Henry F. Potter, generally referred to as simply Mr. Potter, is the main antagonist in the 1946 Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life. He is the wealthiest and meanest man in Bedford Falls, who is bent on either destroying or taking control of George Bailey's company Bailey Brothers Building and Loan in order to take complete control of the town.


He was portrayed by Lionel Barrymore.

Why He Rocks

  1. He's one of, if not the most iconic Christmas antagonist ever put on the big or small screen.
  2. Lionel Barrymore does an impressive and subtle portrayal of the rich businessman.
  3. Considering the film in general is a spin on Charles Dinkins' A Christmas Carol, it makes sense that one of the characters -- in this case Potter -- would be based on Ebenezer Scrooge minus the redemption. So his character has a rather nice reference.
  4. He's a clever, manipulative and surprisingly convincing schemer to the point where he came close several times to getting control over the Bank and Loan. It's also notable that he doesn't resort to violence when he's threatening people. In fact, if you consider the "Pottersville" sequence, George Bailey's commitment to his job is literally the only reason Potter hasn't been able to own not only the Bank and Loan, but Bedford Falls as a whole. Yep, he's that cunning.
  5. His famous "You're worth more dead than alive" speech, which is often seen as his deepest moment.
  6. He's that rare antagonistic character who ends the film without getting any kind of punishment or comeuppance. This is especially notable in the 40s when Karma Houdinis were prohibited in the film studios.

Trivia

  • Mr. Potter came in 6th place in the Villains category on AFI's 100 Heroes and Villains countdown.
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