Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is one dreadful guy. Ranked in ~ #6 on the AFI’s list of the greatest cinematic villains in the very first 100 year of cinema, he bring a bitter taste to every step of it’s a exorbitant Life (1946) that includes his character. As the dispirited foil to Jimmy Stewart’s generally caring and pleasant George Bailey, Potter represents the worst characteristics of capitalism and also greed the live in the callous, elitist decimal of rich Americans. That preys ~ above the needs of others instead of striving to assist them, finishing in a character that is straightforward to despise.

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Potter’s existence in the movie poses an countless nuisance come George Bailey. Potter is the richest person in town, only stopped from also greater riches many thanks to the tireless efforts of Bailey and also his structure & Loan company. The way Bailey handles his business is based on compassion and community—a reality that keeps Bailey from ever gaining much material wealth that his own—but which separates that from the throat money-loving Potter that will execute anything to rotate a buck. Bailey is happy to sacrifice his very own benefits for the benefit of those around him.

When George Bailey’s absent-minded uncle and also business companion Billy (Thomas Mitchell) accidentally loser $8,000 cash, the future the Bailey structure & Loan is threatened. Through no way of acquiring the funds to store the company afloat, George Bailey quickly spirals into a depression that has been slowly structure his whole life, and considers killing himself—his $15,000 life insurance plan would take care of the debt and make sure the family members in Bedford falls who depend on his firm wouldn’t shed everything. Of course, the Potter who has actually the lacking cash. It was accidentally handed to him sheathe in a newspaper. Even when Bailey comes crawling come Potter for a loan, Potter continues to be silent around his possession and instead takes the chance to ridicule and tease Bailey because that his poor, charitable business acumen.

This occasion stumbles George into the dream people where a second-class angel called Clarence (Henry Travers), sent earlier to planet to try and earn his wings, shows George exactly how Bedford falls (now Potterville) would be if he never ever existed. When proving every the fruitful means he has actually kept the town free of overwhelming Potter tyranny, George realizes his importance and also significance. He return to the real civilization where the residents of Bedford falls shower that in your financial generosity, giving back to the male who has offered them therefore much.

But nobody ever before finds out Potter stole the $8,000. Exactly how did he obtain away with it? that a wonderful Life was developed in 1946, in the elevation of the Hays password which dictated the moral principles on which movies had to it is in founded. Among its commandments was the criminals have to be punished for wrongdoings.

It is arguable that Potter didn’t precisely steal the money, in that he did not consciously make a criminal initiative to take the funds from Bailey’s possession. It is a instance of ethical theft versus legal theft. He discovered something that didn’t belong to him and should have made an initiative to return it, but kept that after realizing it could work to his great benefit.

To that end, the is possible that due to the fact that Potter was hoping the ns of this money would ruin Bailey and also his business, the act of his theft to be a malicious attempt the didn’t involved fruition. Bailey structure & Loan was able to survive, and also therefore Potter’s evil did no prevail.

If the a wonderful Life supporters the usual “crime doesn’t pay” mentality of movies of the era, we need to attribute a ethical sentence to porter behavior. Due to the fact that George succeeds in the end, the stolen cash becomes rather irrelevant. Potter loses because George stays in business. Over there is an argument to be made the Potter is one amoral character, and therefore a moral punishment for him means little. His life is all about money, and he’s up an easy $8,000 at the finish of the situation. But, Potter is also a businessman, and also the collapse of Bailey structure & Loan would have actually resulted in revenues of way beyond $8,000 in time. Truly, if that is every he profited from the situation, the is mirroring that on one implicitly more comprehensive scale, crime doesn’t pay.

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This must have actually been the thinking for the Hays censors allowing Potter to get away with maintaining the cash. The viewer is allowed to identify Potter’s fate, and few people would discover the character and also find the to be an admirable person. It’s most likely that potter’s overwhelmingly disastrous personality and hatred by the community is “code” sufficient to imply that people shouldn’t behave together he does.