The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Take a Drive through Bedford Falls ... choose your transportaion. The cars and carriage of the Enesco village

   No village set or collection should or can contain only buildings. The Enesco sets already contain far too many buildings that look almost identical in their squared shapes although that does help in the street layout depending on how you want to arrange your pieces. The village needs those little things to bring it alive. Bedford Falls is no different as like the film, the village contains a decent variety of cars and small sets to give some atmosphere to it. Many straight out from the film, others chosen to compliment some of the buildings. In my own village I've purchased some additions that help add to the Enesco collection but for now let's just take a look at what comes by default to the Enesco It's a Wonderful Life village car selection. 

Carriage and Horses of Henry F Potter
As if folks wouldn't realize who rides within
     On screen we first come across a prominent vehicle when the younger generation of boys are stopped in the tracks after seeing the impressive carriage of Henry F. Potter drive by. Pulled by two black (or brownish) horses the carriage is a style made famous in the 19th century, the Barouche type. They are distinguished as the type usually reserved for the rich and royalty, and have a signature curved shape. Along the side, we see Potter 's initials in a type of monogram or family crest type lettering. 

Parking at the bank. Click below on 'Read More' to view the rest of the  vehicles. 

 We last see the carriage from the back later in the film (still driving it apparently even years later) when it's parked at the bank. I don't see a hitching post, so the driver apparently is left out in the cold. 

Ernie's cab on George's wedding day. 

Later and final version of Ernie's taxi that we see in the film
   The next prominent vehicles we see are the mainstay wheels of George's two best friends; Bert and Ernie. The taxi cab is featured throughout the film in various scenes and shots. The Police car is hidden from view many times although it does make it's appearance at very important moments. Most noticeable Capra uses the a shot of the wheels pulling up on the bridge to usher in the movies perfect ending. Ernie's cab changes over the transition years like anyone in the cab industry must do. 

Earlier version of Ernie's cab with the different body and roof looking more like something from the 20's
1929 Yellow Cab resembling Ernie's older model
   Bert's cop car seems to always have elements of it hidden but it does pop up a lot in the film. Connecting the two vehicles remember that even while prohibition is in effect Bert choose to give a bottle of illegal champagne while in the safety of Ernie's cab. *2013 Update* Ernie's Cab is still around to this day. Apparently the actual car can be found at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown Pennsylvania. For anyone curious or up for road trips, that's a little over 4 hours away from Jimmy Stewart's home town of Indiana, and just a little under 4 hours away from Seneca Falls, NY. Here is a shot of the car today.

Ernies Cab today in the American on Wheels Museum. 

Bert exiting his car & running in to attempt and arrest of Geroge

This is just before Bert turns his car's spot light onto a crazed Mr. Bailey

    Most prominantly seen though is the old and faithful Dodge brothers car that we associate with George and in many ways coudl be seen to represent George himself. Maybe people believe this was why Capra uses the car in so many ways. As George contemplates what he doesn't have in relation to some of his friends, the old car is a striking example of his lifestyle. As George crashes the car into the tree, this event and the car could easily represent the course George's life is on that night. The car is a 1919 Dodge Brothers touring car. Ironically the exact car from the movie was recently sold at auction to a Colorado couple. You can read about the purchase here.

Loading the Martini Family

Taking it out on the Dodge
Don't drink and drive George

    Early in the movie we see Uncle Billy and Harry pick up George on the night his father has the stroke. That car might be the same touring car which was passed onto George but I can't be sure. Here is a modern picture of the car for a better look. Compare that with the film shot and draw you own conclusions.

Modern look at the front of a vintage Dodge Brothers Touring car
Picking up George on his crucial night 

   The other familiar vehicle that most recognize from the film and that comes with the Enesco village collection is the Martini Family moving truck. This loaded down automobile resembles the Beverly Hillbillies car and is loaded down with just about everything the Martini's could throw on and tie down. We see their truck when they move to Bailey Park. 


   In this same scene we see for the only time, the success and wealth of George's friend Sam Wainwright. He and his new(est) wife pull up to apparently show off the new vehicle. The Wainwright car is likely a 1931 Rollston-bodied Duesenberg Formal Town Car. Duesenberg cars were a vintage car company for the early years in the 20th century. As of 2011 a new company was formed under the name to make vintage replicas of their famous lines in Wisconsin USA.

The driver seems thrilled
Driving off for a life of vacation

Below is clear modern picture of such a vehicle and it more than the film can deliver just what impression such vehicle must have made to George in this scene. Wow. As an odd note, Enesco created a mistakenly labeled village piece that was erroneously named Henry F. Potter limousine instead of as Wainwright. 

More than a little impressive

     The last vehicle that we see in the film and get to stage in our village collection isn't flashy although if not for some good brakes might have changed the film story line quite a bit. As George stumbles to the Bedford Falls Bridge in his dispair, a moving truck lumbers along and almost runs Mr. Bailey over. We see it very briefly but she's there.

Bedford Falls moving truck
Bedford Falls moving truck crossing the Bedford Falls Bridge

     Compare this info and these shots with their village counter parts below. The village also includes a City bus, an ambulance, and a postal truck. Enjoy the pictures below.

Enesco Ernie Taxi Cab

Enesco Ernie Taxi Cab

George's view of the truck on the bridge

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Was there a Bedford Falls hospital planned? 

George ~ "Hey, hey, I, I'm a rich tourist today. - How about driving me home in style?" 
Ernie ~ "Great. Hop in Your Highness, hop in. And for the carriage trade. I put on my hat."


  1. I guess no company is selling them this year anywhere??

    1. Only online anymore craig, and I've contacted Enesco a couple of times concerning the rights to the village. They no longer have it, so it's just a matter of picking which village you like best and want to collect. Enesco, Target, or one of the two older versions as well. The newest version is the Hawthorne rare set, but it's so pricey that I've never been able to do anything but look it over.