A beginner’s guide to the six best Frank Capra films

(Credit: Far Out/Columbia Pictures)

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Frank Capra is one of the most famous personalities in the history of American cinema, best known for his unforgettable classic films such as It’s a wonderful life reviewed by modern audiences. Classified by historians as the embodiment of the “American Dream,” Capra’s work often reflects the myths of class mobility popularized by American capitalism.

Born in a small town in Sicily, Capra moved to America when he was five years old, Capra worked while attending school before eventually going to study chemical engineering at Caltech despite the wishes of his family who wanted him to start working straight out of school.

He began his journey into the world of cinema after reading a newspaper article about a new film studio. Capra went on to do incredibly successful projects that garnered much praise from critics before going into decline after World War II, but his legacy lives on in the popular consciousness. Here, we trace his career through six final Capra films.

Six final Frank Capra films:

It happened one night (1934)

Incredibly successful project by Capra, It happened one night It is a classic comedy about a wealthy woman who decides to escape the clutches of her controlling father. During her adventures, she falls in love with a reporter (Clark Gable) who is there just for the big scoop.

It happened one night He made history by becoming the first film to win all five major categories at the Academy Awards – a feat that only two other films have equaled since then. To date, this film is considered among the best Capra films.

Mr. Deeds goes to town (1936)

Featuring the likes of Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, Mr. Deeds goes to town It is another Capra movie that depicts hoaxes of the press. It tells the story of a man who inherited $20 million during the Great Depression that attracts a lot of attention.

Back when it was first released, Mr. Deeds goes to town It resonated with audiences as well as critics. Renowned novelist Graham Greene also praised the project, noting that Capra had “a kinship with its audience, a sense of common life, and an ethics.”

You can’t take it with you (1938)

Among the most famous Capra films, You can’t take it with you is a compelling romantic comedy about a free-thinking woman from a eccentric family who becomes betrothed to the son of an ultra-conservative and arrogant banker.

You can’t take it with you He continued the remarkable career that Capra was making, and won his third Academy Award for Best Director after his success It happened one night And Mr. Deeds goes to town. This 1938 gem ended up becoming another critical and commercial success under Capra’s belt.

Mr. Smith goes to Washington (1939)

It is often listed as one of the greatest films made in the history of American cinema. Mr. Smith goes to Washington Starring James Stewart in a truly iconic role. The film builds a fascinating political commentary based in part on the life of US Senator Burton Wheeler.

While most Capra films deal with individual success, Mr. Smith goes to Washington It transcends the illusion of the “American Dream” by highlighting the systemic failures of a country that proudly refers to itself as the world’s largest democracy.

Arsenic and old lace (1944)

Quote from Joseph Kesselring’s play, Arsenic and old lace Stars Cary Grant as a critic about to embark on his honeymoon when he discovers a dead body and begins his descent into a world filled with madness and deadly crime.

Capra initially envisions Bob Hope in the lead but Cary Grant pulls it off really well. Featuring hilarious comedy elements and a shocking cinematic atmosphere, Arsenic and old lace It is one of the most interesting films ever directed by Capra.

It’s a wonderful life (1946)

The Frank Capra movie that has stood the test of time the best, It’s a wonderful life Probably the most popular Christmas movie of all time. It stars James Stewart as a completely selfless man who has spent his life helping others but is pushed to the brink of suicide.

When it was released, the film had a lukewarm commercial response but its stature continued to grow with each passing year. Capra considered this to be his personal favorite project while Stewart considered it among his favorite roles.

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