Submitted by Burning_Mouth t3_zxuviz in movies

Part of me was ready to call her the Sam to George Bailey’s Frodo, but that might be a stretch. I think what makes her so interesting is you can see her as the underappreciated hero. When her husband goes off the rails And snaps at her and the kids on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t resent him but has the kids pray for him and calls up all his friends for help. That was really awesome.

Before that, when George was supposed to honeymoon with her but the banks fell through, she was the one who held up the honeymoon money for the people to use. She then set up the broken down hotel as a sweet honeymoon spot/new home while George worked.

On some level though, I could see Mary being seen as a “villain”. Was it her wish for George to stay that “ruined” his life? Did she subtly manipulate him into staying in his loathed hometown instead of living his life traveling? I don’t subscribe to this viewpoint and see it as an affront to the purpose of the film but I can see how others might.

I feel like there’s more that could be said about Mary, but I don’t see much discussion on her. I will say, I thought the whole idea of her wishing for this life would blow up and be a conflict at some point with George finding out, but I’m glad that never happened



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the_other_50_percent t1_j22mkzo wrote

In the scene when George snaps at his family, she does so much more than what you described, which would be the “support the man and be virtuous” trope. She sees that he’s off and might harm the children, and calls him out for it, cleverly and maturely blocking it from getting any worse.

In no way does Mary force George to stay. They were on their way to travel on their honeymoon, and it’s not like they were going to stay abroad or had plans to live elsewhere immediately. They could have sold the house once they fixed it up - and they couldn’t have afforded anything in better shape, it seemed.

Mary knew how to get George jealous so that he would finally make a move on her, arranged to buy a house and whip up a last-minute loving plan B of a honeymoon. She kept George from getting in his own way over indecision, frustration, anger, and pride. He was always a wonderful person, but likely wouldn’t have had the wonderful life full of so many friends and grateful customers without Mary.

And as we saw thanks to a Clarence, her life wouldn’t have been wonderful without her purposeful love with George.


chicojuarz t1_j22r434 wrote

Totally agree about the scene when George snaps. I also get the sense in this scene that it’s far from the first time he’s complained about his life. He’s dissatisfied and he’s let her know it time and again. She seems like she listens but still knows she has to keep shit together for the family. Which she does again but without knowing that this time is different.


the_other_50_percent t1_j22s47t wrote

I think you’re absolutely right. She’s not shocked at his ill-temper. She’s on guard, checking in on everyone and giving a George little warnings hoping he’ll rein it in, but when he doesn’t, she handles it.

It’s a wonderful (ha) love story, but not a fairy tale of sugary happiness.

After all, the S&L is saved, but Potter doesn’t give the deposit back. Their work and financial lives won’t change.


chicojuarz t1_j22so1d wrote

That aspect is exactly why I think this movie is still so loved nearly 80 years later. Sure there’s a corny out dated part here and there but the story is so rooted in common disappointment and not resolving every problem that it stays timeless (of course the absolutely perfect acting job by Jimmy Stewart helps)


Hawkgal t1_j23ot1q wrote

Little bit off topic but that’s why I love the SNL “lost ending” so much! Plus it’s got Phil Hartman in it.


the_other_50_percent t1_j23qfpq wrote

Never seen that before, thanks! Great use of Dana Carvey’s Jimmy Stewart impression.


dadamax t1_j257cxs wrote

Good point. This is shown when he kicks his car tire after Sam shows up bragging about driving to Florida.


SlumgullySlim t1_j22hykt wrote

The saddest part of the film for me is when George has had all he can stand of not being and he has to find her. He is positive if anyone knows him, she will.


chicojuarz t1_j22qs2f wrote

Her fainting will always crack me up tho. It’s just so wildly over dramatic.


cearrach t1_j24ebpz wrote

IMO the idea that she would be an "old maid" without George is rather preposterous.


BillMcCrearysStache t1_j25d30z wrote

SHES AT THE LIBRARYYYYY! as if its some kind of horrible fate lol


DSOddish t1_j25e72d wrote

It's especially funny because Clarence talks about it like it's the most horrible fate of any of George's friends and family, but comes right off the heels of George learning his own brother died as a child because he wasn't there to save him.


cearrach t1_j25g2qx wrote

Well, that raises another thing - everything else changed significantly, but Harry went sliding at the same place at the same time to drown.


frickyfrackandme t1_j24hcqy wrote

She previously told George that she would have been an old maid without him, so perhaps she knew, somehow.


cearrach t1_j24i5vg wrote

Yeah, that line was foreshadowing - excellent bit of dialogue.


