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Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,938
Registered: ‎11-08-2014

JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

There's a timely article in the Chicago Tribune, which I can't link to because of sidebars, but if you search "How Jimmy Stewart's War Service Affected "It's a Wonderful Life",  it will no doubt appear.

 

Jimmy was known for his patriotism and service in World War II.  Someone dug up this photo of him from the period:

 

It's also widely known also that he was deeply changed and traumatized by his experiences, and had a crisis of sorts when he returned to filmmaking.  Friends said he had episodes of what would then be called "shell shock" and now, PTSD. 

 

No one knew how director Frank Capra's powerful film "It's a Wonderful Life" would be received.  There was tension and concern, and creative "angst", and as Donna Reed has said, it was not a happy set.   And the film wasn't a "success"-- it took years to receive the acclaim it enjoys today.

 

Fascinating piece of cinema lore, well worth looking up.  

 

 

 

 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,532
Registered: ‎02-07-2011

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

Many movies have fascinating "back stories" and this is one of them.  As you mentioned, the movie was not a success when it was first released.  Now it is considered a Capra classic and rightly so, IMO!

 

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,938
Registered: ‎11-08-2014

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

Oh, me too, @kaydee50..   For whatever reason, it took audiences awhile to embrace it, and then they did with a vengeance...   It has profound themes to offer every generation....

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,381
Registered: ‎03-14-2010

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

Well, I looked but was unable to find the article. But will keep trying.

 

But you made me get out a book I bought. Every year a group that restores WWII planes and then shows the planes, comes to our area. 

 

They also sell books and interesting stuff. I always buy the books because I look up my Dad's planes and missions. Well, they also had a book about Jimmy Stewart, so of course I bought it. I have not read it. The book is about his WWII experience. The back cover has a picture from It's a Wonderful Life. There is at least one chapter that covers "It's a Wonderful Life". But there are also about 70 pages on his return to "Hollywood". The book is 371 pages long.

 

Thanks for reminding me, Oznell.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,938
Registered: ‎11-08-2014

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

That book sounds so good, @drizzella -- you have an enviable library on different aspects of film, as only a true buff would have!

 

I did google "How Jimmy Stewart's War...etc." and the online, 2016 article popped up.  Hope you eventually find it.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,757
Registered: ‎11-24-2011

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

@oznellThanks for the info.  I'm a big Jimmy Stewart fan.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,938
Registered: ‎11-08-2014

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

Oh, me too, @hayseed0 --  I admire so many of his qualities, as well as his remarkably rich, soulful collection of performances over the course of a spectacular career...

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Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

[ Edited ]

Wow I didn't know It's A Wonderful Life wasn't a happy set.

I did read it was Jimmy's first role (kiss) after the war.

 

Years ago I met Zuzu at an airing of It's A Wonderful Life at Hollywood Blvd theatre

She said she was only 6 and Jimmy Stewart helped her get her scene down. It was the one with the petals.

 

I have a couple of notes from JS's secretary, he was ill when I wrote him.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,938
Registered: ‎11-08-2014

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"

How cool that you met her, @Mary Bailey --  she was such an appealing little actress, really liked her in "The Bishop's Wife" too.  That seems so typical of Jimmy Stewart to take the time to help a little newcomer.  I believe she had a very warm respect and affection for him from that experience...

Esteemed Contributor
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Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: JIMMY STEWART, THE WAR, AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"


@oznell wrote:

How cool that you met her, @Mary Bailey --  she was such an appealing little actress, really liked her in "The Bishop's Wife" too.  That seems so typical of Jimmy Stewart to take the time to help a little newcomer.  I believe she had a very warm respect and affection for him from that experience...


She talked about Bishop's Wife too. but I'm IAWL fan. (I have only seen TBW partially once)   I have a few items signed by her