"I wish I had a million dollars"

Your Comments

Thank you for visiting the Capra/Bailey Project. We appreciate YOU, and we would like to learn from you. Please take a few moments to share some things about yourself, especially your ideas about this project.


  1. Lisa Henry

    This is a beautiful and thoughtful project! Thank you so much for putting this together.

    • admin

      Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for your visiting the site and your kind words of support.

  2. Robert Kerr

    Congratulations to you, Ben and colleagues, on your excellent Capra Bailey Project — great work! I am thinking about ways to employ it in my Media History course going forward.
    I have long felt strongly that A Wonderful Life has a much deeper resonance in American economic and cultural history than its popular image with many as a kitschy Christmas television ritual. As additional testament to what your site so richly portrays, let me include here a few paragraphs from the Wonderful Life opening of my 2008 book, The Corporate Free-Speech Movement:

    The pages ahead take us to an unexplored intersection of law, history, economics, and philosophy. Big ideas from those disciplines are employed to advance the proposition that recent decades have seen an ominous turn away from democratic governance in American political culture. Ideas can change history, and ideas have everything to do with the changes this book focuses upon. Such is the nature of the forces driving the transformation that it can justifiably be characterized historically as the age of cognitive feudalism.
    It is a complex argument, grounded in years of scholarship and assembled in full in this book. But we can access a quick preview by referencing one of the most familiar narratives in American popular consciousness. Just imagine that George Bailey never let Clarence the Angel bring him back to life in Bedford Falls. Imagine that classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, culminating not with George’s return, but instead with idyllic Bedford Falls transformed into Pottersville — the bleak locale glimpsed earlier in the film, a vision of what Bedford Falls would have been if George had never lived.
    In the film, Pottersville is a place of Hogarthian squalor and vice dominated by one interest: the short-term fiscal concerns of the local financier, Mr. Potter. Bars, gambling, graft, and prostitution dominate both the economy and social relations in Pottersville. It stands in sharp contrast to the Rockwellian shops, churches, and neighborly values of Bedford Falls — all fostered through community-wide participation in the savings and loan that George Bailey struggles to keep afloat.
    In the way that Mr. Potter’s character relentlessly seeks to advance his sole interest in short-term financial gain over the broader, diverse interests of the rest of the townspeople, he provides a cinematic manifestation of the profit imperative — a concept crucial to the ideas developed on the pages ahead. Our story will document the way that media discourse and legal efforts in recent decades have synthesized the profit imperative with rhetoric of liberty, equality, and freedom of speech, elevating it to a dominant role in political culture. . . .

    Robert L. Kerr, Ph.D.
    Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication
    Gaylord Hall 3519
    University of Oklahoma
    395 West Lindsey
    Norman, OK 73019-4201

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