It’s pretty much guaranteed that a lot of people will be watching It’s a Wonderful Life over the next week or so, but did you know these interesting facts about the film?
It’s a Wonderful Life flopped at the Box Office
Yep, that’s right, one of this seasons most popular films did poorly upon release. Despite 5 Oscar nominations, a big lead star in James Stewart and a successful director in Frank Capra, the film failed to get people into the cinema. In order to get out of the red the film needed to make $6.3 million (oh how far we have come) at the box office, it only made $3.3 million. That being said it was still placed 26th in the films released in 1947.
Alfalfa opened the swimming pool in the dance scene
The jealous would-be courter of Mary who opens up the swimming pool during the dance at the school is none other than Carl Switzer, the original Alfalfa from the comedy shorts of Our Gang, otherwise known as The Little Rascals.
The FBI thought it was a little Communist
What? I hear your inner voice say. After the films release the Federal Bureau of Investigations had the following to say about the film…”With regard to the picture ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. [In] addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.”
Donna Reed won $50 for Milking a Cow…
During the production of the film, Donna Reed who played Mary Bailey proved to Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter) that she was a farm girl growing up by milking a cow. Barrymore didn’t believe she could do it, bet her $50 and subsequently lost. Reed has said it was the easiest $50 she ever made.
The Copyright lapsed in 1974
Due to an administration error the copyright on the film lapsed in 1974, resulting in the film being shown for free by any channel that wanted to between 1974 and 1994. During this time nobody had to pay royalties and the film was essentially in the public domain. Ever wondered why the film became so popular after failing at the box office? Because it was drilled into you by being shown on TV for free every year!