Frank Capra
Film director
Frank Capra
Frank Russell Capra was a Sicilian-born American film director. He emigrated to the U.S. when he was six, and eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s. His rags-to-riches story, having worked his way through college, has led film historians like Ian Freer to consider Capra the "American dream personified. " Capra became one of America's most powerful directors during the 1930s, winning three Oscars as Best Director.
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Frank Capra's personal information overview.
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OP-ED COLUMNIST; And The Good News Is ...
NYTimes - over 5 years
Finally, we're coming to a consensus about what's wrong with the economy. It's us. And our bad attitude. Ben Bernanke says we're too depressed. On Thursday, the Fed chairman suggested that consumers have an irrationally negative worldview. ''Even taking into account the many financial pressures that they face, households seem exceptionally
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Classic Flicks: Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - The Rice Thresher
Google News - over 5 years
The first film to win all five of the major Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Picture) was Frank Capra's still-fresh screwball comedy It Happened One Night in 1934. It would be more than four decades
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Stamp for 'Some Like It Hot' director Billy Wilder - Inquirer.net
Google News - over 5 years
The Postal Service said John Ford, Frank Capra and John Huston also are depicted in the series. Other memorable Wilder movie credits include “The Lost Weekend” (1945), “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), “Stalag 17″ (1953) and “The Apartment” (1960)
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Post office unveils movie stamps - Toronto Sun
Google News - over 5 years
The legendary filmmakers in question include John Ford, Frank Capra, John Huston and, just unveiled this week, Billy Wilder, accompanied by an artist's rendering of iconic images from their movies The Searchers, It Happened One Night,
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Meet John Doe 2011 - Hindustan Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The 1941 Frank Capra classic “Meet John Doe” had hit the celluloid about four years before Anna Hazare was born. Its Bollywood remake “Mein Azaad Hoon” came amid the Bofors gun campaign against Rajiv Gandhi in the late 1980s
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Stop 'Government Is Broken' Rhetoric - NewsMax.com
Google News - over 5 years
In Frank Capra's 1939 iconic film homage to American democracy, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," an idealistic freshman senator, played by Jimmy Stewart, is trying to stop a corrupt bill by filibustering it. The bill he is opposing was titled the
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John Ford honored with postage stamp - Press Herald
Google News - over 5 years
Frank Capra and John Huston will also be featured, with the name of the fourth director to be announced later. The film directors series was selected from tens of thousands of stamp-design suggestions submitted to the post office each year,
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Ron Paul - the last independent politician in America - Examiner.com
Google News - over 5 years
When Mr. Smith went to Washington in the famous 1939 Frank Capra film he met the machine. The political machine was a force that owned politicians and the media, making it impossible for good men to do good things in government
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Hollywood film directors saluted on US stamps - The Independent
Google News - over 5 years
Another director in the Legends of Hollywood postage stamp series is Oscar winning Frank Capra, who directed films from the 1920s to the '60s and is known for his uplifting stories and iconic comedies, such as 1946's It's a Wonderful Life,
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Director Frank Capra to be honored with US postage stamp - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
The US Postal Service announced Wednesday that three-time Oscar winner Frank Capra would be the second director honored in 2012 with a Great Film Directors postage stamp. The first honoree, John Ford, was announced last week
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Metropolitan Diary
NYTimes - over 5 years
DEAR DIARY: I was on my way to the local library near Battery Park City to return a book of short stories, and made several stops on my way -- Century 21, Whole Foods and, of course, a Duane Reade -- when I realized that somehow in one of the establishments, I had misplaced the book. The librarian informed me that if the book didn't turn up, it was
