It's A Wonderful Life
written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, & Jo Swerling, from a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern
George (nervously): Well, I . . . I suppose I'll find out sooner or later, but just what exactly did you want to see me about?
Potter (laughs): George, now that's just what I like so much about you. (pleasantly and smoothly-like a snake) George, I'm an old man, and most people hate me. But I don't like them either, so that makes it all even. You know just as well as I do that I run practically everything in this town but the Bailey Building and Loan. You know, also, that for a number of years I've been trying to get control of it...or kill it. But I haven't been able to do it. You have been stopping me. In fact, you have beaten me, George, and as anyone in this county can tell you, that takes some doing. Take during the depression, for instance. You and I were the only ones that kept our heads. You saved the Building and Loan, and I saved all the rest.
George: Yes. Well, most people say you stole all the rest.
Potter: The envious ones say that, George, the suckers. Now, I have stated my side very frankly. Now, let's look at your side. Young man, twenty-seven, twenty-eight...married, making, say...forty a week.
George (indignantly): Forty-five!
Potter: Forty-five. Forty-five. Out of which, after supporting your mother, and paying your bills, you're able to keep, say, ten, if you skimp. A child or two comes along, and you won't even be able to save the ten. Now, if this young man of twenty-eight was a common, ordinary yokel, I'd say he was doing fine. But George Bailey is not a common, ordinary yokel. He's an intelligent, smart, ambitious young man - who hates his job -- who hates the Building & Loan almost as much as I do. A young man who's been dying to get out on his own ever since he was born. A young man...the smartest one of the crowd, mind you, a young man who has to sit by and watch his friends go places, because he's trapped. Yes, sir, trapped into frittering his life away playing nursemaid to a lot of garlic-eaters. Do I paint a correct picture, or do I exaggerate?
George (taken aback): Now what's your point, Mr. Potter?
Potter: My point? My point is, I want to hire you.
George (dumbfounded): Hire me?
Potter: I want you to manage my affairs, run my properties. George, I'll start you out at twenty thousand dollars a year.
(George drops his cigar on his lap. He nervously brushes off the sparks from his clothes)
George (flabbergasted): Twenty thou--twenty thousand dollars a year?
Potter: You wouldn't mind living in the nicest house in town, buying your wife a lot of fine clothes, a couple of business trips to New York a year, maybe once in a while Europe. You wouldn't mind that, would you, George?
George: Would I? (looking around skeptically) You're not talking to somebody else around here, are you? You know, this is me, you remember me? George Bailey.
Potter: Oh, yes, George Bailey. Whose ship has just come in -- providing he has brains enough to climb aboard.
George: Well, what about the Building & Loan?
Potter: Oh, confound it, man, are you afraid of success? I'm offering you a three year contract at twenty thousand dollars a year, starting today. Is it a deal or isn't it?
George: Well, Mr. Potter, I...I...I know I ought to jump at the chance, but I...I just...I wonder if it would be possible for you to give me twenty-four hours to think it over?
Potter: Sure, sure, sure. You go on home and talk about it to your wife.
George: I'd like to do that.
Potter: In the meantime, I'll draw up the papers.
George: (still seemingly hypnotized by the sum) All right, sir.
Potter (offers hand): Okay, George?
George (taking his hand): Okay, Mr. Potter.
(As they shake hands, George feels a physical revulsion. In that moment of physical contact he knows he could never be associated with this man. George drops his hand with a shudder. He peers intently into Potter's face)
George (vehemently, shaking off his earlier daze): No...no...no...no, now wait a minute, here! I don't have to talk to anybody! I know right now, and the answer is no! NO! Doggone it! (getting madder all the time) You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter! In the...in the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider. You...
(He turns and shouts at the goon, impassive as ever beside Potter's wheelchair.)
George: And that goes for you too! (to the secretary in the outer office as he leaves) And it goes for you too!
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