Frank Capra

"At a time when Hollywood hardly looked outside its studios, Frank Capra crafted a unique combination of social commentary and slapstick caprioles. Populist and humanist, uplifting, fast, and funny, Capra's creations are among Hollywood's most memorable movies and are nostalgically treasured and ritually reviewed as true cult classics." - Ernest Mathijs (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

Frank Capra

Director / Producer / Screenwriter
(1897-1991) Born May 18, Bisacquino, Sicily, Italy
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Comedy, Comedy Drama, Americana, Romance, Drama, Romantic Drama, Romantic Comedy, Comedy of Manners, Screwball Comedy, Fantasy, Melodrama, Message Movie
Key Collaborators: Joseph Walker (Cinematographer), Robert Riskin (Screenwriter), Gene Havlick (Editor), Stephen Goosson (Production Designer), Barbara Stanwyck (Leading Actress), Jo Swerling (Screenwriter), Harry Cohn (Producer), Maurice Wright (Editor), Dimitri Tiomkin (Composer), H.B. Warner (Character Actor), William Hornbeck (Editor), Walter Connolly (Leading Character Actor)

"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, 2007)
"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)
"In his best films during the 1930s and 1940s, Capra was able to humanize on the screen the ideal of the American character. His films showed ordinary people from small towns triumphing over evil and powerful forces by doing what was right and sensible. "Let others make films about the grand sweeps of history. I'd make mine about the bloke that pushes the broom," he wrote in his autobiography." - Dian G. Smith (Great American Film Directors, 1987)
"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)
TSPDT Guide
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), American Madness (1932), Lady for a Day (1933), Broadway Bill (1934), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take it with You (1938), Prelude to War (1942), 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
Rain or Shine (1930), Ladies of Leisure (1930), Forbidden (1932)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
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Films / Books
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