It's a Wonderful Life
It is Christmas Eve, 1945, and George Bailey of Bedford Falls, New York, is suicidal. In his youth George dreamed of travelling the world and building things, but after his father died suddenly he stayed in Bedford Falls to sort out the family business, Bailey Brothers Building and Loan. Henry F. Potter, the town's rich banker, wanted the building and loan business dissolved so his bank would have a monopoly. The directors agreed not to dissolve the company if George would agree to stay in Bedford Falls and run it along with his absent-minded uncle.
George's brother Harry went away to college with the understanding that he would come back and take over the building and loan when he graduated, so that George could get on with the life he had planned. But Harry got married and his new father-in-law offered him a job. George, not wanting to stand in Harry's way, agreed to carry on.
Now absent-minded Uncle Billy has lost $8,000 of the building and loan's money that he was supposed to deposit in Potter's bank. The bank examiner has come to review the business's records, and it doesn't look good. George, uncharacteristically drunk and angry, has turned his anger on his uncle and his family and now is standing on the bridge preparing to jump into the river.
Prayers for George reach heaven, where Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, is assigned to save George in order to earn his angel wings. To prepare Clarence, his superior Joseph shows flashbacks of George's life, in which among other things George saved his brother's life, prevented a potentially fatal medical error and built affordable homes in Bedford Falls.
Clarence arrives at the bridge in time to try to talk George out of killing himself - but how can he persuade him? Clarence shows George what Bedford Falls might have been like if George had never lived.
It's a Wonderful Life appeared as a movie in 1946, produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on a story, The Greatest Gift, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1936 and published in 1945. The movie, starring James Stewart as George Bailey, was not a great success at first, failing to make back its production costs in its initial release. But it was nominated for five Academy Awards and the American Film Institute named it as one of the 100 best Amerrican films ever made.
James W. Rodgers
James W. Rodgers is an American teacher, director, author and playwright. He has taught for more than 35 years, been chair of theatre departments at three universities, and has directed more than 100 productions for professional, community, university and high-school theatres.
He is currently professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre. He has also written a number of plays including several commissioned works for both the stage and television. With his wife, Wanda, he is co-author of Play Director's Survival Kit, published by Simon & Schuster.
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LinksWikipedia: It's a Wonderful Life
25 Wonderful Facts About "It's a Wonderful Life"
The Real Bedford Falls website