The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Howabout the Hatch House in Bedford Falls

   We've seen where Harry has his origins, now we'll look at where Mary comes from. We know that Harry and Marty (Mary's brother) come from the same neighborhood as they were friends growing up. Assuming that  they've not moved we now get to see where Mary and Marty lived. In the famous scene at the house, we see more than enough of Mrs. Hatch though. Mrs. Hatch seems to be on good terms with Ma Bailey, although for reasons that seem purely economical she's not so impressed with her son ... or at least in regards to dating her daughter Mary. Mrs. Hatch was played by Sarah Edwards, an actress who found herself in dozens of films through the late 30's and 40's. Besides It's a Wonderful Life, her other famous movie 'that includes many cross overs from IaWL' is The Bishops Wife. She's also barely in A Shop Around the Corner as well. Again, I highly recommend those movies to everyone, especially anyone who enjoys the classics. Here you can see her as Mrs. Duffy the organist in one my favorite scenes from the movie.

    We see Mrs. Hatch again, during the wartime montage and at the wedding send off. Hopefully like any sane or decent person we can assume she came around the greatness of George over time. When I think of her house though, I think first of the picket fence and George with his stick walking back and forth deciding what to do. It's that white fence, and the gate he has to eventually kick open (which I love too) that distinguishes the home in my mind. 

The Hatch Picket Fence gate

   George enters in a foul mood, as he's caught up in frustration over his brother's new life likely in his mind ruining his. As he enters he makes the comment about Mary going 'back' to New York which might point to where Mary went to college. Quickly his mood causes Mary's sweet plans to crumble. Once entering we learn by George's off comment that the home has and does small like pine needles. As they sit in the parlor we get a glimpse of the home. One a side note. Never mentioned, and never even at his daughters wedding we have to assume that Mr. Hatch is either dead or out of the picture in the Hatch household. There is a portrait on the wall here of some prominence which might be the passed away husband and father. On the other hand, it almost looks like one of Bing Crosby's famous pictures as well. you be the judge.

The famous Bing
Hatch family parlor. Portrait upper left.

    This seen used to frustrate me with George's attitude toward Mary, and the odd almost awkward confrontational yet loving embrace. Most probably know about Jimmy Stewart's reluctance for his first post war on screen kiss. The dialog is as it's supposed to be, so it was many years before I came to my own thoughts. I see this entire evening as George coming to terms with his role and place in Bedford Falls. I feel that he's always been in love with Mary since that night at the school dance, but those feelings were blocked by his desire and almost inner drive to leave town and see the world. He's angry that his brother has now not only locked him back into the feeling that he must stay at the Building and Loan, but now he's got a wife, a big job in Buffalo, and college under his belt. None of which George , the older brother can lay any claim too. Seeing Mary at the Hatch home causes George to face his battle between wanting to leave and explore the world, or accepting life in Bedford Falls by acknowledging his love for Mary. Culminating in their embrace, George realizes ... or is really forced into realizing ... that his feelings for Mary top everything and its her that he wants more than anything else. I wish he could have seen that beforehand without taking out the frustration on her, but all is well that ends well. Besides a broken record, in the end Mary probably doesn't mind either. 

Arthur Black and His Orchestra
    Speaking of that record, before the shattering of it, we can see that the Buffalo Gals record has a band by the name of 'Arthur Black and his Orchestra' listed on it. That is in reference to the film's assistant director Arthur Black who worked with Capra on many great films.

   Speaking again of the house. I find that Enesco delivers a great one with it's corresponding village piece. The Enesco Mary Hatch House (I don't know why they add Mary who is now a Bailey by this point) is a really nice one. It's small shape doesn't change the fact that its one of the better looking buildings. Onto the pictures and thoughts. As the normal, we'll start with the box and move on from there. The Mary Hatch House as the 2nd of 4 in the 5th series. 

Enesco Mary Hatch House: Box front face 

Click the 'Read More' below to continue on to all the pictures.

Have you ever wondered if George and Mary ever did win the Charleston dance contest?

   Most people might assume that after the floor opened up, that the dance contest was over and no body every achieved first place. While we are never 100% sure, as it's not scripted who did win, we do get a glimpse of the likely winners. Not surprisingly it was indeed George and Mary based on the trophy George keeps in his office at the Building and Loan. While only viewed very briefly, the trophy looks to indeed match the one Harry holds up when he announces the contest back at the high school. Do your own comparison.

Each side has a small handle, this view shows the odd shape of the trophy

And the first glimpse with by the angle we can only compare details of the style rather than that odd shape. 

