Okay, if Clarence is supposed to be such a bungler, how did he manage to make it so George had never been born without causing George himself to, you know, cease to exist? I'd think it would have wound up with "Okay, George, you got your wish. You've never been born. Now... George? George? Where'd you go, George?"
I always thought that such a feat is beyond the means of one demoted angel. Clarence probably sent off a quick telepathic communique to the higher-ups and they did it for him.
He did. A huge wind came up and banged the door open. Clarence leaned out and yelled "You don't have to make all that fuss about it!" before shutting the door.
"You've been given a great gift, George — a chance to see what the world would be like without you."
I think it's pretty well implied that in the alternate timeline George still "exists" in the same sense that Clarence exists, as a "nobody", a disembodied spirit given a body ex nihilo by supernatural means.
So George and Clarence are Nobodies? Freaking sweet.
We need fanart of George and Clarence in Organization XIII robes, stat!
How is it that George's absence not only affected the weather (in one reality, it's snowing when it's not in the other), but Mary's eyesight? She's wearing glasses in the Pottersville reality, but doesn't in the Bedford Falls world.
Maybe without George, Mary spent all the time she'd have otherwise spent chasing after kids working at the library and reading, and her eyes have weakened. The weather, um, maybe Zuzu has magical weather powers or...um, okay, you've got me there.
She doesn't wear glasses because she doesn't read enough to notice she needs them. Second one, butterfly effect.
The housing developments in Pottersville are less convivially designed than Bedford Falls. They emphasize commercial interests over preserving community life; a lot more commercial thoroughfares funneling traffic to the commercial districts, a lot less walkable space, a lot fewer family businesses as opposed to nasty roadhouse establishments (like Nick's vs. Martini's) that pull in wanderers and truckers. In general, a lot higher volume of automobile through-traffic, a lot more congestion... and therefore a lot more air pollution, which over decades of time would affect the local climate. I am the master of Fanwank Fu.
The snowing is an Empathic Environment; what the symbolism of the snow is, I'm not sure. As for Mary's glasses, she was leaving the library. Did we ever see her reading a book during the timeline with George alive? Maybe she uses reading glasses in that one, too.
Except that the snow was in the Bedford Falls reality, not in Pottersville.
Mary no longer cares to look her very best, so why would she ever take the glasses off? She's permanently depressed, having never gotten what she wanted out of life.
Mary, in addition to doing much more reading than in the main timeline, has to live in poorly-lit, substandard housing provided by Potter. This led to the earlier deterioration of her eyesight.
It's all explained in chaos theory...
George punched her once and it fixed the shape of her eyeballs.
Why didn't Clarence tell George that Potter stole the $8,000.00? Not that it would have made any difference; George couldn't exactly go the police and accuse Potter of theft with the evidence "An angel told me," and Potter probably owns the Bedford Falls law enforcement, anyway. But it might have helped George realize everything wasn't his fault.
As you said, it wouldn't have made any difference. It was the uncle that misplaced the money, not George. Telling George that Potter had the money could only cause George to confront the banker with something he couldn't prove. Clarence probably already knew that if he could keep George from killing himself that the necessary money would come from his friends.
Also, angels might not be omniscient. They are servants of God, not God himself.
True, but the entire movie, which includes that event, is shown to Clarence by Joseph.
Joseph is of a higher rank that Clarence, so of course he has greater powers.
As it doesn't start snowing again until George prays to God, I think we can draw some reasonable conclusions here.
George's main problem wasn't the loss of the money, it was despair and a feeling that his life was meaningless. The theft of the money simply brought this psychological crisis to the fore. But once he realized how meaningful his life was, he regained his optimism and put his financial worries into a different perspective. He even says to the man with the arrest warrant "Isn't that great? I'm going to jail". He says it without a hint of irony.
Clarence is sent to Earth to stop George from jumping off the bridge and accidentally winds up in the river, which causes George to jump off the bridge into the river to save him. This raises questions.