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Finding Israel's Soul At The Movies - The Jewish Week
Google News - over 5 years
And yet, for all these tensions, the viewer never doubts that the Ma'aleh films fully respect – even love -- all the Jewish characters and Jewish laws that come into play, much as no one doubts that Thornton Wilder, writing “Our Town,” or Frank Capra,
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Mel Gibson defended by gay adopted brother - Salon
Google News - over 5 years
and echoing all those Frank Capra-style movies about someone who is granted magical favors and then must deal with the consequences. (With a bigger budget and more slapstick, this could and arguably should have been a Jim Carrey movie
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TV: What to watch - Omaha World-Herald
Google News - over 5 years
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” 7 pm to 9:30 pm TCM (1939) James Stewart stars in this Frank Capra film as a naive man who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. When his well-intentioned plans collide with political corruption he doesn't back
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One Potter was enough for Bedford Falls, but for America? - Milwaukee Labor Press
Google News - over 5 years
In that classic Frank Capra film, mean old Potter tried to dominate both Bedford Falls and Jimmy Stewart, ruthlessly leaned on the draft board, bought assets cheap during hard economic times and even stole Bailey Savings and Loan money to try to end
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Jolley: Five minutes with incoming KLA President Frank Harper and GIPSA - CattleNetwork.com
Google News - over 5 years
Too bad his last name isn't Smith so I could call this interview “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Frank Capra's classic film that established James Stewart as a leading actor half a century ago. Harper and 'Mr. Smith' both went to Washington to speak
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Robert Sklar, RIP. - Indie Wire (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
He could analyze the ideology driving Frank Capra's career with the same ease he brought to a lecture on American avant-garde. Possibly because he resisted sticking to one area and holding tight, Sklar managed to remain topical
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Short Film of the Day: Your Job in Germany - Film School Rejects
Google News - over 5 years
Dr. Seuss and Frank Capra teamed up for this educational film shown to military personnel stationed in Germany after the war was won. As they point out, it's a delicate peace. There can be a comedic quality to the way this film is presented (especially
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MOVIE REVIEW | 'LARRY CROWNE'; Stymied in Middle Age, Reaching for a New Life
NYTimes - over 5 years
''Larry Crowne'' is a rom-com fairy tale so tepid and well behaved that watching it feels like being stuck in traffic as giddy joy-riders in the opposite lane break the speed limit. You have little choice but to cool your heels and pretend that the parched crabgrass in the median is a field of flowers. Any enjoyment will depend largely on your
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Frank Capra
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1991
    Age 93
    During the golden age of Hollywood, Capra's "fantasies of goodwill" made him one of the two or three most famous and successful directors in the world. Film historian Ian Freer notes that at the time of his death in 1991, his legacy remained intact:
    More Details Hide Details Director/actor John Cassavetes contemplating Capra’s contribution to the art of film quipped: "Maybe there really wasn't an America, it was only Frank Capra." Capra’s films were his love letters to an idealized America – a cinematic landscape of his own invention. The performances his actors gave were invariable portrayals of personalities developed into recognizable images of popular culture, "their acting has the bold simplicity of an icon " Like his contemporary, director John Ford, Capra defined and aggrandized the tropes of mythic America where individual courage invariably triumphs over collective evil. Film historian Richard Griffith speaks of Capra's " reliance on sentimental conversation and the ultimate benevolence of ordinary America to resolve all deep conflicts." "Average America" is visualized as " a tree lined street, undistinguished frame houses surrounded by modest areas of grass, a few automobiles. For certain purposes it assumed that all real Americans live in towns like this, and so great is the power of myth, even the born city-dweller is likely to believe vaguely that he too lives on this shady street, or comes from it, or is going to."
  • 1985
    Age 87
    In 1985, at age 88, Capra suffered one of a series of strokes.
