ENG 2400 Films from Literature, Spring 2020

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    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Movies often if not always reflect the time when they are made whether through different technology, different props, or different references.

    Here are two matters we would have talked about after watching the film:

    At one point, forgetful Uncle Billy is shown with strings tied to his fingers. George sees it when his uncle has missed the wedding of George and Mary.

    Does anyone know what that means? (No one nowadays does that, but we do other things for the same purpose…)

    Later, Mr. Potter says to George Bailey that he could live the high life instead of “playing nursemaid to a bunch of garlic eaters.”

    Does anyone know what that means? (It is essentially an ethnic slur.)

    Trivia (which you can Google for pictures and further details): If you remember Alfalfa from the old Little Rascals shorts, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer has a small role in the school dance sequence where George sees Mary after a long absence. He is a teenager in this film, older than when he was a child star with the stubborn cowlick.

    Frank Albertson, the actor who played Sam Wainwright, the businessman rival for Mary’s affections, fond of saying “Hee-Haw,”
    had an important supporting role in Psycho as Mr. Cassidy, the rich Texan who flirted with Marion Crane before she stole his $40,000.

    Lionel Barrymore, Mr. Potter, was actually wheelchair-bound in his later film career due to hip injuries. In many of his films after his disability, he would only be seen either leaning on a cane or sitting on a horse. His family was something of an acting dynasty back in the 1930s and ’40s (John, Ethel, and Lionel), and he is a distant relative of contemporary actress Drew Barrymore, whose father, John Barrymore, Jr., was a minor star in the ’50s and ’60s.

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