Great Depression and its influence (Social change)
Film takes place in 1920-40 (class of 1928)
Great depression was present in the film when people came to the bank in Bedford falls to withdraw their money at the same time. George Bailey tried to explain to the people that banks don’t carry everybody’s money at the same time and that the bank makes money through interest rates. Mr. Potter, the antagonist in the movie, tries to convince people that they would get their money back for 50 cents for one dollar.
The roaring twenties was also present in the film when George’s brother comes back home to Bedford falls. Everything was going good and George ends up buying a new house
Anxieties of coming home after Capra came back from ww2
Capitalism vs Communism influence (Politics)
The film also shows the difference between monopoly leading to feudalism (Pottersville - without George Bailey) and capitalism (Bedford Falls - with George Bailey).
In the 1930s, disillusioned Americans might have embraced full blown socialism. The 'right wing' was spooked. The FBI considered 'It's a Wonderful Life' to be a subversive film, because it "deliberately maligned the upper class" and attempted to show that "people who had money were mean and despicable characters". They might do so again if it might avoid another Great Depression –still
Capra managed to bypass the production code stipulating that criminals be punished for their crime: Potter never met justice for stealing the $8,000. Capra noted several times that he had received more mail about this point than anything else in the film.
Suicide is illegal and is not encouraged in the film.