FBI Considered "It's A Wonderful Life" Communist Propaganda

By Will Chen on 24 December 2006 (Updated 8 March 2012) 68 comments
Photo: naotakem

I love It's a Wonderful Life because it teaches us that family, friendship, and virtue are the true definitions of wealth.

In 1947, however, the FBI considered this anti-consumerist message as subversive Communist propaganda (read original FBI memo).

According to Professor John Noakes of Franklin and Marshall College, the FBI thought Life smeared American values such as wealth and free enterprise while glorifying anti-American values such as the triumph of the common man. (See also: Occupy Wall Street, the 99%, and All That)

The FBI specifically detested the way Mr. Potter was portrayed:

The casting of Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" resulted in the loathsome Mr. Potter becoming the most hated person in the film. According to the official FBI report, "this was a common trick used by the communists."

"What's interesting in the FBI critique is that the Baileys were also bankers," said Noakes. " and what is really going on is a struggle between the big-city banker (Potter) and the small banker (the Baileys). Capra was clearly on side of small capitalism and the FBI was on the side of big capitalism.

The FBI misinterpreted this classic struggle as communist propaganda. I would argue that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a poignant movie about the transition in the U.S. between small and big capitalism, with Jimmy Stewart personifying the last hope for a small town. It's a lot like the battle between Home Depot and the mom and pop hardware store." Source: Franklin and Marshall College and Delilah Boyd

As you can imagine, Life is more than just a Christmas movie for us here at Wise Bread. Heck, George Bailey's life story is practically the blueprint for our mission statement!George and Mary Bailey almost kissing

Naturally I want to get to the bottom of this. I don't want to become an anti-consumerist, especially when our Commander in Chief has decreed that it is our duty as Americans to do more shopping.

So I fired up "The Google" and dug up the original FBI report just to make sure Professor Noakes was right. The original document was a bit hard to read so I transcribed it for your reading pleasure (I did this for free, maybe I am a pinko):

To: The Director

D.M. Ladd

COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY

(RUNNING MEMORANDUM)

There is submitted herewith the running memorandum concerning Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry which has been brought up to date as of May 26, 1947....

With regard to the picture "It's a Wonderful Life", [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

>In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn't have "suffered at all" in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and "I would never have done it that way."

[redacted] recalled that approximately 15 years ago, the picture entitled "The Letter" was made in Russia and was later shown in this country. He recalled that in this Russian picture, an individual who had lost his self-respect as well as that of his friends and neighbors because of drunkenness, was given one last chance to redeem himself by going to the bank to get some money to pay off a debt. The old man was a sympathetic character and was so pleased at his opportunity that he was extremely nervous, inferring he might lose the letter of credit or the money itself. In summary, the old man made the journey of several days duration to the bank and with no mishap until he fell asleep on the homeward journey because of his determination to succeed. On this occasion the package of money dropped out of his pocket. Upon arriving home, the old man was so chagrined he hung himself. The next day someone returned the package of money to his wife saying it had been found. [redacted] draws a parallel of this scene and that of the picture previously discussed, showing that Thomas Mitchell who played the part of the man losing the money in the Capra picture suffered the same consequences as the man in the Russian picture in that Mitchell was too old a man to go out and make money to pay off his debt to the banker.

FBI It's a Wonderful Life Memo

 

FBI It's a Wonderful Life Memo

 

We can look back at the FBI report with scorn and ridicule. But are we really that much more enlightened today as a society?

We live in an America where romantic love is defined by three-month-salary diamonds and parental affections are expressed through ridiculously-priced video games (don't forget to check out our report on the Wii and PS3 locator, by the way).

Perhaps the FBI was (and still is) correct when it said It's a Wonderful Life did not reflect American values. If you don't believe me, try telling your loved ones tonight that they won't be getting a materialistic gift from you, because your love for them already makes them the "richest man in town!"

Is it really true that every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings? I don't know. I do hope that every time a Christmas shopper cuts me off in the mall parking lot, God smites a kitten.

 

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Guest's picture
annie

hey! leave the kitties out of this!

Guest's picture
Guest

If you get the chance, watch this brilliant documentary http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?q=century+of+self to see why the FBI was so against this film and its sentiments

Guest's picture

Every time a bell rings, an FBI agent gets on the case! Funny how back then it was the Commies, now its the Terrorists... anything to keep us in fear!

Liberate your minds! Free yourself from fear!

And have a Merry Christmahanufestivukwanazamas.!

