Scene It Before: The Martini House from It’s a Wonderful Life

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well at a La Canada residence featured in the 1946 Yuletide classic

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the City of Angels (for the City of Angels, at least) and what better way to get in the spirit than to visit one of the only remaining locations still standing from Frank Capra’s 1946 black-and-white classic It’s a Wonderful Life?

The tree-lined streets of Bedford Falls, where most of the movie took place—and, which legend has it were inspired by New York’s Seneca Falls—were actually part of a large, four-acre set constructed at RKO Encino Ranch. Unfortunately, when the ranch was sold to developers in 1954, the sets and surrounding landscapes were bulldozed to make room for a new housing tract.

The good news: the Bailey Park model home purchased by Giuseppe Martini (William Edmunds) and his wife, Mrs. Martini (Argentina Brunetti) in the flick still stands at 4587 Viro Road in La Canada Flintridge, and it is in much the same state as it appears onscreen.

I learned about this location a couple of years ago from one of my blog’s readers, an It’s a Wonderful Life-aficionado named David, who had scoured Zillow to track the place down after reading that the residence was located in the La Canada area in Jeanine Basinger’s The It’s a Wonderful Life Book about the making of the film. I have to confess I hadn’t yet seen It’s a Wonderful Life at the time (and I have the nerve to call myself a film buff!), but was ecstatic upon hearing from David that the residence had not been altered in the six-plus decades since filming took place. I watched the movie shortly after and, like most, fell in love with the heartwarming tale. Today, it’s a staple in my house during the holiday season, and visiting the Martini home has become a yearly Yuletide pilgrimage.      

Above: A screen capture from It’s a Wonderful Life (left) and the location in November 2013 (67 years later!) courtesy of Lindsay Blake (right)

Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.