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Frank Capra

Frank Capra
Frank Capra.jpg
Frank Capra circa 1930s
Born Francesco Rosario Capra
(1897-05-18)May 18, 1897
Bisacquino, Sicily, Italy
Died September 3, 1991(1991-09-03) (aged 94)
La Quinta, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart failure
Resting place Coachella Valley Public Cemetery
Other names Frank Russell Capra
Alma mater California Institute of Technology
Occupation Film director, producer, writer
Years active 1922–1964
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Howell (m. 1923; div. 1928)
Lucille Warner (m. 1932; d. 1984)
Children 4, including Frank Capra Jr.
Relatives Frank Capra III (grandson)

Frank Russell Capra (born Francesco Rosario Capra; May 18, 1897 – September 3, 1991) was an Italian-American film director, producer and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Italy and raised in Los Angeles from the age of five, his rags-to-riches story has led film historians such as Ian Freer to consider him the "American dream personified."

Capra became one of America's most influential directors during the 1930s, winning three Oscars as Best Director. Among his leading films were It Happened One Night (1934), You Can't Take It With You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); the former two of these won the Academy Award for Best Picture. During World War II, Capra served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and produced propaganda films, such as the Why We Fight series.

After World War II, Capra's career declined as his later films such as It's a Wonderful Life (1946), which flopped when it was first released, were critically derided as being "simplistic" or "overly idealistic". In succeeding decades, however, these films have been favorably reassessed. Outside of directing, Capra was active in the film industry, engaging in various political and social issues. He served as President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, worked alongside the Screenwriters Guild, and was head of the Directors Guild of America.

Year Film Award Winner
1933 Lady for a Day Outstanding Production Winfield Sheehan – Cavalcade
Best Director Frank Lloyd – Cavalcade
1934 It Happened One Night Outstanding Production YesY With Harry Cohn
Best Director YesY
1936 Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Outstanding Production Hunt Stromberg – The Great Ziegfeld
Best Director YesY
1937 Lost Horizon Outstanding Production Henry Blanke – The Life of Emile Zola
1938 You Can't Take It With You Outstanding Production YesY
Best Director YesY
1939 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Outstanding Production David O. Selznick – Gone with the Wind
Best Director Victor Fleming – Gone with the Wind
1943 Prelude to War Best Documentary YesY
1944 The Battle of Russia Best Documentary, Features Desert Victory
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Best Motion Picture Samuel Goldwyn – The Best Years of Our Lives
Best Director William Wyler – The Best Years of Our Lives
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Frank Lloyd
President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Succeeded by
Walter Wanger

American Film Institute
Directors Guild of America
Golden Globe Award
Venice Film Festival
American Film Institute recognition
United States National Film Registry
10th annual AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony, 1982
Misc documentaries
War documentaries
Movie trailers and interviews
Feature films
  • Barney, Richard A. David Lynch: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series). Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2009. .
  • Barson, Michael. The Illustrated Who's Who of Hollywood Directors: The Sound Era. New York: Noonday Press, 1995. .
  • Beauchamp, Cari. Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years. New York: Vintage, 2010. .
  • Brooks, Patricia and Johnathan. "Chapter 8: East L.A. and the Desert." Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press, 2006. .
  • Capra, Frank. Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971. .
  • Chandler, Charlotte. The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis, A Personal Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. .
  • Dickstein, Morris. Dancing in The Dark: A Cultural History of The Great Depression. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. .
  • Dixon, Wheeler W. The Early Film Criticism of Francois Truffaut. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1993. .
  • Freer, Ian. Movie Makers: 50 Iconic Directors from Chaplin to the Coen Brothers. London: Quercus Publishing Plc, 2009. .
  • Kotsabilas-Davis, James and Myrna Loy. Being and Becoming. New York: Primus, Donald I Fine Inc., 1987. .
  • Lazere, Donald. American Media and Mass Culture: Left Perspectives. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1987. .
  • Medved, Michael. Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. .
  • McBride, Joseph. Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. New York: Touchstone Books, 1992. .
  • Oderman, Stuart. Talking To the Piano Player: Silent Film Stars, Writers and Directors Remember. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2005. .
  • Poague, Leland. Frank Capra: Interviews (Conversations With Filmmakers Series). Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. .
  • Pendergast, Tom and Sara, eds. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Vol. 1. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. .
  • Stevens, George Jr. Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood's Golden Age. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. .
  • Wakeman, John, ed. World Film Directors: Volume One, 1890–1945. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1987. .
  • Wiley, Mason and Damien Bona. Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. .
  • Wilson, Victoria. A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907–1940. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013, .


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