Guest's picture
Guest

"Funny how back then it was the Commies, now its the Terrorists" Yes, funny. Funny how back then there really were Soviet agents in high government positions, and the Communists were just getting warmed up running through Europe conquering many nations and killing millions. Funny that extremist Muslims, employing terrorism as one of their main means of attack, really did make eight attacks on US soil in the 90's and then the 9/11 ramming planes into buildings. This FBI document reveals the opinion of one person, who is obviously wrong. American values are indeed hard work and free enterprise, but also family and friendship. The average FBI agent, the average person who was against communism and soviet spies in our government, did not hold the view that IaWL was communist propoganda. The majority of people who realise people who ram planes into our buildings might need to be stopped are not of the opinion that friendship and family are anti American.

Guest's picture
Michael

Hi, I am one of many, that is instrumental in posting the weekly web blog for www.ArgentinaBrunetti.com Argy, as she is affectionately known by her friends, was one of the many actors (she potrayed Mrs. Martini in the film) that allowed this Christmas classic to become so close and dear to all of our hearts. This film is only now getting the acclaim that it has deserved all along. How dare they try to villilfy that. Visit http://www.argentinabrunetti.com/videoItsawonderfullife.html to see the trailer and do not let the FBI Grinch of Christmas' past steal this or any other Christmas from us.

Will Chen's picture

Thank you for sharing that little wonderful connection with us. Now I love the movie even more! Ms. Brunetti was great as Mrs. Martini. The scene where Mary hands over the bread and wine to Mrs. Martini is one of my favorite scenes in the movie (I remember how emotional my parents were when they bought their first house).

The Century of Self looks like a great documentary. Thanks for the recommendation guest reader.

Guest's picture

I am the only son of one of the last surviving (ADULT) members (if not the last) of the Christmas classic film 'It's a Wonderful Life'. Argentina Brunetti, portrayed Mrs. Martini in the film and passed away at 98. After reading Mr.Chen's article, I can only point out how dangerous misinformation and personal opinion can be, if it is used maliciously by those in political power. This should be a lesson to all about the potency of the written word and to think twice before following blindly down a certain path just because something is written in a certain newspaper in bold print. But at least here in American we can thank God, (instead of trying to get rid of Him) that we can discuss such matters openly. We must also count one other major blessing during this period: in spite of all the misteps that our nation takes, we continue to be that 'Shining City on the Hill', because, as my mother, at 98 years of age, so aptly wrote in her bio-novel, 'In Sicilian Company', "God takes care of fools, drunks and the United States of America!"

Guest's picture

After all the hard work and years of admiration for the film to call it a Commie plot. What is next ? Snow White ? Casablanca ? Dirty Harry movies ? www.tratfor.com

Guest's picture

Nice post. Come to think of it most holidays are communist plots. Thanksgiving, no gift exchange? We all need to get back to work for next year.

Guest's picture
Guest

What a bunch of assholes they had back then.

Guest's picture
True Faith

What a bunch of assholes they had doing this stuff back then. Here's to your Family Values; the lies, the lies...all a sham.

Guest's picture
Mystic

The movie was entertainment.
"In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters." If the shoe fits then wear it.How do you think the rich gets rich, by being nice and caring about others....no. I think the government
needs to get the hell out of movies, music and our lives. The only thing you can count on from the American goverment is lies. Buckel that seat belt or get a ticket...funny school buses have no seat belts.
And yes they do un-buckle dead people. We have murders,
rapist out on bail. While the prisions are full of people who were caught smoking a joint. This setting president has broken the law, lied to the American people, just as Nixon and Reagan did. Clinton allowed Reno to burn down a church in Waco Texas, when this FBI
had walked with David the day before, and could have had him then. No they had to burn down the church.
When the fire started the people inside took the children to the basement. When it was all over the children were photographed. The cyanide from the tear gas twisted their bodies. And the FBI was worried about a damn movie. Seems to me they have their priorities out of order, but that is the American way, is it not.
Just like us invading Iraq, without justification
all on a lie, that Bush knew was a lie. Colin Powell
left because he knoew it was a lie. Which means that our great troops are dying in Iraq for a lie.
Iraq is five thousand years old, we can not force our brand of democracy on the middle east. Hell even England discovered it could not control India. But like the good follower Blair was he went along with it. Right now the death count in Iraq has surpassed
the amount of people killed in 9/11.
Let me leave you with quote from a great writer.
"Be nice to Americans or we will bring our brand of democracy to your country." Is it the American way,
charge into another country with shouts, we bring you freedom...welcome us with open arms or put your hand up. If this is an example of our new values, then all that paid with their lives for our freedom, died in vain. The real terrorist are those who have forgotton,
if we stand for freedom, we cannot be the invaders.

