The richest man in town

Elizabeth Donald
7 min readDec 24, 2019

It’s hard to admit it, but I cry like a child every time.

Admit it: so do you.

Of course, I’m talking about the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. We’ve all seen it so many times that it’s a movie-length cliche. It’s the hokey ending that solves all the problems in one beautiful bow, the sort of thing that never happens in real life. From his barstool on Cheers, eternal grump Norm groused that during the many times in his life that he’s been in trouble, no one ever came to his door with a sackful of cash to bail him out.

It’s a Wonderful Life is certainly dated, if that is a crime. It has its flaws of logic and characterization. For all of Mary’s strength and self-assuredness in the original timeline, where is it in the alternate timeline? Are we to assume that her strength came only from her relationship with her husband, when she certainly showed it long before she became Mrs. George Bailey?

Is it entirely logical that all the good people of Bedford Falls would have become a seedy crowd of rabble-rousing drunkards without a Building and Loan? While loss, privation and grief would certainly change a person’s nature, is it likely that every single person would become angry and suspicious?

Perhaps, perhaps not. But I can live with this.

--

--

Elizabeth Donald

Journalist for more than 25 years, freelance writer, editor, photographer, and fiction author. Subscribe at patreon.com/edonald or visit donaldmedia.com.