WiserStudent557 t1_j25k3kl wrote

Sure but if you believe at all in soul mates or divorce rates you can see that not “settling” for a partner is a fine personal choice. Sure she could’ve just found some/any husband


cearrach t1_j25mxx8 wrote

George Bailey did have some fine character traits, but there are a few things that make me question what Mary saw in him compared to others in the town.

  • he had a fairly bad temper
  • he's pretty rude
  • when she asked him not to throw the rock, he did anyway
  • he criticized and complained about the house she worked hard to fix up

Even when he returns back home near the end, he barely listens to what she's trying to say and practically molests her.

If George represents the best that Bedford Falls has to offer, I guess I understand why she spurned everyone else!


sushkunes t1_j26r60p wrote

We’re supposed to be seeing George on some of his worst days, though (Brother almost dies, boss almost kills someone, Dad dies, business almost being dissolved, kid brother abandons plan to let him finally leave town, honeymoon cancelled, etc…).

George is a not a particularly nice person but he’s a very good person, and I fully appreciate that Mary sees that from day one and falls in love with his heart, sense of humor, love for neighbors, work ethic and more.


cearrach t1_j26tu34 wrote

Absolutely! We definitely see the most trying times - that's what makes a good movie.

And Mary is the rock that keeps him steady through all of it. Without Mary he probably would have gone traveling.


Decabet t1_j255981 wrote

To be fair she was a hot single librarian in a town that was a little rapey before it became "Pottersville" ("We'll wait for ya, baby")


SlumgullySlim t1_j22rba5 wrote

If it was remade, I doubt they would have the actor do that now!


Moglo825 t1_j23oz87 wrote

"He's making violent love to me, Mother" is one of the greatest lines ever


PugnaciousPangolin t1_j25zzo9 wrote

That's the moment where I fell in love with her character. That kind of saucy sass is very alluring to me!


Decabet t1_j256661 wrote

I used to be shocked at that line until I learned about pre-Hayes Code Hollywood.


square3481 t1_j29n6yr wrote

Just so everyone knows, "making love" back then didn't mean sex, but aggressively pursuing someone. Still funny.


Thetimmybaby t1_j22kyun wrote

she's hot af


axlkomix t1_j2409u0 wrote

🎵 Buffalo gals, won't ya come out tonight? 🎵


jfchandler t1_j283y1g wrote

The production company that made the TV show, ‘’Moonlighting’ used to have ‘and dance by the light of the moon’ at the end of every show.


jfchandler t1_j283sqa wrote

Donna Reed was a babe, no diggity, no doubt.


Puzzleheaded-Two-358 t1_j22lwvo wrote

Even though she is exactly the same age as she would have been, she only qualifies as an old maid because she is single, wears glasses, and works at the library.


The68Guns t1_j2444rl wrote

Yeah, it’s like “god forbid” she gets a job and looks presentable. I’d love a library job if the pay was right.


chalupa_batman_xx t1_j22uw8i wrote

It was my tradition to watch that movie every Christmas Eve. My husband had never seen it before he met me and he loved it the first time we watched it together so it's become our tradition. Black and white version only in this household. It's a classic and they just don't make movies like it anymore.


ZestfulClown t1_j24pymr wrote

Tbh I didn’t even know it’s in color


AnotherJasonOnReddit t1_j257qv9 wrote

If the Gremlins 2 villain had got his way, It's A Wonderful Life would also have had a happier ending.


Decabet t1_j255zh1 wrote

It plays every year at the old movie palace in our town and it was in front of it before a screening of it in 2016 that I got on one knee and proposed to my now-wife. It has always been a special movie for us but now it's our movie and our annual tradition.

And yes, I worked into my proposal the line "Would you be my wonderful...wife" because I am not now nor have I ever been cool.


chalupa_batman_xx t1_j257dem wrote

That sounds so romantic!! Good for you. And that proposal is way cooler than my husband's, who got on one knee holding the ring and then sat there totally silent because he was nervous 😂 I was like, "Are you going to ask or...?" Lol.


Decabet t1_j2589ll wrote

>That sounds so romantic!!

So I had our photographer and members of her family all hiding out around the area behind power boxes and light rail steps and forgot they didnt all know each other so that led to some fun "Uhhhh youre here for the proposal?" conversations while they hid.

Also fun: The Crest offers a small bar during screenings and since we had like 12 people there to see the film after the proposal I went down to the bar where there was a "Maximum 3 drinks per guest" sign and I was like "Can I just this once get 12 champagnes? I assure you Im not like Dudley Moore in Arthur or anything. These are for other people" and people behind me in line were like "hey youre that guy that proposed outside! Congratulations!" And they all chipped in and bought the champagnes for us.