Guest's picture
Guest

You are another great example of why loud-mouth idiots such as yourself who get their information about the world from propaganda films like Fahrenheit 9/11 shouldn't be permitted any freedom of speech; you just abuse it with your ignorance.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal mad man who did not govern for his people but for himself. He manipulated the Iraqi economy towards his own political and personal ends. His regime consisted of a minority of privileged Sunnis which he played off against various other ethnicities of Iraq, namely the Shiites and Kurds which led to the horrible civil war that occurred after the liberation of Iraq in 2003 and after the Bush administration's foolish decision to dismantle the Ba’athist state bureaucracy. The tyrant Saddam had chemical weapons which he used on Iraq's Kurdish population and against Iranian civilians and soldiers in the Iran/Iraq war. Saddam had constructed a secret nuclear reactor in Kuwait from which to help him achieve his nefarious ends. The reason that the incompetent and naive UN weapons inspectors couldn't find any evidence of WMDs is because of the fact that the Ba’athist regime was able to lead the inspectors to places which had been previously removed of WMDs which were then dismantled and hidden away in backyards and Mosques (another example of the regime twisting a religion to their own warped ends). Saddam supported more radically religious Palestinian groups and helped to sideline the more secular groups in Palestine. Iraqis lived in fear under Saddam's regime; his Ba’athist party shared many similarities with the Third Reich and the Stalinist Soviet Union.
Oh, and by the way, it was the French and the Russians who prevented a proper UN vote on action against Iraq because of their lucrative oil contracts with Iraq. The pernicious lie that the Coalition went into Iraq for oil is downright pathetic; you are taking your ideas of the war from the very fascists and fascist sympathisers that the free world finds itself battling in the 21st century in the form of religious extremism. What next, are you going to claim that all Jews who worked in the Twin Towers had been told to not come to work on the morning of September 11 so that some BS Zionist plot to whip up antagonism against Islam could go ahead? You are an enemy of free peoples all over the world because of your absurd and racist sentiment that Iraq 'shouldn't have our brand of democracy' pushed upon them. Who cares what the democracy looks like (whether it's an executive presidency or parliamentary executive model) as long it is truly a democracy and so long as the Iraqi people can finally vote for the people they want to represent them after having Saddam's boot taken of their throats which had crushed their ability to speak for so long.
I ask you, would you contend that it wasn't right for us to go to war with Germany and Japan and 'impose our brand of democracy on them'? No, I bet you wouldn't you hypocrite. So, it's alright then that the Allies can invade Germany and Japan and stop their dictatorial regimes from being an irrational threat to the world and to their peoples like Saddam was, and help them transition to a free and democratic society, but it's not okay for us to do them same with Iraq and help Iraqis to transition to democracy-isn't that right? I suggest to you that you pick up a book every now and then (one not written by some pseudo-intellectual like Howard Zin or Noam Chomsky) instead of watching pro-fascist propaganda as your main source for stupid, incorrect, and backward ideas about the world.

Guest's picture

My wife and I went to see "It's a Wonderful Life" on the big screen in Camden, Maine last year. It is even more wonderful in a theater.

Our government, and no less so its leaders haven't a clue what moralness is:

The moral imperative of life is to live a life that detracts not at all from the lives available to those who will follow us into this world.

Simply put, no one has the right even to gamble when the wager is the future, as our scientists do every day. Detracting from the future as do our politicians, is generally cumulative, and thus simply detracting from the experience of life for the future is also immoral. Destroying diversity diminishes the experience of the future, so it too is immoral.

The ethic you see the FBI working to enforce is the Libertarian ethic, for every market a supplier, for every supplier a market.

Libertarians would make unfettered arms sales and drug sales all legal. Libertarians are immoral because they would allow the creation of economic entities that would be a detriment to the quality of every life in the future.

Unfortunately, trade is killing this world wholesale, bargain basement... It's a 70% off sale...

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers

Guest's picture
Magellan

Since 1947 everyone in the USA has been brainwashed to accept communist ideals as "normal". The propaganda worked! Now we don't have a white, Christian nation anymore.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Thanks for reminding me to mention that views expressed in the comment area do not necessarily reflect the views of Wise Bread's editors and authors.

And "not necessarily," in your case, means "not at all."

Andrea Karim's picture

I would like to clarify the "not necessarily" clause for my personal use on this site, in which case it would mean "not by stretch of the imagination, you obnoxious little schmuck."

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

And by "you obnoxious little schmuck," Andrea actually means "our valued reader!"

Ha ha. Just kidding. You have it right the first time Andrea.

P.S. Please forward all your hatemail to Andrea's Blog .

Andrea Karim's picture

Be sure to include "Die, Commie, Die!" in the subject heading so I'll know how to sort through the hate. I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but my caffeine intake has been very limited today and I'm cranky. I'll go rectify the situation now.

Guest's picture

Thusly - All Noble Things Are Destined to Become The Enemy of the Totalitarian State and the Totalitarian Mind.

