FBI once feared ‘It’s A Wondeful Life’ featured communist themes

"It's A Wonderful Life" didn't seem so wonderful to the FBI upon its initial release.

An FBI agent once feared the classic Christmastime movie featured communist propaganda, prompting him to file complaints to the government agency, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

The agent — whose identity was not been revealed — reviewed the beloved 1946 holiday flick as part a broader FBI campaign created to uncover communist influences in the movie business.

In his report on the film, the agent concluded "It's A Wonderful Life" used "two common tricks used by Communists to inject propaganda into the film," according to author John A. Noakes, who wrote an article about the FBI's connection to the movie.

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Headshot of actor Jimmy Stewart in the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life. BK
NBC television network will air Frank Capra's classic film "It's A Wonderful Life" starring actors Thomas Mitchell (L) and Jimmy Stewart (R), in an undated publicity photo from the 1946 production, on December 25, 2000 (8-11p.m. ET). BK
- 1939 FILE PHOTO - Actor James Stewart is shown in a scene from the 1939 film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Jimmy Stewart died July 2 of a cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills at age 89, according to a Daily Variety columnist. Stewart, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in "The Philadelphia Story," also starred in such classics as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Rear Window."
1946 FILE PHOTO - Actor Jimmy Stewart (C) appears with Donna Reed and other cast members in a scene from the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life.". Stewart died July 2 of cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills at age 89, according to a Daily Variety columnist. Stewart, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in "The Philadelphia Story," also starred in such classics as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Rear Window. STEWART
- 1957 FILE PHOTO - Actor James Stewart stars as Charles Lindbergh in a scene from the 1957 film "The Spirit of St Louis." Jimmy Stewart died July 2 of a cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills at age 89, according to a Daily Variety columnist. Stewart, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in "The Philadelphia Story," also starred in such classics as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "It's a Wonderful Life," and "Rear Window."
1940 PHOTO - Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn are shown in a scene from "The Philadelphia Story" in 1940, the only part for which Stewart won an Oscar. Stewart, who was nominated for four other best actor awards, died at his home July 2 from cardiac arrest, his publicist said. STEWART
Actor Jimmy Stewart makes a snowball out of the special snow created specially for the film 'It's A Wonderful Life.' (Photo By Martha Holmes/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Jimmy Stewart smiling during a break in filming on the set of the movie 'It's A Wonderful Life.' (Photo By Martha Holmes/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images)
APR 8 1957; AIRMEN ILLUSTRATES CHANGES IN FLYING TOGS FOR MOVIE STAR; Film star Jimmy Stewart points out changes he has noted at Stcfpleton airfield Monday during his Denver visit to promote his new picture, 'Spirit of St. Louis.' Another kind of change is illustrated by T/Sgt. Trinidad Andasola (left) and M/Sgt. David T. Gates (right), Denver recruiters. Andasola is wearing flying clothes of 1920 vintage, while Gates is garbed in togs of the modern jet era.; (Photo By Dean Conger/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
JAN 3 1958; STEWARTS AT STAPLETON; Actor Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria are shown here at Stapleton Field Thursday with Mrs. Stewart's two sons by a former marriage: Ronnie McLean, 13, and Mike, 11.; (Photo By Al Moldvay/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 22, 1956: Director Alfred Hitchcock talk to actor Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria Hatrick McLean as they attend the premier of 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
1956: British director Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980) sitting with actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997) on the set of his latest thriller 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'. (Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 1953: Actors Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart on the set of the Paramount Pictures movie 'Rear Window' in November 1953 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 7/30/1954-Not until 'Rear Window' does Grace Kelly get around to some serious Oscar-lating with James Stewart. She spends no little time in a sensational kissing scene with Stewart in the movie, her current Paramount release.
(Original Caption) Jimmy Stewart's father marries. Indiana, Pa.: Hollywood's Jimmy Stewart kisses his new mother, the former Mrs. J.J. Stothart, a 76 year old Canadian widow, after she and the actor's father, 82 year old Alex Stewart (left), were married here December 11th. Looking on is Jimmy's wife, Gloria. Jimmy was best man at his father's second wedding.
Portrait of American actor Jimmy Stewart (1908 -1997) seated wearing a tan suit, 1940s. (Photo by Getty Images)
Uniformed pilot/actor, Col. Jimmy Stewart, in his hometown upon his return from WWII. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Actors Jimmy Stewart and Norma Shearer at The Tailwaggers party thrown by Bette Davis to help build shelter for stray dogs, at the Beverly Hills, Hote. (Photo by Rex Hardy Jr./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES,CA - CIRCA 1939: Actor Jimmy Stewart with actress Norma Shearer during an event in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by William Grimes/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
23rd April 1936: American actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997). (Photo by Ted Allan/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
American film actress Loretta Young dining with American actor Jimmy Stewart. (Photo by � Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) James Stewart watches Raymond Burr through a camera lens in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' (1954). Photograph. BPA2# 3712
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-t) Actor Jimmy Stewart during an interview with host Johnny Carson on July 12, 1977 -- (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(L-R) Actor Jimmy Stewart, Monaco's Princess Grace and comedian Bob Hope. (Photo by David Mcgough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 8: Jimmy Stewart and his wife, Gloria, are photographed at 'Night of 100 Stars' event March 8, 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
circa 1971: American actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997), wearing a tuxedo, smiles along with his wife, Gloria, while at a play opening. (Photo by Alan Kent/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Actor Jimmy Stewart (fore L), movie producer William Goetz (fore C) and comedian Jack Benny (fore R) carrying coffin of actor Gary Cooper. (Photo by Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
The children of actor James Stewart meet with reporters on the lawn of their father's Beverly Hills home July 2 as they read a prepared statement regarding Jimmy Stewart's death July 2. Shown (L-R) Dr. Kelly Harcourt, step-son Michael McLean and Judy Merrill.
A wax figure of actor Jimmy Stewart is seen with a painted backdrop resembling a scene from "It's A Wonderful Life" at Madame Tussauds Hollywood during a press preview June 11, 2009. The $55 million wax museum attraction is set to open August 1. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT)
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One of those apparent tricks, Noakes explains, was the filmmakers inclusion of an antisocial capitalist banker, which the agent interpreted as a shot at American's values.

The other revolved around the movie highlighting turmoil and depression, which the agent considered a "subtle attempt to magnify the problems of the so-called 'common man' in society."

The FBI reportedly submitted these complaints to the House Un-American Activities Committee, but the HUAC never carried the case any further. Those connected to the movie were never contacted, and the movie was not subjected to any changes.

The film has since overcome mixed initial reviews to become a staple of American culture and the holiday season and is now widely considered one of the greatest movies in the history of cinema.

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