The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mr. Gower's Drug Store via the Enesco It's a Wonderful Life Village

  While the movie starts out essentially with younger George Bailey and his gang at the sled hill, the movie essentially revolves around introducing us to the characters in the social hub of town. Bobbie Anderson played young George and had a pretty amazing life. The guy was also in another fantastic movie: The Bishops wife that I'm sure if you are reading this, then you are familiar with. He also served in the Korean War, and worked for almost all the major sudios. He passed away in 2008.

 Mr. Gower's Drug Store and soda fountain place is where George works and where we meet Mary and Violet. It's George first job and where we again see George impact on the lives of his fellow townspeople by saving Mr. Gower to a life ruined by prison and the accident of poisoning a child in his grief. Gower by the way was played by the great H.B. Warner , and he's one of those actors that it seems that just about every movie he's in is good.

1919 Nat Geo Sample
Anyway, Gower's store is where we see George describe his future to Mary and his membership in the National Geographic Society, tossing one that looks like this in her face to prove his love of coconuts and distinguished explorer status :) From what I can tell, it looks like it was either the March, May, November or December issue ... if it's still 1919 that is.

   Mr. Gowers store also doubled as a soda fountain shop which probably explains why we always see young people in the store. Both in the younger years and after George is an adult, the soda business is still going strong.  You have to think that having the children around went a long way to help Mr. Gower deal with the loss of his son. Here is a shot of the soda counter and old style drinks. I always wonder if Coke got anything for all the free promotion they get for having signage all around the soda counter and store.

   Also in Gower's is the famous jump spark lighter. Most people don't know what George is doing when he flicks the thing and cries out "Hot Dog" after wishing he had a million dollars. The idea is that  the lighters during that time were not reliable to spark on the first pull, so by making a wish and then getting the spark on the first try would grant you some luck and help that wish. The jump spark lighter was a stand up lighter for cigar smokers during the early 20th century. You can see some added description and it's place in It's a Wonderful Life and other films here. If your interested in purchasing one yourself ... here ya go. I wouldn't mind having the piece as just a conversation item when people came over, although that conversation would of course start by me wishing for a trillion dollars because as we know in this day and age of debt ... who only wishes for a million! For the time being, just enjoy the video above.

But back to the building. Gower's Drug store is one of the buildings that is core to the movie, and thus to George , and thus again (is that grammatically correct?) to Bedford Falls. It needs to be on your village main street. Always wanted better and more pictures of this village online, so here are the shots from my own. First is the box views. 

Enesco had various colors for their series 1 and 2, but I have and like the blue versions. Remember to click below at the 'Read More' to view the rest of the photos. 

First 4 buildings in the Enesco series

The nice certificate mentioning the buildings place in the village. 

    And for the building itself. I life the red tone on the letter, and the textures on the building side. It's one of the more realistic looking of the set because of this. The sign is probably the best part of this building as it jumps out to be read.

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

Not sure why they felt the need to put a sign on every side ... but oh well

I normally like to have the sign corner on in incoming street off the main

This is the stone texture that I like so much on this piece

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

   And finally, you always have to see the pieces lit up. A village looks good in the light, but they look amazing when lit up in the dark. The two story nature of this one adds nice glowing shadows.

The 2 story light beams are nice

Side view is actually better than the front IMHO

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's Drug Store:

Gower's does not have any roof features but it's still a pretty shot

    So that's the Enesco Gower's Drug store. Some history of the film and time thrown in. I indulge myself by doing this, but hopefully somewhere someone can appreciate the experience the movie; and in its own small way the village provides. Building by building, I'm going to go through my Bedford Falls. At the end of the year, I'll do something on the entire village setup.

Ernie Bishop: [Reading the telegram in his hand] "Mr. Gower cabled you need cash, stop. My office instructed to advance you up to twenty-five thousand dollars, stop. Hee Haw and Merry Christmas! Sam Wainwright."


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