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Trailers from Hell: John Landis on Delightful and Dark Holiday Classic 'It's a Wonderful Life'

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by Trailers From Hell
January 3, 2014 12:33 PM
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Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life"
Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life"

It Isn't Always a Wonderful Life! concludes at Trailers from Hell with John Landis introducing Frank Capra's holiday classic starring Jimmy Stewart as frustrated small-town dreamer George Bailey.

Capra was known for such upstanding, optimistic films (“Capra-corn” to the critics) that his lone Christmas-themed film must have come as a real shock to ticket buyers. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has its cheery side for sure, but it also contains moments so bleak it makes some film noirs look like Mary Poppins. A boxoffice disappointment when first released, it fell into the public domain for a limited period, resulting in massive TV exposure that transformed it into a cultural touchstone, and one that holiday audiences return to year after year. This week, two different TFH Gurus offer their takes on a classic that was heavily investigated at the time by the FBI for supposedly Communist influences. Be sure to check out Bill Duke’s take here.

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