[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