It’s A Wonderful Question

I realize this post is a few days late, but (a) it’s been a busy week for me, and (b) it’s the only blog idea I’ve had that’s just been gnawing away at me. Forgive me as I discuss one of my favorite topics…

As I have mentioned here previously, I am a certified fanatic of It’s A Wonderful Life. I will never tire of this film. It’s not as densely packed with rich layers as Casablanca, but there is enough there to allow me to find new nuances that I hadn’t noticed before. I love how dark it is, specifically for a 1940s film. I’m not a classic film expert, but I don’t really think too many movies or TV shows from that era (not counting mysteries, of course) are as dark. I mean, George Bailey yells at his children and makes them cry, angrily asks his wife, “why do we have to have so many kids?!?,” gets drunk alone on Christmas Eve, and then gets punched out by the husband of a woman he yelled at.

I realize not too many of you out there are familiar with IAWL. It was about 10 years or so ago that the world changed and you couldn’t find this movie spread across the dial at any time night or day. NBC bought the rights (not sure if this includes international rights) and airs it once or twice in December. Before then, since its rights had lapsed into the public domain (meaning that no one owned it), it could be aired for free. And it was. Oh boy, it was.

Here’s the question I alluded to in the title: what did George end up doing with all that money at the end? His Uncle Billy accidentally gave $8,000 to Mr. Potter (do we ever find out his first name?) at that bank on Christmas Eve and then Mary Bailey went around Bedford Falls alerting everyone that George was in trouble. She must have spoken to Uncle Billy, because there’s no other way she would have known that it was a money issue that got George so upset. So we see all of our favorite Bedford Falls residents pour into the Bailey home with money to help George and the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan.

It’s possible, but not probable that the town contributed the sum of $8,000 to get George off the hook. But then Ernie reads a telegram from Sam Wainright in London instructing his company to wire George “up to $25,000.” So, what happens if George ends up with $30,000 – $32,000. Does he get to keep the balance after paying back the $8,000 that Uncle Billy lost? When Harry Bailey toasts his brother as “the richest man in town” we’re sort of led to believe that George will get to keep all that money, right?

When I was younger, I never gave it a second thought that George would get to keep all that money and truly become rich. But now I’m not so sure. This will have to be added to my list of questions for the afterlife. Paging Frank Capra…

2 thoughts on “It’s A Wonderful Question”

  1. George had saved his brother from drowning when they were boys, but Harry was in no legal problems as an adult. You could say that George had to save his Uncle Billy from jail, and also save the Bailey Building & Loan. I hope George convinced Uncle Billy to retire early after the events of this movie.

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