Published December 24, 2012
Many hope for snow on Christmas. Frank Capra demanded it.
The “It’s a Wonderful Life” director wouldn’t settle for the fake snow other movies of 1940s typically used to create a winter set. He wanted real snow for his Christmas classic.
The above never-before-seen photos from LIFE.com show the set of the 1946 flick, which used a revolutionary new technique to create more realistic snow. The artificial snow created for the film was costly, but it blanketed the fictional town of Bedford Falls and changed how snow would be depicted in holiday movies to come.
PHOTOS: The set of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
With the new snow method, the movie cost a whopping $3.7 million to create, a huge figure for a movie in the 1940s, and it only raked in $3.3 million at the box office.
Later, however, the movie appealed to later generations when it ran year after year on TV.
“It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Capra said in his later years, according to LIFE. “The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it.”