"It was something I never dreamed would happen," the now 77-year-old Grimes tells Thrillist over the phone when asked about the movie's enduring appeal. "I never even saw the movie until I was 40. Now I live it, eat it, drink it, sleep it, and I have a wonderful time meeting people and traveling and sharing it. And, oh my goodness, they share with me their feelings and their thoughts about the movie and how it's helped them through life."
The Frank-Capra-directed film, which was dismissed by some critics at the time of its release for its "sentimentality," picked up five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, but it failed to win in any of the major categories. It did pick up a Technical Achievement Award for "the development of a new method of simulating falling snow on motion picture sets." But as impressive as the falling snow was at the time, the most enduring technical accomplishment was achieved on a smaller, more human scale: The movie made you care about Zuzu's petals, the little totem that let's George Bailey know he's made it back to the present.