Warp9-6 t1_j25qwsz wrote

Rockefeller Center, NYC. We’re looking at rings and the sales lady (with her thick Eastern European accent) says to my now husband, “Joove gots to azzk herrr, now!” He had the ring in his hand and when he went to open his mouth completely lost his composure. She didn’t know he was on the verge of tears. She was quite exasperated with him! LOL! He finally got himself together and of course, I said yes!


intrepidcommentator t1_j22i3y0 wrote

I think Mary represented the town to George and his “ true calling”. From the start Mary knew she belonged with George and he belonged with her. She sees in him someone worthy and above the rest of the crop. She sees in him the goodness that he cannot find in himself that’s beyond artifice, or materialism, or status. I guess it is akin to a Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins relationship in that they need one another. Without George, Mary is a whole different person and without Mary, there would be no one present to champion the town to resolve his troubles. I see her more as the Aunty Em to George’s Dorothy. They both represent the place that their respective protagonist thought they should leave but found to be their greatest comfort by the end.


varontron t1_j22n4cv wrote


crystalistwo t1_j23swpp wrote


That article supposes that Mary also chose the life she wants, but she couldn't love George if she never met him.

The world Clarence shows George is the world in which George was never born, not the world in which George disappeared around the age of 15. Mary could never "love George until the day she dies" in that possible reality, for in that reality she never met him.

It's still entirely plausible she could have wanted Sam. But I think the other way of looking at it is that Mary is instead motivated to choose the life she wants through George. She knew George as a girl, so she learned to pursue what she wanted. In George's absence, she never pursued anything, even Sam. And that resulted in the old maid librarian scenario. This is a Mary who has presumably rejected all suitors.

The author of the article says this too, that Mary has rejected all suitors, because there's no Mary-sized man. If true, that's not too appealing about her. So I'm going to need to rewatch the movie, to see if my idea is supported, because I'm not a fan of this idea by the article's author. It makes her arrogant. Mary is one of the good people of Bedford Falls, and to be inspired by George is the theme of the film. The effect of what one good man has on the people around him.


Blue-catbird t1_j23lha4 wrote

Mary is the hero of the film and that is shown again and again.


DrRexMorman t1_j22tcbx wrote

>Was it her wish for George to stay that “ruined” his life?

No, the film establishes that humans have free will.

It's also an argument that his life wasn't ruined.


Jolly_Job_9852 t1_j23djzm wrote

Think of the scene where young Mary and George are in Mr. Gower shop, Mary whispers "George Bailey, I'll love you to the day I die". He can't hear this as his ear she whispered into was damaged from saving Harry. At the Dance Mary was clearly excited to see George and you coukd tell by looking at her face. When George is explaining his wish where they throws rocks at the old Granville house, watch Mary's demeanor and attitude shift as she prepares to throw a rock. I think she had always wanted to stay in Bedford Falls while George eagerly wants to see the world. She wishes for the one thing she really wants, for George to stay a part of her life. She also reveals this during the honeymoon scene. George truly loved Mary and sacrificed his own wish to are the world to be with someone who he loves.


squindy9 t1_j244p18 wrote

I just heard something interesting about this... Apparently when they filmed the rock throwing scene they had athletes on hand to accurately throw the rock to break the window. They didn't need to bother because Donna Reed broke it in the first take.


Jolly_Job_9852 t1_j24da7e wrote

I heard it was a sharpshooter, but athletes makes sense. Apparently she was challenged by Mr. Potter to milk a cow on set, and won the challenge.


throwingitaway724 t1_j241r5y wrote

I still get choked up about the way Mary deals with George’s blow up. She doesn’t make the leap to “he’s a jerk”. Her very first reaction is: this isn’t like him, something must be very wrong. And she immediately goes to work trying to solve it. She’s a goddamn saint.


broncoblaze t1_j242jie wrote

The honeymoon scene brings me to tears every. single. time.

I love that scene so much it hurts. It’s not even supposed to be a sad scene, but tears creep out anyway. It might be the best manifestation of love that I’ve seen in a film.

I’m 32, single my whole life, never even been close to in love, but I hope to love someone like that one day. And I can’t even imagine someone else loving me like that. Honestly I wouldn’t know what to do. I feel more comfortable giving love then receiving.

It might never happen for me. Idk if that love is even realistic. But once a year, I watch that scene and see something so terribly beautiful, and I love it.


HiddenCity t1_j26lfnd wrote

If you love that scene there's no doubt you'll get there. The dating world is the antithesis of that scene, so you really have to shop, but there's plenty of lost people who wish they could find you.


fart-debris t1_j235atp wrote

Mary’s hot as fuck and the secret hero of the film.