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  • 1982
    Age 84
    10th annual AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony, 1982
    More Details Hide Details Misc documentaries War documentaries Movie trailers and interviews Feature films
  • 1964
    Age 66
    Capra's final film, Rendezvous in Space (1964), was an industrial film made for the Martin Marietta Company and shown at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
    More Details Hide Details It was exhibited at the New York Hall of Science after the Fair ended. Capra's directing style relied on improvisation to a great extent. He was noted for going on the set with no more than the master scenes written. He explained his reasoning: According to some experts, Capra used great, unobtrusive craftsmanship when directing, and felt it was bad directing to distract the audience with fancy technical gimmicks. Film historian and author William S. Pechter described Capra's style as one "of almost classical purity." He adds that his style relied on editing to help his films sustain a "sequence of rhythmic motion." Pechter describes its effect: Film critic John Raeburn discusses an early Capra film, American Madness (1932), as an example of how he had mastered the movie medium and expressed a unique style: As for Capra's subject matter, film author Richard Griffith tries to summarize Capra's common theme:
  • 1962
    Age 64
    Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty, by vote of the city council, declared May 12, 1962 as "Frank Capra Day."
    More Details Hide Details George Sidney, President of the Directors Guild, stated that "This is the first time in the history of Hollywood, that the city of Los Angeles has officially recognized a creative talent." At the event ceremony, director John Ford announced that Capra had also received an honorary Order of British Empire (OBE) on the recommendation of Winston Churchill. Ford suggested publicly to Capra: An annual It's a Wonderful Life celebration that Capra attended in 1981, during which he said, "This is one of the proudest moments of my life," was recounted in The New Yorker. Capra won six Academy Awards.
  • 1959
    Age 61
    William Wyler also matched this record upon winning his third Oscar in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details American Film Institute Directors Guild of America Golden Globe Award Venice Film Festival American Film Institute recognition United States National Film Registry
  • FIFTIES
  • 1952
    Age 54
    From 1952 to 1956, Capra produced four science-related television specials in color for The Bell Laboratory Science Series: Our Mr. Sun (1956), Hemo the Magnificent (1957), The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957), and Meteora: The Unchained Goddess (1958).
    More Details Hide Details These educational science documentaries were popular favorites for school science classrooms. It was eight years before he directed another theatrical film, A Hole in the Head (1959) with Frank Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson, his first feature film in color. His final theatrical film was with Glenn Ford and Bette Davis, named Pocketful of Miracles (1961), a remake of his 1933 film Lady for a Day. In the mid-1960s he worked on pre-production for an adaptation of Martin Caidin's novel Marooned, but budgetary constraints caused him to eventually shelve it.
    By 1952, at the age of 55, Capra effectively retired from Hollywood filmmaking and spent his later years working with Caltech, his alma mater, to produce educational films on science topics.
    More Details Hide Details Capra directed two films at Paramount Pictures starring Bing Crosby, Riding High (1950) and Here Comes the Groom (1951).
  • 1950
    Age 52
    Capra remained employable in Hollywood during and after the HUAC hearings, but chose nonetheless to demonstrate his loyalty by attempting to re-enlist in the Army at the outbreak of the Korean War, in 1950.
    More Details Hide Details He was rejected due to his age. He was later invited to join the Defense Department's newly formed Think Tank project, VISTA, but was denied the necessary clearance. According to Friedman, "these two rejections were devastating to the man who had made a career of demonstrating American ideals in film", along with his directing award-winning documentary films for the Army.
  • FORTIES
  • 1943
    Age 45
    As a colonel, he received the Legion of Merit in 1943 and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945.
    More Details Hide Details After the war ended, along with directors William Wyler and George Stevens, Capra founded Liberty Films. Their studio became the first independent company of directors since United Artists in 1919 whose goal was to make films without interference by studio bosses. However, the only picture completed by the studio was It's a Wonderful Life (1946). It was a box office disappointment, but was nonetheless nominated for five Academy Awards. The American Film Institute named it one of the best films ever made, putting it at the top of the list of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers, a list of what AFI considers to be the most inspirational American movies of all time. The film also appeared in another AFI Top 100 list: it placed at 11th on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list of the top American films. It would become Capra's last important film and, although he directed five more films over the next 14 years, his successful years were now behind him.
