Wednesday, December 2, 2009
In honor of this being "Christmas Month," as I like to call it, I'm going to give you some fun facts about "It's a Wonderful Life." The film is from 1946 and stars James Stewart and Donna Reed, in case you've been living under a rock for the past 50 years lol. I love this movie and haven't seen it in a while to be honest, so I'm going to netflix it this weekend. Have a fantastic day friends!
--Lionel Barrymore convinced James Stewart to take the role of George, despite his feeling that he was not up to it so soon after World War II.
--Films made prior to this one used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud, dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water. This mixture was then pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent, falling snow. 6000 gallons of the new snow were used in the film. The RKO Effects Department received a special award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow.
--As Uncle Billy is leaving George's house drunk, it sounds as if he stumbles over some trash cans on the sidewalk. In fact, a crew member dropped some equipment right after Uncle Billy left the screen. Both actors continued with the scene ("I'm all right, I'm all right!") and director Frank Capra decided to use it in the final cut. He gave the clumsy stagehand a $10 bonus for "improving the sound."
--For the scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock into the window of the Granville House, Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot it out for her on cue. To everyone's amazement, Donna Reed broke the window with true aim and heft without the assistance of the hired marksman!
--James Stewart was nervous about the phone scene kiss because it was his first screen kiss since his return to Hollywood after the war. Under Frank Capra's watchful eye, Stewart filmed the scene in only one unrehearsed take, and it worked so well that part of the embrace was cut because it was too passionate to pass the censors.
--Jean Arthur was Frank Capra's first choice for the part of Mary. However, she declined the role since she was already committed to a Broadway play.
--The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real and was located at Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles.
--In 2004 the BBC TV listings magazine "Radio Times" conducted a poll into the Best Film Never to Have Won an Oscar. "It's a Wonderful Life" came second (The Shawshank Redemption (1994) was first).
--At $3.7 million, this was a very expensive independent production. In its initial box office run, it only earned $3.3 million.
--James Stewart cited George Bailey as being his favorite character. The part was originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant earmarked for the role. When Frank Capra inherited the project, he rewrote it to suit Stewart.
--Vincent Price was considered for the part of Mr. Potter.
--The instant that George says "God" on the bridge, it starts snowing, showing that he is back in the real world.
--The set for Bedford Falls was constructed in two months and was one of the longest sets that had ever been made for an American movie. It covered four acres of the RKO's Encino Ranch. It included 75 stores and buildings, main street, factory district and a large residential and slum area. The Main Street was 300 yards long, three whole city blocks!
--While filming the scene where George prays in the bar, James Stewart has said that he was so overcome that he began to sob right then and there. Later, Frank Capra reframed the shot so it looked like a much closer shot than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch that expression on Stewart's face.
--The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.
--Ginger Rogers was offered the role of Mary, but turned it down.
--Ranked as the #1 Most Powerful Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute (2006).
--James Stewart has said that of all the films he has made, this is his favorite.
Posted at 10:27 AM