The hit movie It’s A Wonderful Life has become a Christmas Eve tradition in many households since NBC gained the exclusive rights to broadcast it in 1994. Prior to that, it was aired multiple times on multiple channels throughout the Christmas season. That’s just one of several interesting facts about this staple of the holiday season. Here are a few more:
IT WAS BASED ON A SHORT STORY
Philip Van Doren Stern wrote a short story called The Greatest Gift in the early 1940s. The main character in this story is named George Pratt and Mary is not an old maid in his new reality. She doesn’t recognize George and has different children, one of which tries to shoot him with a cap gun.
In the short story, George disguises himself as a brush salesman and carries a bag of brushes with him to get around the fact that no one recognizes him. This pays off at the end of the story, when he returns home and finds that Mary has a brush he gave her in the altered reality. This is the short story’s version of the bell ringing at the end of the movie.
COLORIZED VERSIONS EXIST
Finding a colorized version of the film can be difficult, and most viewers feel color would take away from the classic tone of the movie. Two colorized versions were done in 1986 and 1989, neither of which had the blessing of producer Frank Capra. A 2007 colorization released on DVD did get the endorsement of Capra’s estate.
THERE’S A REASON MR. POTTER SEEMS SO SCROOGE-LIKE
It turns out Lionel Barrymore, who played Mr. Potter, was well-known for playing Ebeneezer Scrooge in several radio versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The actor was a natural fit for reprising such a similar role in It’s A Wonderful Life.
THE PHARMACIST WAS ALSO AUTHENTIC
H.B. Warner played the pharmacist, Mr. Gower, who George stops from poisoning a child. In another odd twist, Warner studied medicine prior to taking up acting.
THERE WAS A RE-MAKE
It probably isn’t a good idea to try to re-make perfection, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. You won’t be able to find it, but there was a made-for-TV remake of It’s A Wonderful Life in 1977. The movie was called It Happened One Christmas. The remake itself only happened three Christmases, as it only aired thrice. It is not available on DVD, VHS, Blu-Ray, or on streaming services. It’s almost as though the re-make never existed.