I’ve always had “It’s A Wonderful Life” around; it seems like it’s been part of my life forever. But every time I really sit down and watch part of it, I start to get more of an idea about what kind of movie this really was. Why it’s such a classic and why it’s lasted so long. Unfortunately, some of this sounds too familiar. I just heard this on my TV and I couldn’t believe this wasn’t a lesson for us today.
Video for this starts at 1:57.
Dr. Campbell: I’m sure the whole board wishes to express its deep sorrow at the passing of Peter Bailey.
George: Thank you very much.
Dr. Campbell: It was his faith and devotion that are responsible for this organization.
Potter: I’ll go further than that. I’ll say that to the public Peter Bailey was the Building and Loan.
Billy: Oh, that’s fine, Potter, coming from you, considering that you probably drove him to his grave.
Potter: Peter Bailey was not a business man. That’s what killed him. Oh, I don’t mean any disrespect to him, God rest his soul. He was a man of high ideals, so called, but ideals without common sense can ruin this town. Now, you take this loan here to Ernie Bishop…You know, that fellow that sits around all day on his brains in his taxi. You know…I happen to know the bank turned down this loan, but he comes here and we’re building him a house worth five thousand dollars. Why?
George: Well, I handled that, Mr. Potter. You have all the papers there. His salary, insurance. I can personally vouch for his character.
Potter: A friend of yours?
George: Yes, sir.
Potter: You see, if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money. What does that get us? A discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty, working class. And all because a few starry-eyed dreamers like Peter Bailey stir them up and fill their heads with a lot of impossible ideas. Now, I say…
George: Just a minute — just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father was no business man. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anybody else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was…Why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what’s wrong with that? Why…Here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You…you said…What’d you say just a minute ago?…They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken-down that they…Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about…they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!
Potter: I’m not interested in your book. I’m talking about the Building and Loan.
George: I know very well what you’re talking about. You’re talking about something you can’t get your fingers on, and it’s galling you. That’s what you’re talking about, I know…Well, I’ve said too much. I…You’re the Board here. You do what you want with this thing. Just one more thing, though. This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to Potter.
Video for this starts right off.
George: You’re thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money’s not here. Your money’s in Joe’s house…right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin’s house, and a hundred others. Why, you’re lending them the money to build, and then, they’re going to pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Foreclose on them?…
Tom … Randall …Now wait…now listen…now listen to me. I beg of you not to do this thing. If Potter gets hold of this Building and Loan there’ll never be another decent house built in this town. He’s already got charge of the bank. He’s got the bus line. He’s got the department stores. And now he’s after us. Why? Well, it’s very simple. Because we’re cutting in on his business, that’s why. And because he wants to keep you living in his slums and paying the kind of rent he decides. Joe, you had one of those Potter houses, didn’t you? Well, have you forgotten? Have you forgotten what he charged you for that broken-down shack? Here, Ed. You know, you remember last year when things weren’t going so well, and you couldn’t make your payments. You didn’t lose your house, did you? Do you think Potter would have let you keep it? Can’t you understand what’s happening here? Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not. That’s why. He’s picking up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.
President Obama … please stop feeding Mr. Potter.