Director Frank Capra was quoted as saying he was so proud of this slice of Americana, which combines elements of fantasy and tragedy into a heartwarming story of redemption, that he showed it to his family every Christmas. Based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gift,” it stars James Stewart as wide-eyed George Bailey, who wants to get out of Bedford Falls as soon as he is able. Real life, of course, keeps him home, ruthless banker Mr. Potter keeps the pressure on the family’s savings and loan, tightening the screws when Uncle Billy loses $8,000. Only a guardian angel named Clarence, who’s trying to earn his wings, can save George from himself, and teach him that he’s “the richest man” in town because he has so many friends.
Note: Richard Garven will play holiday music on the Plaza Theatre’s 88-year-old Wyler Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ from 3-3:30 p.m.