The Christmas classic might have been Jimmy Stewart’s last movie if not its co-star

It is a wonderful life It is without a doubt one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. However, director Frank Capra’s 1946 film is filled with darkness. Of course, much of the movie follows George Bailey – played by Jimmy Stewart – in an alternate timeline where he was never born. But on the set of the classic Christmas, Stewart almost decided to forgo 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 classic Christmas movie for decades

Members It is a wonderful life He might be surprised to learn that the movie was, in fact, a box office failure. As Capra and Stewart’s first film after returning from the war, the film’s poor performance indicated Hollywood the pair may have lost their charm. However, over time It is a wonderful life Develop a dedicated following, thanks to frequent TV broadcasts.

Looking back, it is important to consider that audiences failed to communicate with the film at the time. After all, it is a story of redemption and the recognition of the difference one person can make is imperfect and universal. Ago It is a wonderful life, Countless variations in her story were adapted and mocked. Today, it is reputed to be one of the most influential films.

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But Jimmy Stewart’s experience in the war made him question his role

Even before It is a wonderful life Hitting theaters, Stewart had his doubts. The actor spent more than four years fighting in World War II. So his return to acting felt so strange. Robert Matzin – Author Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe – He discussed Stewart’s struggle and how he almost gave up acting with Chicago Tribune.

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It was both a personal and a professional gamer, playing that role. While he was making this movie, he was skeptical of superficiality in Hollywood and acting in general, and Lionel Barrymore (who plays Mr. Potter) told him, “So, are you saying that bombing people is more than entertaining” with them? ‘ And it really hit Stewart and it was one of the things that turned him around and made him think, “Well, I have a role to play and there are things that need to be done.”

Ironically, Barrymore was Stewart’s on-screen opponent in It is a wonderful life. But behind the scenes, he gave the actor the advice he needed to come to terms with his return to Hollywood. Naturally, Barrymore saw the value in the performance. He was the acting patriarch of the Barrymore Legacy, who lives to this day with Drew Barrymore.

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Jimmy Stewart’s dilemma mirrors the George Bailey problem

With this context in mind, Stewart’s role as George Bailey appears more relevant. After all, George also wonders about his place in the world, after a streak of bad luck. Matzen notes that one moment in particular reflected what Stewart and his personality was going through.

“There is a scene in the movie where he questions his mental integrity and has a wild view of him. This is one scene that really shocked me when I saw him on the big screen. The other scene that always made me feel uncomfortable, but now means a lot to me, is when he’s in his living room and throws Things and shouting at his children. His wife and children look at him like: Who is this man? Who is this monster? This reflects what millions of families faced, looking at these strangers who returned from the war with such anger. Stewart played it beautifully. He just leaves it.

It is a wonderful life It is indeed a powerful and poignant picture of how important each life is. But with this story behind Stewart’s performance, Capra’s film feels more resonating than ever. Perhaps as families prepare to watch It is a wonderful life This holiday season, its impact might be a little stronger.

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