2020 has been the year of the unsung hero. 12 months in which kindness has prevailed and where good deeds have offered no guarantee of an easy ride through the hardship. It is in this context that Skipton Plaza Cinema offers forth its annual screening of Frank Capra seasonal classic: It’s a Wonderful Life. And how welcome it is.

The year is 1945. It’s Christmas Eve in the New York suburb of Bedford Falls and savings broker George Bailey has hit rock bottom. George has misplaced $8,000 and been coarsely informed that - in financial terms - he is worth far more dead than alive. As Capra’s perennial heart warmer opens, that’s exactly where George is headed.

We all know the rest of the story. Willing him well, the prayers of George’s family reach the heavens and Angel, Second Class Clarence is sent to teach George that it really is a wonderful life.

How poignant, then, that a film about finding hope in the bleakest of hours should resurface in ours. 2020 has seen a profound rise in our awareness of the importance of small acts in changing the world. From Captain Tom’s marathon achievements with a walker in his back garden to the Londoner who inspired a nation to clap weekly on their doorsteps, it has been folk from the neighbourhood who have saved lives this year.

With this in mind, what really shines through Capra’s film is the reminder of the vitality of communal appreciation. We may not, this Christmas, have the opportunity to gather as the family and friends of George Bailey do in the film’s iconic close, but even in the smallest of bubbles can we ring the bell that will gift an angel their wings.

Some 74 years on from its original release - and famous flop at the post-war box office - It’s a Wonderful Life remains appointment viewing. Exquisite performances and remarkable story telling conjure a Christmas tale far, far more mature than most of the fare wheeled out at this time of year. Unlike such fluff - 2019’s Last Christmas has now landed on Sky Cinema - Capra’s masterpiece truly earns its schmaltz.

His is a complex and curious weaving of life’s severe ebbs and flows. When the concluding note swells, three-quarters of a century have done nothing to stem audience tears.