Christmas Movie Trivia: It’s a Wonderful Life

1. Bedford Falls Is Really Seneca Falls, New York

The charming small town of Seneca Falls was most likely behind the inspiration for Bedford Falls, George Bailey’s friendly little hometown. With so many similarities, Seneca Falls residents swear they are Bedford Falls and even go as far as to recreate the heartwarming idyllic Christmas scenes you find in the movie every year.

2. It Was Filmed During a Heat Wave

It just goes to show that movie magic can make anything feel real. The film’s iconic snowy Christmas scenes were filmed during the peak of summer in 1946. Things got so hot on the set that there are some prominent scenes where you can actually see Jimmy Stewart sweating. All filming had to be suspended for a couple of days until the heatwave passed.

3. The FBI Flagged the Movie As a Potential Communist Film

A 1947 memo issued by the FBI states that the film is being flagged as a potential “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry,” due to its “rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘Scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.” It’s a Wonderful Life certainly deserves a badge of honor for surviving the Communist hunts that were typical in Hollywood at the time and still making it into the cannon of classic Christmas films that have been passed from generation to generation.

4. It All Started With a Christmas Card Making It Into the Right Hands

Writer Philip Van Doren Stern had long tried to sell his short story The Greatest Gift to publishers with no luck. He finally decided one year to give his story away to those he cared about the most. As a Christmas present, he turned his story into a 21-paged Christmas card of sorts and sent it to 200 of his closest friends. One of the copies ended up in the hands of David Hempstead, a producer at RKO pictures, who promptly paid Van Doren Stern $10,000 for the movie rights to the story. And so we have the birth of It’s a Wonderful Life.

5. The Film Bombed at the Box Office

It is hard to imagine that the iconic Christmas movie was not immediately popular at the box office. However, the fact of the matter is that after not drawing audiences to the theaters, producer Frank Capra was out $525,000. He took it hard since it made it difficult for his production company come up with a way to finance their next film, State of the Union. For more movie triavia, check out: Fun Christmas Movie Trivia That Will Make Watching Your Favorites a New Experience.