Thursday, November 11, 2010

TODAY'S NUGGET: #20 WGA Script of All Time - It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

[Quick Summary: Upstanding George Bailey considers suicide when $8k goes missing from his business' coffers.  Clarence the angel is sent to intervene.]

I'd like to have Clarence's job.

He gets to enter early, & then doesn't have to reappear until approx. p. 129 (of 167 pgs.)

But seriously, why do I forgive Clarence for his long absence in this script? 

Answer: Because there's a REASON for the late re-introduction.

All the scenes between p. 6-129 are setups that are paid of quickly after p. 129. 

ex. Why do we need to see George save Mr. Gower the pharmacist (setup; p. 16)? Because George needs to see Mr. Gower the panhandler in the "no George" world (payoff; p. 142).

ex. Why do we need to see brother Harry become a war hero (setup; p. 100)?  So that George would react violently to Harry's death in the "no George" world (payoff; p. 153).

Clarence's return demarcates the third act.  He is also the catalyst that accelerates George to the climax. 

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  If Clarence were present throughout, the audience would expect a resolution far too soon.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, & Frank Capra

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