A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1946 – It’s a Wonderful Life

Technically I should have picked The Best Year of Our Lives here. Since that film actually is the film that represents 1946. But fuck it. Sometimes iconography wins out.

This film just represents cinema, and happens to have been released in 1946. Same with Citizen Kane. It’s not the year, it’s the film. And sometimes you just have to go with the film.

But make no mistake, the film that actually does represent 1946 is The Best Year of Our Lives.

Aside from that, this is a movie you cannot argue with. It’s… a wonderful movie.

The real interesting thing about this film is that it’s the last time Frank Capra achieved perfection. And maybe even the only time. All his other movies are really good… It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington… only Mr. Smith gets even close to true perfection But this film really is just a perfect entity, to the point where we all watch it every year at 8 o’clock on Christmas Eve on NBC. It’s just what we do.

Also, my other point there was that Capra wouldn’t reach this height ever again. Like David Lean with Lawrence of Arabia. Sometimes you just peak.

Though granted, the film was a huge flop, and part of Capra never reaching this height again is because of that, and the studios thinking he wasn’t capable of turning out moneymakers like he used to. After this, he made five more films, and unless you’re a film fan, you probably haven’t heard of any of them. They are: State of the Union, a drama starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Riding High, a remake of Broadway Bill (which I’m sure you’ve also never heard of) starring Bing Crosby, Here Comes the Groom, starring Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman, A Hole in the Head, starring Frank Sinatra (which you may not know, but you will know the song from the film that won an Oscar, “High Hopes”), and A Pocketful of Miracles, which is a remake of Lady for a Day, another movie you probably haven’t heard of at first glance. (Though you’ve probably heard of the story, once you hear it.) Anyway, the point is, the film is a perfect entity, and this is when Frank Capra peaked.

Also, the funny thing about this movie is, had it been released in 1947 like they were planning, it probably would have won Best Picture, whereas instead they rushed it to come out for December 1946, and it lost to The Best Years of Our Lives. But who cares, because history turned out pretty well in this film’s favor.

This is one of the most beloved films ever made, and it’s just so goddamn likable. Which is great, since it’s about a dude who’s gonna kill himself.

Also, you guys know… if this movie took place today, in today’s economy, he actually would kill himself.

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