2. The Bells of St. Mary’s is showing at the movie theatre as George runs down the street in Bedford Falls near the end of the film. Henry Travers, who plays Clarence the Angel, starred in that film as Horace P. Bogardus.
3. For the scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock into the window of the Granville House, Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot it out for her on cue. To everyone’s amazement, Donna Reed broke the window with true aim and heft without assistance of the hired marksman.
4. James Stewart was nervous about the phone scene kiss because it was his first screen kiss since his return to Hollywood after the war. Under Frank Capra’s watchful eye, Stewart filmed the scene in only one unrehearsed take, and it worked so well that part of the embrace was cut because it was too passionate to pass the censors.
5. The movie drew fierce criticism for its political statements about post-WWII society when it was released in 1946. Even the FBI labeled it a “subversive” movie and charged that its use of a nasty, Scrooge-like businessman “was a common trick used by communists.”
6. The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real and was located at Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles.
7. This was the first and last time that Frank Capra produced, financed, directed and co-wrote one of his films.
8. At $3.7 million, this was a very expensive independent production. In its initial box office run, it only earned $3.3 million.
9. James Stewart cited George Bailey as being his favorite character. The part was originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant earmarked for the role. When Frank Capra inherited the project, he rewrote it to suit Stewart.
10. After the war, Frank Capra set up Liberty Films with George Stevens and William Wyler to make more serious, soul-searching films. This was Liberty’s only production.
11. The instant that George says “God” on the bridge, it starts snowing, showing that he is back in the real world.
12. The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.
13. The set for Bedford Falls was constructed in two months and was one of the longest sets that had ever been made for an American movie. It covered four acres of the RKO’s Encino Ranch. It included 75 stores and buildings, main street, factory district and a large residential and slum area. The Main Street was 300 yards long, three whole city blocks!