  • 1941
    Age 43
    Within four days after the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Capra quit his successful directing career in Hollywood and received a commission as a major in the United States Army.
    More Details Hide Details He also gave up his presidency of the Screen Directors Guild. Being 44 years of age, he was not asked to enlist, but, notes Friedman, "Capra had an intense desire to prove his patriotism to his adopted land." Capra recalls some personal reasons for enlisting: During the next four years of World War II, Capra's job was to head a special section on morale to explain to soldiers "why the hell they're in uniform", writes Capra, and were not "propaganda" films like those created by the Nazis and Japan. Capra directed or co-directed seven documentary war information films. Capra was assigned to work directly under Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, the most senior officer in command of the Army, who later created the Marshall Plan and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Marshall chose to bypass the usual documentary film-making department, Signal Corps, because he felt they were not capable of producing "sensitive and objective troop information films." One colonel explained the importance of these future films to Capra:
    In 1941 Capra directed Meet John Doe (1941), considered by some to be Capra's most controversial movie.
    More Details Hide Details The film's hero, played by Gary Cooper, is a former baseball player now bumming around, lacking goals. He is selected by a news reporter to represent the "common man", used to capture the imagination of ordinary Americans. The film was released shortly before America became involved in World War II, and citizens were still in an isolationist mood. According to some historians, the film was made to convey a "deliberate reaffirmation of American values", although ones which seemed uncertain with respect to the future. Film author Richard Glazer speculates that the film may have been autobiographical, "reflecting Capra's own uncertainties." Glazer describes how "John's accidental transformation from drifter to national figure parallels Capra's own early drifting experience and subsequent involvement in movie making... Meet John Doe, then, was an attempt to work out his own fears and questions."
  • 1938
    Age 40
    He was nominated six times for Best Director and seven times for Outstanding Production/Best Picture. Out of six nominations for Best Director, Capra received the award three times. He briefly held the record for winning the most Best Director Oscars when he won for the third time in 1938, until this record was matched by John Ford in 1941, and then later surpassed by Ford in 1952.
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    In 1938, Capra won his third Director Oscar in five years for You Can't Take It with You, which also won Best Picture.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1936
    Age 38
    On May 5, 1936, Capra hosted the 8th Academy Awards ceremony.
    More Details Hide Details Although It's a Wonderful Life is his best-known film, Friedman notes that it was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) which most represented the "Capra myth." That film expressed Capra's patriotism more than any others, and "presented the individual working within the democratic system to overcome rampant political corruption." The film, however, became Capra's most controversial. In his research before filming, he was able to stand close to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a press conference after the recent acts of war by Germany in Europe. Capra recalls his fears: When the filming was completed, the studio sent preview copies to Washington. Joseph P. Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to the UK, wrote to Columbia head Harry Cohn, "Please do not play this picture in Europe." Politicians were concerned about the potential negative impact the film might have on the morale of the United States' allies, as World War II had begun. Kennedy wrote to president Roosevelt that "in foreign countries this film must inevitably strengthen the mistaken impression that the United States is full of graft, corruption and lawlessness." Many studio heads agreed nor did they want negative feelings about Hollywood to be instilled in political leaders.
  • 1929
    Age 31
    Capra directed his first "real" sound picture, The Younger Generation, in 1929.
    More Details Hide Details It was a rags-to-riches romantic comedy about a Jewish family's upward mobility in New York City, with their son later trying to deny his Jewish roots in order to keep his rich gentile girlfriend. According to Capra biographer Joseph McBride, Capra "obviously felt a strong identification with the story of a Jewish immigrant who grows up in the ghetto of New York... and feels he has to deny his ethnic origins to rise to success in America." Capra, however, denied any connection of the story with his own life. Nonetheless, McBride insists that The Younger Generation abounds with parallels to Capra's own life." McBride notes the "devastatingly painful climactic scene", where the young social-climbing son, embarrassed when his wealthy new friends first meet his parents, passes his mother and father off as house servants. That scene, notes McBride, "echoes the shame Capra admitted feeling toward his own family as he rose in social status."
