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
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.
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Solid, interesting, informative documentary on Frank Capra both the man and his improbable journey from immigrant poverty to being one of the best known directors of all time.
One of the most interesting aspects is the way the documentary shows Capra's best work was often darker and less corny or sentimentalized than it's remembered. Heroes earn any happy endings they get, and there is often pain, self-doubt and loss along the way. It makes the valid point that emotional and ultimately hopeful is far different from sentimental and corny, and Capra knew and fought for that difference.
For the most part the interviews with other directors, actors, friends and family are very effective. Although there are a few Hollywood types who's connection to Capra and his work seems tenuous at best, and sometimes analysis gives way to gushing.
While not quite deep, emotional or revelatory enough to be a great film, it is a very good one, that any film buff should certainly see.
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