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It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Poster

Goofs

Continuity 

When George wanders across the street (soon to be joined by Violet), the man approaching him with the pipe suddenly becomes a woman.
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Anachronisms 

Young George Bailey is shown working in a drugstore in 1919, but he's standing next to a Coca-Cola Silhouette Girl Thermometer which wasn't produced until 1938.
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Characters quote from a National Geographic Magazine article involving Fiji and coconuts, but no article was published by that magazine in that year.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Mary and George are walking down the street after the dance, she asks him, "Well, why don't you say it?" The next shot George is heard saying, "I don't know. Maybe I will say it," but his mouth is not moving at all.
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George jumps into the river to save Clarence. As he is rescuing him Clarence is screaming "help" but his mouth is not moving.
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Character error 

At one point George (James Stewart) calls Violet (Gloria Grahame), Gloria.
Clarence states that "AS2" stands for "Angel Second Class," which makes no sense.
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Continuity 

When Mary puts on "Buffalo Gals" on the phonograph, she starts a ten-inch, yellow-labeled record, but in the next shot, a dark-labeled record is playing. Also, when Mary breaks the record after the conversation with George, she breaks a twelve-inch, yellow-labeled record instead of the original ten-inch record.
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On Christmas Eve when he is hugging Tommy, George is clean shaven. By the time he climbs the stairs to check on ZuZu he has a heavy 5 O'clock shadow on his face.
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When George and Clarence are drying off in the bridge keeper's shack the postcard hanging by the thermometer on the wall, next to the door repeatedly disappears and reappears between shots.
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After Clarence disappears while being wrestled by Bert the Cop, you can see the shadow of Ernie the Cabdriver, shaking his finger. However, when the camera shows Ernie, he has both hands on the tree, and then he begins to shake his finger.
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Just before George speaks to Harry on the phone, George removes a wreath from his arm and places it on a table. The wreath immediately reappears on his arm.
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When everyone is jumping into the pool during the dance, the same person jumps in twice.
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When George crashes his car into the tree, there's not much snow on it, when he gets out of the car to have a look at the damage, there's lots of snow on the car
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During the run inside the Building & Loan, the hat changes position on the coat stand outside George's office.
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When George arrives at home and finds Mary lying there, he puts his right hand on her right hand and kisses her. Next shot he is caressing her head with his right hand.
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When George and Mary are throwing rocks at the dilapidated house on the way home from the dance, when George throw his rock, the window that Mary is supposed to throw a rock at is missing. Then when Mary gets ready to throw her rock the window is there.
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Ol' Man Gower's cigar disappears when he sends young George to deliver a prescription.
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George and Clarence swap sides as they are thrown out of Nick's.
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As Violet walks away from George, Ernie, and Bert, Ernie watches her out the window of his taxi. He stops watching and moves away from the window. In the next shot, he is watching from the window again.
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As George and Mary prepare to drive Martini's family to their new home, Mary (in a close up) is holding the goat's horn/antler. The scene cuts to an extreme long shot in which her hand is nowhere near the goat.
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When George invites Carter to come in and follows him, he is holding the pipe with his left hand. But in the shot after someone asks him about hang up the phone, he appears with the pipe in his right hand.
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When George visits his father in his office and finds him arguing with Potter, his father is standing behind his desk talking to Potter. There is a cut away form this but upon return George's father is now on the same side of the desk as Potter.
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When George is on the bridge, the snow and ice pattern on his left coat shoulder is the same as it was when he was in Potter's office, even though he was in the bar afterward.
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In the drugstore, Little Mary and Little Violet are looking at each other and away from each other from shot to shot.
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When George has to cancel his school plans, Uncle Billy is looking at George, but in the following shot he's looking at Dr. Campbell.
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When George comes back to Gower's drugstore and faces Gower on the telephone he's got his hand to his hair, but in the following shot it's not.
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When Potter yells at Peter in his office, Peter looks at the floor. In the following shot, he's facing Potter.
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When George has Mary's robe, the cord is trailing along the ground. But when George hands her the robe, the cord is all bundled up.
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When Potter is telling the board Bedford Falls doesn't need the Bailey Building & Loan, Uncle Billy is looking at George; in the following shot he's looking at Potter.
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When Tommy asks George to excuse him, he's looking up at him. In the previous shot, he's looking at his brother Pete.
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When Potter talks to Billy at the bank, he tucks his glasses away, and in both shots his scarf changes position.
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When George walks into the Bailey Building & Loan with a wreath hooked around his arm he throws it on a desk; in the following shot its back around his arm and then drops it on the desk again.
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Some confetti from George's wedding is on his hair during his phone conversation with Potter, but not the shots before it.
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George's pipe disappears when talking to Violet in his office.
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After George storms out of Uncle Billy's house, Uncle Billy lays his head on his arms. At first he has his arms crossed right over left, then immediately they are crossed left over right.
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As George approaches Bert and Ernie by Ernie's taxi, and then all three ogle Violet as she walks down the street, the same woman in a print dress, holding the brim of her hat, walks by five times in 30 seconds.
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Snow on Ernie's taxi disappears and reappears when arriving at George's dilapidated house.
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A hat being held by someone donating money in the Bailey house first has a little snow then a lot of snow then no snow.
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Alignment of George's car when it hits the tree
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Standing position of Potter's bodyguard when Potter talks to Peter Bailey at the Building & Loan.
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The number of boys at the bottom of the slope during the sledding scene increases from shot to shot even though we've only seen a couple actually sledding.
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When Little Mary asks for chocolate ice cream, she's facing George. But when she stuck her tongue out at Little Violet, she was facing away from George.
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George leaves Mary's robe on the bush, but in the following shot it has disappeared.
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When Mr Gower tells George to get going, he doesn't have his cigar in his mouth he's been smoking throughout the scene.
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Errors in geography 

