It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
As a young man, George Bailey dreamed of shaking the dust from his shoes and traveling the world, but one thing after another keeps him at home in Bedford Falls, New York — primarily his responsibility to the family savings and loan association, which is vital to the people of Bedford Falls.
Mr. Potter, the depraved and powerful local banker, objects to their providing home loans for the working poor. The only way the board will allow George’s family Building and Loan to remain open is if George is running it. George agrees with the understanding that his younger brother will take over when he graduates. But Harry is offered another job by his wife’s father and George is left behind.
George marries his high school sweetheart, Mary. He opens Bailey Park, an affordable housing project. He raises four children. And when his absentminded uncle Billy misplaces $8,000 in Building and Loan funds, he faces bankruptcy. A depressed George gets drunk at the bar on Christmas Eve and crashes his car into a tree. On a bridge, he contemplates suicide.
That is when Clarence, George’s guardian angel, arrives. Clarence saves him and shows him what life in Bedford Falls would have been like without him. The sights are devastating and grim. George learns that by his life’s work and sacrifices, people are alive and thriving and Mr. Potter has been kept in check, preventing the town from descending into depravity.
George runs back to the bridge and begs to be allowed to live again. His prayer is answered, and he runs home joyously. Mary, Uncle Billy, and a flood of townspeople arrive with more than enough donations to save George and the Building and Loan. George’s friend Sam Wainwright sends him a $25,000 line of credit by telegram. A bell on the Christmas tree rings, and his daughter, Zuzu, remembers aloud that it means an angel has just earned his wings. George realizes that he truly has a wonderful life.