There's a difference between throwing yourself into water to kill yourself and throwing yourself into save someone. If George had tried to commit suicide he wouldn't have struggled, but let the water pull him down. When trying to save Clarence, George would have used all his strength to pull the angel to safety. There was also a good chance that George would be reluctant to try again if he was worried about Clarence or that the cold water would disillusion George of further attempts at a watery grave.
Also, when George sees people in trouble he stops thinking and starts helping. Clarence knows this and figures the easiest, fastest thing he can do is jump in and start yelling HELP! That's why he says "I didn't fall in! I jumped in to save George!"
Okay, so he goes to Harry's grave, which is located where the housing development was when he actually was alive. But his brother would have died when George was 12, which means that George somehow kept a cemetery from being built when he was only a child, or that they built that housing development over a cemetery. Or that there were changes that George was not responsible for, which defeats the purpose.
It's mentioned earlier on the film that the housing development was next to a cemetery, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that the crime is high in Pottersville and that it eventually expanded.
Yes but even so, Harry's grave was where housing should be so it follows that even with him alive the graves of other people who died around then should still be in the same spot long before George could have any big effect on the town and yet somehow in Bedford Falls the cemetary didn't expand there when George was twelve.
The cemetery could have been relocated to facilitate development. Maybe it was full; maybe the church it was associated with expanded and needed new facilities. Paying for the reinternment of all those graves is exactly the sort of thing George Bailey would have involved himself with, especially if it helps provide decent homes for people.
So this movie is apparently promoting the idea that George and Mary are somehow soulmates, and thus Mary would never be interested in anybody else if there was no George. I call foul. She's a bombshell, and I see no reason why she would not have gotten married.
Hold on you're saying because she's a bombshell she has to get married. Maybe because he was never born she never fell in love with anyone and was only interested in books. I mean you can't just say "She's attractive so she has to find a guy!" Lots of guys may have been interested in her, but she may have never been interested in them.
It's also possible that since Pottersville was such a terrible place to live, any of the good guys we saw earlier who she potentially might have chosen had George not been there simply left as fast as they could. There's also the fact that we see a ton of prostitutes and the strip clubs and general amorality and the like, so it could have been that the guys who went after Mary in that timeline were only after one thing. Mary certainly has more respect for herself than that and it could explain why she seemed so timid in general and terrified when some strange guy she never saw before runs over and starts trying to hold her.
Sam was hiring "masseuses" while he was courting Mary. Between that and the point above, it could easily convince her never to trust any man ever again.
But why stay in Bedford Falls at all then? George even pointed out in the real timeline that she didn't have to come back. She went off to college around the time that the Building and Loans would have shut down in the alternate timeline and if Bedford Falls was such a terrible place after that then why did she come back and stay back?
It is her hometown after all, and maybe things hadn't gotten that bad when she graduated. There's the impression that she's waiting for something, ie George, she hasn't seen yet.
Similarly: If George is never born, Harry drowns beneath the ice? No, if George is never born, Harry never tags along with him to go sledding, and so Harry is never exposed to danger.
He could've gone sledding by himself.
Or with other friends, who just couldn't save him.
Or would panic instead of instinctively jumping. Most people freeze up and wait for someone else to act; cf. Kitty Genovese.
Why is this generally considered to be a Christmas movie if a relatively small portion of the movie takes place at Christmas, and has little to do with Christmas itself? You could've put it at Thanksgiving or Independence Day and it probably would've made little difference.
Because it's really heartwarming, and Christmas is the holiday most associated with warmth and good feeling.
It only became a "Christmas movie" when it was aired in December every year for decades. Look at the original trailer — it was marketed as a Romantic Comedy with no mention made of the now most famous parts.
Because the important bits happen at Christmas.
And it emphasises the importance of family, friends, and home.
And George Bailey is essentially a Christ figure. Clarence showing George just how big an impact he makes on the world is Capra figuratively showing the audience how important an impact Jesus made on the world.
Why exactly didn't George invest in Sam Wainwright's business when Sam was letting him in on the ground floor? And even though he didn't, you'd think a rich businessman like Sam could've helped him against Mr. Potter much earlier (he could've had a seat on the B&L board or gotten a friendly to have one.) He gave George $25,000 dollars at the end, so he was obviously willing to help out.