At the scene showing the new houses at Bailey Park, California hills are visible beyond the houses. The film is set in New York state, which only has much gentler, rolling hills.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Mary Bailey does not misspell Frankenstein. She is spelling Frankincense.
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Revealing mistakes 

James Stewart's toupee falls off after he and Donna Reed fall into the pool during the Charleston contest.
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In the drugstore when Mary leans over the counter to whisper in George's ear, a piece of tape suddenly appears on the edge of the counter between George's and Mary's heads. This was most likely done as a reference mark for the young actors so the focus puller could accurately pull focus.
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When Mary (Donna Reed) throws her rock at an upstairs window of the dilapidated old house, the rock disappears a split second after leaving her hand, and then reappears in the distance just before crashing through the glass. The roof of the house was a matte painting, added after principal photography by the visual effects department. When Ms. Reed threw her rock (and it was her throwing it, not a stand-in), the arc of its flight was a bit too high, and it crossed the matte line for most of its travel. Consequently, it was covered up by the painting, which was added later. Apparently the live-action crew did not notice the potential problem when filming the shot.
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The banister in Mary's house wobbles slightly when her mother climbs the stairs.
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When Ernie looks at Violet, a woman walks past his taxi; in the following shot there's no-one there.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Character error 

On the tombstone, Harry Bailey's years of life are show as 1911-1919, which would make him, at the oldest, eight years old when he died. However, immediately before George Bailey brushes away the snow to reveal the dates, Clarence states that Harry died when he was 9, showing that Clarence isn't numerically inclined.
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Continuity 

When the "old maid" Mary is closing the library door, she has a wreath in her right arm. The wreath disappears in the next shot.
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Continuity 

In the first scene where George finds his brother Harry's grave, the year of death (1919) is clearly visible. The next scene, it is obscured by snow and George has to dig it out to find the year his brother died.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

When George Bailey is arguing with Mr. Potter in the board room after Peter Bailey's death, George says to Potter: "What'd you say just a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home." We never hear Potter say this, but it is possible that it happened near the beginning of the meeting, which we did not see.
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Plot holes 

When George is showing Clarence where Bailey Park is and it is a cemetery instead: George's company would not have developed the land until about the mid thirties. In the alternate reality, only-child Harry died in 1919 and was buried in a then-existing cemetery. Therefore, the Bailey Park in the primary reality would have had to have been constructed on an active cemetery.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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