What’s your Christmas movie tradition? Do you join Kevin McCallister in once again defending his house from bandits in “Home Alone“? Do you hang with John McClane as he walks across broken glass in “Die Hard“? Or do you cozy up to the heartwarming “It’s A Wonderful Life“? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to check out this great video essay on the story behind the movie.
The short version is basically this: Director Frank Capra produced the picture via his Liberty Films, and RKO distributed it, but it was a flop on release. Critics were lukewarm, audiences didn’t really show up, and it wound up costing RKO over half-a-million in losses. Here’s where things get interesting. Paramount snapped up the rights to the movie when they acquired Liberty in 1951, and not long after, it fell into the hands of National Television Associates. However, in 1974 the copyright lapsed due to a clerical error, and anyone could broadcast “It’s A Wonderful Life” (along with paying a royalty). Soon they did, and that’s how the movie came to be re-assessed and given new life as a Christmas classic.
There is a lot more to the story, so be sure to watch the essay below, thanks to the good folks at Filmmaker IQ.