Potter suggests that when George comes begging him for help; George says he tried but couldn't get in touch with him since he was in London.
I meant why didn't Sam get involved way, way before Uncle Billy lost the money?
George doesn't like to take charity from anyone and he thinks Sam helping him out would be that, never mind that if he were in Sam's shoes he'd offer help to whoever needed it.
George is a banker who's had to navigate through the 1929 stock market crash by backing his institution literally with money out of his pocket, and he's seen the Great Depression wipe out fortunes. He's understandably more than a little reluctant to bet other people's money on a scheme that may not fly.
Without George, why didn't Mary marry Sam Wainwright?
She never loved Sam.
It's never said what happens to Sam. Maybe he was shot by a business rival or got the heck out of Potterville ASAP.
Why would she marry someone who was hiring hookers while courting her? Sam didn't love Mary, and she knew it.
One line in this movie bugs me: everything is all settled, George has the money, everyone is partying at the Bailey house, and Mary calls out, "Hey, Mr. Martini, how bout some wine?" Does she think he just carries his bar around with him on his back?
He probably brought some with him and she knew it. She was the one who called everyone together to help George out. Either Martini told her "I'll bring some wine to cheer him up" or she told him "How about you bring some wine to cheer George up?"
It's practically a party. And if anyone brought wine to the party, wouldn't it be Mr. Martini?
Also she and George gave Mr. Martini a bottle of wine after he moved into his house that the Building and Loan built. It's an Inside Joke.
Wine should be poured by people who know how.
Isn't it a little disturbing, the message? I know it's "Everyone depends on you! Everyone loves you!!" and stuff, but the reason they depended on him is because the city practically lived on his continuing to draw breath (In the alternate future, the town's practically a slum!) What about the rest of us measly folks? Is it okay if WE off ourselves because the fate of an entire town of people does not depend on us? Seriously. Think about it for a minute. (NOTE: I am NOT advocating suicide!!!)
But then, what one wonders what the town would be like if Potter had never been born...
There's two ways to look at it. One is that the moral only applies to people who at least try to make the world a better place. Someone like Potter, who actively spreads misery and delights in hurting people - well yeah, the world would be better off without them, but that's strictly by their choice. The other is the idea that, as imperfect as the world seems, everything really does happen for a reason. In that case, even Mr. Potter serves some role in the grand scheme of things, and there are people that even his existence has helped. If his life were erased, things would be worse without him (though probably not nearly so much as they were without George, since George was making an effort to help people).
Mr. Potter was the one who kept the town afloat during the Great Depression (for his own selfish reasons, sure, but he did). Without him, they would have been in a far worse place financially and while money isn't everything he probably saved lives by ensuring that there was some money. He definitely incidentally made lives better for some. George couldn't have saved the town on his own.
This bothers many people who think the film through. At one point, George hits a cop in the Alternate Reality to escape arrest. As George flees, the cop promptly pulls a gun on him and opens fire... as George runs through a crowded street.
Arguably, this was semi-justified by the fact that it takes place in the alternate reality Crapsack World, where (apparently) police think little of firing their weapons in crowded places.
Alternatively, the policeman could have been firing over everybody's heads in an attempt to scare George.
Apparently he'd been taking care of this job faithfully and without problems for many years.
Uncle Billy seems more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, probably perfectly competent with banking and accounting but out to lunch otherwise. Unfortunately age caught up with him and nobody noticed because he was always a little loopy.
Why is the ending of this film seen as being "happy?" George is still in the same position he was BEFORE Clarence "saved" him (same town, $8000 is missing, Potter gets away clean and an investigation and possible arrest are looming, etc.) In fact, Clarence is the only one in the movie that gets a "happy ending." How does that work???
Wow. How much attention were you paying to the ending??? Everyone helped raise $8000 and the sheriff tore the arrest warrant up before our eyes! George still got a happy ending.
