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Harry Bailey, Uber Villain

Just when you thought you knew everything you could about "It's a Wonderful Life," someone comes along and points out the real seedy truth underneath the Christmas classic. Big Hollywood has this great post:

The official Christmas season begins this month and along with celebrating the birth of my Lord by trampling each other to save 20% on an Xbox at Wal-Mart while supplies last, it also means the airing of Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 holiday film It’s A Wonderful Life.

For years I watched this movie and like many Americans would come away with that warm fuzzy feeling. But one character in this film always bothered me. In fact, I believe that the more appropriate title of Capra’s project should have been It’s A Wonderful Life – If You’re Harry Bailey! Think about it. George Bailey’s kid brother makes out like a bandit in this flick. And why is that? Because Harry (Todd Karns) throughout this film is a steam-roller of selfishness. I will even go so far as to say that Harry Bailey (who was never intended to be a bad guy) is one of the most despicable characters in movies. In scriptwriting it’s formulaic that two villains be created to inject multiple layers of conflict. Obviously Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is the uber-villain. But who’s the other antagonist? That would be Harry Bailey, who plays his older brother for a sucker throughout the film. In fact, Harry is either directly or indirectly the root cause of all of George’s miseries.
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