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

Believe Me
Will Bakke has followed his two thought-provoking documentaries on faith with a remarkably smart, funny, brave, and heartfelt first feature film that explores religion and values without ever falling

posted 11:06:16am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike delivers a stunning breakthrough performance in this week's "Gone Girl." She's been a favorite of mine for a long time, for her elegant voice and precise acting choices. It's a good

posted 8:00:23am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on PBS: The Makers: Comedy
Be sure to tune in to PBS tomorrow night for what is sure to be one of the highlights from one of the all-time best series on PBS: "The Makers," the story of women in America.  Tomorrow's episode is about women in comedy. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxHMgSF7UI[/youtube]

posted 8:00:45am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on HBO: "The Fifty Year Argument" -- Scorsese on The New York Review of Books
Once upon a time, there was no internet. And instead of bloggers and pundits and tweets we had something called public intellectuals, people who read widely, thought deeply, and wrote long, passionate, carefully reasoned, thoroughly documented and beautifully written articles about the important is

posted 3:59:26pm Sep. 28, 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.