Also the point of the movie isn't about that. It's about George learning to appreciate and love what he has. He does HAVE a good life. It isn't the one he dreamed about, but he has a healthy happy family with a beautiful wife he loves, with a good business (since the money is repaid) and lots of people who love him. And now he can SEE it. That's the important part.
What is with George being so slow on the uptake? He comes off as a real idiot.
I will admit that it takes him way too long to catch on, but let's put ourselves in George's shoes for a minute. Right when you were contemplating suicide, some other guy jumps in and out of the goodness of your heart, you save him. When you're both inside and warm, he somehow knows your name and claims to be your guardian angel. Then, after claiming to grant your offhand remark that the world would be better off without you, he takes you outside and suddenly the whole town is different and none of your friends recognize you. You'd be pretty damn freaked out (which George clearly is), but I doubt your first thought would be "this weirdo I've never met is right, this is a world where I've never been born".
The AU concept hadn't been explored much then. If you were stuck in another universe, you'd only know what was going on by your exposure to this kind of story. Plus, wasn't he drunk at the time anyway?
He was never born, he'd never gone to Martini's bar and gotten drunk. Plus, I imagine jumping into a river in New York in December may have some sort of sobering effect on the body.
Those who don't want to believe, won't believe. Remember, George wasn't a very philosophical man before.
You know, it's never mentioned that much of this movie takes place during the Prohibition including: Harry's graduation where gin is available, Harry's return when Uncle Billy gets drunk as a skunk, and George's wedding when Burt (THE COP) gives the happy couple champagne as a present. Bedford Falls wasn't as innocent and clean-cut as they made it out to be.
Prohibition was mostly concerned with the sale of alcohol. People have been making their own alcoholic beverages in their own homes and sharing them with friends and company since alcohol existed.
'Bathtub gin' referred to liquor made in one's home, sometimes literally in the bathtub. Distributing it during a private party (where it is neither sold nor taxed) was one way to get around the ban. Unfortunately, it's very easy to get things wrong and end up poisoning people, so such parties still drew the attention of the authorities.
Right; the laws had exceptions (especially if you were one of the upper-crust, but that's another subject entirely).
Fridge moment: the sheriff cannot just tear up the arrest warrant. George must still appear in court. There he can explain the whole thing (I love where he says "I misplaced eight thousand dollars" in front of Potter) and show that the money has been replaced. Then we'll see what the judge has to say, depending on whether he is or is not owned by Pot_Co.
As in Mayberry, maybe the Sherriff IS the judge.
Plus, George has the money to cover the books now.
George, the hero, is a drunk driver, and nobody seems to care.
Given that this happened when he was about to commit suicide to save his family from debt (or else face a sentence in prison for a crime he didn't commit), I imagine people are willing to cut him a tiny bit of slack.
Values Dissonance. Believe it or not, once upon a time drunk driving wasn't considered that big of a deal, athough it was still illegal it had far less consequences and didn't cause you to be socially ostracized. Which is somewhat justifiable, since back then they didn't yet have the data on just how many people drunk driving kills, sure it wasn't something you should be doing, but it took a while to realize just how dangerous it was.
Also, cars were slower back then, so drunk driving really wasn't as dangerous. Then again, cars also didn't have as many safety features either back then.
Would Pottersville really be that bad a place? All those nightspots are sure to boost tourism and economy, and they don't seem to be drawing in too much crime, from what we see.
Blame the Hays code which meant that Capra couldn't show the drugs and prostitution that would undoubtably accompany the dodgy nightclubs.
That doesn't necessarily mean terror and violence. It's a small town where everyone knows each other, making it more likely that the cops would let drug usage and prostitution slide, if not partake in a bit of the two themselves. The streets don't exactly look ravaged by gangland warfare either.
Are you quite sure it's still a small town?
What happens in Pottersville stays in Pottersville.
They even have a sexy librarian.
The impression of Pottersville I get is that Potter and a few of his cronies are raking in the cash, and everybody else is just hanging on.
I think that was the point. It's a slum for the regular folks that are just trying to hold on; while the rich ones are living the good life. It's a world where a selfish, cold-hearted man came to power and changed everything to suit his needs instead of the people's needs. It doesn't have to be a city where gang wars are common (see: Saints Row) to make it a horrible city for decent folks to live in.
