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“It’s a Wonderful Life” on big screen Saturday

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Many have seen the Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV, but few have had the chance to see it on the big screen, with a box of popcorn and a theatre setting.

Pulaski Theatre will provide that rare opportunity this weekend when the Jimmy Stewart film is shown Saturday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. It is one of two Christmas-themed movies to be featured at the theatre Saturday. The 2004 computer-animated film “Polar Express” will be shown at 2 p.m.

Although it’s official release date is listed as Jan. 7, 1947, “It’s a Wonderful Life” actually debuted in some theatres during Christmas of 1946. It was the first movie Stewart appeared in after returning home from serving in World War II, according to reelclassics.com.

The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards following its release despite winning little praise from critics or the public at the time. Other than a few showings on television in the 1950s, it fell into relative obscurity until its copyright lapsed in 1973.

Upon entering the public domain (no royalty fees required), broadcasting companies quickly scooped it up and began airing it annually during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

It’s now ranked at number 11 on the American Film Institute’s list of greatest films. AFI also ranked it as the most powerful movie of all time in 2006.

Director Frank Capra was said to have “spent lavishly” ($3.78 million) on the making of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but the film only garnered $3.3 million at the box office.

According to a 1997 Associated Press report, Steven Spielberg is such a fan of the movie he would take a copy of it to his film locations. “I show it to the cast and crew,” Spielberg told AP, “and I tell them, ‘This is the kind of picture I hope we can make.”‘

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