Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Its A Wonderful Life- An Alternative View

I just love this movie. Great article here on what you might be missing. See Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life ( Tip of the hat to For The Greater Glory)

He touches on something that has always bothered mne:

And what about that banking issue? When he returns to the “real” Bedford Falls, George is saved by his friends, who open their wallets to cover an $8,000 shortfall at his savings and loan brought about when the evil Mr. Potter snatched a deposit mislaid by George’s idiot uncle, Billy (Thomas Mitchell).
But isn’t George still liable for the missing funds, even if he has made restitution? I mean, if someone robs a bank, and then gives the money back, that person still robbed the bank, right?
I checked my theory with Frank J. Clark, the district attorney for Erie County upstate, where, as far as I can tell, the fictional Bedford Falls is set. He thought it over, and then agreed: George would still face prosecution and possible prison time.
“In terms of the theft, sure, you take the money and put it back, you still committed the larceny,” he said. “By giving the money back, you have mitigated in large measure what the sentence might be, but you are still technically guilty of the offense.”
He took this a bit further: “If you steal over $3,000, it’s a D felony; 2 ½ to 7 years is the maximum term for that. The least you can get is probation. You know Jimmy Stewart, though, he had that hangdog face. He’d be a tough guy to send to jail.”
He paused, and then added: “You really have a cynical sense of humor.”
He should have met me when I was 15

Oh and did he really save the town!!!!

Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring manufacturing to Bedford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Wonderful Life” manufacturing in upstate New York has suffered terribly.
On the other hand, Pottersville, with its nightclubs and gambling halls, would almost certainly be in much better financial shape today. It might well be thriving.
I checked my theory with the oft-quoted Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy at
New York University, and he agreed, pointing out that, of all the upstate counties, the only one that has seen growth in recent years has been Saratoga.
“The reason is that it is a resort, and it has built an economy around that,” he said. “Meanwhile the great industrial cities have declined terrifically. Look at Connecticut: where is the growth? It’s in casinos; they are constantly expanding.”
In New York, Mr. Moss added, Gov.
David A. Paterson “is under enormous pressure to allow gambling upstate because of the economic problems.”
“We ease up on our lot of cultural behaviors in a depression,” he said.
What a grim thought: Had George Bailey never been born, the people in his town might very well be better off today



Anonymous said...

There is jury nullification...

Yoknapatawpha Kid said...

Dear James,

Nice post! My name is Peter Ricci, and I'm a college student and journalist who currently contributes to 'Too Shy to Stop,' an online magazine focused on culture and the arts.

I came across your post, as it would turn out, while searching for different blogs on "It's a Wonderful Life," as I just finished an essay on the film.

Like the NY Times piece you quote (which I also utilize), I take a different look at the film, seeing it as a populist message in cue with Capra's career.

Check it out! I think you will like it, and I would love a comment: http://tooshytostop.wordpress.com/2008/12/24/its-a-wonderful-life-wonderfully-misinterpreted/


Peter Ricci

James H said...

LOL that is true Baltho. I have a interesting real life sotry on Nullification I have to tell some time

Thanks KId, I thought his take was interesting. Also the fact that Bedford Falls when it was Potterville was one of the places he wanted to escape to was something I never got

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