It’s an even more ‘Wonderful Life’

Dec 16th, 2019 | By | Category: Spotlight

Seventy-four years after he acted in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jimmy Hawkins says the iconic movie is fresher today than ever.

The holiday classic is now available from Paramount for home viewing on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, resulting in sharper and brighter images. “It looks great, and of course the story is as great as ever,” said Hawkins, who was 4 years old when he played the son of the central character, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart).

Hawkins, now 78 and living in Los Angeles, said anyone who somehow has never seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” (“I very rarely meet anyone who hasn’t”) is missing its message “that you’re important, everyone is important. One person can make a difference. (Director) Frank Capra’s message gets through, and that’s why the movie is bigger every year.”

Hawkins, who went on to appear in other movies and television and work as a producer, said his memories of being in the movie include “getting up in the dark every morning in June and going to the studio and seeing the lights and the Christmas tree on the set.”

Little did he and the rest of the cast and crew know that some day their black and white work would be painstakingly restored by Paramount, using the original nitrate negative and two masters made in the 1940s.  Portions had begun to deteriorate, complicating the digital restoration.

“I love the way it looks now,” said Hawkins, who ranks “Wonderful Life” as his favorite all-time holiday flick. Others on his must-watch list?

“’Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ and ‘Christmas Story,'” he said. ‘The appeal of ‘Christmas Story’ for me is that it captures the time when I was a kid. That’s what it was like. And every boy really wanted a BB gun.”

For fellow movie buffs with a fondness for the old ways, never fear: Paramount also has a two-disc Blu-ray set that includes the newly remastered “It’s a Wonderful Life” in black and white (high-definition this time). It comes with the colorized version and three special features, including film from the movie’s wrap party.