John Landis on

It’s a Wonderful Life

Released 1946
Distributor RKO Radio Pictures

Frank Capra was known for such upstanding, optimistic films (“Capra-corn” to the critics) that his lone Christmas-themed film must have come as a real shock to ticket buyers. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has its cheery side for sure, but it also contains moments so bleak it makes some film noirs look like Mary Poppins. A boxoffice disappointment when first released, it fell into the public domain for a limited period, resulting in massive TV exposure that transformed it into a cultural touchstone, and one that holiday audiences return to year after year. This week, two different TFH Gurus offer their takes on a classic that was heavily investigated at the time by the FBI for supposedly Communist influences. Be sure to check out Bill Duke’s take here.

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About John Landis

John Landis is the director of Animal HouseThe Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In LondonTrading PlacesComing To America, Kentucky Fried MovieSpies Like UsThree Amigos!Into The Night and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the recent Burke and Hare for Ealing Studios,  among many other films and television shows. His documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project premiered on HBO and won an Emmy for Best Music, Comedy or Variety Special.  He is also the subject of noted film critic Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan’s recent book “John Landis” and his own book “Monsters in the Movies’ was published to critical and popular acclaim in 2012.