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Encyclopedia > It's a Wonderful Life

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It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra film in which Jimmy Stewart plays a character who attempts suicide; an angel trying to earn wings gives Stewart's character a view of what life would have been like if he had never lived. The film became a perennial holiday season favorite in the United States when its copyright was not renewed in 1974. The film's public domain success is often cited as a reason to limit copyright terms, which have been frequently extended by Congress in the United States.

A colorized version has since been produced, widely considered to be of inferior quality to the black and white original and is often held up by opponents of colorization as an example of the flaws associated with the process. The colorized version is under copyright, however, and some stations pay substantial royalties to show it as it is viewed as more profitable to show the colorized version than the black and white original. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Popular belief is that Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie were named after secondary characters in the film. According to Sesame Workshop producers, that's actually untrue.



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