Gift

The writer, Philip Van Doren, sent out the original story as a Christmas card titled “The Greatest Gift” to friends in 1943. Frank Capra later changed the name to It’s a Wonderful Life.

8. George Bailey

James Stewart was Capra’s favorite choice to play George Bailey, even though his other film roles had not been as dramatic or complex as this one.

7. In Pop Culture

It’s a Wonderful Life has left a lasting impression on our pop culture. Do you remember ZuZu’s petals? Well, this was used as the title of a rock band, a character in the movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and in a Far Side comic.

6. In Pop Culture II

In a “Married…with Children” episode, comedian Sam Kinison appeared at Clarence to Al Bundy’s George Bailey. Unfortunately, those around Al would have had a better life without him, but he decided he wanted to live to make them miserable anyhow.

5. Snowflakes

Painted cornflakes were usually used in movies for snow at the time It’s a Wonderful Life was made, but they were too noisy. Instead, they used a mixture of shaved ice, gypsum, plaster, and a fomite-soap-water mixture.

4. Donna Reed’s Arm

Do you remember the scene where Donna Reed throws a rock into the old house on 320 Sycamore to make a wish? The studio had originally hired a crewmember to throw for her, but to their surprise, she had a powerful and accurate arm, so she threw the rock herself.

3. The Swimming Pool

The Charleston scene was filmed at the Beverly Hills High School and yes, the gym floor did really move to reveal the swimming pool below.

2. Academy Awards Nominations

Although it didn’t win any, It’s a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Actor (James Stewart), Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Sound Recording (John Aalberg), Best Picture (Frank Capra), and Best Editing (William Hornbeck).

1. Just a Coincidence

I always believe that the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie must have been named after the characters from this film (Bert was the policeman, Ernie was the taxi driver), but the producers of Sesame Street say there in no connection between the characters.