Celestial beings fret about George Bailey in 1946 and review his life: We meet George at 12 in 1919, with a group sledding onto a frozen pond on snow shovels. George has to dive in to save his brother’s life. He loses hearing in one ear, but soon returns to works at old man Gower’s drug store, but Gower’s son has just died in the pandemic, so he gets drunk and accidentally sends George out with the wrong pills. George goes to ask his father for advice, but his father, working at a Savings and Loan, is being chewed out by the town banker, Mr. Potter. George decides not to deliver the pills and gets beaten by Mr. Gower until he convinces him of the mistake he made. Jumping ten years later, Mr. Gower buys George a large suitcase as George prepares to travel the world.
Why George might be hard to identify with: We always groan a bit when we’re told that we’re going to have to learn a hero’s story from their childhood, starting off the story with a younger actor. We say, “Ugh, this had better be worth it.”
- He has lots of odd rituals, like using some sort of bizarre cigarette lighter contraption in the store, which presumably fails a lot, so he says “I wish I had a million dollars”, and tries to light it. When it lights, he says: “Hot dog!”
- He’s not an adorable little kid. He’s got personality. Violent says “Help me down?”, and he just replies “Help you down??” and walks away.
- He has an obsession: Traveling the world. “You don’t like cocoanuts? Say, Brainless, don’t you know where cocoanuts come from? [takes out National Geographic] Lookit here, from Tahiti, Fiji Islands, Coral sea!”
- He’s got a false goal: “I’m going out exploring some day. You watch. And I’m going to have a harem, and maybe a couple of wives! Wait and see!”
- He loses hearing in one ear saving his brother.
- When he’s whistling his drunk boss says, “George, you’re not paid to be a canary!”, embarrassing him.
- He sees his beloved father humiliated. “You can’t begin to spend all the money you’ve got--” “--Oh, I suppose I should give it to miserable failures like you and that idiot brother of yours to spend for me?” He tries to stand up for his father but his father whisks him out of the room, not stopping to give him the advice he needs.
- Mr. Gower hits him until blood comes out of his ears when he finds out he hasn’t sent the pills.
- He will soon lose his chance to to travel the world.
- A classic “save the cat”: He first meet him jumping in a frozen pond to save his brother’s life.
- Then another: He saves the life of the person who would have taken the wrong pills.