Historic theater and local church partner for ‘Wonderful Life’

If the mayhem of Christmas shopping, planning and baking is just a little too much this season, there is another way to get into the holiday spirit, without lifting a finger. In fact, people can just sit back and relax with a good old-fashioned movie at a good old-fashioned movie theater.

Bethel Tabernacle Church in Clarksville, which is now calling itself simply BTC, will be sponsoring a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Clayton Theater in Dagsboro. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., and the show costs just $2 per person.

“We just wanted to do something to reach out to the community this Christmas season — something ‘out of the box,’” said Kathy Millner, wife of BTC’s the Rev. Dennis Millner.

“‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is heritage and it’s tradition. You hear that movie title, and it makes you feel good inside” she said.

“We just thought it would be a great time of year to show a movie that the whole family can watch,” added Dennis Millner, “so people can be encouraged and be inspired by what I think is a good movie and see how God gets involved in our lives.”

Kathy Millner added that they wanted to have something for all types of people and thought, “What better way than to have a movie to bring people out?”

She said the movie will be shown it its original black-and white-form. The film, starring James “Jimmy” Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore, came out on Christmas Day in 1946. It is commonly shown on TV around Christmastime, though a local showing on the big-screen — especially in a theater as historic as the Clayton, which opened a little more than two years after “It’s a Wonderful Life” premiered — remains a rare opportunity.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was nominated for five Academy Awards, and though it was considered a financial disappointment in its initial release, the American Film Institute has designated it as one of the 100 best American films ever made and placed it at the top of their list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Kathy Millner said the Clayton Theater and the town of Dagsboro will be a perfect backdrop for the classic Christmas tale.

“It’s neat because they are showing a movie about a small town in a small town!” she said, emphasizing that the showing is open to the public.

Bethel Tabernacle Church is located just west of the Clarksville intersection on Omar Road. The Clayton Theater is located on Main Street in Dagsboro.