BEDFORD FALLS is fictional, the all-American town where Frank Capra set his Christmas classic 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Yet Seneca Falls, five hours north of New York City in the Finger Lakes, lays claim to being the “real” Bedford Falls.
For five days every December, the signs that mark the border of the upstate New York town of Seneca Falls are quietly overlaid with new lettering. Workers at the post office dust off stamps reserved for use just once a year and emblazon outbound mail with the name of a town that cannot be found on any map. Shopkeepers and bar owners hang new placards in their windows, becoming “Nick's”, “Ma Bailey's” and “Martini's”.
The ending [of the film] may be happy, but the subject matter is dark for a Christmas film — as well as suicide, it deals with financial crises, loss and the agony of life not turning out as we had hoped.
It is the film's darkness, Capra's message that the beauty of life cannot exist without the bedfellows of pain and disappointment, that has cemented the movie into the hearts of so many fans, and draws thousands to Bedford Falls each December. And if the original film brought comfort to difficult postwar days, perhaps this year's festival feels especially needed after the pandemic.
— Financial Times