Christmas day is the perfect day to celebrate Frances Goodrich, the writer of one of the most beloved and classic Christmas films: It’s A Wonderful Life.
Frances Goodrich began her career as an actress, obtaining several Broadway roles including: Daddy Long Legs (1918), Fashions for Men (1922), Queen Victoria (1923), A Good Bad Woman (1925), Skin Deep (1927), and Excess Baggage (1927).
Soon after her time on Broadway, Frances married fellow actor Albert Hackett, and the two began an incredible partnership as writers. After moving to Hollywood in the late 1920s, they began their first project: the screenplay for a film adaption of the Broadway play Up Pops the Devil, which they wrote together during their time in New York.
Albert and Frances’ next project was the screenplay for The Thin Man (1934), directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Composed primarily of witty and charming conversations between a married couple, The Thin Man was a huge hit, and was thought to be one of the first films to portray a modern relationship realistically.
Frances and Albert received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay for The Thin Man, the first of a long string of nominations. They were also nominated for After the Thin Man (1936), Father of the Bride (1950), and the widely-loved classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1955). They also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for their play The Diary of Anne Frank.
Of course, they also wrote the screenplay for It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), which many of us will watch today, if we haven’t watched it already this season! It’s a Wonderful Life is about an angel who comes down from Heaven to show a depressed man how much he is valued by those around him. It is a heart-wrenching and beloved Christmas film.
Ironically, however, although It’s a Wonderful Life received five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (as well as Best Film Editing and Best Sound), it did not receive a screenplay nomination, nor was it recognized by the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
Nevertheless, Frances and Albert were an incredible team, and their ability to portray relationships and romance so well in their writing no doubt came from their own experiences together. In a time where the film industry was heavily dominated by men, it’s a beautiful thing that Frances held an equal role in the creation of these many classic films.
These films, which we all know and love, would not exist without the incredibly talented Frances Goodrich. So be sure to remember to thank Frances the next time you watch It’s A Wonderful Life!
© Julia Lasker (12/25/2022) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Explore Frances Goodrich’s career here.
Click HERE to learn more about the behind-the-scenes fracas as Philip Van Doren Stern’s original story The Greatest Gift was gradually transformed into the beloved screenplay universally treasured today.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Jimmy Stewart figure revisits Bedford Falls at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
Bottom photo: Frances Goodrich and spouse Albert Hackett. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.