The perennial Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life" will be screened Thursday (Dec. 12) at 7 p.m. in Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium as part of the Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series.
Doors will open at 6:30 and admission is free.
The film's star, James Stewart, owned the copy being shown, which is part of the James Stewart Papers donated to BYU in 1983.
"This rare film copy owned by Mr. Stewart is in superb condition and we are pleased to present it to the public for the first time," says James D'Arc, curator of BYU's Motion Picture Archives and director of the film series.
"Mr. Stewart was given film prints of many of his motion pictures as part of his contract with the studios. It is a rare treat to see this pristine copy on a theatrical screen and with an audience because that is the way that director Frank Capra meant it to be seen," he said.
For decades after the completion of "It's A Wonderful Life," both director Frank Capra and James Stewart called the 1946 film their favorite work.
Stewart plays the role of George Bailey, who is frustrated with his utter lack of luck as his father dies, his brother goes off to war to become a hero, and a friend strikes it rich as a businessman. Bailey, married and with four children, is left to run his father's building and loan business.
Bailey's archrival, Mr. Potter, convinces him that he is "worth more dead than alive." Only the visit of an angel convinces Bailey that life is worth living. Bailey witnesses what life would be like in Bedford Falls without his influence.
"It's A Wonderful Life" was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, actor and director. Surprisingly, it was not a big hit on its initial release, but in the more than 50 years since it has gained legendary status among generations of viewers.
The Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series is co-sponsored by Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library and Dennis and Linda Gibson. For more information, please call The L. Tom Perry Special Collections at (801) 422-6371.
Writer: Craig Kartchner