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Frank Capra and his films


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Speaking of Capra, I wrote down that the marathon was tomorrow!! according to my now playing guide it is (I'll have to check it again), but I did write down tues the 19th--now I missed all those early capra films that I not only wanted to tape but I've never even seen before. I'm so sad!

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I loved the tribute to Frank Capra May 18th on his b'day! Barbara Stanwyck is my all time fave actress & she was featured in 3 movies on that day. What versatility & charisma she has - Barbara inspires me so much. I missed 'Ladies of Leisure' because my recorder didn't work, then I realized my mistake omg how upsetting. I really want to find that movie, no luck so far. Please TCM play it again! Capra's direction is brilliant.

 

Barbara shone as an evangalist in 'The Miracle Woman'. At that time she was only 23 or 24 yet such a strong portrayal & I was crying a bit through that one! The story has such a wallop in more ways than one. Next I recorded 'Forbidden'. Awesome! Barbara ages beautifully in this lifelong saga. Remember Elizabeth Taylor in 'Giant'? Barbara's ability to act older & older as time goes on through this movie seems to me even more amazing! Maybe the b&w screen is an advantage.

 

Thanks so much to TCM for highlighting Ms Stanwyck in the Frank Capra tribute! Frank loved Barbara & in interviews always said how nice she was to everyone. Now if I could find 'Ladies of Leisure' I'd be even happier!

 

Message was edited by: MsMerlina

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  • 2 weeks later...

The 2nd director to receive a prime-time salute during TCM's "Great Directors" month is Frank Capra - whose distinctive style gave birth to the term "Capracorn", and who also won 3 Oscars as Best Director between 1935 and 1939.

 

PRIME TIME SCHEDULE FOR JUNE 2ND - FRANK CAPRA

 

*It Happened One Night* (1934) 8pm ET

A newspaperman tracks a runaway heiress on a madcap cross-country tour.

Cast: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns Dir: Frank Capra BW-105 mins, TV-PG

 

*Mr. Smith Goes to Washington* (1939) 10pm ET

An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption.

Cast: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold Dir: Frank Capra BW-130 mins, TV-G

 

*You Can't Take It With You* (1938) 12:15am ET

A girl from a family of freethinkers falls for the son of a conservative banker.

Cast: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold Dir: Frank Capra BW-126 mins, TV-G

 

*Arsenic And Old Lace* (1944) 2:30am ET

A young man about to be married discovers the two aunts who raised him have been poisoning lonely old men.

Cast: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson Dir: Frank Capra BW-118 mins, TV-G

 

*Platinum Blonde* (1931) 4:30am ET

A heartless heiress seduces a hard-working reporter into a disastrous marriage.

Cast: Loretta Young, