End of It's a Wonderful Life - Is George still in trouble?

At the end of It’s a Wonderful Life wouldn’t George Baily still be in trouble
with the bank examiner because the 8000 dollars is still missing? Yes, George’s
friends have contributed money to make up for the loss. But the $8000 that
Uncle Billy lost is still missing and Bailly Saving & Loan has no record
of what happened to it. Wouldn’t the bank examiner question this and hold
George responible for the loss? Since Mr. Potter owns stock in the Baily
Saving & Loan could he press charges agaist George and his company?

The money isn’t missing any more. You and I know that the original $8000 was replaced by a different $8000, but that won’t show up in the bookkeeping.

There may be some people in the banking industry who will suspect George of incompetence, but no legal charges will have any standing any more, and perhaps the point of the story is that (once those technicalities have been repaired) the opinions of those in the banking industry are much less important than those of the hometown folk.

Does that mean that someone out there got away with eight grand? Or lots of little someones got lots of little undeserved Christmas gifts? (“Jane, why is our checking account $7.29 ahead of where it should be?”) Or … ?

(Been decades since I saw the movie, and only the once.)

Potter got away with eight grand. But since he was hoping to put the Bailey savings and loan out of business, and he’s already got more money than God, that’s a hollow win for him.

God doesn’t need money

I am almost certain this is wrong. I wish I could provide a cite. But think of it this way: If you’re a cashier and you take money from the register to spend on yourself, then even if you replace it with an identical amount later in your shift, it’s not okay.

The dicrepancy has already showed up in the books. That’s why the people are there waiting at his house–a warrant has been issued and everything. IRL George would be screwed–at least arrested if not convicted.

Potter gets paid twice, and the bank is just as financially insecure as it was before. Potter will still win, and gets a tidy $8000 bonus for the small delay.

But does he need a starship?

Having just rewatched the movie this week, I’ll note there’s a scene at the end where the bank examiner contributes to the donations and the investigator tears up the warrant and they both begin singing with the crowd. There’s also the telegram from Sam Wainwright where he promises to contribute any money needed to keep the bank going.

So the upshot seems to be that George’s and the Savings and Loan’s immediate financial and legal problems are cleared up. Potter does get away with pocketing the eight thousand dollars and is still out there trying to close the Savings and Loan down (unless you believe the “lost ending”). And George does still face some secondary issues like apologizing to Zuzu’s teacher and paying for his damaged car. But he’s essentially no worse off than he was a few days prior to Christmas and he has his faith in humanity renewed.

As I recall, Uncle Billy accidentally left the money envelope in a newspaper at the bank. Potter found the newspaper with the money inside, knew immediately what it was for, and pocketed it. Potter’s right-hand man (the guy who pushes his wheelchair and presumably wipes his arse, poor guy) witnessed the whole thing.

When I was a kid married to notions of truth and justice, I fantasized that the assistant squealed on Potter after the fact. Of course, he’d be jeopardizing his own livelihood in so doing. As a jaded adult, I’m confident it would never happen.

As far as the examiners were concerned, what happened was that the Bailey Savings and Loan recorded a withdrawal of $8000.00 cash, to be deposited into an account at Potter’s bank. There was an inordinate delay in transferring the cash, but when required to account for the whereabouts of the money George was able to do so.

I’m betting Uncle Billy won’t be the one making the deposit next time.

But (IRL) this wouldn’t mean George was in the clear. It would only mean that the bank examiner and investigator are in dereliction of their duties! Potter could have them arrested too now. :wink:

Are there any IRL parallels to the situation discussed online somewhere? Does an “inordinate delay in transferring…cash” itself constitute a reason for investigation?

I don’t know, but I do know that it was Potter filing a complaint alleging embezzlement that led to the warrant being drawn up.

It’s a great movie, as we all know. I get a little tight in the throat each time I see it. Reminds me of the story my Grandfather told about how he couldn’t make his mortgage payment during the Depression. He went (with hat in hand) to see the loan officer at the local Savings and Loan. He was told that they didn’t want to hold any more property, and if he could pay the interest until things got better for him, that was fine. In other worda, a sensible, human approach.

Why? As far as the bank examiners are concerned, they’re only interested in the bottom line - if the money that’s on record is accounted for when they look for it, they don’t care where it came from.

The fact that the money was missing at one point is just an internal matter for the company to handle. George knows Uncle Billy lost eight thousand dollars of the company’s money, so he can fire Uncle Billy if he chooses. But the bank examiners aren’t going to care.

Potter’s in the same position as the bank examiners. He can only officially complain if the books don’t balance. If he had enough votes to otherwise influence the way the company was run, he’d have fired George long ago.

They already looked for it, and it was already missing. That’s why they’re at George’s house in the first place.

I don’t believe it’s true, btw, that they don’t care where the money came from. For example, do you think that it would be legal for you to take a hundred bucks without permission from a safe wherever you work, as long as you put it back before the end of the work day?

BTW what exactly is a bank examiner? One who examines banks, or one from a bank who examines others? For whom is he doing the examining?

My problem with the ending is that George’s family (his uncle in particular) should have been recording who gave how much money, so they could be reimbursed if and when the original $8,000 was recovered.

Of course that isn’t legal - that’s theft of money that doesn’t belong to me.

But suppose Uncle Billy had lost the money and George had been able to sell his house in a single day for eight thousand dollars in order to replace the missing money. Would the bank examiners care that the original eight thousand dollars was gone at that point? No, as long as a replacement eight thousand dollars was there to balance the books.