Christmas could be Jimmy Stewart’s last film if not for his co-star

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Carol Coombs, Jimmy Hawkins, Larry Simms, and Karolyn Grimes in

It’s a wonderful life Undoubtedly one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. Still, director Frank Capra’s 1946 film is full of darkness. Of course, the film depicts George Bailey – played by Jimmy Stewart – in an alternate timeline where he was never born. But on the set of the Christmas classic, Stewart almost decided to quit acting.

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Carol Coombs, Jimmy Hawkins, Larry Sims and Caroline Grimes in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Photo by Herbert Dorfman / Corbis via Getty Images

‘It’s a wonderful life’ has been a Christmas classic for many years

Fans of It’s a wonderful life One might be surprised to learn that the film actually failed at the box office. As Capra and Stewart’s first film since returning from the war, the film’s poor performance hinted at a couple who may have lost their magic. However, over time It’s a wonderful life Developed below a dedicated, thanks to periodic television broadcasts.

Looking back, it is strange to think that the audience failed to connect with the film at that time. Ultimately, the story of how to get rid of and accept the difference that a person can make is continuous and comprehensive. Because It’s a wonderful life, Has adapted and parodied countless variations of its story. And today, it is known as one of the most influential films.

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But Jimmy Stewart’s experience in the war left him questioning his role

Even before It’s a wonderful life Hit theaters, Stewart was skeptical. The actor has spent more than four years fighting in World War II. So coming back to acting felt strange to her. Robert Matzen – Author Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Battle for War – Discuss Stewart’s struggles and how he almost quit functionality The Chicago Tribune.

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“It was a personal and professional risk to play this role. While he was making the film, he was questioning the superficiality of Hollywood and acting in general, and Lionel Barrymore (who plays Mr. Potter) said to him, ‘So, are you saying that instead of entertaining? Is it more beneficial to throw bombs at people? That? ‘And it really impressed Stewart and it was one of the things that turned him around and made him think,’ Well, I have an important role to play and I have something to do. “

Ironically, Barrymore was Stewart’s on-screen opponent It’s a wonderful life. But behind the scenes, he only gave the actor the advice that made him agree to return to Hollywood. Naturally, Barrymore saw importance in the performance. He was the man of Barrymore’s acting legacy, which remains with Drew Barrymore to this day.

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Jimmy Stewart’s own dilemma is the mirror of George Bailey

Given this context, Stewart’s role as George Bailey feels even more pertinent. After all, George questions his place in the world, even after a string of bad luck. And Matzen explains how in a moment special mirrors the things that both Stewart and his character were going through.

“There is a scene in the film where he questions his conscience and he gets this wild look about him. It’s a scene that really struck me, watching it on the big screen. And the other scene that always bothered me, but now means a lot to me, is when he’s in his room and he’s throwing things and yelling at his kids. And his wife and children look at him and say, ‘Who is this man? Who is this monster? And it is a reflection of what millions of families have faced, looking at strangers who have returned from the war in this rage. Stewart played it beautifully. He just allows it. ”

It’s a wonderful life Already there is a powerful and powerful portrait of how important every life is. But with this story of Stewart’s performance, Capra’s film felt more resonant than ever. Maybe the family is preparing to see It’s a wonderful life This holiday season, the impact is likely to be small.

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Will Smith

About the author: Will Smith

Will covers public and private tech markets from New York. He was previously a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University, and prior to that was a reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal. He has received a Journalist of the Year award from the L.A. Press Club and an investigative reporting award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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