Monday, December 10, 2007

Mr. Gower: Thoughtful old boss or evil, alcoholic child abuser? You decide

Now that it is the holiday season, I want to bring up a long neglected holiday topic: Emil Gower. We all remember Gower as the drunk pharmacist in “It’s A Wonderful Life” whom George Bailey saved from poisoning a little boy by mistake, for which George received a beating until his deaf ear was bloody for his trouble.

Granted, Gower received a tragic telegram about his son dying in the war. Nobody would have objected if he took a few days off to mourn. But, no. What did Gower do? He stayed on the job and got roaring, stinking, crazy drunk. Barely able to stand and speak, drunk. Now how come somebody didn’t notice and say; “Hey, the pharmacist is roaring drunk. This could be a problem.”?

Nope, people came in and out of the pharmacy like everything was fine. Just ignore the roaring drunk little scary guy behind the counter. So Gower fills a proscription – and maybe this is where my dislike of pharmacists began – for bi-carbonate of soda with, oops, deadly poison. Here is another one of many questions: what is a pharmacist doing with a huge bottle of powdered poison in the first place? Is this the proscription he fills for disgruntled wives looking to become widows? Clearly Gower has poisoned before.

No way that poisoning was an accident. You gotta be pretty drunk not to notice the huge skull and crossbones required by law back then in movies and in cartoons, on the bottle of poison. So Gower gives the poison for George to deliver. You don’t think Gower knew he was making George the fall guy? Why do you think Gower got so mad when he found out George didn’t deliver the poison? Gower had already been paid by the mob for the hit.

So what did the sloppy-drunk-in-the-middle-of-the-day-during-work Gower do? He bitch slaps little George right on his bad ear until the freaking thing bleeds. How old is George Bailey at this point? Ten? Eleven? A grown drunk is whaling on a poor half-deaf little kid until his damn ear bursts. This was one busy day for Gower: Get smashed, try to poison a kid, beat another half-deaf kid in his deaf ear until it bleeds. Go home. Trust me, you or I try this and it is prison for life, as it should be.

In the George-never-lived part of the movie we discover that Gower went to prison for poisoning the kid and then become a drunken bum. Then becomes a drunken bum? He already was one. Why didn’t Gower go to prison in the George-is-alive version? He was drunk on the job handing out medicine, he tried to poison one kid and beat a half-deaf kid bloody for screwing the hit up. There isn’t a court in the land that wouldn’t send that guy up the river.

When we see George become a grown man, the first thing that happens is he is asking for a big trunk for his steamer trip. Lo and behold, who gave the trunk to him? Gower. Well, isn’t that nice? Oh, sure, a second hand cheesy suitcase will more than make up for the fact that you were once beaten bloody in your deaf ear by a drunk old guy who was trying to poison a little kid.

On second thought, I would take that trunk. It would be perfect. Perfect to hide the dismembered body parts of Emil Gower and bury him in it in Potter’s field, like the old, drunken wretch deserves.

Next: Violet. Flirty town socialite or recidivist whore?

And just how cozy were officer Burt and Ernie the cab driver? Why did Ernie’s wife leave him in the George-wasn’t-alive version? You don’t suppose it was because of all of Bert and Ernie's supposed fishing trips up to Mount “Brokeback” Bedford, do you?

And crazy Uncle Billy Bailey? Crack pot or crack pipe?

And trust me, you don't even want to hear my theory on Ma Bailey and Annie's, um, special relationship.

OK, I have have stepped over the line on that one. I'm just sayin', F.Y.I., from a bottom-line synergy functionality standpoint win-win mindset, at the end of the day, at this point in time, it is what it is, literally.