It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey who gets to see what life would be like if he never existed. He learns that no man is poor who has friends, a hot wife and baskets full of money.
George Bailey- the protagonist. The most wholesome, noble, handsome, badass moon stealer you've ever met. George is to humanity what Lassie was to dogs. He also ages incredibly well.
George is the owner of the Building and Loan in Bedford Falls. This means he probably ranks a little bit above Travel Agent when he attends his kids "career day" at school.
George was sharp, personable, and by far the most attractive male in Bedford Falls. The only thing standing in the way of George's eventual world domination is his sense of duty to help others. This includes saving his brother from drowning, putting off college twice, creating jobs for half the community, and single handedly organizing the construction of affordable houses for an entire town.
He died for your sins too
But it is not just what George managed to accomplish in his life, it's what didn't happen because he existed. When George see's what the world would have been like if he had never existed, he witnesses Bedford Falls as a town loaded with casino's, drugs and prostitution. That's right, gambling and hoaring do not exist in Bedford Falls completely because George and his moral compass gave them the metaphorical self righteous finger.
This man is like Ghandi but better. At least in terms of hair.
Henry F. Potter- the spawn of Satan.
Happiness. Bah Humbug!
Potter is old, rich and evil for a living. He is the greedy owner of almost all of Bedford Falls. We know he's the villain because he has approximately zero redeeming qualities. We also know he's the villain because he's old and in a wheelchair.
Look at 'em. Picking their moment.
It's hard to say what the worst thing about Potter is: his endless greed or the fact that the man just won't die. Based on the fact that he looks exactly the same every time we see him. It's not exactly clear how he remains similar in appearance but our theory is he feeds on the souls of free men or pilates.
And don't just listen to us. Even the angel who introduces Potter calls him "the richest and most evil man in town". Apparently even angels have this guy pegged as evil incarnate. We think it's safe to say that when he's not on screen he is murdering hemophiliac puppies whilst urinating on your parents graves.
Mary Bailey- the doting wife who takes all of George's crap and bails him out in the end. She is also pretty hot in an I-really-respect-you-as-person kind of way.
She had me at hello
Sweet Mary here has had a crush on George since she was a little girl and darn it if she didn't have her eye on the prize.
George spitting mad game at 12
A lot has been made of Mary's appearance in the Georgeless universe. It seems that if George had never been born she would have become an old maid who worked at a library and worn glasses!
Perhaps the most effective form of birth control.
People have called alternate universe Mary sexist, but thats a bit unfair if you consider the other male options Bedford Falls has to offer. Every guy is either married, odd looking, incredibly annoying, or a handicapped devil worshipping villain. Mary has got standards. Nothing wrong with that! Plus who doesn't like the idea of Mary in the sexy librarian role.
Clarence- George's guardian angel.
George Bailey was going to kill himself. God didn't like that. So the big guy took a break from the World War that was going on and decides to send George some help in the form of an angel.
Where was he during the crusades?
But apparently the angel pictured above was already busy bench pressing Asia and stealing Satan's lunch money. Instead George's life is put in the hands of a sweet old clock maker named Clarence.
George was not amused by God's sense of humor.
You see Clarence is an Angel without wings making him the Neville Longbottom of Angels. The only way to earn them is to rescue George from his impending death.
Just before George jumps, Clarence falls into the water below the bridge. Seeing a man in trouble, George immediately forgets his depression and jumps off to save him. Once dry, George declares to Clarence that the world would be better off if he had never been born.
Now we do not want to be so bold as to question Gods selection of angels or the qualifications with which he grants them wings. But what exactly did Clarence do, exactly? Yeah, he jumped into some cold water to stop George from killing himself, but what then? He arranges for George to see what life would be like if he had never been born (George's idea by the way) and then just lets George run wild. He nearly gets George shot and arrested for being a complete nut job before George finally wises up and decides to live again.
Uncle Billy- George's sweet, forgetful uncle who ruins everything!
There is has to be a debate as to who the true villain of this film is: Potter or Uncle Billy.
But wait! Potter has always hated the Bailey's and Uncle Billy is completely loyal to George! He doesn't mean to cause any harm! Isn't it a little harsh to judge this old man?
Well, rhetorical counterpoint, you'd have a point if you didn't speak in such feminine italic font. Here's the thing, at least Potter knows that he's being a jerk. Uncle Billy ruins George's entire life by just being his happy go lucky, oblivious self.
Consider this: Billy has been working at the Bailey Building and Loan all his life with his brother. Once George's father dies it would make sense for Billy to take over, but the board of directors knows that Uncle Billy is utterly incompetent. The board rules that they will only let the Building and Loan stay open if George is in charge. Clearly the board feels more confident about entrusting the business to a guy only four years out of high school instead of a guy who has been working there for his entire life. As a result George doesn't go to college, and Billy continues to mooch.
But wait! theres more! Billy is about to deposit $8,000 in the bank when he comes across Potter. Billy decides this is a prime opportunity to brag about the accomplishments of George and Harry to Mr. Potter's face. Taunting to your enemies face is all well and good until you accidentally give him the $8,000 cash that you were going to deposit!
Because of Uncle Billy's brainless act of arrogance, the Building and Loan is $8,000 in debt. Directly because of the Building and Loan's bankruptcy, George realizes the hopelessness of his situation, becomes depressed and fights with his family, gets punched in the face at a bar, and the promptly goes to a bridge to commit suicide.
The suicide is pretty irrefutable because the only thing that stops George from going through with it is quite literally an act of God.
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Bert and Ernie- a cop and cab driver, respectively.
Just why is Bert so happy?
We are sure that they do something in this film but we can't get past the fact that they have the same names as the pair of Asexual roommates on Sesame Street.
Sam Wainwright- You know that guy in the group who no one really likes but is just kind of there? Give him an annoying catchphrase and you have Sam Wainwright.
For some reason Sam has been trying to make "Hee Haw" work as a catchphrase for his entire life to no success. We would get mad but he redeems himself at the end to the tune of $25,000.
Bedford Falls- You know how politicians always talk about the "real" America? They're talking about Bedford Falls. Imagine if you lived in an enlarged black and white snow globe.
Heaven: the one upside to dyeing is that you will become a galaxy in the after life.
It's a Wonderful Life is a classic film. Its themes of selflessness and the importance of friendship are timeless and make it much more than just another holiday film. It's a Wonderful Life get's labeled as a happy movie which is bizarre considering how incredibly dark and depressing it gets for George.
Jimmy Stewart is the driving force of this film. Stewart's George is not a saintly do-gooder but an ambitious, common man with a clear sense of right and wrong, even when what's right is painful. There is a lot to empathize with there.
For all its flaws, It's a Wonderful Life has a charm that everyone should experience at least once. If it has been a while since you have seen it, definitely do so. It's a story that deserves retelling and one that is best when shared.
You still suck if you cry.