It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - Dir. Frank Capra
Despite being a box-office failure when it was originally released, It's a Wonderful Life (1946) managed to triumph in the face of financial success, much like it's underdog protagonist. Due to a copyright oversight the film fell into the public domain for a period, during which it was aired almost religiously on television during the holidays, building up a much deserved following and appreciation. It is often ranked among the greatest films ever made and topped the AFI list of the 100 most inspiring movies of all time. The film follows the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a selfless small-town hero with global aspirations and a penchant for sacrifice. Throughout the film you witness George's struggles to fend off the greedy stranglehold that the miserly Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) has on the fictional town of Bedford Falls, NY. In a desperate, yet consistently selfless act, George even contemplates suicide so his family will benefit from his life insurance policy. The film completely embodies the Christmas spirit by showing not only the strength of faith, but also the importance of family and friends. Beautifully photographed, the film is also a technical wonder considering it takes place on a snowy Christmas eve and was filmed during a heat wave. All of this boils down to the fact that unless you are completely void of sentiment, or a soul, this film is almost guaranteed to make your eyes gush like Niagara Falls after a hurricane. Its legacy continues to evoke cheerfulness and joy, even in warped arenas such as Married with Children (1987), Tiny Toon Adventures (1990), Beavis and Butt-Head (1993), and Saturday Night Live (1975).