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It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern began to write in 1939 and published privately in 1943. The film is one of the most beloved in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life would be for his wife Mary and his community of Bedford Falls if he had never been born. Despite performing poorly at the box office due to stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has become a classic and is a staple of Christmas television around the world.