It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
It’s a Wonderful Life

Thursday, December 7, 2023, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm  
Instructor: Alice Bullitt, M.A., BMFI Board Member

Though the film has become a Christmas-season staple, Frank Capra did not intend It’s a Wonderful Life to be strictly categorized as a holiday film. It was released in 1946 to reviews ranging from good to tepid and a respectable but by no means bountiful box office. Although it received some Academy Award nominations, it lost in each category, then receded into relative obscurity. It was not until 1974, when a clerical error prevented the film’s copyright from being renewed, that it was subsequently aired by hundreds of television stations over Christmas, thus cementing its status as a holiday classic.

Set on Christmas Eve in the fictional “everytown” of Bedford Falls, the film opens on George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a family man on the verge of financial ruin who is contemplating suicide. Clarence (Henry Travers), an angel who has yet to earn his wings, is sent down from heaven to save him by showing him what the world would be like had he never been born.

Although the film’s rosy depiction of American small-town life and seemingly uncomplicated moral idealism has led some to dismiss it as overly sentimental, It’s a Wonderful Life is much more ideologically nuanced and ambivalent than it first appears. In fact, it may be the film’s complexity rather than its simplicity that has made it such an enduring classic. Join us for a closer look at this beloved holiday film.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members

  • Thursday, December 7 · 6:30 pm

cover of BMFI's Projections 67

September – December 2023


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