As PROOF that nobody in the very top of our government was EVER truly afraid of communism, just look at the FBI records of Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and everyone else at the Los Alamos project labratories - the guys building the most destructive weaponry in the world, trusted with the most sensitive of government secrecy - they were ALL readers and open advoctes of Karl Marx - as are almost all of the Best Minds of Every Generation.

It just a fact: Genius equals "leftist" - to say THE VERY LEAST! The truly smart are either very far to the left or corrupted by their own desires for wealth and power into becoming Machiavellian decievers, deftly playing the believer to their own desired ends.

Anyone who LEARNS enough to see past all the B.S. - eventually sees that it's always been the PRETENSE of fighting "the red scare" and "the communist threat" that ALWAYS gives rise to the worst of human behavior, it gavce birth to the Nazis, the Inquisitions, the burning of the Library at Alexandria, to pogrums, to the persecution of intellectuals and liberals and academics, the murder and the torture of writers, artists and thinkers, and the crucifixion of do-good, bleeding heart saviours of humanity. The false war against an exxagerated or totally FABRICATED leftist enemy always allows for the dismantling of the rule of law and of government institutions.

Historically, the 'opposition to Marxism' ALWAYS causes far more "evils" than accepting a limited experiment into it's workings could EVER cause.

Karl Marx and his writings weren't POLITICAL as much as they were based in the field of his education and expertise. Marx wasn't a political philosopher, he wasn't a social engineer, he wasn't a radical subversive. He was just an HONEST man - trained and working as an ECONOMIST.

Ergo: Marxism is NOT the opposite of Democracy - it's the opposite of 'winner-takes-all' cut-throat capitalism - a monetary system totally DEVOID of virtue.

If anyone thinks leftists political liberalism and Marxist based economic model is un-workable, ask the people of Venezuela what they think of Hugo Chavez.

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/61

Guest's picture

Thusly - All Noble Things Are Destined to Become The Enemy of the Totalitarian State and the Totalitarian Mind.

As PROOF that nobody in the very top of our government was EVER truly afraid of communism, just look at the FBI records of Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and everyone else at the Los Alamos project labratories - the guys building the most destructive weaponry in the world, trusted with the most sensitive of government secrecy - they were ALL readers and open advoctes of Karl Marx - as are almost all of the Best Minds of Every Generation.

It just a fact: Genius equals "leftist" - to say THE VERY LEAST! The truly smart are either very far to the left or corrupted by their own desires for wealth and power into becoming Machiavellian decievers, deftly playing the believer to their own desired ends.

Anyone who LEARNS enough to see past all the B.S. - eventually sees that it's always been the PRETENSE of fighting "the red scare" and "the communist threat" that ALWAYS gives rise to the worst of human behavior, it gavce birth to the Nazis, the Inquisitions, the burning of the Library at Alexandria, to pogrums, to the persecution of intellectuals and liberals and academics, the murder and the torture of writers, artists and thinkers, and the crucifixion of do-good, bleeding heart saviours of humanity. The false war against an exxagerated or totally FABRICATED leftist enemy always allows for the dismantling of the rule of law and of government institutions.

Historically, the 'opposition to Marxism' ALWAYS causes far more "evils" than accepting a limited experiment into it's workings could EVER cause.

Karl Marx and his writings weren't POLITICAL as much as they were based in the field of his education and expertise. Marx wasn't a political philosopher, he wasn't a social engineer, he wasn't a radical subversive. He was just an HONEST man - trained and working as an ECONOMIST.

Ergo: Marxism is NOT the opposite of Democracy - it's the opposite of 'winner-takes-all' cut-throat capitalism - a monetary system totally DEVOID of virtue.

If anyone thinks leftists political liberalism and Marxist based economic model is un-workable, ask the people of Venezuela what they think of Hugo Chavez.

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/61

Guest's picture
Guest

I liked the article, but what do you have against poor, innocent, little kitties?

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

I'm a saint compared to these folks.

