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Seneca Falls reacts to Wonderful Life sequel

by Jane Flasch

Seneca Falls, N.Y. -- The Bridge Street Bridge spans the Erie Canal but even without being covered in snow it's easy to picture George Bailey getting ready to jump in to save Clarence.

The brick Victorian at 32 Cayuga Street could double as the Granville Mansion lovingly fixed up by Mary Bailey. Seneca Falls calls itself the inspiration for the fictional Bedford Falls in the film "It's a Wonderful Life."

"(Director) Frank Capra did visit Seneca Falls when he was working on the screen play so we're convinced he did take a bit of Seneca Falls back with him to incorporate in the film," said Fran Caraccilo.

Caraccilo runs the "It's a Wonderful Life" museum in Seneca Falls. Year round he is surrounded by images from the iconic Christmas film. Perhaps that gives him special insight to answer the questions: "How do you remake a classic?" And "should you even try?"

"For some people this film is sacred. For some the idea might not go over well," he mused.

A planned sequel is in the works to pick up the story of George Bailey two generations later and merge this classic story with another classic plot akin to "A Christmas Carol."

"I've watched it ever since I was little," said Jen Jacobs referring to Wonderful Life. She has passed on the love of the black and white film from 1947 to her young daughters. Julia Jacobs gives a sequel a definite "thumbs up."

"I think it's going to be cool to know what's going on next in the movie," she said. "Because the first one, it's like when it's over you don't want it to end."

The sequel will star Karolyn Grimes in the role of the angel. The actress played the youngest daughter ZuZu in the original film. She is also a yearly guest at the Seneca Falls Christmas festival celebrating the movie and has donated many signed and original items to the museum.

"I'm very happy for her. If for that reason alone I hope that (the sequel) will be a big success," said Caraccilo who has met the actress many times.

It's unclear whether Bedford Falls will have a place in the sequel and if it does whether it will resemble the community of Seneca Falls which is charmingly locked in time. "It's great that the movie (plot) is going on and on for a new generation to learn more about," said Cheryle Lewis who works in Seneca Falls.

Some hope it will spark new interest in the "Wonderful Life" Christmas celebration hosted every year. "A lot of tourists come for the festival, it's a wonderful, wonderful weekend,' said Joyce Sinicropi who is involved with the planning.

The festival runs from December 13 to 15 this year. To learn more, click here.

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Washington Times