Excerpt from The Wrap
Written by Beatrice Verhoeven and Alonso Duralde
Here’s some trivia you may not have known about the classic Frank Capra film, which celebrates its birthday on Dec. 25, courtesy of lead reviewer Alonso Duralde, as well as IMDb and Old Hollywood biographer Robert Matzen's new book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe.
The film technically started as a greeting card. When author Philip Van Doren Stern failed to find a publisher for his book about a man named George Pratt who considers suicide until he gets a chance to see what the world would be like without him, he printed it as his Christmas card in 1943.
One of the 200 cards he self-published eventually made its way to RKO Pictures producer David Hempstead, who purchased the rights. Capra bought the rights a year later, turning "The Greatest Gift" into "It's a Wonderful Life."