The Quick 10: It's a Wonderful Life
I'm going to have to watch this on the sly at some point in the next week, because every time my husband walks in the room and sees it on TV, he starts making fun of me. And he likes Jimmy Stewart. But I digress. For those of you who love this classic as much as I do, here are a few bits of trivia about It's a Wonderful Life.
1. This was Donna Reed's first starring role, and she made quite the impression on her co-stars, especially during the scene where she throws a rock at the old house and makes a wish on the resulting broken window. The crew had a sure-shot thrower standing nearby so he could shatter the window on cue as Donna "threw" her rock. She asked to take a crack at it first and was graciously obliged. To everyone's surprise but her own, she took the window out on her first try.
2. The swimming pool under the gymnasium floor really exists "“- it's at Beverly Hills High School and was still being used as of last year.
3. Mr. Potter's full name is Henry F. Potter. He's only referred to as "Potter" or "Mr. Potter" during the movie and credits, but if you have eagle eyes you'll notice his name written on the door to his office. [Correction from reader Melody: "Joseph says his name the first time he's introduced: 'That's Henry F. Potter. The richest and meanest man in the county.'] Potter was played by Drew Barrymore's great-uncle Lionel, by the way. Her grandfather was Lionel's brother John.
4. Uncle Billy's pet raven, Jimmy, can be found in every Frank Capra production since 1938's You Can't Take It With You.
5. Speaking of Uncle Billy, one of the funniest parts of the movie was an ad-lib from Billy's portrayer, Thomas Mitchell. After Uncle Billy ties one on at the engagement party and George points him home, there's a loud crash off-screen. In actuality, someone accidentally knocked some props over while filming was going on. Mitchell saved the scene by quipping, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" Capra found it so funny that he kept it in the film.
6. The movie received the "honor" of getting its own FBI file in 1947, when an analyst submitted the idea that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a "common trick used by Communists."
7. Among other people, the notoriously cynical Dorothy Parker contributed some rewrites to the script. Maybe she had a soft spot for Christmas (or maybe the money was just good).
8. Beulah Bondi, AKA Mrs. Bailey, played Jimmy Stewart's mother five times throughout her career. There's this movie, of course, and also Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Human Hearts, Vivacious Lady and once on The Jimmy Stewart Show.
9. Does George look strangely sweaty to you when he and Clarence are on the bridge? That's because it was 90 degrees out the day that scene was filmed. But I think it works "“- I always assumed he looked damp because of the snow and because he was in the middle of his nervous breakdown.
10. You may have noticed that when George is running down Main Street, the movie marquee proclaims that it's showing The Bells of St. Mary. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the star of that film was Henry Travers "“- Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life.
I'm not a particularly sappy person, but I adore this movie. Like I said, my husband detests it. Which side are you on??