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Who was meaner: Mr. Potter or Scrooge?


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I rewatched "It's A Wonderful Life" the other night and the new version of "A Christmas Carol" on the weekend, and I wondered who was meaner, Scrooge or Mr. Potter? My vote goes to Mr. Potter. Everything about him is evil and sick. He keeps the money he knows belongs to the Savings & Loan. Even his assistant who is ever beside him, like a gargoyle over Potter's wheelchair is on the evil side. Scrooge could be reformed, and working by his side was good Bob Cratchit.

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I agree that Potter is the more evil one. There was no redemption for him. As tight and nasty as Scrooge was I am not sure he would have stolen anything. If only the fact that Scrooge gave Bob off for Christmas, however reluctantly, gives him a little sympathy.

 

On the other hand we never really see anything else of Potter.

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Ditto about Potter, the vicious S.O.B. He even has the gall to say to George Bailey "Heh! You're worth more dead than alive!"

 

One thing that has always bothered me about the movie is that we NEVER find out Potter's fate, or what might have happened to him after the finale. That's what's so much fun about that 1986 SNL skit "It's A Wonderful Life: The Lost Ending", where Uncle Billy remembers what happened to the money, and George and the townsfolk form a lynch mob, rush over to Potter's, and beat the crap out of him. Great stuff!

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}

>That's what's so much fun about that 1986 SNL skit "It's A Wonderful Life: The Lost Ending", where Uncle Billy remembers what happened to the money, and George and the townsfolk form a lynch mob, rush over to Potter's, and beat the crap out of him. Great stuff!

 

Wish I had seen that one. NBC should run that after their annual showing of the movie some year. That would be a riot.

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Mr Potter is the meanest, no doubt. Imagine what would have happened if Potter and Scrooge joined forces.

 

I'm thinking about a plot for the most ruthless corporation, Scrooge and Potter goes into partnership and run the former Enron Corp. The humanity!

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It's obviously Potter: Scrooge was a miser, no more, no less, but that every man's right. There's nothing in Dickens that says he was anything other than an honest -- if extraordinarily hard-nosed -- businessman. He never cheated anyone, wasn't a liar, certainly not a robber or killer.

 

Potter, by contrast, was a conniver and, when presented with the (for him) good fortune to find the Building & Loan's money courtesy of Uncle Billy's incompetence, he seizes upon it as the means by which he can exact revenge on George, destroy the the institution the Baileys built, and cement his iron-fisted control over all of Bedford Falls and its citizens.

 

Still, Potter wasn't evil, just vicious and Machiavellian, whereas Scrooge was merely insensitive, something that begins to come clear after the Ghost of Christmas Past shows him his life as a happy, generous and hopeful young man who lost his way in life.

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> {quote:title=markfp2 wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}

> >That's what's so much fun about that 1986 SNL skit "It's A Wonderful Life: The Lost Ending", where Uncle Billy remembers what happened to the money, and George and the townsfolk form a lynch mob, rush over to Potter's, and beat the crap out of him. Great stuff!

>

> Wish I had seen that one. NBC should run that after their annual showing of the movie some year. That would be a riot.

 

You can watch it here on Hulu:

 

 

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Well, truth be told, Potter IS Scrooge. Lionel Barrymore had always regretted not being able to film the Dickens story that he loved so dearly playing on radio every year. So when Capra cast him as Potter, Barrymore went all-out recreating his CHRISTMAS CAROL persona. Even visually he resembles Dickens' vision of old Ebeneezer. Of course, Potter does not go through a conversion. That would have been reel Fifteen!! Or better yet, a sequel.

