Thursday, December 24, 2020

Movie Quote of the Day (‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ With George in Mr. Potter’s Spiderweb)

Mr. Potter [played by Lionel Barrymore] [to George Bailey]: “I'm offering you a three-year contract at $23,000 a year, starting today. Is it a deal or isn't it?”

George Bailey [played by James Stewart]: “Well, Mr. Potter, I... I... I know I ought to jump at the chance, but I... I just... I wonder if it would be possible for you to give me 24 hours to think it over?”

Potter: “Sure, sure, sure. You go on home and talk about it to your wife.”

George: “I'd like to do that.”

Potter: “In the meantime, I'll draw up the papers.”

George: “All right, sir.”

Potter [offering hand]: “Okay, George?”

George [taking his hand]: “Okay, Mr. Potter.”

[As they shake hands, George feels a physical revulsion. He drops his hand, then peers intently into Potter's face.]

George [vehemently]: “No... no... no... no, now wait a minute, here!  I don't have to talk to anybody!  I know right now, and the answer is no! NO!  Doggone it!” [Getting madder all the time] “You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter! In the... in the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!”—It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra, based on an original story by Philip Van Doren Stern, directed by Frank Capra

I haven’t watched It’s a Wonderful Life yet this year, but after multiple viewings, I don’t think I need to anymore. Over the last few weeks, this snatch of dialogue sprang to mind.

I think many of us have encountered a “scurvy little spider” at some point in our lives. I can think of at least one at the national level—maybe you can, too.

The message of Frank Capra’s film classic—and of this holiday season—is that such ceaseless schemers don’t win, and that for every Potter, there’s a George Bailey in our community—and maybe even our own family.

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls—and beyond!

(By the way, for an absorbing look at one of the little-known aspects about the environment in which It’s a Wonderful Life was released, see this article from the Website “History Collection” about how the FBI initially regarded the film as Communist propaganda, even though Capra, a conservative Republican, not only loathed Marxism but even Franklin Roosevelt. It seems that, in J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoid organization, Mr. Potter was seen as an insidious reflection of the capitalist system as a banker—even though George and Peter Bailey also ran financial institutions.)

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