Guest's picture
Guest

Greetings, It may interest you to know that I agree with the FBI that this film has Communist leanings as did its creator, Frank Capra. However, I do not agree with their analysis. Allow me to explain. Just before I saw IAWL again for the umpteenth time this past Friday, I read the true story of "The Deliverance of Sr. Cecelia," a Czech nun who barely escaped Communist oppression with her life. She was a teacher in a Czech school for 17 years before the Reds took over. The Communists destroyed religion in increments in Czechoslovakia; first the Reds made her stop teaching it. But that wasn't the only thing they did. They bribed a local madman, crazy Kornel, as they called him, to wear a priest's collar and tell silly, untrue stories that discredited religion, in much the same manner as IAWL. He taught his lies to the children that Sr. Cecilia used to teach. This upset and confused them. When I saw the movie again, I was struck rather forcefully with the knowledge that Capra was doing the exact same thing as Kornel. He was denigrating religion by making angels look silly and ridiculing Catholic beliefs. As a Catholic, I found that aspect of the movie to be offensive. The teaching of the Catholic Church, which Frank Capra rejected, is that angels are smarter, stronger, faster, and possess a more noble manner than we do. They do not poessess wings or bodies; we sometimes depict them that way to indicate their ability to travel instantly. They do have the power to appear to humans, and when they do, they usually appear as handsome and strong young men. The story degrades angels with silly tripe about the angel in question, Clarence, being stupid, clumsy, and presents himself as a doddering old man. There is some nonsense about his having to "earn his wings," which real angels do not possess since they do not have bodies. Then there is more nonsense about his reading a book by Mark Twain. First of all, angels have more knowledge than we do and don't need to read books to acquire it. Second, they wouldn't read something as trivial as a comedy. Nor would the angel be so dumb as to jump in the water to prevent Bailey from killing himself. Usually angels use natural means to help us, occasionally, as in the following story, they use unnatural means. In the Benedictine Sisters of Clyde booklet on Guardian Angels, they tell the true story of a nun who was out on a picnic with her students. They came upon a river, and 2 of the boys asked her permission to go wading, which she granted. To her horror, one of them immediately dropped out of sight into a hidden hole in the riverbed. The boy couldn't swim. The good sister prepared to rescue him herself, unpinning her veil, and called upon her Guardian Angel for help. A car swiftly arrived, and 2 strong young men got out of it. They swept past the astonished sister, lept into the water, and rescued the boy. When they brought the child out of the water, the nun and the schoolchildren noted that their clothes were dry. They got back into the car, which promptly disappeared.

Guest's picture
Jones

This article was passed on to me by a friend who knows It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie with special instructions to check out comment #23. Well, I have to admit I haven't read the article yet, I skipped ahead to reading your comment. And well, you sir are a fool. An utter and complete fool. And I'm willing to bet every cent I'll make for the rest of my life that stupidity like yours doesn't stop at simply misunderstanding films! I simply cannot believe that any grown person can have such a take on a movie like this. We could go point by point, but since you'll probably never read this, I don't see any reason to waste the time. I was simply so struck by your idiocy that I had to write at least this much. Just to document to myself that I'd actually read such a thing. If you do read this by any chance, please email me. I would relish the chance to tell you how dumb I think you are in much greater detail. And as for your "inspirational" story of what REAL angels are like: if something as trivial as portraying them as having wings is silly and offensive, can you please explain to me why they would possibly need a car?

I am absolutely dumbstruck by you, sir. Absolutely dumbstruck.

Guest's picture
Harold F

Perhaps, the FBI could censor the movie. After all, censorship is becoming America's favorite past-time. The US gov't (and their corporate friends), already detain protesters, ban books like "America Deceived" America Deceived (book) from Amazon and Wikipedia, and fire 21-year tenured, BYU physics professor Steven Jones because he proved explosives, thermite in particular, took down the WTC buildings. Freedom of Speech, forever.

Guest's picture
Guest

I thought you and your readers would be interested in knowing that the entire file (well, except for the redacted parts) of "Communist Infiltration- Motion Picture Industry (COMPIC)" can be found at the FBI's FOIA reading room. IAWL can be found on p159 of file 7b. The list of other films (in file 7a) shows how dangerously paranoid J Edgar Hoover and the FBI (and by extension HUAC, McCarthy and much of the US govt) was at that time. A few that were listed in the TOC were "A song to remember," (Bio of Chopin); "Keeper of the flame," (Tracy/Hepburn); and "Buck Privates Come Home" (Abbott and Costello). File 10a has an updated list of movies as of 12/31/55 that includes "Salt of the earth," the only movie ever banned in the US. Happy FOIA reading!! Your friendly neighborhood govt information librarian!

Guest's picture
andy g

I guess the FBI missed the part where the rule-following banker stole the proceeds from the hapless Uncle Billy in order to drive the S&L into bankruptcy. And that Potter's entire mission is to run Bailey S&L out of business. So the FBI is on the side of the old-fashioned 19th century robber barons! Mr. Hoover meet Mr. Gould.

Guest's picture
6079smithW

"proletarian" is the singular. A "proletariat" is a class of people. Dumb ass.

Guest's picture
Inigo Montoya

"Funny how back then it was the Commies, now its the Terrorists" Yes, funny. Funny how back then there really were Soviet agents in high government positions, and the Communists were just getting warmed up running through Europe conquering many nations and killing millions.

Omigod, "Guest," you must be right! My high school history teacher must have been a Communist himself when he told me that the FBI itself planted half the so-called Soviet agents, and when he told me that the Communists had already run through Europe by the time "It's a Wonderful Life" came out in 1948!!