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Some historians have wondered if the townspeople of Bedford Falls and its community would have put up with the tyrannical antics of old-man Potter. Certainly, the big difference between Scrooge and Potter is the final outcome to both their lives. Potter was on all counts a successful businessman, while he failed at being a successful human being. Scrooge always had some hope or goodness towards his character, stemming from his childhood that underneath the inter corridors of his soul, kept open the possibility of his changing or reverting back to the positive aspects of his life and character. While we don?t know exactly what was behind the bitterness or lack of humanity to old-man Potter, he probably had a terrible childhood or nothing worth his remembering. This I think is the real big difference. Without something of a positive past, there is probably no hope for change or seeing the good prospects towards life and treating those around you with respect, if not, understanding the social problems that besiege us every single day. Old-man Potter simply didn?t believe in or have faith in anyone around him, leading towards an aged-old characteristic of a person having wealth or a sizable amount of power, thinking they would always be exploited. When an individual reaches a point that they no longer can trust in the kindness or humanity of others, they are no longer worthy members of the human race.

 

I agree with the idea of a spin-off story or film about old-man Potter. This would certainly make for a fascinating possibility towards a continuation of not so much ?It?s A Wonderful Life,? but that of the townspeople of Bedford Falls and its presumed future. Aside from George Bailey, old-man Potter is without question, the second most interesting character to the story. No doubt, the comparisons to Dickens? ?Scrooge? make this evident. There are numerous scenarios that could be added or perceived as to what led to old-man Potter?s demise as a decent human being. One theory that I?ve heard is old-man Potter having a similar childhood to that of another famous character of the movies, ?Charles Foster Kane!? I sort of go along with the idea that Potter was a lonely child or perhaps has no dependable living relatives left to rely on. What one might also imagine is who would then inherit the vast amount of wealth Potter as acquired over the derisive years of his life? We do know that in the dream sequence George has in the story, upon returning to his past, he finds the town named after old-man Potter! This makes perfect sense, when you think about what life without the Bailey family would have been to the community. There?s no doubt, that old-man Potter represents all the negative and harsh aspects there are to the ?American Dream? or how it can get corrupted by the opportunities afforded from the freedoms and laws that allow our society to function.

 

The second most interesting character to surmise about what their future might entail is that of the lovely and yet profuse ?Violet? as played in the movie by wonderful Gloria Grahame. It?s obvious to all of us that Violet has always been in love with George Bailey. While she is also the rival to the real love of George Bailey?s life, beautiful ?Mary Hatch,? Violet has sense enough to know her boundaries or limits to just how far she can go. This in a great sense makes her character have some understanding and a heart of gold. I?ve never believed for one single minute, Violet was the local **** of the town. She was just rather caught up in her girlish, egotistical charms. Had George not been there to keep Violet on something of a straight and narrow to her life, or at least remind her that she really counted to his life and that of Bedford Falls, we can pretty much figure out where Violet would have ended up. We see this in the dream sequence, when the police are rounding up suspects in a raid at what is clearly a ?house of ill repute? and there?s Violet being arrested! The big question is just where Violet will end up, when at the end of the story, she tells George she won?t be leaving Bedford Falls, after having planned to seek a newer and perhaps broader horizon to her life. I?d sure love to see a newly invented scenario to what will happen to Violet. She is very much like that of a soap opera character to the story, having probably had various emotional experiences in and around the area of Bedford Falls, becoming this free spirited and glamorous figure to the community.

 

The last and most talked about issue concerning a possible sequel would relate to the children of George and Mary Bailey. There could certainly be lots of ideas here and we can surmise that somewhere along the beacon pathway of life, the children will inherit something positive and worthwhile from their celebrated parents.

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You're absolutely right that, for a movie with such an uplifting ending, IAWL leaves a lot of questions hanging in the air. I'd be very interested in seeing someone capable carry this story forward, but I worry that it could also be disasterous, like Spielberg's "Hook". Good food for thought, though.

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I think we are missing the point Frank Capra was trying to make, that "no man is an island". The main point of the movie is that George Bailey at the lowest point in his life, thinks he's worthless and everyone is better off without him. Well he learned that his life *did have meaning* that impacted people he could have never imagined.

 

People know (some will even say WHO CARES) that at the end, Mr Potter will die a miserable, lonely old man and no one will miss him. That's in itself is a tragic death.

 

I don't want modern day sequals to ruin this marvelous movie which stands alone for that every human does have a purpose in the overall plan in the grand scheme of things.

