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

What Movies Do You Watch Over and Over?
A couple of weeks ago, "The Best Years of Our Lives" was on TCM and I decided to watch the first few moments to enjoy again scenes I have enjoyed many, many times. I promised myself I would go to bed after half an hour but found myself once again watching all the way to the end. There are lots of mo

posted 3:32:21pm Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Tribute: Documentary Pioneer Albert Maysles
We mourn the loss of film visionary Albert Maysles, who with his brother David, showed us a new way to see film and a new way to see the world.  They were the first Americans to create intimate, unstructured documentary storytelling without experts talking from behind their desks or extended narrat

posted 3:05:55pm Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith
Writer Alan Bennett ("The Madness of King George") was not sure about the right way to respond when a near-homeless woman in a fragile mental state moved her dilapidated van in front of his house. He did not want her there but he could not bring himself to send her away. What began as a three week

posted 8:00:47am Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Unfinished Business
"Unfinished Business" is a story about three renegade renegades from bureaucracy going up against The Man and the importance of the individual in an era of soul-grinding corporatism. But the mo

posted 5:59:57pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Chappie
So, basically, no one here saw "Terminator." Or "Frankenstein." But maybe they did see "Robocop?" Or "Short Circuit?" Writer/director Neill Blomkamp likes sci-fi allegories of social and political conf

posted 5:59:11pm Mar. 05, 2015 | 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.