Why ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Still Holds Up Today

The Reason the Film is a Classic

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a holiday classic that continues to entertain audiences more than 70 years after its initial release. The beloved film follows George Baily, played to perfection by James Stewart, as he navigates life in the small town of Bedford Falls. While the film was actually based on a short story, it was Stewart’s performance and Frank Capra’s directing that truly brought it to life.

It's a Wonderful Life
via Wikimedia

Interestingly enough, although it is a favorite around the holidays, “It’s a Wonderful Life” tells a story that’s much bigger than simply a Christmas movie. In fact, Christmas is more of a subtle background to a story about American life. At its heart, George Bailey represents many of us. This is why they say Stewart played the perfect “Everyman” character.

We see George Bailey’s life from a young boy to a husband and father. We see his youthful optimism as his dreams for the future are on full display. Also, we see the optimism begin to fade as the reality of life continues to push those dreams further from him. Sure there is an angel and what you could call a Christmas miracle, but the story is grounded in humanity.

The Importance of George Bailey

George Bailey is a good man. Ultimately, his kindness and life of putting others before himself makes him feel as though the world has gone on without him. He comes to believe that the world, in fact, would be better without him in it. When Clarence the angel shows him the importance of his life, the audience is forced along with George to reflect on the power of kindness.

This is the true beauty of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and why it remains a Christmas Eve tradition. For years, theatres around the country have continued the practice of Christmas Eve showings. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has limited this practice. However, this year, more than most, we could all use a trip to Bedford Falls. We highly recommend setting aside some time for this holiday classic.

We hope you enjoyed this nostalgic trip back. For more, follow The Greatest Generation on Facebook and Twitter.