INT. POTTER'S OFFICE – DAY
Potter is lighting a big cigar which he has just given George.
The goon is beside Potter's chair, as usual.
Thank you, sir. Quite a cigar, Mr.
You like it? I'll send you a box.
Well, I... I suppose I'll find out
sooner or later, but just what exactly
did you want to see me about?
George, now that's just what I like
so much about you.
George, I'm an old man, and most
people hate me. But I don't like
them either, so that makes it all
even. You know just as well as I do
that I run practically everything in
this town but the Bailey Building
and Loan. You know, also, that for a
number of years I've been trying to
get control of it... or kill it. But
I haven't been able to do it. You
have been stopping me. In fact, you
have beaten me, George, and as anyone
in this county can tell you, that
takes some doing. Take during the
depression, for instance. You and I
were the only ones that kept our
heads. You saved the Building and
Loan, and I saved all the rest.
Yes. Well, most people say you stole
all the rest.
The envious ones say that, George,
the suckers. Now, I have stated my
side very frankly. Now, let's look
at your side. Young man, twenty-
seven, twenty-eight... married,
making, say... forty a week.
Forty-five. Forty-five. Out of which,
after supporting your mother, and
paying your bills, you're able to
keep, say, ten, if you skimp. A child
or two comes along, and you won't
even be able to save the ten. Now,
if this young man of twenty-eight
was a common, ordinary yokel, I'd
say he was doing fine. But George
Bailey is not a common, ordinary
yokel. He's an intelligent, smart,
ambitious young man — who hates his
job – who hates the Building and
Loan almost as much as I do. A young
man who's been dying to get out on
his own ever since he was born. A
young man... the smartest one of the
crowd, mind you, a young man who has
to sit by and watch his friends go
places, because he's trapped. Yes,
sir, trapped into frittering his
life away playing nursemaid to a lot
of garlic-eaters. Do I paint a
correct picture, or do I exaggerate?
Now what's your point, Mr. Potter?
My point? My point is, I want to
I want you to manage my affairs, run
my properties. George, I'll start
you out at twenty thousand dollars a
George drops his cigar on his lap. He nervously brushes off
the sparks from his clothes.
Twenty thou... twenty thousand dollars
You wouldn't mind living in the nicest
house in town, buying your wife a
lot of fine clothes, a couple of
business trips to New York a year,
maybe once in a while Europe. You
wouldn't mind that, would you, George?
You're not talking to somebody else
around here, are you? You know, this
is me, you remember me? George Bailey.
Oh, yes, George Bailey. Whose ship
has just come in – providing he has
brains enough to climb aboard.
Well, what about the Building and
Oh, confound it, man, are you afraid
of success? I'm offering you a three
year contract at twenty thousand
dollars a year, starting today. Is
it a deal or isn't it?
Well, Mr. Potter, I... I... I know I
ought to jump at the chance, but
I... I just... I wonder if it would
be possible for you to give me twenty-
four hours to think it over?
Sure, sure, sure. You go on home and
talk about it to your wife.
I'd like to do that.
In the meantime, I'll draw up the
All right, sir.
(taking his hand)
Okay, Mr. Potter.
As they shake hands, George feels a physical revulsion.
Potter's hand feels like a cold mackerel to him. In that
moment of physical contact he knows he could never be
associated with this man. George drops his hand with a
shudder. He peers intently into Potter's face.
No... no... no... no, now wait a
minute, here! I don't have to talk
to anybody! I know right now, and
the answer is no! NO! Doggone it!
(getting madder all
You sit around here and you spin
your little webs and you think the
whole world revolves around you and
your money. Well, it doesn't, Mr.
Potter! In the... in the whole vast
configuration of things, I'd say you
were nothing but a scurvy little
He turns and shouts at the goon, impassive as ever beside
...And that goes for you too!