During the A-Z Blogging Challenge, one of my readers asked me a question that stumped me.
She asked me what happened to Mr. Martini in the Pottersville sequence. I didn't know.
So I started doing some research. Here is what I found:
Someone named going by the name Hermione posted the following on Dec. 19, 2012. It was posted on the Web site The Straight Dope, under a thread titled "It's A Wonderful Life - what happened to Martini??": "...I've got a couple of books on the making of the movie, and there was a deleted line from Clarence in one of the early shooting scripts about Martini's fate. Apparently, the Martinis were still in one of those firetrap shacks in Potter's Field, where a fire did indeed break out. Martini saved his family but died of his burns."
In Frank Capra and It's a Wonderful Life: A Burkean Cluster Analysis of a Rhetorically Self-Expressive Film, James T. Coon states that "Martini's bar has become Nick's Bar because, as Capra's notes indicate, Martini died in a Potter's Field slum fire." (p. 48). Sadly, he doesn't cite his source.
These are the only places I can find any reference. Even my favorite go-to reference, The It's a Wonderful Life Book by Jeanine Basinger, does not have any information about it...at least that I can find.
What I do know is that in the bridge keeper's toll house, George says he wants and needs to find Martini. Since Martini is the last person George saw before he walked to the bridge, he believes that Martini can bring him back to his senses.
The fact of the matter is that Martini can't bring him back to his senses, because Clarence and the other angels are in control. And since Martini can't "fix it," there is no reason for us to find out what happened to him. George is on a chase to prove something that he can't prove. Instead of proving, he must learn. Martini can't teach him.
There is no real reason to find Martini. He cannot add anything to the lessons others teach George.
Is there a scene that got cut? Did Martini die in a fire? I don't know. Do you? If you know of an old script or some other reference that sheds light on this, please let me know!
Coon, James T. “Frank Capra and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Burkean Cluster Analysis of a Rhetorically Self-Expressive Film.” Thesis, Bowling Green State University, 1989.