Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 22 19:46:38 UTC 2012

On Aug 22, 2012, at 2:42 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 12:06 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>> Mr. Potter
> Was that the name of "The Mayor of the Town," LB's most famous
> character, IMExperience?
I always wondered whether the screenwriters named LB's character Mr. Potter just so they could get the pun about "Potter's Field" into the movie.  Let me see if I can find the relevant reference…yes, here's Potter's assistant explaining why they need to shut George Bailey and his Building and Loan down, and soon:

"Fifteen years ago, a half-dozen houses stuck here and there."
(indicating map)
"There's the old cemetery, squirrels, buttercups, daisies. Used to hunt rabbits there myself. Look at it today. Dozens of the prettiest little homes you ever saw.
Ninety per cent owned by suckers who used to pay rent to you. Your Potter's Field, my dear Mr. Employer, is becoming just that."

A quick Google search indicates that more than a few movie watchers at least originally assumed that this is indeed the origin of "potter's field" = 'graveyard', which of course goes back at least to the KJB (Matthew 27).

I don't recall anything being made in the movie about the Baileys putting up houses in the Bedford Falls cemetery; I'd have thought that was frowned on.  Can anyone with a better memory refresh mine?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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