It's Christmas Eve and I hope you're having a better day than George Bailey. That poor guy wishes he'd never been born.
Of course, I'm talking about Frank Capra's 1946 masterpiece, It's a Wonderful Life, one of the most beloved films in American cinema. That's why NBC, which obtained the rights to air the film in 1994, chooses to broadcast the perennial favorite on Christmas Eve. (The copyright expired in 1974 and it entered the public domain.) Air time is from 7-10 p.m. today.
After all these years on TV, the plot should be familiar to most. George (James Stewart) is on a snow-covered bridge and feeling suicidal after disaster strikes his Building and Loan business. An $8,000 deposit disappears and the town's Scrooge-ish banker, Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore), takes advantage of the situation.
Sent from heaven to help George out of his funk is Angel 2nd Class Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). If Clarence is successful in saving George, he'll earn his angel wings.
Lots of mushy stuff happens as George is shown what bad, bad things would have taken place in Bedford Falls had he not been born. There's a happy ending and hugs all around from George's wife, Mary (Donna Reed), the four little Baileys, and a gaggle of spontaneously cacophonous townsfolk.
It shouldn't be much of a spoiler to reveal that the story ends with one of the most beloved quotations on film. It comes from little Zuzu Bailey (6-year-old Karolyn Grimes), "Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
You'll get misty when everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne."
Trivia: Despite being a box office disappointment, the film was nominated for five Oscars, winning only one for technical achievement for its new way to make artificial snow. It lost out for Best Picture to The Best Years of Our Lives.
Finally, Little Karolyn Grimes grew up and is 77 these days.
• Beauty and the Beast, 7 p.m. today on ABC. If nostalgic classics aren't your preference for Christmas Eve, how about this animated 1991 Disney take on a classic French fairy tale?
Page O'Hara voices Belle, the maiden held captive in the enchanted castle of the Beast (Robby Benson), a cursed prince. Will Belle's love transform the Beast back into human form before the last rose petal falls? Will it?
• The Wizard of Oz, 4:45-7 p.m. today on TNT and TBS. Talk about classic cinema, this 1939 offering is the very epitome of classic. If you have small fry, the early start time will enable them to watch it all before getting ready for bed to await Santa's arrival.
Trivia: The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won two for original score and original song. Judy Garland won an honorary Oscarette in the Juvenile Award category. Talk about tough competition, the Best Picture nod in 1939 went to Gone With the Wind.
• A Christmas Story begins its annual 24 hour marathon at 7 p.m. today on TNT and TBS. Each airing kills two hours until 7 p.m. Monday, so you can watch it back-to-back 12 times if you're a masochist.
• A Christmas Carol, 6:30-9 p.m. today on AMC. Charles Dickens' 1843 novella has been adapted for the big and small screen a couple dozen times since 1908. This is the 1984 CBS TV movie featuring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Here are five Monday offerings from Hallmark and the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel (HMM). They'll help you unwind after a full day of opening presents and trying to find batteries for all the electronic gifts that didn't come with them.
Warning: You'll risk overdosing on the saccharine Christmas sweetness and tidings of comfort and joy.
• Coming Home for Christmas, 5:30 p.m. on Hallmark. In this 2017 film, estate manager Lizzie Richfield's love life gets mixed up with the dysfunctional Marley family. It stars Danica McKellar and Neal Bledsoe.
• When Calls the Heart, "The Christmas Wishing Tree," 7-8:30 p.m. on Hallmark. This is a special Christmas movie featuring the series' regulars. They include Lori Loughlin as widowed mayor Abigail Stanton and that's enough for me to watch.
• A Dream of Christmas, 8:30 p.m. on Hallmark. A restless married woman (Nikki DeLoach) wishes she was single again. Poof! Her wish comes true, but (gosh) she misses her husband (Andrew Walker). Will it work out?
• The Christmas Secret, 6 p.m. on HMM. Struggling single mom Christine (Bethany Joy Lenz) searches for a lost magical family heirloom to save the holidays.
• The Christmas Note, 8 p.m. on HMM. Gretchen (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) moves back to her hometown and meets her new neighbor, Melissa (Leah Gibson). They become friends and work together to try to find a sibling Melissa never knew she had.
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Style on 12/24/2017
Print Headline: It's a Wonderful Life returns to NBC tonight