The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When visiting Bedford Falls you have two choices of where to put your money, the second is the Trust and Savings Bedford Falls Bank

Potter's office at the bank with title on door
    Like a lot of things in the United States, the lives of those living and seen in Bedford Falls is largely depended on money. Similarly in the film, money plays a crucial although I believe secondary role in the movie plot and story. There are much bigger forces at work on the lives of George and town, but on the surface the film's dramatic event is triggered by the loss of certain funds. In the small town there appears to be two places that someone can take or get money from. First is of course the Bailey Building and Loan , and second is the Bedford Falls Trust and Savings bank. Many of the film's crucial scenes are played out in one of the banks offices that just happens to be the one owned by the banks controller Mr. Potter. I say controller but his role is actually president but really George essentially tells us that he has "taken over" the bank during the crisis just after the wedding. This is our first look at the building which sits on main street.
Bedford Falls Trust and Savings Run

Hunting rabbits to new homes
     We first see the bank internally from Potter's office. Potter is having his rent collector talk of how the boil on his neck is eating into his profits. That boil of course being the Bailey family and George specifically. I like comparing the real estate maps put before Potter and seeing the growth Bailey Park has undergone over the years. Of special note is the "little rent collector" is the actor Charles Lane. Lane who plays Potter's real estate salesman who goes by the name Reinman is responsible for filling up those infamous slums in or around Bedford Falls. There are very few actors who could claim such a career as Charlie (early screen name) Lane, let alone life in general. Uncredited in his first role Lane started acting in 1931, and last was credited in 2006! Sadly Lane passed away in 2007, but left a remarkable string of films ranging from many Capra greats all the way to TV movie makes such as The Computer wore Tennis shoes remake in the 90's. On his 100th birthday, when reporters came to question him and his career he brought his greatest 'trophy' which was a letter from Capra stating:

Lane in IaWL
"I am sure that everyone in the theatrical world has someone that he can lean on and use as a crutch whenever stories and scenes threaten to fall apart, Well, Charlie, you've been my number one crutch."



   Please watch the video to the left as you won't regret it and does a much better job than I or anyone but him could. Make sure you catch his own comment at the end. As Capra and his career attest, Lane has a small part in the film, but still is a part of elements which make It's a Wonderful Life more than simply another movie but something much more. 

   The bank is mostly seen through this same office, as that is where George receives his 'deal with the devil' offer from Potter, and is where Potter calls from normally. The other part of the bank comes into view near the transitionally point of the movie when Uncle Billy leaves the cash in Potter's lap while depositing money at the bank. It's always struck me as odd that they still do business with Potter's bank but perhaps there is no other option. 
Uncle Billy in the Bank
   Notice in the picture (above) the bank deposit envelopes have their proper name listed. Props department did good work with even this detail. Also in the background notice the World War 2 service flag. Normally they would represent a family's servicemen fighting in the war so here we can perhaps get a glimpse of the number of bank employee's serving. Nice touch and has a special meaning. In the other picture (below) we can see the entrance to the bank and Potter's cronies welcoming him and wishing Merry CHRISTmas. 

Mr. Potter's cronies at the bank
   In the teller scenes we also see yet another portrait of Potter hanging on the wall. That's one in his home, one in his office just a few yards away, and another to remind those visiting and working at the bank who is in charge.

I like the WW2 items posted around.

Our last look at the bank from Potter's office as well as the exterior of the building is as George runs by on his famous joyful return home after his eyes are opened via Clarence. Also not surprising that Potter is spending CHRISTmas eve in the bank office even into the evening. Just because I have to mention how much I want Potter's Napoleon bust, I point it out in the picture. I would love to know what became of that prop and if it's still siting in some closet somewhere in Hollywood.

Similar statues on sale online starting at $4,000.00!
Another shot of the bank building and here we also see that Potter is still using that old carriage to get around. 

     Now onto the Enesco piece and the village views and pictures. The Savings and Trust building is from the third series. The building shape is another rectangular one, but the outside windows at least add a lot to it when lit up. Beginning with the box, here is the Enesco Bedford Falls Bank.

Enesco Bedford Falls Savings and Trust Bank: Front face. Click the 'Read more' below to continue with all the pictures.