I'll be there really were commies under every bed! Thank God the FBI saved us!

and "The majority of people who realise people who ram planes into our buildings might need to be stopped are not of the opinion that friendship and family are anti American." Wow, that's deep. Free enterprise, friendship and family. We'd better make sure we monitor what everybody says to make sure they all stick to those things. Otherwise, who knows, maybe it will be another Red Dawn.

</snark> Your comment is so Rush Limbaugh. Somebody must have forgotten to tell you that your day is over. You are paranoid idiots and you couldn't run a one-car funeral. We dumped you people last month. Get used to it.

Guest's picture
Guest 2

Wow, Inigo, you really showed 'em. Couldn't run a one-car funeral. HAHAHAHAHAHA! WOW! YOU CAME UP WITH THAT YOURSELF? Way to go off on the original "Guest". You are so smart and so above everyone--especially "us people," all those paranoid idiots! Lighten up already. Everyone's entitled to their opinion dickhead.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

This from the man who goes around asking people if they have six fingers on their right hand....

Guest's picture
Tom Way

Just like the religious right these days, it is obvious that the FBI did not even watch the movie before labeling it. What about George's rich friend (the one whose girlfriend he stole and married), Sam Wainwright? Sam was clearly wealthier than Mr. Potter, valued money highly, and yet even them cabeled to say he would give George however much he needed. Oh, maybe Sam was one of those rich, capitalistic communists? A pox upon the dead bones of those who would besmirch George Bailey!

Guest's picture
Guest

Silly rabbit, the Bailey's weren't bankers. It was a savings and loan. You know, something a bit more on the, uh, communal, coop side of things, instead of being run first and foremost for almightly profit.

 

 

Guest's picture
Guest

THIS ONLY SHOWS HOW STUPID AND SICK AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

we are responsible for this movie. And that counts for something.

Guest's picture
Ryan

This movie was in a report detailing communist infiltration of the movie industry. That is really all we know from this memo.

1)The memo doesn't state the opinion of the writer. Instead this quotes two informants whose names are blacked out. The opinions expressed are from the unknown persons.

2) This is not the whole memo. While we can infer its conclusions from the title of the memo, we don't know what was concluded, nor what was concluded specifically about IaWL

3)We don't know who wrote it, only that it was addressed to the director of the FBI. I repeat, we don't know anything about the author other than they have sources with wacky opinions that they want the director of the FBI to hear.

4)We don't have the response from the director. The director very well may have laughed at the report as we have, fired the analyst who wrote it, or maybe just told the analyst to get better sources next time. On the flip side, maybe he believed it, promoted the analyst, thus contributing to the hysteria.

All we know is that America was paranoid over "the communist threat" in that era and Its a Wonderful Life went on to be a classic.

All of that said, hopefully the level of analysis has picked up a bit at the FBI over the years.

Guest's picture
Guest

Here, backstage on planet Earth, people have what;s called 'artisitic license,' to produce virtually anything they can imagine to provoke discussion and perhaps engage the human consciousness in dialogue/debate over findamental concepts of life.

Try a BASIC course in aesthetics; forget the basic classes in government management of people's lives.

People are put in prison in places like chechnia and afghanistan for violating the public 'trust,' with artistic artifacts.

your stance on this issue suggests that there is an artisitic 'right' and 'wrong.' how can you tell which is which? HINT: You cant call your friends in the supreme soviet or chairman Mao anymore to get their points of view.

May a thousand flowers bloom. May the memory of di vinci, imprisoned by the then 'catholic' church for failure to adhere to the 'approved' way of thinking, live on forever.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

... and don't be shy about pointing out the mistakes!

Guest's picture

Is this the same FBI with bureaucratic incompotence and infighting that allowed Sept 11 .
Foreign name mixups, policies , jealousies , middle management.
And now blasphaming an American cultural icon.
Rather remarkable.
It is amazing we won the cold war.

Guest's picture
Michael

...because it teaches us that family, friendship, and virtue are the true definitions of wealth.

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Guest

Gots to say, the film succeeds on every level, brings tears to the eye of any American who's ever been in a similar situation vis-a-vis hard line cpaitalist drawing one's credibility into question, and finally, the SHEER HUMANITY of the entire picture makes it so overwhelming that a person watching cannot help but conclude that good faith, honesty, trust, and ambition, can be supported and even helped, by neighbors, family, and friends.

The concept that a branch of the US givernment in some way diminished these concepts truly baffles!

Copies of this film should be passed out for free to anyone, forever- anyone who wants to know what a US Christmas really is!

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Guest

I had no idea about this and have always loved this movie. Love it even more now! Long live those who struggle against the oppressive state!!

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Guest

Care to quote where in this "source" the FBI is expressing an opinion? This is a complaint document. That none of the commenters nor the original poster noted this is embarrassing.