 

I am also glad this movie has not become the "poster child" for unending remakes like "A Christmas Carol".

 

A poem that sums up Mr Potter in his last days. How lonely!!!

 

*An Old Man's Winter Night by Robert Frost*

 

All out of doors looked darkly in at him

Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,

That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.

What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze

Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.

What kept him from remembering what it was

That brought him to that creaking room was age.

He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.

And having scared the cellar under him

In clomping there, he scared it once again

In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,

Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar

Of trees and crack of branches, common things,

But nothing so like beating on a box.

A light he was to no one but himself

Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,

A quiet light, and then not even that.

He consigned to the moon, such as she was,

So late-arising, to the broken moon

As better than the sun in any case

For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,

His icicles along the wall to keep;

And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt

Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,

And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.

One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,

A farm, a countryside, or if he can,

It's thus he does it of a winter night.

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the real love of George Bailey?s life, beautiful ?Mary Hatch,?

 

About whose future in Pottersville I never understood. She had at least one serious suitor, and no doubt would have been snapped up if not for George.

 

While we had to suspend disbelief over the fact that ALL of the citizens were suddenly acting out of character, no one left, and the most amazing bad luck befell all of them, the fact that Donna Reed was suddenly plain and dumpy was too much to accept. Donna Reed, a lonely, ill-dressed librarian? I don't think so.

 

Nice synopsis, MovieProfessor.

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I take your point. (as well as Robert Frost's. That was a nice reference.) I agree that it's a marvelous movie, but like any story well-told it can stay alive in the mind. I m not advocating a sequel, but I don't think it's odd to wonder how a man so touched by the lives of others would live his life as a consequence of that. The point can be made that he was an exemplary man already, and I would agree with that, but the fact that this story is now so rooted in the American imagination makes it, and George Bailey, worthy of further contemplation. I don't mean to sound like one of those people continually reworking the Star Wars saga in their heads. Bottom line is that, as you said, Frank Capra said it best.

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>primosprimos wrote:

 

>

> While we had to suspend disbelief over the fact that ALL of the citizens were suddenly acting out of character, no one left, and the most amazing bad luck befell all of them, the fact that Donna Reed was suddenly plain and dumpy was too much to accept. Donna Reed, a lonely, ill-dressed librarian? I don't think so.

>

 

 

I totally agree with your thoughts about ?Mary Hatch? and her role in the dream sequence; it doesn?t make any sense! Obviously, Capra decided on making a strong dramatic point to her role in George Bailey?s probable future. While it isn?t really an issue that becomes so prevalent to the story or film, the idea that she loses something of her strength of character is strange, if not, an oddity to see her slip beyond the means of achieving a practical outcome to her life. She is without any question, the most logical and strongest character of the story or the backbone to aiding George find himself and his purpose in life. I can?t believe for one single minute, Mary would end up in what is presumed a rather low-keyed position in life. The theory that in the dream sequence she ends up a desperate, lonely woman can be difficult to accept along the lines of how we first see her and how smart and perceptive she is to everyone around her. I have to feel she above all, would have never ended up in such a dejected situation. Capra once said that Mary was the ?soul-mate? of George and therefore what happened to him would have affected her to some extreme. I?m not buying this scenario, simply because she would have gone ahead and married someone else. With George out of the picture, Mary would have ended up living out her life to some positive conclusion in some other town or place.

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> Donna Reed, a lonely, ill-dressed librarian? I don't think so.

 

Well, if she could play Sacajawea in *The Far Horizons*, a spinster librarian isn't too far out of the realm of imagination....

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> Speaking about Mary Hatch, are some librarians calm during the day and after going home, they let their hair down and become a "girls gone wild" at night?

>

> Here is an article about Hollywoods stereotyping of librarians. According to it, Donna Reed is known as "the old maid" librarian.

>

> http://wings.buffalo.edu/publications/mcjrnl/v1n1/image.html

 

In this alternative reality, Mary changed her name to Alma Burke, moved to Hawaii and became a prostitute.

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