Six Characters in Search of a Blogger

7.1 Alfalfa, “all growed up” in It’s a Wonderful Life

Without doubt, It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite Christmas film.  I’m rather ashamed to admit I never saw it until I was in college, and this was thanks to a couple of classic film buffs (both under age 10!) for whom I babysat back in the day.  So thanks, Lili and John, wherever you are!

There are innumerable classic moments in It’s a Wonderful Life, of course.  The moment when George (Jimmy Stewart) courts Mary (Donna Reed) as they sing “Buffalo Gals” (and that old man from the porch calls out, “why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?”) The moment George saves the Savings and Loan from the bank run during the Depression, and places the two dollars they have left in the safe.  And the ultimate moment at the end of the film, when Zuzu says, “Look, Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings,” and George looks up and says, “That’s right, that’s right.  Atta boy, Clarence.”

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

But you might have missed a very critical cameo in the film by Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, of Little Rascals fame, as Mary’s would-be suitor “Freddie Othello” at the high school dance.  He only has a handful of lines, but it’s his one big act of defiance that enables the plot during the rest of the movie:  that’s right, Alfalfa is the one who pulls the lever to retract the moveable floor during the Charleston contest.  And it’s what causes Mary and George to go flying into the gym pool, get absolutely drenched, and walk home together in their makeshift costumes (she in a swim robe, he in an ill-fitting football uniform.)  And then, they fall in love…

You can relive the scene here (the clip is long, so please forgive me! Alfalfa features in the first 3-4 minutes.)


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