Oregon Movies, A to Z

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It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

November 7th, 2008 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · 1940's, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition

Capra cast most of It’s A Wonderful Life with actors he had worked with before- Jimmy Stewart, Thomas Mitchell, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers. But for the role of Ruth Dakin Bailey, George Bailey’s brand new sister-in-law, Capra wanted a fresh face no one would recognize. He found it in Virginia Patton, who had moved to Los Angeles from Portland, determined to break into movies.

Frank Capra put everything he had into his 43rd film. He acted as producer, writer and director. He set up his own production company, Liberty Films, so he would have a free hand, and not have to answer to the studios. The film was a box office failure, and Capra later pinpointed it as the beginning of the end of his Hollwood career.

Because this film is (now) so beloved, and so central to our country’s shared imaginative life, I am going to stake an Oregon claim to it, despite the fleeting nature of Virgina Patton’s appearance within it. 

Don’t wait for Christmas! You can see It’s A Wonderful Life online here. Look for Virginia in the scene where Harry Bailey returns home from the war on a train.

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