The film classic It’s a Wonderful Life remains an integral part of many Americans’ Christmas traditions. Yet recent documents reveal that the FBI worried the filmmakers wanted to slip communist propaganda, not just yuletide joy, into movie houses.
FBI informants claimed the film’s portrayal of wealthy banker Mr Potter as a greedy villain was a sure sign of communist influence.
Recently-published FBI documents also reveal that investigators had their eye on ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, a husband and wife duo who were accused of associating with known communists….
‘With regard to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” [informant names redacted] stated in substance that the files represented a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture,’ according to a 2,000-page FBI report called ‘Communist Infiltration in the Motion Picture Industry’ that was assembled between 1942 and 1958.
The files in question were revealed in the 2012 book J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood’s Cold War.
Meanwhile, Life’s legacy as a Christmas movie tradition continues. RadioTimes.com ran a poll on favorite Christmas movies and Life came in first, beating out more recent fare including Love Actually and Elf.