This month’s good Character theme: Christmas. Today: Jason Cuthbert’s guest short article features Clarence indigenous the 1946 movie It’s A wonderful Life .

You are watching: Clarence from it’s a wonderful life


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When it comes to “trixter” personalities in movies, those who deserve to keep united state entertained when manipulating the protagonist to obtain their method — Clarence the “Angel second Class”, in the Christmas standard It’s a exorbitant Life, is one who will execute what he should to earn his wings. However he likewise has enduring “mentor” properties in his screenplay DNA together well, together he travel guide the suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) with his unlived alternate reality.

The affable angelic one — Clarence — to be played by Henry Travers (Shadow that a Doubt, The Invisible Man), who was nearly 60 years old when he released his first feature film performances in 1933. But Travers was already a veteran the the brothers theatre stage before the silver display screen — and also before playing the heavenly Clarence because that the beloved director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes come Washington, It occurred One Night) in 1946.

It’s a exorbitant Life plot summary from IMDB:

An point of view helps a compassionate however despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have actually been favor if he never ever existed.

As much as the specific scribes affiliated in crafting this timeless tale, it gets rather complicated, together can often be the case. Philip van Doren Stern got story credit, through the screenplay duties being split in between Frank Capra himself, Albert Hackett and also Frances Goodrich — with a small magic sprinkled in native Jo Swerling because that “additional scenes” and also a couple of uncredited contributions to the screenplay native Michael Wilson. Through these 12 eyeballs hovering over the pages, the end an outcome is a fantasy movie that has actually thought the everything. They carried the humor, the humanity, the heart break, the well-developed 2nd and third string characters, and also the ethereal set-ups, favor George Bailey’s idea for a swimming pool under the floor that a gymnasium, complied with by constant pay-offs, like when a jealousy rejected lover later opens up the floor for revenge.

The writing team conserved the idea of having actually wasted scenes because that the pesky amateurs, and permitted every idea that is introduced to come full circle, including Clarence’s point of view assignment. Also with every one of the wonderful life arising from high concept facets like angels and Bailey see his world without him in it, there is tho a smart book-ending framework. We start with Clarence as a spirit without “flight flaps”, and end off through Clarence going from the human type of a senior citizen, back to his spiritual splendor.

We learn all about the life the George Bailey took because that granted right along with Clarence — indigenous his point of view. Clarence gets the beforehand sympathy point out as shortly as we find out the he is not rather the many respected ethereal guardian to elegant the unseen greater plains of existence.

CLARENCE: Sir, if i should attain this mission, i mean… um. Might I maybe win mine wings? i’ve been wait for end 200 year now, sir, and people are start to talk.

He may be thought about quite the late bloomer in graduating come the top echelon the the after ~ life, however on planet — Clarence elevates to the level the a gracious, humble, otherworldly motivational speaker.

CLARENCE: Strange, isn’t it? each man’s life touches so numerous other lives. Once he isn’t approximately he leaves an horrible hole, no he?

George Bailey might not realize the he is precious his weight in love, yet Clarence does.

CLARENCE: <In publication inscription> Remember, George: no guy is a failure who has friends.

Clarence is favor that hilarious, but really wise uncle that has actually aged long sufficient to stop putting top top airs to gain the approval the others. He has no trouble showering Bailey in the truth around life, through answers that have actually “been there excellent that” juice spilled everywhere them. If Bailey is going to take any kind of advice about not dieing, that might also be native someone like Clarence, who has actually literally crossed the threshold already. Point of view wings weren’t exactly easily accessible on a payment plan over in ~ the Bailey Building and also Loan Association. So unless Clarence wanted to wait an additional 200 years to paris high — he had to get creative to keep George Bailey breathing.


Clarence spends his Christmas eve enduring a freezing winter lake, acquiring the “stop her lying” glare…often, and also aggressively acquiring kicked out of a bar because that his angel talk — and never as soon as stoops down to anyone’s level. Clarence gives business with a smile; every in the name of proving the love never loses value on the emotional stock exchange. Every he want for Christmas was to it is in a truly airborne angel, so that he might do this guardian gig fulltime, and save even much more lives, which renders Clarence a merry, merry good CHARACTER.

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I concur the Clarence attract a trickster mask a great deal of the time, but when you drill under to what his main narrative function is, plainly he is a Mentor. He’s choose the anti Obi-Wan Kenobi or Gandalf: has the exact same white hair and also aged presence, however a completely different, even daffy tone, a great example of exactly how variable character archetypes have the right to be.