I recently was skimming through Complete Copyright: A Guide for Librarians and read the most interesting tidbit about the classic Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life. This story is considered by many to be the definitive holiday movie, however 32 years ago it was so unpopular the legal department of Republic Pictures allowed the copyrights to expire. This meant that after 1974 any television or cable station could broadcast this movie without having to ask permission or pay royalties. For the next 19 years one could hardly make it through December without seeing it at least once. As the movie was broadcast endlessly during each and every holiday season, its popularity grew in leaps and bounds. Republic Pictures realized their error and was able to regain copyright control of It's a Wonderful Life in 1993. However, it was the film's continuous presence on the airwaves at Christmastime for the previous two decades that made this once nearly-forgotten movie synonymous with Christmas in the hearts of millions of people around the world. So what Republic Pictures must have considered a terrible error in judgement was actually a boon to us all.
Now that It's a Wonderful Life is back under copyright protection, it's harder to find it playing on TV. Fortunate for our patrons, we have this and dozens of other Christmas films on display this month. Here's just a sample of the classics and newer films that will make your spirits bright this season.
A Christmas Story
Christmas with the Kranks
It's a Wonderful Life