Frank Capra

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

  • Born:  1897
  • Died:  1991
  • Rank:  38
  • Score:  610.00
  • Awards:  3 Oscars / Golden Globe
  • Nominations:  6 Oscars / 2 DGA / Golden Globe
  • Feature Films:  37
  • Best:  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Worst:  Here Comes the Groom

Top 5 Feature Films:

  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – 1939
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
  3. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – 1936
  4. You Can’t Take It With You – 1938
  5. It Happened One Night – 1934

Top 10 Best Director Finishes  (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1933 – 1oth – Lady for a Day
  • 1934 – 2nd – It Happened One Night
  • 1936 – 3rd – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  • 1937 – 7th – Lost Horizon
  • 1938 – 4th – You Can’t Take It With You
  • 1939 – 2nd – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • 1944 – 4th – Arsenic and Old Lace
  • 1946 – 4th – It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s interesting that the strongest proponents of the auteur theory never really took to Frank Capra.  After all, like Ford and Hitchcok, two of their gods, he began in silents and moved effortlessly into talkies.  His reputation grew in the thirties and the Oscars started arriving (with a horrible stumble – Will Rogers in 1933 said “Come on up here, Frank” referring to Frank Lloyd and Capra was actually out of his seat before he realized his mistake – but he won the next year and twice after that to make up for the gaffe).  In the forties, Capra was one of the directors who left Hollywood to make documentaries for the war effort.  When he came back, it seemed like he would move gracefully back into the film industry, immediately scoring an Oscar nomination for It’s a Wonderful Life, but he never approached such heights again.  In spite of being a pioneer, of making films that absolutely showed his touch, of being everything the auteurs wanted, they never found a high place for him and in the fifties he was pretty much done.  He lived for 40 more years after 1951, but he only made two films, A Hole in the Head and then Pocketful of Miracles, a re-make of his earlier success, Lady for a Day and then he waited around and watched while his contemporaries were all hailed as important landmark directors and he was almost forgotten.

It’s a Wonderful Life – #3 film of 1946

28 july 1997

we’ll stay up late tonight
long after the sun has burned into the horizon
and the purple glow has faded from the sky
we’ll watch a Bergman film
we’ll talk about death
and love
and sex and anything else we think matters

and in the dark will come the worst of us
all our hopes and fears that we know we’ll never meet
we’ll talk long into the night
until the moon has crossed the sky
and starts to follow in the path of the sun
and fade from view

and maybe we’ll pop in Woody Allen
we’ll still be talking about love and sex and death
and how we can be happy that we’re miserable
and it’s dark inside and out
and the night is still here

we’ll remember the dreams we had
so long ago
when we thought dreams still came true
before we said, we’re grown up, we know better
dreams are for children
and me, i’m an adult

and the black night will start to turn blue
and somewhere on the edge of the horizon
we’ll hear the first cries of morning
see the first rays of pink and purple that light up the sky
we’ll still talk about love and sex
but death we’ll leave behind this time
and we’ll throw in Frank Capra
and watch Jimmy Stewart
and when the night is through and the dawn breaks
we’ll have to admit
it’s a wonderful life after all