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Fun fact: Dorothy Parker, famous for her caustic wit, helped write your favorite sentimental movie.

Emily Temple

June 7, 2022, 10:37am

Dorothy Parker was famed for her quips, her wit, and her sharp tongue. She had a witty comeback for every occasion—even her own death. She publicly hated on beloved children’s classics and literary icons. Best of all, she quit her job at The New Yorker because it “cut in too much on [her] reading.” She was not exactly a sentimentalist. And yet, she is partially responsible for one of the most beloved and sentimental movies of all time: Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

Apparently, the screenplay went through many drafts and many writers—including Dalton Trumbo, Clifford Odets, and Marc Connelly—before it reached its final version. Somewhere in there, Capra asked Dorothy Parker to “refine some dialogue.” Though she was uncredited, perhaps some of what she wrote even made it through to the final cut (the Production Code necessitated the deletion of a number of words including “jerk,” “dang,” “impotent,” and “lousy,” which all sound like Parker-isms), but you’d never know it. After all, the American Film Institute ranks it #1 on its list of Most Inspiring Films of All Time, something that surely would have made Tonstant Weader fwow up.

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