Photo courtesy of the "It's A Wonderful Life" museum
If you can believe it, one of the most iconic holiday films of all times, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which starred Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, was released 70 years ago this December. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and was recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.
If you are a cinema lover who makes watching this classic film a tradition with your family, then you’ll be pleased to know that there is an entire museum located in Seneca Falls, New York, that is dedicated to the movie. For the few of you who might not have seen the movie yet, it focuses on George Bailey (James Stewart) who wishes he had never been born, so an angel comes to him and makes that wish come true. George then starts to see what the lives of others would be if he wasn’t there.
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According to the museum’s website, Frank Capra visited Seneca Falls while writing the script and it became the inspiration for the film’s fictional location, Bedford Falls. The museum is open for tours and has free admission This year, the museum will celebrate the 70th anniversary with a three-day event on Dec. 9, 10 and 11. Appearing together in Seneca Falls for the first time are the “Bailey Kids”: Carol "Janie" Coombs; Karolyn "Zuzu" Grimes; and Jimmy "Tommy" Hawkins. There will also be special guests and exhibitors as well as fun activities, special presentations, and engaging discussions about the film and its history. The gift shop has a variety of movie souvenirs you can purchase too, including snow globes, 2017 calendars and more.
Fans of the legendary Jimmy Stewart will also want to visit The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The museum, which is in Stewart’s hometown, has film presentations and gallery talks, photos from his career, family life and his military days. You can watch movies in the 1930’s vintage movie theater. There is also a statue of Jimmy Stewart outside the courthouse. The museum is open year-round.
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In Dennison, Iowa, there is a museum dedicated to their hometown girl, Donna Reed, which opened in 2004 and has Donna's awards and honors and personal letters from her pen pal of 48 years, Violet Lindsay. There is an annual Donna Reed Festival as well as a Children's Musical Theatre Workshop, performances and scholarships for upcoming performers.
Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen, will be making a special guest appearance at the IFC Center in New York City, at several of the film’s showings.
It’s A Wonderful Life was directed, produced and written by Frank Capra. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, but only took home one – the Technical Achievement Award. It did win a Golden Globe for Best Director of a Motion Picture.