His movies were centered on good feelings and the common man - that in the end proves to be a hero: Frank Capra created stories rich of optimism, all based on perfect screenplays and sometimes conceived as real fairy tales. But if you look more closely, an unexpected melancholy lies just under the surface.
Himself a perfect example of the self-made man - a humble immigrant that became an international celebrity, he was, in John Ford's words, "an inspiration for those who believe in the American Dream", he was the greatest poet of the American way of life. A true "mythmaker", with his works he not only interpreted the spirit of the times, but also contributed significantly to producing and shaping a common social mythology, a bit like Walt Disney.
In 1977 Frank Capra visited his native village, Bisacquino, Sicily, where thousands of people were waiting for him. This event was documented on the Italian radio, newspapers and national TV. On December 28, 2012, Italian TV Channel 7 aired an episode of "La valigia dei sogni" (=The suitcase of dreams), conducted by Simone Annichiarico, on the life of Frank Capra, filmed in Bisacquino in the neighborhood of the director's early childhood, and on the occasion a village street was dedicated to his name.
He believed It's a Wonderful Life was his best movie, and said of it: "It's a Wonderful Life" sums up my philosophy of filmmaking. First, to exalt the worth of the individual. Second, to champion man - plead his causes, protest any degradation of his dignity, spirit or divinity. And third, to dramatize the viability of the individual - as in the theme of the film itself... there is a radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see, and to see we only have to look. I beseech you to look.
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- the "social trilogy": Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and Meet John Doe (1941)
- his Christmas fairy tale It's a Wonderful life (1946)
- In 1957, the George Eastman Award, for distinguished contribution to the art of film.
- In Los Angeles, May 12, 1962 is "Frank Capra Day."
- Order of British Empire (OBE) on the recommendation of Winston Churchill.
- Six nominations for Best Director, out of which he won three Academy Awards, seven for Outstanding Production/Best Picture. Out of six nominations for Best Director, Capra received the award three times.
Suggested reading and links
- On IMDB, Frank Capra