Skip to main content
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

America’s Favorite Holiday Movie: The Story of It’s a Wonderful Life

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Monday, December 20, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0150
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
Select your Tickets
Powered by Zoom

George and Mary Bailey, played by James Stewart and Donna Reed in the film It’s A Wonderful Life, RKO Radio Pictures, 1946

Voted by the American Film Institute as the most inspirational movie ever made, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life has been a beloved Christmas classic for generations. The snowbound streets of Bedford Falls, the desperate travails of George Bailey, and the discovery of Zuzu’s petals have long become traditional parts of the holiday season.

Yet when the film was released in 1946, it was a box-office flop, won no Academy Awards, and was largely forgotten—until it was rediscovered through endless airings on local TV stations beginning in the 1970s and on annual Christmas Eve broadcasts on NBC starting in 1992.

Brian Rose, a professor emeritus at Fordham University, examines the fascinating story of It’s a Wonderful Life, looking at the challenges of how it was made, its surprisingly dark portrait of small-town life, and how it became the ultimate portrayal of holiday goodwill and cheer.

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.