What's the Difference between The Greatest Gift the Book and It's a Wonderful Life the Movie?


The Greatest Gift

Released: 1944
Author: Philip Van Doren Stern

It's a Wonderful Life

Released: 1946
Director: Frank Capra
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In the Book In the Movie
George Pratt
George Bailey
Portrayed by: James Stewart
The Stranger
Portrayed by: Henry Travers
Mary Thatcher
Mary Hatch
Portrayed by: Donna Reed
It's a Wonderful Life Book vs Movie
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This Spoils the Ending
In the Book In the Movie
   The book starts with George Pratt getting ready to jump into the icy river to kill himself. The film starts with an angel sent to Earth to save George Bailey. The film shows George's life from a young boy; friendship with Mary, saving his brother's life, getting married and foregoing his honeymoon to save the Building and Loan and his plea to Mr. Potter for help prior to running away to kill himself.
   George sees the old tree on Hank Biddle's property that he had damaged with his car a while back. It is no longer damaged. George does not see his old Model T car that he had crashed into the tree on his way to kill himself. A man passing by tells him the tree is the oldest one in Pottersvile (the town is no longer Bedford Falls).
   George goes to his father's house. He gives the man and woman a free brush with a bright blue handle; George is invited to sit and talk. He asks about Harry, but this makes them upset as Harry had died as a child by drowning. George had saved Harry in the original timeline. George goes to his mother's house. She is a bitter old woman whose only son Harry had died years ago. In the original timeline, Harry was a Navy pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor after shooting down a Japanese kamakazi about to crash into a Navy transport. When George asks about uncle Billy, his mother gets angry and said he is a useless old drunk.
   As George passes the bank, he notices that it is dark and for sale. A real estate agent tells George that the bank building is for sale as Marty Jenkins had stolen $50,000 from the bank causing it to fail and nearly ruin the town. Marty got the bank job that George had in the original timeline. George sees that the building and loan was closed years ago (when his dad died) and the town has become a cesspool of gambling and prostitution run by Mr. Potter.
   As George is visiting Mary, her husband Art come home. He is a angry drunk whose wife and son are afraid of. George leaves the house and runs off looking for The Stranger to get his life back. The Stranger warns George about rejecting the greatest gift of life. When George says what happened to him was murder, The Stranger says it was more like suicide. He tells George to walk back to town towards the sounds of the bells tolling for Christmas Vespers. George runs away with the police chasing him after Mary screams at him. He arrives at the bridge begging for his life back. It starts to snow again and he runs back to town. George sees everything has returned to normal. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, even Mr. Potter who says "in jail".
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