Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Man Behind “It’s A Wonderful Life” — Philip Van Doren Stern

posted by Nell Minow

It was an honor to interview Marguerite Stern Robinson about Beliefnet’s Movie of the Month, It’s a Wonderful Life. Dr. Robinson’s father, Philip Van Doren Stern, wrote the short story, “The Greatest Gift,” and when no one would publish it, he printed it up himself and sent it out as a Christmas card.  Director Frank Capra and leading man James Stewart, both just back from serving in WWII found in the story the inspiring and meaningful ideas they wanted for their first post-war project.  It was not especially popular at first, but by the 1970’s it had become a holiday classic and no film is more beloved and more emblematic and influential.

In her afterward to the book, The Greatest Gift, Dr. Robinson writes about three themes in the film that continue to be especially important today. One is the issue of “financial inclusion.” Another is “the awesome power of apparent insignificance.” “The business about the insignificance is very important. George wished he had never been born. It was only after he learned for himself what the world would have been like without him that he begs to be returned to his life. Clarence, his guardian angel, then grants George’s wish,” she said. The third relates to David Brooks’ article, “Social Animal.” She explained that the article raises the question “about which is better, to have freedom and adventure or roots and connections. [Brooks] comes down strongly on the side of roots and connections, which is certainly related to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

I asked her if she had a favorite scene and she responded, “It’s all my favorite!”

Check out the rest of the interview in Beliefnet’s Movie Corner!



Previous Posts

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast
Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.