It’s a Wonderful Life is celebrating its 65th anniversary this holiday season. Fans of the classic American Christmas film can take advantage of a number of opportunities this month to experience either the film or its music. See the December events calendar.
It’s a Wonderful Life Day in L.A.
The City of Los Angeles, thanks to the efforts of Council member Tom LaBonge, has declared Saturday, December 3, as “It’s a Wonderful Life Day.” The film was selected based on its message and its ties to the city, where it was shot in 1946. The set for Bedford Falls, the film’s fictional town, was erected at the RKO Ranch in the San Fernando Valley and additional locations in Beverly Hills and Culver City can be seen by astute viewers. Further reading: LaBonge to Declare ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Day in L.A. and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ will have its day in L.A.
Academy film screening: Los Angeles
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a newly struck print of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood on Friday, December 9 at 7 p.m. Special guest Frank Capra III will be joined by two Oscar winners, Craig Barron and Ben Burtt for the program “Making the Holiday Classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Visual effects supervisor Barron will discuss the use of matte paintings in key scenes and sound designer Burtt will speak on the origins of the film’s sound effects. The snow machine first used in the film went on to earn its inventors a Technical Achievement Award in 1948. The December 9 screening is presented by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council. This event is SOLD OUT, only standby tickets are available.
Academy film screening: New York
New Yorkers can enjoy an encore presentation of the Los Angeles program when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents “Making the Holiday Classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” as part of “Monday Nights with Oscar presents.” The screening will be at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York City on Monday, December 12 at 7 p.m. Special guest Karolyn Grimes will be joined by two Oscar winners, Craig Barron and Ben Burtt (see program details, above).
Karolyn Grimes was only 6 years old when she played Zuzu Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, but it marked her fifth movie role. During her childhood acting career she appeared in 15 feature films, working with Bing Crosby, Betty Grable, Cary Grant, James Stewart, John Wayne, Loretta Young, and others. Grimes penned a cookbook with recipes and anecdotes inspired by America’s favorite movie.
The “Suite from It’s a Wonderful Life” will be performed in California and Florida, and in Dublin, Ireland. Follow the links on the December events page to the concert of your choice.
For more information, and to order, the It’s a Wonderful Life concert suite.
Stocking stuffer: A DVD for every library
Paramount Pictures plans to donate a copy of the It’s a Wonderful Life DVD to each of the 72 branches of the Los Angeles Public Library. If you live in Los Angeles you will never be more than a few miles from checking out a copy. The Encino-Tarzana branch overlooks the area in the San Fernando Valley where the filming took place.
…and gifts for children
It’s A Wonderful Life for Kids Coloring Book: The Official 65th Anniversary Edition Coloring, Activity & Storybook, story by Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy Bailey). Actor Jimmy Hawkins was four years old when he played the role of Tommy Bailey in the film. In honor of the 65th anniversary of the movie he has created a 60-page coloring and activity book published and designed by Really Big Coloring Books®, Inc. Hawkins previously authored It’s a Wonderful Life Book for Kids and two other books listed below.
Further reading: Holiday Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
The classic American film has been voted the best Christmas film of all time…in Australia. It’s a Wonderful Life tops the Radiotimes.com 2011 list. See the complete list at skynews.com.
Purchase books by Jimmy Hawkins: It’s a Wonderful Life: 50th Anniversary Scrapbook and It’s a Wonderful Life: Favorite Scenes, or other books on the subject: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book by Stephen Cox and The Essential It’s a Wonderful Life: A Scene-by-Scene Guide by Michael Willian.
Read a transcription of the It’s a Wonderful Life Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of March 10, 1947, available as an e-book on amazon. The soap-maker Lux sponsored this one-hour radio adaptation of the Hollywood film that reunited the film’s stars, James Stewart and Donna Reed.
Radio broadcast re-creation
Experience a re-creation of the live radio broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Christmas Show in Cambria, California on Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 11, at 3:00 p.m., at the Theatre at the Cambria Center for the Arts, 1350 Main Street, Cambria, California. Sponsored by the Allied Arts Association, a local group of artists, admission is free.