It's a Wonderful Life

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Donna Reed and James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 film about an angel-in-training who gives a despondent man a look at what the world would be like if he had never been born.

Directed by Frank Capra. Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra.
They're making memories tonight!taglines

George Bailey[edit]

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?
  • [as everyone inside was about to go to Potter's bank for money] 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 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 panicking 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.
  • [to Mr. Potter, after he tries to hire George] I don't need 24 hours. I don't have to talk to anybody. I know right now, and the answer's no. No! Doggone it! 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! And... [turning to his aide] And that goes for you, too!
  • Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don't care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me, Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. I want to live again. Please, God, let me live again.

Clarence Oddbody[edit]

  • Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?
  • You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?
  • [Inscribed in a copy of Tom Sawyer] "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence."

Mr. Henry F. Potter[edit]

  • [to George] Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world! You once called me a warped, frustrated, old man. What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk, crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help.

Uncle Billy[edit]

  • [after Potter says George was unfit for military service] After all, Potter, some people like George HAD to stay at home. Not every heel was in Germany and Japan.

Dialogue[edit]

Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.
Pop: I know it's soon to talk about it.
George: Oh, now Pop, I couldn't. I couldn't face being cooped up for the rest of my life in a shabby little office...Oh, I'm sorry Pop, I didn't mean that, but this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save three cents on a length of pipe...I'd go crazy. I want to do something big and something important.
Pop: You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we're helping him get those things in our shabby little office.
George: I know, Dad. I wish I felt...But I've been hoarding pennies like a miser in order to...Most of my friends have already finished college. I just feel like if I don't get away, I'd bust.
Pop: Yes...yes...You're right son.
George: You see what I mean, don't you, Pop?
Pop: This town is no place for any man unless he's willing to crawl to Potter. You've got talent, son. I've seen it. You get yourself an education. Then get out of here.
George: Pop, you want a shock? I think you're a great guy. [to Annie, listening through the door] Oh, did you hear that, Annie?
Annie: I heard it. About time one of you lunkheads said it.
George: I'm going to miss old Annie. Pop, I think I'll get dressed and go over to Harry's party.
Pop: Have a good time, son.

Mary: What'd you wish, George?
George: Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful, Mary. I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here and go to college and see what they know... And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...

George: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.
Mary: I'll take it. Then what?
George: Well, then you could swallow it, and it'd all dissolve, see? And the moonbeams'd shoot out of your fingers and your toes, and the ends of your hair... Am I talking too much?
Old Man: Yes! Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: How's that?
Old Man: Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: Want me to kiss her, huh?
Old Man: Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people!

George: Mary... [picks up Mary's robe, which is lying on the ground] Okay, I give up. Where are you?
Mary: Over here in the hydrangea bushes.
George: Here you are. Catch. [He is about to throw her the robe, but reconsiders mischeviously] Wait a minute. What am I doing? This is a very interesting situation.
Mary: Please give me my robe.
George: Hmmm...A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day.
Mary: [Getting annoyed] I'd like to have my robe.
George: Not in Bedford Falls, anyway.
Mary: [thrashing around in the bushes] Ouch!
George: Gesundheit. This requires a little thought here.
Mary: George Bailey! Give me my robe!
George: I've heard about things like this, but I've never...
Mary: Shame on you. I'm going to tell your mother on you.
George: Oh, my mother's way up the corner there.
Mary: I'll call the police!
George: They're way downtown. They'd be on my side, too.
Mary: Then I'm going to scream!
George: Maybe I could sell tickets. No, no... Let's see. No, the point is, in order to get this robe...I've got it! I'll make a deal with you, Mary.

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.

George: Do you know the three most exciting sounds in the world?
Billy: Sure, "Breakfast is served, "Lunch is served, "Dinner is served."
George: No. Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.

Sam: I may have a job for you, that is, unless you're still married to that broken-down building and loan. Ha, ha, ha. It's the biggest thing since radio and I'm lettin' you in on the ground floor. [to Mary] Will you tell that guy I'm giving him the chance of a lifetime? You hear - the chance of a lifetime.
Mary: He says it's the chance of a lifetime.
[the phone suddenly drops to the floor as George grabs Mary]
George: Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do. And you're...and you're... [suddenly starts kissing Mary] Oh Mary, Mary.
Mary: George, George, George.

George: It's this old house. I don't know why we don't all have pneumonia. Drafty old barn of a place. It's like growing up living in a refrigerator. Why do we have to live here in the first place, and stay around this measly, crummy old town?
Mary: George, what's wrong?
George: Wrong? Everything. Why, you call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?

George: Look, who are you?
Clarence: I told you, George. I'm your guardian angel.
George: Yeah, yeah, I know. You told me that. What else are you? What...are you a hypnotist?
Clarence: No, of course not.
George: Well, then, why am I seeing all these strange things?
Clarence: Don't you understand, George? It's because you were not born.
George: Then if I wasn't born, who am I?
Clarence: You're nobody. You have no identity.
George: What do you mean, no identity? My name's George Bailey.
Clarence: There is no George Bailey. You have no papers, no cards, no driver's license, no 4-F card, no insurance policy...They're not there, either.
George: What?
Clarence: Zuzu's petals. You've been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.

Clarence: Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George: That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport.
Clarence: Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry. You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

George: Hello, Bedford Falls! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan! Hey! Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!
Potter: Happy New Year to you — in jail. Go on home — they're waiting for you!

Zuzu: [after a bell on the tree rings] Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
George: That's right, that's right. Attaboy, Clarence!

Taglines[edit]

  • They're making memories tonight!
  • Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! How could it be anything else?
  • It's a wonderful laugh! It's a wonderful love!
  • They're going steady...straight to your heart!
  • I wish I had a million dollars! Hot Dog!

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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