Tags: Hollywood | james stewart | iconic | role | george bailey

James Stewart as George Bailey: 5 Quotes About Iconic Role

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 09:04 PM

When “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1946, not many film critics (or average moviegoers for that matter) would have suspected that the film would become the classic that it did. In fact, the movie bombed at the box office. Here are five quotes from actor James Stewart and others about one of his most iconic roles, George Bailey.

1. James Stewart said of the film, “It didn't do well at all. I don't think it was the type of story people wanted right after the war. They wanted a war-related story or a pure slapstick, Red Skelton type of comedy. Our movie just got lost.”

2. Despite this, Stewart always had faith in the film. When director Frank Capra initially described it to him, Stewart response was immediate:

“Frank, If you want me to be in a picture about a guy that wants to kill himself and an angel comes down named Clarence who can’t swim and I save him, when do we start?”

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3. From an article that appeared in Guideposts, Stewart discusses in greater detail what set the film apart from others he appeared in:

“It wasn't the elaborate movie set, however, that made ‘It's a Wonderful Life’ so different; it was the story. The character I played was George Bailey, an ordinary fella who thinks he's never accomplished anything in life," Stewart said.

4. In the same article, Stewart went on to describe his connection to the role: “In agony I raise my eyes and, following the script, plead, 'God... God...dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I'm at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God...’"

Stewart said when recited those words, he "felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears."
"I broke down sobbing," Stewart said. "This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears.”

5. Despite the film’s cultural significance, Stewart always maintained a different and, perhaps, the best perspective on it:

“Today, after some 40 years, I've heard the film called 'an American cultural phenomenon." Well, maybe so, but it seems to me there is nothing phenomenal about the movie itself.
It's simply about an ordinary man who discovers that living each ordinary day honorably, with faith in God and a selfless concern for others, can make for a truly wonderful life.”

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When “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1946, no one would have suspected that the film would become the classic that it did. In fact, the movie bombed at the box office. Here are five quotes from actor James Stewart and others about one of his most iconic roles, George Bailey.
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