Frank Capra's American Dream (1997)

TV Movie  |  PG  |   |  Documentary, Biography
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Ron Howard hosts a biography of the life and career of filmmaker Frank Capra, including interviews with the director's friends, colleagues and admirers.



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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Host and Narrator
Himself - Interviewee: Director
Jeanine Basinger ...
Herself - Interviewee: Curator, Capra Archives, Weslayan University
Edward Bernds ...
Himself - Interviewee: Sound Technician / Director
Frank Capra Jr. ...
Himself - Interviewee: Producer (archive footage)
Tom Capra ...
Himself - Interviewee: Producer
Allen Daviau ...
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Interviewee: Director (as André DeToth)
Himself - Interviewee: Actor
Himself - Interviewee: Director
Himself - Interviewee: Actor
Herself - Interviewee: Writer / Director
Himself - Interviewee: Director
Himself - Interviewee: Director
Himself - Interviewee


The life and career of legendary, three-time Oscar winner Frank Capra is explored in this acclaimed documentary through clips from his films, interviews with friends, family, and co-workers, and revealing archival film including footage of Capra himself. The director started as a poor Italian immigrant and through ambition, hard work, and talent singlehandedly put Poverty Row Columbia Studios on the map with classics like "American Madness," "Lost Horizon," and "Meet John Doe," as well as Oscar winners "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," and "You Can't Take It with You,'' culminating with his masterpiece, "It's a Wonderful Life." Capra's professional and personal philosophy of "One man, one film predated the auteur theory by decades. Capra's wartime service and educational TV experience are detailed along with his two last features, "A Hole in the Head" and "Pocketful of Miracles," made after the collapse of the studio system resulting in the director's premature ... Written by

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief war footage and mild language




Also Known As:

Frank Capra e o Sonho Americano  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Narrator Howard states that one hour was edited out of 'Lost Horizon" by Columbis studio boss Harry Cohn without Capra's consent. In Capra's biography, "The Name above the Title" the director claims that that the preview audience laughed at the oriental melodramatics in the first two reels which preceded the airport panic that the film in its present state opens with. Capra states that the audience compared it unfavorably with Fu Manchu movies. An upset Capra claims he took the first two reels home and burned them in his furnace without consulting Cohn. See more »


John Cassavetes prologue: Maybe there really wasn't an America. Maybe it was only Frank Capra.
See more »


Features American Madness (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

A must for all film students.
16 February 2003 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

How can you go wrong with a doco about a great Yankee humanitarian like Capra and having the likes of Scorsese, Dreyfuss, Oliver Stone and so on, praise the man himself? This conservative structured doco takes us from A to Z of Capra's career.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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