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1897 - 1991

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"Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole."
                                ~Frank Capra, "It's a Wonderful Life"

"Maybe there really wasn't an America, maybe it was only Frank Capra."
                                                                                                  -John Cassavetes

(Capra was asked where he would have ended up if he had not become a film director):

"With [Dr. Edwin] Hubble. As an astronomer. I could study the stars and
the planets forever. I always wanted to know why, why... Pictures changed my
mind. I was too far along in the movie business. But when I go back to [Capra's
college] Caltech now and hear about things I'm not familiar with, like black
holes, goddamn! I get mad. How the hell I ever refused that I don't know... But it
seems like motion pictures have a terrible hold on me. I don't know what it is..."
                                         (Quoted in McBride's Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, page 655. )

Best known for his movie "It's a Wonderful Life," starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.  Inititually "It's a Wondeful Life" was ignored for years.  It is now an enduring classsic with a message of hope, love and forgiveness.

Go to "It's a Wonderful Life Links"

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Go to Biography Links

Pronounced As: kapr , 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).


Frank Capra 1876-1991
The Name Above the Title
Frank Capra Quotes
Frank Capra's America
The Films of Frank Capra
Frank Capra's American Dream
Sicilian Culture - Frank Capra


It's A Wonderful Life Homepage
"It's a Wonderful Life" by Roger Ebert
Capra's Story of a Good Man in a Bad Town

Other Frank Capra Sites

Novel Entertainment History
Frank Capra
Think Different




  • Commissioned as a Major in the US Army Signal Corps; produced all, and directed some,of the films in the "Why We Fight" and "Know Your Ally/Know Your Enemy" documentary series; discharged after W.W.II with rank of Colonel.
  • 9/40 Selective Service Act, but new draftees "haven't the slightest enthusiasm for this war or this cause.  They are not grouchy, they are not mutinous, they just don't give a tinker's dam."  (Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White to White House adviser Lowell Mellett)
  • Army Morale Branch failed to improve morale due to the "deadly effects of prepared lectures indifferently read to bored troops. (George Marshall)
  • Harold Ickes, Frank Know, Henry Stimson wanted to create a national propaganda agency, but FDR opposed until after Pearl Harbor.
  • FDR on 12/18/41, appointed Lowell Mellett as Coordinator of Government Films to officially mobilize Hollywood for war.
  • Office of War Information created in June 1942, but slow to do anything about soldier education; Mellett's film office became the Bureau of Motion Pictures, but its World at War in 1942, the "first officially sponsored feature length motion picture" of the government was a failure; OWI review power over studio productions (Robert Riskin worked for overseas OWI branch in 12943 and was told to ban Meet John Doe, the film he wrote for Capra in 1941, was "unsuitable for foreign screens at this time. (Doherty p.51)
  • Major Frank Capra assigned to the Morale Branch in 2/42, ordered by Marsahll to "make a series of documented, factual-information films - the first in our history - that will explain to our boys in he Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting." (Marshall quoted by Capra)
  • Capra saw Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, a film that "fired no gun, dropped no bombs, but as a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist, it was just as lethal."  (Capra) used clips from this film and other Nazi films.
  • Released 10/30/42, shown to war plants in 4/43, to the general public 5/27/43.
  • By 1943, War Dept. had developed a large and significant program to bring movies to all soldiers on every battlefront; next to guns, what "the boys need most is movies and more movies" (Ike) and 2400 picture shows were shown each night in European/Mediterranean theaters.  By 1945; films were designed to be "educational, inspirational, recreational." (Will Hays)
  • The seven films in the "Why We Fight Series," include:  Prelude to War, The Nazis Strike, Divide and Conquer, The Battle of Britain, The Battle of Russia, The Battle of China, War Comes to America.

    Note:  You can purchase the above "Why We Fight Series" though Amazon .com or Alibris
       as well as any other Frank Capra Movies or Books you may be interested in.



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