Frank Capra

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Frank Capra
Francesco Rosario Capra
BirthplaceBisacquino, Sicily, Italy
Director, producer, writer

Capra, Frank

(kăp`rə), 1897–1991, American film director, b. Bisaquino, Sicily. One of the preeminent Hollywood directors of the 1930s and 40s, he produced idealistic populist movies that, sometimes amusingly and sometimes sentimentally but nearly always optimistically, celebrate the virtues of the common American. His family emigrated to the United States in 1903 and settled in Los Angeles. Starting in the movies in the early 1920s, he became a feature film director with Harry Langdon comedies, achieved commercial success with Platinum Blonde (1931), and won his first Academy Award with the "screwball" romantic comedy It Happened One Night (1934).

Capra's naively decent American heroes triumph over the forces of greed, cynicism, corruption, or self-doubt in such films as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936; Academy Award), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), and the richly textured classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Among his movie-making innovations were accelerated pacing, conversational and sometimes overlapping dialogue, and previews that gauged audience reaction. Capra's many other films include Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take It With You (1938; Academy Award), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), State of the Union (1948), A Hole in the Head (1959), and his last, Pocketful of Miracles (1961).


See his autobiography (1971); biography by J. McBride (1992, repr. 2000); C. Wolfe, Frank Capra: A Guide to References and Resources (1987).

Capra, Frank


Born May 18, 1897, in Palermo. American motion-picture director.

Capra graduated from the California Institute of Technology. He began to work in motion pictures in 1921 and turned to directing in 1926–27. He was a leading figure in American cinematography of the 1930’s, directing such films as Lady for a Day (1933), It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). These films dealt with the urgent social problems of American life—the critical plight of farmers and the venality and corruption of the ruling circles—without actually revealing their root causes.

Capra’s films were very popular because of their realistic background, the high literary quality of the screenplays (R. Riskin was the screenwriter for most of the films), and the charm and shrewd characterizations of the protagonists.


Kolodiazhnaia, V., and I. Trutko. Istoriia zarubezhnogo kino, vol. 2.Moscow, 1970. Pages 94–125.

Capra, Frank

(1897–1991) film director; born in Palermo, Sicily. His family moved to California when he was six, and he began to earn money by selling newspapers, playing the banjo, and working other odd jobs. After receiving a degree in chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology in 1918, he joined the army as a private. Discharged as a lieutenant, he had other odd jobs until he talked his way into directing a one-reeler, Fultah Fisher's Boarding House (1922), in San Francisco. He spent time learning the film business, and then became a gag writer for Our Gang comedies and for the comedian Harry Langdon. He directed some Langdon films and some two-reel comedies. His most renowned work as a director celebrated the decency and integrity of the common man as he combats corruption in high places, and he earned Oscars for It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and You Can't Take It With You (1938). The film that would eventually become his most popular, It's A Wonderful Life (1947), did not receive any special attention at its initial release.
References in periodicals archive ?
Frank Capra would go on to make several other films before his death of a heart attack in 1991.
Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography.
And as "Its A Wonderful Life" turns 70 this Christmas Day, I am looking back to an incredible lunch I had about 10 years ago with Frank Capra Jr.
Goldfarb, who will receive the Frank Capra Achievement Award, calls joining the guild in 1967 a life-changing decision.
Throughout the book, Harris also movingly tells the grim effects the war had on the filmmakers, who included George Stevens, John Huston and Frank Capra.
Directed by Frank Capra, the film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a desperate family man who imagines during Christmastime what his town would be like if he'd never been born.
Directed by Frank Capra, it tells the story of George Bailey (Stewart) who plans to commit suicide on Christmas Eve until a guardian angel shows him how the world would have been without him.
Directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart as George Bailey, it tells the story of George, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve leads to him encountering his very own guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, specially sent to redeem George's peace of mind and change his perspective on life.
Presented in chronological order, these interviews feature such noted directors as Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, Federico Fellini, William Friedkin, John Schlesinger, Robert Wise, Robert Linklater and Martha Coolidge.
Shining Hours/Forgiving Rhyme," about a postwar jam session in a Texas suburb - two African-Americans, two Irish-Americans, a Jewish refugee from Germany, and a wide-eyed kid - as refracted years later through memories of Norman Rockwell, is almost too perfect, Walter Benjamin as Frank Capra, and why not?
But The Client is a relic of an earlier, more innocent time, watched mostly by an aging demographic: people who remember Frank Capra and miss him.