George Bailey Has a Complete Meltdown, But It Works Out

Like many, I have a soft, gooey, warm spot in my heart for “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s the sweetest and most heartfelt of Frank Capra’s movies, a man who made a career out of making sweet and heartfelt flicks. Jimmy Stewart is our everyman, a charismatic small town banker who makes a habit out of sacrificing his dreams for the betterment of his friends and family. In many ways, the movie is mostly setup. We see George’s life, from young boy, to college-bound young man, to groom, etc. We get a strong sense of this selfless guy and the strength of his convictions, particularly in my favourite scene. Spoiler warning, I guess, but you’ve had enough time to check this one out by now, I think. At one point, George’s rival, the scheming Mr. Potter, decides that he’s had enough of George’s Building and Loan, and tries to buy him off. He plies George with promises of wealth and influence, and the world traveling he’s always had to sacrifice. It’s a great scene for two fantastic actors, and it makes the whole movie for me.

As I was saying earlier, though, the whole movie is really set-up for the central premise: What if you could see what the world would be like if you weren’t born? It was innovative at the time, and has spawned many imitators since (mainly in holiday-themed sitcoms of the 1990s). We see the suburban dystopia of Pottersville, we see our favourite characters living bleak lives (including, shock of shocks, George’s wife forced to endure as GASP! an old maid). George gets unequivocal proof that his sacrifices weren’t meaningless. And that, obviously, is very touching, and it’s why the movie still resonates so much today.

Stepping away from the obvious pleasures of the flick, however, I have always taken a strange sort of joy during the scenes following Uncle Billy’s loss of the deposit. When it is determined that the money is definitely lost, and that George and his business will be facing severe consequences, he completely loses his mind. He mouths off to his kids, he screams at a teacher, he socks a man in a bar, gets drunk, crashes his car and begins to attempt suicide. It always struck me that if he had been successful in killing himself, he would have spent his last few hours completely ruining his reputation in Bedford Falls. Gone is the idea of the kindly banker, replaced by stories of a raging, drunken brawler who probably embezzled thousands of dollars and killed himself when he found out. Maybe that’s an alternate ending or something. Dunno.

Google Led You Here: “thats a big twinkie what movie”  The movie is “Ghostbusters”. The movie you were thinking of is “Ghostbusters”.

Hey, that “Like” button sure could use some holiday lovin’? What do you say?