    Few of the studio heads or crew were aware of Capra's engineering background until he began directing The Younger Generation in 1929.
    More Details Hide Details The chief cinematographer who worked with Capra on a number of films, was likewise unaware. He describes this early period in sound for film: During his first year with Columbia, Capra directed nine films, some of which were successful. After the first few, Harry Cohn said "it was the beginning of Columbia making a better quality of pictures." According to Barson, "Capra became ensconced as Harry Cohn's most trusted director." His films soon established Capra as a "bankable" director known throughout the industry, and Cohn raised Capra's initial salary of $1,000 per film to $25,000 per year. Capra directed a film for MGM during this period, but soon realized he "had much more freedom under Harry Cohn's benevolent dictatorship", where Cohn also put Capra's "name above the title" of his films, a first for the movie industry. Capra wrote of this period and recalled the confidence that Cohn placed in Capra's vision and directing:
  • TWENTIES
  • 1927
    Age 29
    When he saw Al Jolson singing in The Jazz Singer in 1927, considered the first talkie, Capra recalled his reaction:
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  • 1923
    Age 25
    Capra married actress Helen Howell in 1923; they divorced in 1928.
    More Details Hide Details He married Lucille Warner in 1928, with whom he had a daughter and three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Capra was four times president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and three times president of the Directors Guild of America, which he helped found. Under his presidency, he worked to give directors more artistic control of their films. During his career as a director, he retained an early ambition to teach science, and after his career declined in the 1950s, he made educational TV films related to science subjects. Physically, Capra was short, stocky, and vigorous, and enjoyed outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and mountain climbing. In his much later years, he spent time writing short stories and songs, along with playing his guitar. He collected fine and rare books during the 1930s/40s. His 'Distinguished Library' was sold at auction in New York in 1949, realizing over $68,000.
  • 1920
    Age 22
    He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1920, taking the name Frank Russell Capra.
    More Details Hide Details Living at home with his siblings and mother, Capra was the only family member with a college education, yet he was the only one who remained chronically unemployed. After a year without work, seeing how his siblings had steady jobs, he felt he was a failure, which led to bouts of depression and abdominal pains, later discovered to have been an undiagnosed burst appendix. After recovering at home, Capra moved out and spent the next few years living in flophouses in San Francisco and hopping freight trains, wandering the Western United States. To support himself, he took odd jobs on farms, as a movie extra, playing poker, and selling local oil well stocks. In his early twenties, Capra had to undergo a circumcision due to recurring bouts of STIs (the first of which happened after an anonymous encounter with a woman at a party in San Francisco), which caused severe damage to his sex life, an affliction that lasted until his twilight years.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1903
    Age 5
    In 1903, when he was five, Capra emigrated to the United States with his family, who traveled in the steerage section of the boat, which was the cheapest way to gain passage.
    More Details Hide Details For Capra, the journey, which took 13 days, remained in his mind for the rest of his life as one of his worst experiences: Capra remembers the ship's arrival in New York Harbor, where he saw "a statue of a great lady, taller than a church steeple, holding a torch above the land we were about to enter". He recalls his father's exclamation at the sight: The family settled in Los Angeles's East Side (today Chinatown) which Capra described in his autobiography as an Italian "ghetto". Capra's father worked as a fruit picker and young Capra sold newspapers after school for 10 years, until he graduated from high school. Instead of working after graduating, as his parents wanted, he enrolled in college. He worked through college at the California Institute of Technology, playing banjo at nightclubs and taking odd jobs, which included working at the campus laundry facility, waiting tables, and cleaning engines at a local power plant. He studied chemical engineering and graduated in the spring of 1918. Capra later wrote that his college education had "changed his whole viewpoint on life from the viewpoint of an alley rat to the viewpoint of a cultured person".
  • 1897
    Born
    Born on May 18, 1897.
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