What You Should Know About It’s a Wonderful Life

Here’s what you should know about “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

What You Should Know About “It's a Wonderful Life”

What You Should Know About “It’s a Wonderful Life”

It’s the movie that people either love or hate at Christmastime; Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorites. Now, I don’t want to discuss the theological problems with angels earning their wings, or anything else of that nature….it’s fiction, people!

The reason I think this movie is so special is because of its central theme, the thing I have said in my own way to anyone who will listen for 15 years: U.B.U. (You say it just like it looks… “you be you.”)

God knew what He was doing when He made each of us, and part of the joy of homeschooling is being able to encourage our children through an individualized education to discover God’s unique plans for their lives.

In the movie, George Bailey experiences setbacks and discouragement that cause him to question whether it would be better if he had never been born. By the end of the story he has learned that his life has much greater significance than he realized. He has learned, in essence, the importance of simply being the man God made him to be.

What You Should Know About “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie trivia:

  • It’s based on a short story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern, written in the late 1930’s. Stern was unable to find a publisher to accept his manuscript, so finally in 1943 he simply included copies of it in Christmas cards. Somehow one of those ended up in the hands of Cary Grant and an RKO producer, and was eventually sold to Frank Capra and his new Liberty Films.

It's a Wonderlife

I love it that the story’s author experienced setback and discouragement, chose to reach out in love to friends with this Christmas gift booklet, and found it turned around as a blessing in his life. Doesn’t God do things like that all the time? The things the enemy intends for evil in our lives God uses for good.

  • Jimmy Stewart wasn’t going to take the role of George Bailey because he felt he couldn’t handle it so soon after his time of service in World War II, but Lionel Barrymore convinced him to do it. Now no one can imagine anyone other than Jimmy Stewart as the beloved George Bailey.

Again, isn’t that just like God? When we feel we are too weak, He is our strength in weakness, and the results are beyond what we could ever imagine.

  • The film was a box-office flop. It had been very expensive to make (and pioneered a new technique in creating snow in film), and just couldn’t make the money back. Strangely enough, there was a glitch with paperwork and the copyright lapsed; television started showing it over and over because they could do so without having to pay Frank Capra royalties. And in the process it became one of the most well-known films in history, and Frank Capra’s name became known for all time.
  • In 2006 it was ranked as the #1 Most Inspirational Movies of all time by the American Film Institute. Which makes for an interesting discussion on how long it takes people to recognize the impact of things in life.
  • Now that we have experienced the 2020 pandemic, will you have a deeper understanding when Stewart reads the telegram about the pharmacist’s boy dying of the “influenza” while at college? We can only begin to contemplate the parallels of the two pandemics a 100 years apart.

So there you go: Capra thought he was making a movie to score at the box office, but God had bigger plans for it than a financial return. We often value things incorrectly; just because something doesn’t have an impressive dollar value doesn’t mean it isn’t priceless….kind of like George Bailey!

Check out this post about turning this favorite movie into a fun, family unit study, How to Make It’s a Wonder Life into a Quick Unit Study.


How can U.B.U. this Christmas season, remembering that God knew what He was doing when He designed you?


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What You Should Know About “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Sabrina Justison

20+ year homeschool mom and curriculum developer for 7SistersHomeschool.com. Fred's wife. Writing, drama, music, blogs, kids, shoes, coffee, & books in varying orders on various days. He is God, He is good & He loves me.

10 Replies to “What You Should Know About It’s a Wonderful Life”

  1. It’s kinda ironic that someone so proud of their service in WW2 is most well known for playing a character that was exempt from the draft. Beautiful movie, never fails to pick you up when you’re feeling poorly about yourself. Everyone has made a difference in at least someone’s life.

  2. This is a great movie. It really shows the ripple effect of our actions. We usually have no idea how something we do or say will influence someone else. Even with our own family, something that we think of as insignificant, words or deeds, can impact our children for their entire lives. What a blessing it is if we are regularly having a positive influence on those around us!

    • Yes, Marilyn….it amazes me when one of my children will sometimes say, “Remember when you _____, Mom? I never forgot that!” Meanwhile I’m scratching my head wondering, “When did I _____?” We may never realize how much God’s accomplishing in a moment!

  3. LOVE this movie! I think of this movie many times around the year; not just during Christmas time. I just used it not so long ago as a reference in a conversation; 5 or 10 years from now, someone will be going in a different direction than they may have been –all because of your influence in their lives. How amazing that God chooses to use us in that way for His purposes!

  4. One of my very favorite movies as well, my favorite Christmas one. It is a reminder of what is really important. I also love the picture of a loving marriage. This film always touches me deeply

    • It’s funny, Allison …. I don’t remember watching this as we were growing up. For whatever reason I don’t think I saw it until I was a young adult. That almost makes it better, though; I didn’t “overwatch” when I was younger. You know how you can kill a movie by overwatching it? “Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!”

  5. This is my favorite movie of ALL time. It is about sacrifice, love, friendship, community, and Divine Intervention. Besides- it has some of the best lines of all time. They have become part of our family conversation, for example: “I’m STILL thinking.”

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