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Continuity mistake: In a scene near the end of the movie, George enters the Building and Loan with a Christmas wreath on his arm. On hearing that he has a phone call from his brother Harry, he tosses the wreath on a table and picks up the phone. In the next second, the wreath is back on his arm.

Continuity mistake: When George Bailey crashes his car into the tree after leaving "Martini's Place", notice its position against the tree; an upward angle. In the ending scene when he's running home he cheers and taps the hood of the same car, now at a downward angle.

Continuity mistake: In a scene early on in the film, where George Bailey (James Stewart), Bert (Ward Bond) and Ernie (Frank Faylen) chat in the street, they suddenly stop due to the appearance of Violet (Gloria Grahame) in her "this is what I wear when I don't care how I look" dress. The camera cuts back to them and we see a dark haired woman in a hat pass in front of Ernie's taxi. As Violet crosses the street and gets honked at, we see another shot of the boys staring after her - and the dark haired woman passes in front of the taxi again.

Continuity mistake: When George is giving Violet the character reference and loaning her money, the pipe suddenly disappears from George's mouth.

Spiritfire

Continuity mistake: In the confrontation scene between Peter Bailey and Old Man Potter, Peter moves from behind his desk about four feet away from Potter, to sitting on the edge of the desk about 18 inches away from Potter. Also the coat on the coat rack behind Potter changes from hanging from the collar loop to just the collar itself.

Spiritfire

Continuity mistake: In the scene at the railway station where George and Uncle Billy are waiting for Harry, Billy reaches in the bag of peanuts and pulls one out. As the camera angle changes slightly, Billy's hand is suddenly back in the bag and pulls out another peanut. Also the man in the background wearing coveralls and a locomotive cap changes his position, and has lost the pamphlet he had just placed in his back pocket.

Spiritfire

Factual error: Harry Bailey's tombstone has the dates of 1911 and 1919 making him at most 8 years old when he died, but the angel states that Harry died when he was 9.

terry s

Audio problem: When George is talking to Harry on the phone regarding being decorated with a medal of honor, he is at his office. The guy to the right of him starts to say "what is he saying?" but the audio cuts off just before he finishes "saying." The scene cuts to a closer shot of George talking, so why did the audio cut off?

Revealing mistake: When George comes home flustered, his kids are hanging on him. Right after Mary closes the door keeping the littlest boy out, she walks into the kitchen. Watch this scene carefully as the camera tracks backwards. A bad jump cut is obvious.

manthabeat

Continuity mistake: In the scene where Old Man Potter is offering George a job, nearly all of the items on Potter's desk - skull, lighter, eye glasses, small ink blotter and magnifying glass - change position as POV shots change from Potter to George. In some cases items disappear completely then reappear, ie. eyeglasses, ink pot and two pens, the liquor case and bells on the corner of the desk, and the pencils beside Potter go from none to one to two, and then none again.

Spiritfire

Continuity mistake: In the scene where Violet and George talk about going up to Mount Bedford, they start their walk down the promenade, close to the intersection where Gowers Drugs and The Bijou theater are visible in the background, along with a tree with no visible branches and a Caucasian couple seated on a park bench facing screen right. At the cut to the closeup, they have moved about 50 to 75 feet further down the promenade, the drug store and theater are no longer visible, the tree behind them now has a branch, the couple is now African American and the park bench is facing screen left.

Revealing mistake: Near the beginning of the film, young George already has blood coming out of his ears prior to them being slapped by Mr. Gower.

manthabeat
It

Continuity mistake: When George Bailey is going to jump off the bridge, watch the snow carefully. In one of the shots where Clarence is shouting in the water the snow all of a sudden quits, then it goes back to snowing when George jumps in.

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Continuity mistake: When Uncle Billy sees Potter in the bank, he walks to the teller window and there's no line, but a second later there's a line of a dozen or more people behind him.

Continuity mistake: When George is kicking stuff and knocking stuff over in his house (after yelling at his children), his hair is messed up. In the next shot, it's combed again.

Continuity mistake: At the beginning in the soda shop, the first little girl (Mary) is facing toward the camera, away from the other girl that comes in. When they start talking however in the next shot, both are facing outward.

manthabeat
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Continuity mistake: When the pharmacist hits young George, the amount of blood coming from George's ear changes back and forth between long shots and close ups.

pinkwafer
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Continuity mistake: During a confrontation between old man Potter and Peter Bailey at the Building and Loan, Potter's bodyguard stands behind the wheelchair on its left side. But in the close-up shot of Potter, the arms and hands of his bodyguard can be seen extending from the right side of the wheelchair. In the next full screen shot, the bodyguard is seen on the left side of the wheelchair once again.

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Other mistake: In the scene on the bridge, before Clarence jumps, George's hands do not indent the 2-3" of snow on the rail. In a later shot, after George jumps, you see two snow-less spots on the railing.

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Visible crew/equipment: When Mary leans across the drugstore counter to whisper in George's bad ear, there is a small piece of tape on the edge of the counter right in front of her hand, presumably to show the actors where to position themselves for the shot (the tape isn't visible in the other shots showing that same section of the counter).

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Quotes

Clarence: Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

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Trivia

The opening credits list a copyright date of 1947, but distributor RKO rushed IAWL into theaters December 20 1946, to replace 'Sinbad the Sailor' whose Technicolor prints were not ready. It went into general release January 1947. The rush probably cost Capra and his partners their indie studio Liberty Films, whose first production opened in a record blizzard back east and failed to make back its money; it also wound up losing out at the Oscars against a powerful postwar drama 'The Best Years of Our Lives' rather than facing a much weaker Oscar field in 1947. Then again, confusion over its copyright date seems to have allowed it to slip into public domain for about 20 years from 1973, leading to its constant (cost-free) play at Christmas time, cementing its reputation as America's favorite holiday movie.

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