Considering that Violet is being dragged away by some rather "insistent" cops while she screams about having the goods on a lot of important people, I think there's at least a little corruption going on here. Also, the point made above that the money from casinos doesn't really trickle down.
I get the implication that Violet is a prostitute in the Alternate Reality, and that Potter is one of her customers.
More likely one of his cronies; Potter himself seems too devoted to money.
What's the significance of Tom Sawyer? At the beginning Clarence mentions he's been reading it and at the end he leaves George his copy with the words "Remember no man is a failure who has friends" inside, but why Tom Sawyer specifically?
There may not be anything significant about the book itself other than the fact that Clarence is pretty much never seen without it. Maybe Frank Capra just said "Clarence should be holding a book. Tom Sawyer is a pretty good book, so why not that?" Also, the way Clarence holds it, he tends to look almost like a priest holding a bible in some scenes, so it may have been intended to be one, but then they figured that an angel reading a bible would be a bit redundant in a way.
It's a first edition. Clarence got it when it first came out, back in 1876. It's a way to let the audience know this isn't just some nutjob.
Is that really telling? The movie was shot in 1946 and the actor playing Clarence was old enough to have actually been given a first edition.
There is a part in the book where Tom Sawyer is falsely presumed dead by his family. Tom then sneaks back to his house and secretly views his family's reaction to his own death. Clarence then takes this part of the book to come up with a similar idea to allow George Bailey to see the world had he never been born.
What's that thing with the flame in the drug store George keeps wishing on?
I think it's a thing for lighting cigars (presumably for one just bought in the store). No idea what the 'wishing' part is about though.
It doesn't always light. The kids noticed this and immediately started using it for an 8 ball. If it lights, you get your wish.
Okay, so it's great that the townspeople paid for the Building and Loan to stay open. But what about the original money that went missing? Nobody ever proved George didn't steal it. I know Bert tore up the arrest warrant, but I don't see why. Wouldn't George still have to be investigated to see what happened to the eight thousand dollars?
Think of it this way. If George goes to trial, he's guaranteed a jury of his peers, which would be the townspeople. And the townspeople have demonstrated such faith in him that they're willing to believe he'd never steal the money, even when that's exactly what it looks like. In addition to fulfilling his debt and making what happened a victimless crime, they've also demonstrated that there's no way George'll ever get convicted. Tearing up the arrest warrant doesn't necessarily invalidate it. It just buys George some time for the money to get onto the books, at which point the case is so thoroughly blown apart (no jury that'll convict him and now no missing money) that the charges would have to be dropped.
The SNL parody may have a point, Uncle Billy may finally remember how he "gave" the money to Potter in the newspaper by mistake and admit how he'd screwed up. As this is in keeping with his past mistakes it would further vindicate George, the loss of the $8000 being an honest mistake instead of a deliberate theft. As stated elsewhere, this could not be proven in a court of law, but even bringing it up would be enough to further George's cause over Potter's. The banker would lose whatever respect he had left in the town, though it's doubtful people would resort to Torches and Pitchforks.
At the end, when happy ending is piled upon happy ending, Violet cheerfully exclaims "I'm not really going to New York!" Huh? Is going to New York a bad thing? An unattached girl like her, a bit too flash for Bedford Falls, might actually like and thrive in New York.
Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home. Sometimes you need to walk away from a place to know it was the best place for you.
What Violet actually says is "I'm not gonna go, George". George gave her the money she would need to leave, she ended up using it to help him out instead. Perhaps she still intends to go, just later when she's earned the money back. She's being humble; after all, George gave her enough money that would supposedly be enough to get her to New York and set up there which would be quite a lot and she thought it would be better suited helping George out.
At the beginning of the movie, Clarence is told that George Bailey will attempt suicide in one hour, and in the meantime he'll be shown visions of George's life so that he knows how to handle him. Except the section of the movie covering George's life story takes a lot longer than one hour.
Time moves differently for angels than for mortal humans.