"Wonderful Life" / Mrs. Martini Question

Now, what’s the background on this scene again?

It’s the one where the townspeople are demanding their money back from the Savings and Loan and George has to give up his wedding gift money since the bank is tapped out. You know the one.

Anyway, the character who’s name I believe is Mrs. Martini asks for a specific amount…$17.50 I think it was. George/Jimmy Stewart lets it sink in for a second and then reaches over and gives the lady a big smooch - and then the cash of course.

Now, wasn’t this part of the scene ad-libbed or something? I recall hearing that Capra instructed the actress playing Mrs. Martini to forgo her line and instead request the amount of $17.50 (?) which had some kind of significance and George/Stewart doesn’t miss a beat and plays along and reacts as he does.

The question is, who can fill in the holes here?

I don’t know about the ad-lib question, but the significance of the sum is that it is quite a bit less than what the other folks are asking for. Indeed, since at the end of the day the Bailey Building & Loan is left with only $2.00 in assets, if Mrs. Martini had asked for more than $19.50, the BB&L would have failed.

This would probably do better over in the Cafe Society forum. You may want to drop a mod an e-mail asking to have it moved.

Off to Cafe Society.

moderator GQ

A little nitpick here - Mrs. Martini is the wife of Mr. Martini, the owner of the bar. The woman who asked for $17.50 was Mrs. Davis. Mrs. Davis was played by the lady who played Grandma Walton on TV.

You mean Ellen Corby?

Guinastasia, according to IMDb, yes.

From what I’ve read on the movie, Capra just instructed her to ad-lib an amount and that was George’s (Jimmy’s) spontaneous response. Don’t recall if it has some special significance to Jimmy, but the idea for George is that she’s only asking for exactly as much as she needs – no more.