Today is Monday, May 18th and there are only 221 days left until Christmas. It is also Frank Capra Day.
Who is Frank Capra? Born on this day in Italy in 1897 Frank Capra would become perhaps one of the most famous movie directors of all time especially for his creative big screen works of the 1930s and 1940s. His claim to Christmas fame, of course, is for It’s a Wonderful Life, considered by some to be the best film ever.
Many of Capra’s movies are considered classics. It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and Meet John Doe (1941) are most often mentioned by Capra fans but Christmas lovers and movie fans everywhere obsessed over It’s a Wonderful Life like no other film in history.
The enduring film did not begin as a screen favorite. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed the Oscar-nominated film made its debut in 1946 to movie crowds returning home from the war. Box office reaction was tepid at best and the film quickly left the spotlight without making much of a mark. But television resurrected the film after it fell into the public domain and it began to get regular airplay, especially on Christmas Eve.
The film’s nostalgic setting in early 20th century America connected with baby boomer television watchers who made the film a cult classic in a hurry.