It's a Wonderful Life

Continuity mistake: Outside of Ma Bailey's Boarding House, Clarence is leaning on a mail box, holding his copy of Tom Sawyer. The position of the book changes in Clarence's hands as the shots quick cut from him to George Bailey and back.


Continuity mistake: Potter's rent collector is showing Potter a map of the new houses George Bailey built, but a page is folded over on the desk, covering half of an ink pen set on the desk. When the rent collector prepares to leave, that page is now a few inches to the right of the ink pen set (viewer's perspective) and hanging off Potter's desk entirely.


Character mistake: Harry Bailey's tombstone has the dates of 1911 and 1919 making him 7-8 years old when he died, but the angel states that Harry died when he was 9 years old. If he was born the latest at 31-12-11 and died 31-12-19 he would have been exactly 8 years. If he was born 1-1-11 and died 13-12-19 he would have been 8 years 364 days, one day short of 9. If he was born later than the day of the year he died he would have been 7+.

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It's a Wonderful Life mistake picture

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.


Continuity mistake: When Bert the cop is struggling with Clarence and Clarence disappears, you can see Ernie's shadow which shows him pointing and gesturing with his hand before he actually does it. (01:56:20)

It's a Wonderful Life mistake picture

Continuity mistake: The old man's cigar disappears when he sends young George to deliver a prescription.

Revealing mistake: When George is on the bridge and says "I wanna live again", and Burt drives up, in the shot where George hugs Burt, then Burt pats him on the back, you can see Burt's handprint in the fake snow that was used (a mixture of foamite soap and water) on the back of George's coat. (02:02:35)

Continuity mistake: The pen in Potter's right hand is instantly placed on his desk as the scene cuts from him to George Bailey when Bailey is begging for Potter's help in replacing the missing $8,000.


Continuity mistake: While George is in Potter's office begging for $8,000, the snow flakes hanging around on the shoulders of George's coat should have melted away immediately after he enters Potter's office.


Factual error: In the closing scene Ernie the cab driver is wearing a military shirt with an Air Force insignia on the sleeve, but we were told earlier that Ernie parachuted into France. His shirt should have had a different patch.

Other mistake: During Harry's party, when George is outside talking to his mother she encourages him to see Mary and George says "Point me in the right direction." He then exits right and immediately returns. As he passes by, there is a glitch in the film and for a brief moment everything speeds up. This is most evident if you watch the people dancing in the house because they appear as though they clicked into "fast-forward motion" briefly and then return to normal.

It's a Wonderful Life mistake picture

Continuity mistake: In the scene after Bailey becomes nonexistent and they go to the bar, Clarence and Bailey are thrown out, but when they land they have switched positions. (01:50:20)

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.

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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.

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Continuity mistake: When Ernie is about to take George during his "never born" sequence, if you look at the building next to the taxi, there is the Indian Club. As Ernie is driving along around 20-30 seconds pass inside the cab. When we see outside the cab and Ernie signals to the policeman, you can see the cab has only traveled roughly 20 meters from the Indian Club.

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Factual error: When Clarence picks up his copy of "Tom Sawyer" to see if it is dry, the book is in perfect condition, despite their clothes being soaked. The pages of book that had been soaked in water would been swollen and wrinkled, and many pages would very likely have stuck together as the book dried.

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. (00:41:30)

Audio problem: When George and Mary are walking up to the dilapidated house (prior to throwing rocks at it), George is talking. At one point he is saying something and his lips aren't matching.

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Continuity mistake: Just after George's brother comes home, George is walking across the street and a man is approaching him, but it's then a woman that passes him, not the man.


Mary: Bread, that this house may never know hunger. Salt, that life may always have flavor. And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

More quotes from It's a Wonderful Life

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.

More trivia for It's a Wonderful Life

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