Tuesday, December 26, 2006

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

George and Mary Bailey looking happy

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-cosumerist 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.

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



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, beacause 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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The Liberal Avenger

It’s a Wonderful Life = Communist propaganda?

Apparently at least somebody at the FBI thought so.

If tha

Radio Left | 15 hours ago
FBI Considered "It's A Wonderful Life" Communist Propaganda | Wise Bread...
GoodShit | 1 day ago
Two articles I ran across today on popurls seemed to have impeccable timing: Christmas Eve. The first is an LA Times piece called 10 myths — and 10 truths — about atheism by Sam Harris, an authour on the topic of faith. The article states ...
ComingAnarchy.com | 1 day ago
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.
http://www.bizzbites.com/story/659/ | 1 day ago
FBI documents from 1947 show that government officials believed the Christmas movie classic "It's a Wonderful Life" was Communist propaganda. About the FBI memo titled "COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY," Blogger Will Chen writes, I l
Boing Boing | 1 day ago


hey! leave the kitties out of this!
annie (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply
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 (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply
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.!
CultivateGreatness.com (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply
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.
Michael (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply

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.

Will Chen | 1 day ago | reply
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!"
Mario P. Brunetti (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply
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
shaun Stevens (not verified) | 1 day ago | reply
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.
John Wesley (not verified) | 19 hours ago | reply
What a bunch of assholes they had back then.
Guest (not verified) | 17 hours ago | reply
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.
True Faith (not verified) | 17 hours ago | reply
"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 (not verified) | 11 hours ago | reply
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.

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