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'Tis the Season: SF Film Society Plans 'Wonderful Life' Revival for Christmas Day

Jimmy Stewart (center) stars in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, playing Sunday at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema on Post Street.

For all the imitations and parodies it has inspired since its debut at New York’s Globe Theater on Dec. 20, 1946 – appropriately, a special screening for charity, one day before the movie’s official premiere – Frank Capra's yuletide classic remains one of America’s most enduring seasonal staples. Not bad for a family drama dismissed by critics of its day as sentimental slop, and all but ignored by moviegoers: It’s a Wonderful Life was the 26th highest-grossing picture of 1947, just ahead of another holiday offering, Miracle on 34th Street.



Those slights have been addressed in the intervening years. In 1990, the movie was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry; in 2008, the American Film Institute named it the third-best fantasy feature of all time, behind The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And in their later years, both Capra and star Jimmy Stewart chose Wonderful Life as the highlight of their respective careers.



The story of George Bailey (Stewart), a disillusioned small-town do-gooder whose faith in life is restored by a guardian angel, returns to the big screen this Christmas, for one day only, at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema on Post Street. Screenings begin at noon and continue into the early evening. For tickets, showtimes and more information, visit the SFFS online.