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Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and the FBI December 24, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.

The more I see of Christmas the more I think it’s nostalgia for nostalgia, a sort of recursive process or reminding about songs, films, events, weather phenomenon that we don’t or haven’t experienced at first hand for the most part. That’s okay, there’s a value in nostalgia, and time out from the daily grind is good in itself, already I’ve watched Kiss Me Deadly and All About Even this last few days, which in the normal run of things I wouldn’t get the time to, and they were both great in their own way and weirdly from now on will remind me of Christmas, so you make your own traditions.

More seasonally there was the 1990s Miracle on 34th Street with a twinkly Attenborough. Mileage will vary on that, but it sailed close to the wind for some viewers in regard to the is Santa real or not question.

Meanwhile there’s this news here from yesterday Flavorwire about how “It’s a Wonderful Life” had an FBI file. Now I’ve read analyses which see Capra’s film as the epitome of a certain sort of US conservatism so this is a good one and perhaps points up how ideological that time period, the late 1940s, was in cultural and political terms.

According to historian John A. Noakes, who analyzed the FBI’s 13,533-page “Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry” file, the Los Angeles field office pinpointed eight films in general release in 1947 as possible carries of stealthy Commie propaganda. “To determine which films were subversive and to identify the actual subversive content,” Noakes writes, “the Los Angeles field office utilised a report issued by a self-assembled ‘group of motion pictures writers, producers and directors who had been alerted to the common menace within the industry’. This ad-hoc group identified three categories of ‘common devices used to turn non-political pictures into carriers of political propaganda’.”

And look whose name turns up:

That group included Fountainhead writer and future Tea Party pin-up girl Ayn Rand, who had herself, according to her own FBI file, “published a booklet which was designed for furnishing information concerning the type of Communist propaganda used in motion pictures.” Sadly, we have no way of knowing if the dour Rand wrote the hilarious “report” on It’s a Wonderful Life and all of its subversive themes; it may have been her, or she may have been assigned to write up some of the other very dangerous titles on the list, like The Best Years of Our Lives, The Farmer’s Daughter, or (I’m not making this up) Abbott & Costello’s Buck Privates Go Home.

As to the egregious crimes of “It’s a Wonderful Life”? It was ‘written by Communist sympathisers’, it ‘attempted to instigate class warfare’ and…ahem… it ‘demonized bankers’.

How very 2013/14.

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1. Walther - December 24, 2013

I always felt that Singing in the Rain was a communist-inspired movie. The rain was a hidden symbol of pissing capitalist oppression and Gene Kelly dancing flippantly during a persistent downpour was obviously a symbol of the workers of America conspiring to defeat that capitalism.

RosencrantzisDead - December 24, 2013

I have always held the opinion that the Home Alone movies are about the rise of the Right in America during the 80s and 90s.

Paul Wilson - December 24, 2013

The FBI investigated the song ‘ Louie Louie’ for hidden subversive messages but gave up as they like everyone had no idea what the lyrics meant. Happy Xmas all.

2. doctorfive - December 24, 2013

Off for a few days so best wishes to all.

3. WorldbyStorm - December 24, 2013

And likewise to you doctorfive.

Walther, there’s thesis to be written on that. :)

6to5against - December 24, 2013

Best wishes to all at CLR. You guys keep me sane during the year.

que - December 24, 2013

similarly happy Christmas to everyone at CLR

Walther - December 26, 2013

…or some witty lyrics for Christy Moore to sing possibly? Who wants to read a dry academic Ph.D thesis over the Christmas-New Year holiday?

4. que - December 24, 2013

Last night I watched the postman always rings twice. great show to see the different rhythm of movies. There were pauses and silences in that movie that you’d never have now in an attention deficit disorder world.

Socially the movie is interesting. 2 main characters trying to drag themselves up, the challenges associated with that, and the arrogant powers that be.

There is a lot in it.

WorldbyStorm - December 24, 2013

Often wondered about that movie. Will definitely check it out now.

5. WorldbyStorm - December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas to all of you and to everyone else and thanks for all your comments and participation across the year.

6. irishelectionliterature - December 24, 2013

…. and a Happy Christmas to you all from myself too :)

Tom Redmond - December 25, 2013

Happy and relaxing holiday to CLR and all on the Left

WorldbyStorm - December 25, 2013

And to you Tom.

7. Jim Monaghan - December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas one and all

8. Jim Monaghan - December 25, 2013

The Pogues as gaeilge Oh skip ad

9. Johnny Forty Coats - December 26, 2013

Santa left a DVD of the following in my stocking:

It impressed me when I viewed it last night – although my critical faculties may have been somewhat impaired at the time.

ejh - December 26, 2013

I saw it when it came out and was bored out of my skull.

WorldbyStorm - December 26, 2013

Got to be honest I enjoyed it, worthy a bit inaccurate but I thought it was good

Jack Jameson - December 26, 2013

How many historical/political movies are accurate (In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins are two culprits that readily spring to mind)?

Like most things, I enjoyed it for what it is and that it was made despite the mountain of Hollywood trash.

New Year greetings to everyone in the spirit of CLR.

WorldbyStorm - December 26, 2013

Me too truthfully. It didnt make me enjoy it any less.

Happy New Year to you.

Johnny Forty Coats - December 26, 2013

It’s reassuring to know it wasn’t just the cava.

10. richotto - December 27, 2013

A lot of the effort back then from the American right was to try and put the “New Deal” Democrats beyond the pale by association with communism. Its a wonderful life was I would have thought coming from that New Deal tradition. Its Dickens like negative protrayal of business was being similarly represented by the FBI as anti capitalist when the problem was presented as simply Mr Potter with his extreme anti social form or manopoly capitalism.

11. CL - December 27, 2013

“Between 1942 and 1958, J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a sweeping and sustained investigation of the motion picture industry to expose Hollywood’s alleged subversion of “the American Way” through its depiction of social problems, class differences, and alternative political ideologies.”

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