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

Photo of Trailers From Hell By Trailers From Hell | Thompson on Hollywood January 3, 2014 at 12:33PM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Video, Video, Trailers, Trailers from Hell, Trailers, John Landis


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.