Ryan is the _only_ person that caught this. Get a life. Learn to read and put the paranoid fantasies about dark government conspiracies back in the box.

Look, we _should_ watch the government. Its our _job_ as citizens. But it doesn't help to pull chicken little routines with zero knowledge of the history of the period and using a pathetic source as evidence of the fact.

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Guest

OMG!!! You're an attorney and you didn't read this! Good Heavens! If you were a casual poster or a non-professional this would be allowable. You should _know_ that this is a complaint.

You are either:
1.) Intentionally misleading
2.) Professional unqualified

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He that drinketh Haterade

To quote the individual below --
Quote--interesting, but speculative
Submitted by Ryan on January 1, 2007 - 18:04.--End Quote

Whew! Saved at last -- something a lot of folks don't seem to realize about the way government works is this -- When you are sitting ina position that has to think in such a big-picture manner... silly things will occur. As for Ryan who noted that this came from two 'informants': this is exactly all that should be noted about the entire document. MANY government documents and reports contain the musings, ramblings, and insanity of half-wits who are just trying to get attention. This just goes to show you that folks in the FBI are actually PAYING ATTENTION and taking in ALL the possibilities.. instead of just discarding something immediately because it seemed worthless.

As someone else pointed earlier -- was this movie ever banned along with 'Salt of the Earth'? No. It wasn't.. and, to boot! it's an American icon of culturalism and family values! Something for which I am sure most of us fail at achieving miserably.

Just because something managed to get de-classified and show up in a report... doesn't mean it was "The Bible" to the folks in that Agency... it just means it was something that was documented... and most likely shoved in a box somewhere after it was digested by an analyst.

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Jeff

I love how they say showing Mr. Potter in a bad light disparages wealthy people and therefore that's a bad thing. What about the generosity of Sam Wainright (sp?) at the end? Doesn't that count for something?

This just goes to show the strange power Hoover had over American society. Quiet scary when you think about it.

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Guest

Since Potter is on the board of the savings and loan, wouldn't he be the one held for malfeasance for with holding funds?

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michelle anne enero

im not sure if it is really a communist propaganda. i watch the movie and it was really great. it touches my heart and made me think if my life is also a wonderful life. Anyway i still don't know cause as the FBI pointing about the big banks fighting with the small banks i think they also have a point on that part but i don't think that the director think that when they made that movie. I think they just want to make the people see how their life is wonderful as george!

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Guest

In my opinion, the movie had noting to do with how big your business is. But, the movie had much to do with showing what a community, such as Potterville, is like when built on a foundation of a liar and thief.

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Roberto

hi there, i'm not a US citizen..i came across his article as I was looking up 'propaganda' withh regard to anti communism and perhaps anti british communism...of late ive bee seeing quite alot ot almost far right ranting in america..not seen since mc carthy era..and what with fox news sorry fox 'news' (we had that murdoch crap in UK)
ok so theres this healthcare debate going on..and its all got a bit angry...as words like 'commie' 'radical' socialist all that..for socialised healthcare read public health...that makes more sense ...other way makes it seem like some machevellian evil scheme..which is utter crap...this is stupid free healcare ass opposed to having to sell your house to treat a cold..if you belive in free market then what comes with that it the possibilities you're gonna lose your job. so what happens when you get sick? having some elected person to try an make sure you dont die seems ok to me as opposed to some corporation wanting to add the their cash pile..i had some guy from amerIca accusing UK of being a backward commie island because we had the NHS .ie public health service...well if it all private ..most of us would be dead by now..

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Guest

I thought it was common knowledge then and now that Frank Capra was a Republican who was active in the anti-Communist cause back then. He was also major in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II.

I guess this shows that the FBI was so hell-bent on pushing anti-communist propaganda that they were blind to something so well-known... or maybe they were just trying to create an example. Either way it is clear that what they were doing was highly dubious and completely lacking of anything resembling morality.

Let's just hope that this was just Hoover strong-arming the FBI.

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Shannon

wow i didn't realize there was so much controversy on this subject!

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Guest

Smiting kittens seems to be what happens when one masters the art of debate. Perhaps people smite something else when their driving is bad.

Every time you cut someone off, God destroys a spark plug.

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Poppycock

No sources except the author? This is a scam. Even if the original complaint were real - which we have no reason to think it is - it isn't "the FBI" making the complaint. They would simply have received the letter.

Shame on you, Mr. Chen.

