Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life

Photo: Paramount Home Entertainment

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It's a Wonderful Life
If we had to pick only one film that encapsulates the holiday spirit, it would be this timeless classic. When Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve, his guardian angel, Clarence, appears to show him what his town of Bedford Falls would have been if he'd never been born—a sinful slum full of angry, depressed residents. After catching a glimpse of just how wonderful a life it really has been, George begs Clarence to let him live and return to his family. In the end, everybody wins—George returns to the love of his family and Clarence, an Angel Second Class, gets his wings. Director Frank Capra's 1946 film was deemed a box office flop in its day, but has emerged as a Christmas staple of the stocking and ham variety.