   It's possible that George got the trophy from another winning couple, to help remember that night but I would gauge that judging by their performance (in and out of the water) , that George and Mary pulled off the upset. Again, just my opinion but to me it looks like you can chalk another one up to those bailey boys.

Uncle Billy: "You just can't keep those Baileys down,
now can you, Mr. Potter."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Bedford Falls Train Station ... from the movie and from the Enesco village

    One of my favorite buildings in the village series is the Bedford Falls Train Station. As a building in the movie, it really only gets a single scene, but it's importance to the plot fingers its way into more than a few others. George's way out of Bedford Falls literally begins at the train station. Several times we have to watch or hear about George being late for , missing, or wanting a train. Near the end of this post, are details of the actual station from real life. The film station is seen as Uncle Billy and George are waiting on Harry to return home. It seems to be pretty busy, and in the 30's and 40's train travel made up the large majority. An outside time table lists the west and east bound traffic and the station has the traditional Western Union telegram office it seems based on the sign from the background. Mr Gower must be somewhat close by or connected to the office, as it it he who in the end cables Sam Wainwright for the cash request.


    Side note alert! A fantastic film from the 40's that features Micky Rooney as well as Donna Reed along with the role of the telegraph office is the 1943 film, The Human Comedy. A young uncredited Robert Mitchum is in there as well. See Robert and beautiful Donna here to the left!

     Uncle Billy is of course played by the great ... repeat great Thomas Mitchell. Mitchell is most famous of course for his role as Scarlett O'Hara's father in Gone with the Wind. He's also in some other of my favorites such as The Fighting Sullivans, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and Stagecoach. 3 of those from the glorious 1939 year of perfection from Hollywood. Mitchell is another of those classic actors that I can't help but like in just about every role he played. Cast as the frighteningly forgetful Uncle Billy, he's perfect. He's the first person to win the 'Triple Crown' of gaining an Academy, Tony, and Emmy award too. Only a small handful of people have done that since. Mitchell passed away in 1962. Speaking of Mitchell and the station. Another side note is the comment Harry makes as he gets off the train. He comments to Uncle Billy that "you havent' changed a bit". Looking at Uncle Billy years before and currently, that does seem to be quite accurate. Just some hair color change. :)

Younger Uncle Billy

Older Uncle Billy

George Bailey: Whistle Look
    It's talking to Uncle Billy at the station that we find out what George's favorite  and most exciting sounds are, and unsurprisingly he lists "anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles" . We see the visible impact these sounds can have on George later when he's speaking with his mother outside the house. As the train whistle goes off in the distance, we see George in all but physical form go with it. The look says it all. The station area is seen once more during the montage of war roles the various characters played during the conflict.


    Also at the station we meet for the first time, the newest Bailey in the film. Harry surprises his brother and family with a new wife. Ruth Dakin ... "Ruth Dakin Bailey if you don't mind!" It's her role, and especially her father that the hand of fate uses to continue keeping George in Bedford Falls. Ruth is played by the pretty and sweet Virginia Patton. Patton was a rising pretty face in the 40's. She played in a few roles before giving up acting to focus on her family after getting married. She's still with us and doing well, if this picture on her church's website is any indication.

   The Bedford Falls train station is another building and place that has special attachment to George and his desire to explore the world and see distant places. Mary presumably rides the train as she goes off to school and back, Harry of course is gone and out via the train, and even George's mother when sharing Harry's Medal of Honor dinner has been out of the town and riding the rails while George remains in Bedford Falls. I wish more of it could have been featured in the film.

The real train station from It's a Wonderful Life.
Please visit this site for some great pictures and wonderful
information concerning the history of the train

      I had planned on detailing some information about the real station and the real building but found that someone had already done that. I encourage everyone to read this blog post about The real 'It's a Wonderful Life' train station! The real station used for the film was actually the Santa Fe Lamanda Park Train Station in Pasadena California. Lindsay has detailed the former location, the history of the filming, and provided some wonderful pictures concerning the station during the filming as well as its sad legacy by its demolition in 1953.

    Now concerning the Enesco village piece. A lot of good things can be said. The detail and the colors of this one are near the best of the series. I love the items around the station, and the great slant and sign on the roof. The baggage cart that Uncle Billy sits on in the film is here, but I wish they would have provided a few more accessories for the station and the train (which I'll review later on after the village buildings). Speaking of the bad scale seen on the Travel Agency, we see the contrast of that with this building. The doors and windows here are large and much better although judging by the village as a whole almost too big. The Enesco Bedford Falls Train Station is from the 3rd series, and is 2 of 4. Lets get to the village pictures!

Enesco Bedford Falls Train Staion: Front face. Please click the 'Read More' below to continue with the other pictures.