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angry reader

that was retarded

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Guest

wow i really didnt know that there was so much..well..arguing over a movie and a complaint that happened back in the 1900's.. seriously.. Im only thirteen and i know that this is stupid, arguing over a movie and what it has to do with communism, people should live in the now, if you dont like a government policy send in letters, if you dont agree with something argue it with your friends or once more, send letters!! you would be surprised how well that actually works

again im too young to understand all the nuances of political systems but i know this much, its stupid to argue, its smart to actually DO something about the topics your arguing over. the republicans are trying their own tactics as are democrats, im staying independant so i dont get caught up in the mess, dont discount an opinion as utter bullshit cuz you dont agree with it.

the political system in america is corrupt, i dont know am i rambling here?

ill stop

godbless us all and america

(ps, try to support whoever is president, democrat or republican, i supported bush and i suppport obama, i didnt agree with a lot of the stuff bush did, but i supported him as best as i could, as i am doing with obama)

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Guest

wait i just realized that had next to nothing to do with the movie, i apologize, sometimes i get like that when i read political opinions though, i didnt mean to be out of line if i was out of line..

well so yeah, but -sigh- thats all ive really got to say, still why are people arguing over a complaint made in the nineteen hundreds over an old movie, old enough to still be in black and white!.. all im saying is that makes absolutely zero sense to me

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J. Edgar H.

why don't you go back to China, Mister Chen? you are clearly NOT American!

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m65

 

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Guest's picture
antywong

After all the hard work and years of admiration for the film to call it a Commie plot. What is next ? Snow White ? Casablanca ? Dirty Harry movies ?

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Guest

George took a huge loan from Mr. Potter, then he turns around and makes small loans to people who could not get a loan, then what he does is lose his loan payment which means he would default and if he defaulted all the people who he loaned money to are automatically defaulted even though they pay him as a middle man, so what does he decide to do? Jump off a bridge.

He was going to croak himself and leave his wife who he had knocked up with all those kids alone, and an entire subdivision "Bailey Park" to fend for itself, all the people would have been foreclosed on and lost their homes unless Potter made a deal with them.

The movie is unfair because if Potter really disliked the Savings and Loan he didn't have to loan them their seed money to begin with, Potter wasn't irresponsible, letting senile cronies run his bank, George was a holier than thou banker who didn't charge his customers enough to cover anything in case of an emergency, he had no reserves thus he was irresponsible, unprepared and a poor choice of man to have responsible in any way in your financial affairs.

Thank goodness he didnt need $700 billion

This commie movie was played in Chicago during Christmas over and over on all our local stations when I was a kid, all day it would play.

George was bailed out by his community just like we had to bail out our holier than thou banks that had no reserves,[fractional reserve banking] and in the end the "rich" are the bad guys, im just a poor kid from the south side and even i can see this is a commie movie.

The FBI was right but apparently the commies have taken over because our banks loaned money they didnt have to people who didnt qualify and we all get stuck with the bill, its a wonderful life isnt it.

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Agonizing Truth

As a devout proletarian socialist I can tell you sincerely that It's a Wonderful Life strikes me as an indictment of capitalism, one of the reasons I love the movie. George Bailey's whole purpose in running the Building & Loan is the opposite of Mr. Potter's purpose in running the bank and everything else in town. Bailey doesn't care about getting rich off of it, he's just trying to do what's best for working class and working poor people who wouldn't be able to afford a mortgage on the bank's terms. Because the bank is being run with the profit motive placed far above anything intangible like workers' dignity and quality of life or the betterment of the most people instead of the enriching of the few at their expense.

So, yes, I would have to say that this movie definitely goes against the grain of what's considered "American ideals". The idea that everyone should have an opportunity to have a decent life is most certainly counter to the "I've got mine and to hell with everyone else" American belief system. The United States: The only country in the industrialized world that doesn't ensure health care is a right for all of its citizens and makes its old folks choose between food and medicine, the only one that has no socialist or labor party to fight for the interests of the working class (instead two nearly-identical wings of the Oligarchy Party), the only one in which the idea that a worker should get paid enough to actually live on (the federal minimum wage is a joke, nobody can afford to live on it anywhere in the U.S.) is considered controversial. Which says a lot about how backwards and ignorant this country really is.

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Guest

Actually it was about religion...as the writer intended.

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Eddie

OF COURSE "It's A Wonderful Life" was liberal propaganda. This was obvious to me when I was a little kid. It's not even up for debate. You have two bankers doing the same job, the successful banker is evil, and the unsuccessful one is to be looked up to as virtuous, moral and righteous, lol. I mean, nose... face, can it be anymore obvious?

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Guest

Some things never change.

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Luxomni

So, the answer to Government excess is? A stronger federal Government.
The answer to J. Edgar Hoover using the FBI for political purposes is Barak Obama Eric Holder using the IRS, NSA, Homeland Security, ICE, and the FBI for political purposes. I feel much better now,

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Guest

Years ago, when this movie was brought back and beginning to show on cable tv, my father told me the Catholic Church was not in favor of this movie because of the suicide attempt (or thoughts of) by Jimmy Stewart. He said the churches were actually telling the parishioners not to go and see it.