Members of the jury, let me be clear: I didn’t steal the money.
I direct your attention to the front row of the courtroom. Take a good long look, my fellow citizens. Why, I’m surprised the inebriated old fool remembered to stagger his way into this fine courthouse this morning. Are you going to take the drunken babblings of this doddering old stooge, Uncle Billy, as gospel? And isn’t that what it comes down to? My word, as one of the most respected businessmen in Bedford Falls, against that of a notorious dipsomaniac? A man—mind you—who consorts with a pet squirrel!
Yes, yes, I know you heard testimony from Bert the Cop that he found the Bailey Building & Loan money locked in my desk. But I can look each and every one of you in the eye and tell you that when I tucked that newspaper into my drawer, I had no idea that it contained the Building & Loan’s cash deposits.
How could I? Quite frankly, I was emotionally distraught after the verbal assault Uncle Billy leveled at me as he barreled into my bank and battered me about the face with the very same newspaper. He compared me— me, the head of the draft board—to the Nazis and the Japs! I was speechless! Shocked and chagrined!
So when I rolled into my office and tossed that old newspaper in my desk drawer, I had no idea it contained any money. I was as surprised as Bert the Cop when he pulled all that cash out from my desk. But not as surprised as when he violently grabbed me by the lapels and dragged me from my wheelchair to manacle my hands behind my back! Me! A cripple and a respected business leader—arrested like a common thief!
It was mortifying! Mortifying!
And do I really need to address the deceptions put forth by George Bailey? And under oath, mind you! I have it under good authority that George Bailey actually profited from this whole experience when the discontented, lazy rabble he calls friends and customers emptied out their piggy banks for him. That braying spoiled brat Sam Wainwright actually cabled Bailey $25,000! Harrumph!
I remain confounded by the loyalty this town gives to George Bailey, a frustrated, angry, and ungrateful young man. George Bailey hates Bedford Falls and has been trying to leave it ever since he was a boy. Why, he’s been heard to say—and I quote—that he wants to “shake the dust off this crummy little town and see the world!” This is how much he despises our beautiful little metropolis, a town I’m proud to call my home.
Let me tell you about George Bailey. He’s an arrogant, rude man who once sat in my office, smoking my expensive cigars, and called me “a scurvy little spider.” This from a man who stole his best friend’s girl! A man who used to regularly vandalize the home he now lives in! A man who consorts with people of low moral character!
Think about the social circle George Bailey travels in. How about Mr. Martini? A garlic eater and owner of a disreputable gin mill on the edge of town! Nick the bartender? A violent ruffian with a police record! And let’s talk about Mr. Sam Wainwright, shall we? A philanderer who lives in New York City! And how about old man Gower? Why, nothing more than a drunk and a child beater!
But worst of all may be Violet Bick! An allegedly happily married man like George Bailey is often in the company of this woman of loose moral character! A man who once shouted throughout the town how he wanted to take her skinny-dipping! A woman to whom George Bailey is often seen giving large amounts of cash. She’s nothing more than a barroom whore!
Now, now, fair citizens, don’t gasp at me! Do you think George Bailey is the only man Violet hits up for money? That she hasn’t come crawling into my office on her hands and knees begging for my assistance? I may have two useless appendages, but my middle one works fine, thank you very much!
What? What? Don’t look at me like that! You think your hero—your Mr. Building & Loan—isn’t getting down on that action? Just because I give the little blond a tap every now and then doesn’t make me a bad man. You think it’s easy being the town cripple? Huh? Putting up with all your shit? But I got my revenge! Oh, yes. I own this burg! You’re like my … my cattle! Bigger bitches than Violet!
Pottersville! That’s what we should call this shit hole! Pottersville!
Unhand me, bailiff! Judge! Take your goddamn hands off me! Please! I didn’t do it! I’m innocent!
Wonderful life, my ass!