It's A Wonderful Cigar

By Gary Korb

We have an annual tradition at our house on Christmas Eve. We all watch Frank Capra's immortal film classic, It's A Wonderful Life. Tired of watching it on network television with commercial interruption, I finally bought my own copy on DVD. I have seen this movie more than any other movie. In fact, I can recite practically half the screenplay, and usually beat the actors to their lines when we're watching it, which my kids get a big kick out of. Watching the movie this year, I noticed just how often cigars appear in the movie.

Of course, there's the scene early on when a young George Bailey shows up for work at the Gower's Drug Store and pulls the handle on the cigar cutter as he utters the line, "I wish I had a million dollars." Shortly after, Mr. Gower appears, disheveled, chomping on a thick, chewed-up cigar. Several scenes later, George is ordered by Mr. Gower to deliver some pills George knows have been filled with poison. Just before leaving the store he stares at a cigar sign for Sweet Caporal Cigars emblazoned with the words: "ASK DAD, HE KNOWS."

Several other characters are seen throughout the film smoking cigars. In a scene where George is at the Bailey Building & Loan company, having finally settled the company's affairs since his father's death, one of the men at the board table is seen smoking a cigar.

At the end of the scene where newlywed George has given away all of his wedding cash to the Building & Loan customers to prevent losing the family business to Mr. Potter, George comes out of the safe door to find Cousin Eustace, handing out "wedding cigars."

Then there's the infamous scene where the old, Scrooge-like Mr. Potter sits George down to offer him a job at a whopping $20,000 a year, offers him a cigar, and even lights it for him. As the script reads:

GEORGE: Thank you, sir. Quite a cigar, Mr. Potter.

POTTER: You like it? I'll send you a box.

They're most likely Cuban cigars, too.

More cigars can be found in various scenes throughout the picture, like in Martini's Bar, for instance.

I don't know if the film's director, Frank Capra, smoked cigars, but what I love most about It's A Wonderful Life is, it's a big delicious slice of American life that you just don't see anymore.

So, in closing, I raise my cigar in a toast to the late Mr. Capra. May joy, prosperity, and your wonderful movie reign forever.


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