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‘It’s a Wonderful Life’: The update!

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From page A2 | December 12, 2012 | 12 Comments

Today’s column is all about the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” So if you’ve never seen the movie you might want to skip over to the comics section.

The movie is corny and sentimental and it’s shown on TV every year around Christmas. Being corny and sentimental, I absolutely love this film. It’s drenched with emotion and sentiment, but in case some of you didn’t realize it, the central theme of the movie is all about banking.

The banking industry is a worldwide hot topic. For me, this all begs the question: Could this great, old movie be updated for today’s generation? Let’s give it a try, shall we?

The main plot of the original movie is about a man named George Bailey and his father, who runs the Bailey Building & Loan. When George’s father dies, he has to forgo his college plans in order to take over for his father in an effort to continue to make loans to poor people who are trying to get by the best they can on their meager salary and wages. If you were to do a remake of the movie, obviously George Bailey couldn’t run a Savings & Loan without a college education. He’d have to have at least an MBA and would probably feel lucky to get a part-time job making french fries at a fast-food place.

He would then take over for his deceased father and although he’s still a man of the people, he’d probably insist on being compensated in the neighborhood of no less than $5 million in stock options per year.

The villain in the original is a nasty cur named Henry Potter. He’s the chief shareholder of the bank, and an evil slumlord to boot. His sights are set on taking over the Bailey Building & Loan. In the remake, Potter reinvents himself as a shrewd real estate developer. However, Wall Street protestors picket his home, occupy his yard, label him as a “1-percenter” and piddle on his lawn.

In the first movie, Bailey Park is created, offering affordable housing for people on limited incomes so they won’t have to live in Henry Potter’s overpriced slums. In the remake, the townspeople, who have spent years signing anything in order to buy houses with balloon mortgages from Potter in hopes of flipping those homes for a major profit a short time later, wind up going to George Bailey, who is the only banker willing to help these poor people refinance those mortgages at today’s amazingly low interest rates.

In the original, part of the main plot is a “run” on the bank, and all of the folks in town immediately need cash. But in the updated version, because of FDIC insurance, a run on the bank isn’t necessary. But ever since the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, banks now have easier ways of screwing up. So in the remake, the emergency could be a margin call on the bank’s investment in distressed Greek debt, or the United States borrowing power being downgraded again. Fun stuff, huh?

In the 1946 version, the townspeople wind up at the Bailey home to show their support and sing Christmas carols. In the remake, the “Occupy Bedford Falls” protestors picket the Bailey house and piddle on the lawn.

In the first movie, the Bailey Building & Loan is saved by contributions from the townsfolk. In our movie remake, the same thing basically happens when it is subsidized by a government bailout, which is ultimately funded by taxpayers.

In the end, when everyone is singing, little Zuzu hears a bell ring on the Christmas tree and she extols, “Every time a bell rings, an angel get’s its wings.” In the updated version, Zuzu’s smart-phone chirps out part of a Justin Bieber song, alerting her that Clarence the angel just updated his Facebook page about getting his new wings. George clicks the “Like” button (since he has an app for that), and they all sing “Auld Lang Syne” with an electronic karaoke machine.

Hmm, the updated version doesn’t sound very promising, but you know what, folks? It’s still a wonderful life!

You can contact C.W. Plunkett at cwplunkett33@yahoo.com.

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