Wonderful Life, part six: "In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!"

OK, we're gonna speed things up here, because Christmas is fast approaching and also because the next parts of the movie really just cement character traits that we already know, so here's the basic stuff that happens in this part:

  • George, it turns out, has all the work ethic that his father had, and far more business sense too, so the Building and Loan prospers.
  • George starts a whole new subdivision of low-income homeowners called Bailey Park. (Incidentally, the Potter-owned slum where most of Bailey Park's residents seem to come from is called Potter's Field, which tells me that for all his faults, Potter at least has a wicked sense of humor.)
  • From Potter's perspective, the B&L goes from being a minor annoyance to an actual threat to his business model (which seems to be "charge customers more than they can afford for less than they deserve"). So he calls in George and offers him a job for a ton more money and a lot of travel opportunities. George (who is fresh off a run-in with Sam Wainwright and his wealth) is momentarily dazzled, but he quickly recovers and gives a heartfelt speech (drink!) about how Potter thinks he can just buy everything he sees, but it won't work on ol' George Bailey, no sir.
  • George goes home, head spinning, and Mary tells him she's pregnant. Well, there goes his shot at ever skipping town. (Up in heaven, Joseph also thinks this is obvious, but Clarence is still shocked to hear it. Oh, Clarence.)
  • War were declared. Everyone in Bedford Falls helps out, in their own way - selling war bonds, sewing for the Red Cross, all that stuff you hear about the home front during WWII. Mary, now with four kids (dude!) is the super-housewife who also finds time to run the USO. Even Potter helps out by running the draft board, but as much as I'm sure he'd like to send George off to get blown up in Belgium, George's deaf ear makes him ineligible.
  • So while his friends are off winning medals and parachuting into foreign countries, George deals with the only Americans we've ever seen in popular culture who are grouchy about making sacrifices during the war. They squabble for more ration points; they ignore his air raid drills. But George keeps going, just like he always has.
  • Harry Bailey becomes the big hero, shooting down 15 enemy planes, two as they were about to go kamikaze on a ship filled with soldiers. (Remember when I said he's the guy movies usually get made about?)

On Christmas Eve, Harry Bailey is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And that brings us to the day that George Bailey is going to kill himself.

(on to Part 7)

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