Voice of Reason

In the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is about to depart for his honeymoon just as the stock market crashes on October 29, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday. The people whose money is invested in his Bailey Bros. Savings & Loan are terrified that they won’t be able to live until banks reopen. Like the town clerk, George keeps a cool head, voices reason to the crowd, and uses his own funds to secure the deposits. His nemesis Mr. Potter even comments later, “Take during the Depression, for instance. You and I were the only ones who kept our heads. You saved the Building and Loan; I saved everything else” (directed by Frank Capra [New York: RKO Pictures, 1946], 1:07:35–1:12:42). George ultimately saves dozens of livelihoods and redeems his own choice to remain in Bedford Falls rather than following his dreams out of town.

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