Book delves into 'Wonderful Life'

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" has certainly had a wonderful life. The beloved film - which was a flop on its initial release - turns 60 this year. To celebrate the longevity of George Bailey and all the other characters from Bedford Falls comes "The Essential 'It's a Wonderful Life': A Scene-by-Scene Guide to the Classic Film" by Michael Willian (Chicago Review Press, $14.95).

The book is meant to be an armchair companion while watching the film as Willian breaks down each scene. A "Closer Look" at George and Mary's wedding reveals that several key relatives are absent, while the town's bad girl, Violet, is there to catch Mary's bouquet. The "Just Wondering" section for George's return home after learning that the Building and Loan is in trouble brings up some interesting points, chiefly, why were the Bailey children in school on Christmas Eve?

Other kernels among the Capra-corn include floor plans of the Bailey Building and Loan, a Bedford Falls map and a mulled wine recipe to boost your holiday spirits.

And trivia: Star James Stewart was set on a career as a builder, but he had his own guardian angels in the form of Princeton buddies running a theatrical troupe. Stewart's talents on the accordion led to a spot with them and, eventually, his own wonderful life in the movies.