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.
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.
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.
After Clarence disappears whilst being wrestled by Bert the cop, you can see the shadow of Ernie the cab driver shaking his finger. However, when the camera shows Ernie, he has both hands on the tree, and then he begins to shake his finger.
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.
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.
When George and Mary are throwing rocks at the dilapidated house on the way home from the dance, as George throws 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.
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 from this, but upon return George's father is now on the same side of the desk as Potter.
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.
Since George was a child when Harry died, then the cemetery where Harry is supposed to be buried was in business at least ten years before George could have bought the land to build the houses in Bailey Park .
When George invites Carter to come in and follows him in, he is holding the pipe with his left hand. However, in the shot after, someone asks him about hanging up the phone, he appears with the pipe in his right hand.
When George Bailey and Mr. Potter are arguing in the board room after Peter Bailey's death, George says to Potter: "...I know very well what you're talking about; something you can't get your fingers on, and it's gawing (?) you, that's what you're talking about."
"Gawing" is not the correct word, and there is no time-period reference to it that I can find. The word should be "Gnawing"; it would seem Stewart just mispronounced the word and the cameras kept rolling.
When drying off after his jump in the river, Clarence mentions his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He also mentions that George should check out what Mark Twain is currently writing. If he means 1945, the current year, Mark Twain wouldn't be writing anything, because he died in 1910. We don't know how he has the book. He couldn't have died with it like the night gown, because he says he's been waiting 200 years for his wings which would mean he died at least 131 years before it was published in 1876. Since Clarence is said to have "the IQ of a rabbit," and made a mistake regarding Harry's age in the sledding scene, and has apparently suffered multiple failures to earn his wings, it is possible he is confusing the date of his present assignment with a previous failed attempt to to assist peoples' lives on Earth in the past.
Harry Bailey is not "shown jumping from a plane with other paratroopers". He is shown in the Ready Room of his aircraft carrier, (the walls and door of which are decidedly not shaped like the interior of a troop transport airplane) going through the exit to the flight deck to his fighter plane. He and the other fighter pilots wear padded cloth aircrew helmets with radio headphones and goggles, not "steel pots" like paratroopers would, and there is no overhead static jump line at the doorway to which paratroopers' parachutes would be hooked up to.
The characters of cousins Tilly and Eustace pose a problem. Supposedly, they are both Baileys being their last names are on their desk plates. These two, as well as George and Harry, all call Billy "Uncle Billy" throughout the film. It is further established that Peter Bailey is the father of George and Harry, with no mention of Billy having children of his own. So, if Peter Bailey and Uncle Billy are the only brothers here, who are Tilly and Eustace's parents? It couldn't be Billy since they both call him "Uncle Billy" instead of " Dad".
The $8,000 is still missing at the end of the film. While family and friends have provided George Bailey with additional monies at that point, if or when an audit is performed, he still has to explain what happened to the money that his absent-minded uncle lost. This puts in in the same position that he was before he received the additional donations/deposits.
In fact, without a solid explanation as to where the money went, it would likely be assumed that the money was either stolen by Uncle Billy or embezzled by George himself. The savings and loan would likely face legal sanctions and George Bailey
The happy ending portrayed in the film does not reflect the realities of the film at its ending.
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.
When Uncle Billy is counting the money at the bank for the deposit, we can clearly see the first few bills are 5's, followed by, at the most, 20 more bills. Considering that these would have been monthly cash payments on $6000 mortgages, it is unlikely that anything close to $8,000 could have been in that small stack of bills. It is about 1/3 of the size of the wedding money which is 1/4 of the amount.
In the montage depicting what happens to the townspeople of Bedford Falls during World War II, Joseph narrates, "Marty [Mary's brother] helped capture the Remagen Bridge," whilst Marty is shown calling out urgently and giving the classic infantry "Follow Me!" gesture. In the rear projection stock footage making up the background, however, American troops are actually walking casually onto the bridge in a non-tactical manner. The lighter-shaded rectangle on the right bridge tower is actually a sign that reads "CROSS THE RHINE WITH DRY FEET, COURTESY OF 9TH ARMD DIV.", which was put up the day after the bridge had been captured.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
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.
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.
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.