123mastodon t1_j23objr wrote

I think Mary is the G.O.A.T. Her qualities are a template for a partner in life.


gracefull60 t1_j22lmsn wrote

I love this movie except the part where Mary's "horrible " alter universe was being an "old maid" librarian. A "wasted womb".


TexasTokyo t1_j23rm9b wrote

The link was posted above but it's worth reading if you haven't.

"She is, as much as George, a profoundly unusual person laboring under her own personal destiny. In the world where George does not exist, she has not married not because she couldn’t, but because she does not want to. There is not a Mary-sized man in town, and Mary Hatch does not do anything just because it’s what might be expected of her. Her story in this counterfactual is a sad one, but it is not one of passive submission to circumstance."


sammiemo t1_j23u0tf wrote

Mary's my favorite part of the movie. Her character brings a lot of magic to the film.


grapeswisher420 t1_j26p4ym wrote

Not to change the subject, but the character that fascinates me most is Mr. Gower.

The hardest scene for me to watch is when he hits young George then shakes off his grief and stupor and realizes what George did.

In the alternate universe, Gower is a reviled, drunken pariah, who can never live down the shame of killing a child.

The film makes clear, though, that Gower deserves our sympathy, that he is a good man who did a reckless thing, mixing up the drugs with poison, and a cruel thing, hitting George in his bad ear.

But that did not define him. With George keeping his word and never telling anyone, protecting the man who had lashed out at him knowing in his heart Gower was truly a good person worth saving, Gower lived a long, happy life and was able to help George in the end.

Every time, that scene in the drug store with George, that’s when I start crying.


2FeetOffTheGround t1_j23u8ri wrote

Mary LOVED George. Should could have married rich (Sam Wainwright), if only to please her mother, but she's not that kind of person. Too genuine and pure of heart. She wanted George because she saw the good in him. When he blows up on her and tells her he just wants to live his life and never wants to marry, you can see how devastated she is. George was a good man, but he lacked focus, He wanted adventure and excitement like most young people, but really he wanted escape; to be anywhere else than his "boring" little hometown. It may seem that bad luck kept him in one place all his life, but there he had purpose. He did a lot of good for a lot of people in his father's "shabby, little office." He had a life filled with love in that "drafty, old house." He could have left Bedford Falls and seen the world. He would have lived an interesting or even and exciting life, but not one quite as wonderful.


HiddenCity t1_j26mayy wrote

George didn't "lack focus", it's that at every turn of his life he had to make a choice: act in his self interest, or in the interest of others. He sacrafices his dreams every single time to help others.


Few_Indication_9854 t1_j257wj0 wrote

Shes incredible, probabaly my favorite female character of all time.

I'll cry even thinking about some of her scenes.


HiddenCity t1_j26n1nq wrote

The one scene I don't see get discussed much is when his brother whos supposed to take over so he can leave shows up married with a fantastic job offer, and he just knows he's never getting out of there. That's when he goes over to Mary and decides his dreams are over. Its supposed to be some super romantic scene but it's really him coming to terms with quitting his dreams and settling. She is plan B. He's mad about it and conflicted.


BigODetroit t1_j250dmu wrote

She would have been better off with Sam.


TramCar77 t1_j26r2w5 wrote

She's a total lunatic. Who squats in an abandoned house


Juicelee337 t1_j24p214 wrote

[Spoiler] Please and thank you


Areon_Val_Ehn t1_j26pnmf wrote

Did you seriously just ask for a spoiler tag on a movie from 1946?


poppenhouse t1_j24zv5q wrote

There's something about mary


LazyCrocheter t1_j2794xl wrote

The School of Movies podcast recently released an episode focused on this movie, and spent a fair bit of time discussing Mary. Highly recommend.


KratomHelpsMyPain t1_j22sigm wrote

She's a psychopath.

She comes back home, gets a call that her old friend is coming over, and immediately puts on a record and pulls out a hand drawn poster commemorating the moment he found out his father was dying.

What kind of malevolent narcissism is that? Either she was trying to trauma bond George to her, or she honestly ended that night thinking "Sure, George's whole world was crushed and he had to give up all his life's dreams as a result, but I'm sure his main take away from that night is that he almost saw me naked. Let me remind him of that experience."


scooterboy1961 t1_j24znix wrote

Who hurt you?


KratomHelpsMyPain t1_j254mtv wrote


People will down vote, but the next time you watch the movie, when she pulls out the "George Lassos the moon" poster you'll remember that all of that happened moments before he found out his father was dying.

It would be like setting out the Playbill for "Our American Cousin" if Mary Todd Lincoln was coming for a visit.


ToyVaren t1_j22fgf1 wrote

Its mary's fault that stupid lasso the moon line became a trope. Mary's a jerk.