It’s a Wonderful Life: Did Seneca Falls Inspire the Film?

December 8, 2020

Nighttime on town street, lined with parked cars and Christmas lights.

Seneca Falls, New York.

Was Seneca Falls the inspiration for Bedford Falls, the setting of that holiday classic film, It’s A Wonderful Life? Find out in the documentary The Real Bedford Falls: It’s A Wonderful Life, which celebrates the enduring themes of director Frank Capra’s holiday classic and examines small-town life in the upstate New York community that has striking similarities to the film’s setting.

The film airs Friday, December 18 at 10:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN. Interviews include stars from the 1946 movie, film critic Leonard Maltin, Monica Capra Hodges — Frank Capra’s granddaughter — and others. NBC Today show legend Bob Dotson narrates. Don’t miss the broadcast, because this film won’t be available to stream! See other holiday specials on THIRTEEN.

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Seneca Falls

Buildings of a town line a placid body of water.

Seneca Falls, New York by Dougtone is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The hamlet of Seneca Falls in Seneca County lies near the northwestern tip of Cayuga Lake (Seneca Lake lies farther to the west). The Seneca Falls It’s A Wonderful Life Museum offers a 1.3-mile self-guided walking tour map, should you ever visit.

The museum website points out similarities between the town and the film, and that Frank Capra visited the town while writing the script for It’s a Wonderful Life.

The museum’s annual festival tribute to the film takes place virtually this year, December 11 through 13; register for the festival online.

The museum is planning its 75th Anniversary Celebration of It’s a Wonderful Life for five days in 2021: December 7–12.