Capra classic tops AFI list
The film was selected by a jury comprising over 1,500 box office boffins, including critics, actors, reviewers and cinema historians, who argued that its universal appeal was what made the film so inspiring.
"We all connect to that story," commented Bob Gazzale, producer of the CBS TV show which presented the list.
"We may not all connect to the story of a fighter from Philadelphia or a singing family in the Austrian Alps but there's no way to get away from the inspiring story of George Bailey. It relates to us all."
The two films alluded to by Gazzale, 1976's Rocky and The Sound Of Music finished fourth and 46th respectively.
Frank Capra also managed to edge out Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, which came third, and To Kill A Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck in 1962's adaptation of Harper Lee's novel, which came second in the poll.
It's A Wonderful Life tells the story of a disillusioned businessman played by James Stewart, who is shown what life would be like without him by an angel.
"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world," Stewart says at the end of the film, to the delight of everyone who watches it.
For some reason the 1995 children's classic Babe, which portrays the emotional journey of a pig raised by sheepdogs, came in a lowly 80th in the AFI poll.
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