It's A Wonderful Life

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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It's A Wonderful Life Frank Capra's celebrated 1946 film classic, It's a Wonderful Life is a staple of the holiday season and no Christmas would seem the same without viewing it. James Stewart (George Bailey) is rarely better than as the sincere banker who is saved from suicide by an angle and given a chance to review his life and discover just how much he has meant to his community. The film swells the heart with it's vision of friendship, integrity, generosity, and of our capacity to make a difference in other people's lives. However, it is difficult if not impossible to imagine this film being made today.

George Bailey, casts his fate with family, friends, and honor when he decides to sacrifice his desire to travel and study in order to stay in his hometown and run the floundering savings and loan bank that his father guided until his death.

The day before Christmas, Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses the $8,000 he was going to deposit at the town's bank to cover the account of the savings and loan bank. Uncle Billy forgot where he left the $8,000 in cash but the cash was criminally held by the town's wealthiest and most despicable man, Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore). Potter is contemptuous of Bailey's habit of extending credit and patience to good, struggling people, and he is determined to see the people's small bank fail. The bank examiner shows up the same day, and when the $8,000 shortfall appears, the savings and loan is threatened with closure and an immediate takeover by Henry Potter. George Bailey is ready to end his despair with suicide and to save the bank and his friends and family with his death and $15,000 life insurance policy. An angel prevents his suicide, then gives...