"I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider...!"
Description: Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey insulting "Old Man" Potter (Lionel Barrymore) in the classic Yuletide film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
George Bailey is a life long resident of small town of Bedford Falls. Ever since he has been a child, he dreamed of leaving his hometown and traveling the world and doing big things
"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long... "
But just as George is about to go to college, his father Peter Bailey (Samuel S. Hinds) dies from a heart attack and George reluctantly takes over his father's business, the Bailey Saving & Loan. When Henry J. "Old Man" Potter, a greedy businessman who has his finger in every business in town, criticizes George's deceased father, George jumps to his defense and gives Potter a piece of mind.
"Just a minute... just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You're right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I'll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was... why, in the 25 years since he and his brother, Uncle Billy, started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn't that right, Uncle Billy? He didn't save enough money to send Harry away to college, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what's wrong with that? Why... here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You... you said... what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken down that they... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you'll ever be"!
After his speech, the board members decide to keep the Saving and Loan open, only if George stays and runs the business. Reluctantly, George accepts the position and gives his college money to his younger brother, Harry with the promise when he graduates, he will return to Bedford Falls and take over the family business and allow George to leave town.
Well, time goes by and George dates a girl named Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) and although he still wants to leave town, he realizes he loves Mary more and stays.
When his brother returns home, Harry introduces his new wife and plans get a job outside of town. Wanting his brother to be happy, George declines to pressure his brother to fulfill his promise to take over the family business and George muddles along as a loan officer. George knows it is important to keep the Bailey Savings and Loan open, because it is the only other place in town not owned by "Old Man" Potter, who puts love of money about the welfare of the community.
Then ‘Old Man’ Potter tries to seduce George with a lucrative offer to come work for him in an attempt to weaken Bailey’s Savings and Loan. Realizing the true behind the offer, George jumps up from his chair and shouts,
“You sit around and spin your little web and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well it doesn’t, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider...”
When War is declared, George enlists but is not accepted because of a childhood injury to his ear when he rescued his brother Harry Bailey when he fell through the ice at the age of nine. Harry Bailey (Todd Karns), however, went to war, and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving a transport from being destroyed.
When George and Mary Bailey finally have enough money for an extended honeymoon, fear of the banks closing motivate the depositors of the Bailey Home and Saving to get their money out before they lose it. George uses the funds he had on hand as well as his money he intended to fund his honeymoon to pay back the investors and saved the day and the Savings Loan.
Al went well, until one Christmas eve, when George's befuddled Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) misplaces $8000 he is supposed to put in the bank. George recognizes the enormity of the mistake and yells at Uncle Billy:
"Where's that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where's that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison! That's what it means! One of us is going to jail... well, it's not gonna be me!"
Frantic to resolve the problem George approaches Old Man Potter for help. But Potter, who had found the $8000, fails to return it, but instead he humiliates George when he comes to the bank seeking help.
"Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me a warped, frustrated, old man! What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help. No securities, no stocks, no bonds. Nothin' but a miserable little $500 equity in a life insurance policy.'
"You're worth more dead than alive! Why don't you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they'd run you out of town on a rail. Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do for you, George. Since the state examiner is still here, as a stockholder of the Building and Loan, I'm going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Misappropriation of funds, manipulation, malfeasance..."
Dejected, George runs away but not before Potter says, "All right, George, go ahead, George! You can't hide in a little town like this!"
As George approaches a nearby bridge, he leans against a railing and looks at the dark, cold waters below. Remembering what Potter said about being worth more money dead or alive, George contemplates suicide, but suddenly in the waters below, George sees a man drowning and George comes to his rescue.
The man, is actually an angel named Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers) sent from heaven. If Clarence, an AS2 (Angel Second Class) succeeds in his mission to help George, he will earn his wings.
Still unhappy, George says it would have been better if he had never been born. Taking a cue from George, Clarence grants his wish, and miraculously the world George was running away from is gone, replaced by a darker, gloomier Bedford Falls.
George soon learns the consequences of not being around to help the many people he did throughout his life. Because he did not catch the medication error of Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), the pharmacist, Gower was sent to prison for killing a child.
Because George was not around to save his brother, Harry when he fell through the ice at the age of nine, Harry died and did not grow up to be a war hero and save thousands of lives.
And because, George was not there to help the town grow and prosper, Old Man Potter gained total control of the town, calling it Pottersville.
Tired and confused, George runs home, but the women who was his mother, Ma Bailey (Beulah Bondi) does not recognize him, and when George comes upon his wife Mary, now a spinster librarian, she screams as a distraut Geroge insists he is her husband.
Suddenly, George realizes he had a wonderful life, despite his financial troubles. Frantic, George runs back to the bridge and calls out, "Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don't care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again."
His request answers, it begins to snow and George is once again back in the Bedford Falls he loves so well. Running home to his family, he is greeted by a throng of neighbors who have collected donations from everyone in town to come to his rescue.
As George stands jubilant on the stairs of his home looking down on all of his friends, his daughter Zuze (Karolyn Grimes) hears the sound of a bell, and says, "Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." George agrees, looks skyward, and says, "Attaboy Clarence" to congratulate his angel friend for a job well done.
Note: In the fantasy motion picture Spawn (1997), John Leguizamo as Clown, a blue-faced demon with a vile sense of humor out to start Armageddon between heaven and hell Clown likes to use twisted versions of famous movie lines, for example, "Every time someone farts, a demon gets his wings. [farts twice] Oh, twins!"