Lane was one of those guys who would pop up in a movie, and I would nod happily, knowing that he was about to deliver the goods. He was especially fine at playing people who were cynical but not blind, capable of good even as they were aware of all the bad in the world.
Let's remember his moment in "It's a Wonderful Life." He tells Potter about the growth of Bailey Park, "and are the local yokels making with the David and Goliath wisecracks." The Baileys, Lane notes, were chumps, with each home worth twice what it cost the savings and loan to build. He tries to offer Potter advice. Potter brushes him off.
"No skin off my nose," Lane says. "But one of these days, this bright young man is going to be asking George Bailey for a job."
As I said, cynical -- referring to chumps -- but not blind. And sure, the lines make the point. But Lane knew how to deliver them.