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Frank Capra
Director / Producer
1897 - 1991 
Born May 18, Bisaquino, Sicily, Italy
Key Production Country: USA 
Key Genres: Comedy, Comedy Drama, Romance, Americana, Drama, Romantic Drama, Romantic Comedy, Comedy of Manners, Screwball Comedy
Key Collaborators: Joseph Walker (Cinematographer), Robert Riskin (Screenwriter), Gene Havlick (Editor), Stephen Goosson (Production Designer), Barbara Stanwyck (Leading Player), Jo Swerling (Screenwriter), Dimitri Tiomkin (Composer), H.B. Warner (Character Player), Harry Cohn (Producer), Walter Connolly (Leading Character Player)

Highly Recommended: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)*, It's a Wonderful Life (1946)*
Recommended: The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)*, It Happened One Night (1934)*, Meet John Doe (1941)
Worth a Look: The Strong Man (1926), Long Pants (1927), The Miracle Woman (1931), Lady for a Day (1933), Broadway Bill (1934), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take it With You (1938), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), State of the Union (1948), Hemo the Magnificent [TV] (1957), A Hole In the Head (1959), Pocketful of Miracles (1961)
Approach with Caution: Ladies of Leisure (1930), Rain or Shine (1930), Forbidden (1932)
* Listed in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films section.

Links: [ Amazon ] [ IMDB ] [ TCMDB ] [ All-Movie Guide ] [ Film Reference ] [ A Capra Site ] [ Bright Lights Film Journal Article ] [ Frank Capra at Reel Classics ] [ Frank Capra's America ] [ Classic Film and Television Home Page ] [ Sight & Sound Article (2010) ] [ Time Out Article (2010) ]
Books: [ The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography ] [ Frank Capra: Authorship and the Studio System ] [ Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success ] [ American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra ] [ Frank Capra: Interviews ] [ Regarding Frank Capra: Audience, Celebrity, And American Film Studies, 1930-1960 ] [ Another Frank Capra ]
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)It's a Wonderful Life (1946)Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)
  "Like Chaplin, Frank Capra began his film career as a simple, effective comic talent and progressed to 'message movies'. And, as with Chaplin, the populism of his later films demonstrated both a decline in humour and disturbing political ambiguities." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)  
  "Many of Capra's most famous films can be read as excessively sentimental and politically naive. These readings, however, tend to neglect the bases for Capra's success - his skill as a director of actors, the complexity of his staging configurations, his narrative economy and energy, and most of all, his understanding of the importance of the spoken word in sound film." - (Charles Affron (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 1991)  
  "Nowadays, the mere mention of Capra's name is enough to make literate and learned film-writers dip their pens in bile. But when, between director and actor, you actually pump the breath of life into impossibly idealized Everymen, as Gary Cooper, James Stewart, or Barbara Stanwyck did, a powerful emotional current is given out from the screen. The fact that they have nothing to do with the real world has absolutely no bearing on that." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)  
  "Capra is a master of the socially significant film. His work is full of optimism, humor, love, patriotism, and respect for traditional values." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)  
  "I think of the medium as a people-to-people medium, not cameraman-to-people, not direction-to-people, not writers-to-people, but people-to-people...You can only involve an audience with people. You can't involve them with gimmicks, with sunsets, with hand-held cameras, zoom shots, or anything else. They couldn't care less about those things. But you give them something to worry about, some person they can worry about, and care about, and you've got them, you've got them involved." - Frank Capra (Directing the Film, 1976)  
Please note that the rating given for this director (see top-right) is based only on the films we have seen (listed above). Films by this director that we haven't seen include The Matinee Idol (1928), The Power of the Press (1928), Flight (1929), The Younger Generation (1929), Dirigible (1931), Platinum Blonde (1931), American Madness (1932), Riding High (1950), and Here Comes the Groom (1951).

"Frank Capra's populism charmed Depression audiences, won industry acclaim, and impressed a generation of film historians... The archetypal Capra scenario found an idealistic hero from the sticks triumphing over city slickers mired in cynicism, corruption and too many big words. Written by Robert Riskin with vernacular verve and a reverence for republican rhetoric, Capra's comedies proved strong vehicles for the gauche young James Stewart and Gary Cooper, and the spunky heroines of Jean Arthur and Barbara Stanwyck." - Richard Armstrong, The Rough Guide to Film

Top 250 Directors
The Far Side of Paradise
Jean-Pierre Melville's 64 Favourite Pre-War American Filmmakers (Cahiers du Cinema, October 1961)
501 Movie Directors: A Comprehensive Guide to the Greatest Filmmakers
See Also
Charles Chaplin
René Clair
George Cukor
Allan Dwan
William Keighley
Gregory La Cava
Walter Lang
Mitchell Leisen
Mervyn LeRoy
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Preston Sturges
Sam Wood


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