Popcorn Talk Network‘s Mother’s Day Salute to Movie Moms wishes a Happy Mothers Day to It’s a Wonderful Life’s wife, mother and rock Mary Bailey, the Greatest of Movie Moms!

Written by: Keven Undergaro – May 10th, 2020 12:27am pst

PTN’s Happy Movie Mother’s Day : Mary Bailey and Donna Reed

Popcorn Talk’s Happy Movie Mother’s Day is the series honoring the great movie moms we have seen on the big screen throughout the decades. In this edition, it’s with the greatest pleasure to honor Mary Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life, arguably the greatest movie mom of them all.

Whether as an elementary schoolgirl sitting at the drugstore, patiently waiting her turn for ice cream in order to get her future husband’s attention, or as a high school senior beautifully dancing with that same future husband, only to accidentally fall into a pool then laugh it off, Mary Bailey displayed so many consistent qualities throughout her life and so many qualities that made it impossible to put her in one box. Born with an old soul, she knew what she wanted from childhood: a rich and prosperous life, not in terms of money but in terms of happiness.  She wanted this life with George Bailey and for him to be husband and father to her children in the quaint town of Bedford Falls. She even knew the old abandoned wreck of a home she planned to live in. 

Lest anyone dismiss Mary Bailey, or this article’s portrayal, as just an old fashioned gal who wanted to play house and housewife for there could not be a more ignorant assumption.  That old abandoned house? Mary purchased it behind her husband George’s back and did the renovations, too.  When the renovations were complete, what a magnificent house it became.  It proved to be a serene setting for the family with room for growth and surely quite the shrewd investment.  When the family business was about to fold during the great depression, it was Mary who opted to forfeit her honeymoon to save the business.  The maneuver also saved the town from degrading into Pottersville: a would-be, future version of tBedford Falls littered with gamblers, drunkards, slums, bullies and impoverished. 

Then again, you can’t simply label Mary as a lean in, Girl-Boss precursor, either.  She could be lighthearted, funny and snarky, even.  When her overbearing mother yells down the stairs to ask her what she’s doing in the living room with George, Mary’s response, “He’s making violent love to me, Mother” gives us evidence.  She also had integrity, forgoing dating the wealthy Sam Wainwright in order to pursue the wealthier soul of George Bailey.

As far as being a fine corporate wife, she could play that role as well.  When the Martini family is finally able to buy their own home, compliments of the Bailey Savings and Loan, Mary, holding a  Martini baby in her arm, personally escorts the family in their proud exodus from Potter’s slums. Her toast at the new house in Bailey Park and presentation of bread, salt and wine to the family was delivered with such sincerity, warmth and love. You could not ask for a better partner to represent you or your company. 

Of course, on top of it all, she volunteered when the community needed her and kept Christmas wonderfully, too.   

However, Mary Bailey is the ultimate movie mom for the way she handled the darkest moment of her husband’s life. When George fears the worst, that he will go to jail and be scandalized for misplacing company funds, he comes home angry and even acting verbally abusive to the children.  Mary doesn’t lose her cool as one might expect.  She doesn’t yell back at George or throw him out as she would be entitled. Instead, she refuses to take it personally. She trusts those same amazing instincts – the ones that guided her to George in the first place – knowing that something was terribly wrong.  Rather than become hysterical or let her ego get in the way, Mary  immediately picks up the phone to get to the bottom of the situation.  Along with not showing hysterics to her children, she also doesn’t glaze over the situation as many helicopter parents would today.  Mary freely admits to the children that their father is in trouble and advises them to pray for him. Observing her level headedness, the children follow suit. 

Then, as George wallows in self pity, wishing he were never born on the streets of Bedford Falls and then in the dark fantasy world of Pottersville,  Mary works to discover the genesis of the problem and to make it alright. She does both and then some.  By the time George discovers that he’s, in fact, had a wonderful life, Mary has not only remedied the problem, she has also set her family, the Building and Loan and the entire town of Bedford Falls up for life while finally and forever distancing themselves from arch nemesis Potter.   

As for Donna Reed, the actress who played Mary Bailey, you cannot imagine anyone else playing the role. If the character of Mary Bailey was so deep and so layered then what can be said of the actor asked to tackle that role and to somehow convey all those layers?  The late Dona Reed is every bit as worthy as Mary Bailey in receiving Mother’s Day honors and accolades.

For these reasons and more we say ‘Happy Movie Mom Mothers Day’ to It’s a Wonderful Life’s Mary Bailey and to actress Donna Reed from the Popcorn Talk Network.  

If you’re a fan of It’s a Wonderful Life’s Mary Bailey and actress Donna Reed, share this article with a friend.  For the greatest in movie news and discussion articles, videos and podcasts, keep tuning into the Popcorn Talk Network.

About The Author:

Keven Undergaro is a the Founder and Chief Content Officer of AfterBuzz TV. Known as “The Hollywood Career Coach,” he is a brand builder, entrepreneur, award winning filmmaker, and New York Times bestselling author.

More News