On this day in 1946, It's a Wonderful Life was shown in a charity preview at New York's Globe Theatre, the night before its official premier. The film was directed by Frank Capra and starred James Stewart--and it became an instant holiday classic.
Based on the story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, it focused on a man who believed he was a failure because he never left the small town where he grew up. George Bailey, ran the town savings and loan after his father died, something he swore as a child he’d never do. Bailey, a decent and good man who served his town well, struggled to make ends meet at the job he never really loved. When disaster strikes and the savings and loan funds are lost, Bailey decides to commit suicide. But then, in a Christmas Carol-like twist of fate, an angel named Clarence helps George see what life would have been like in the town if he had never been born.
It’s a Wonderful Life was reportedly the favorite work of both actor Stewart and director Capra’s from their long and illustrious careers. It's certainly one of my favorites.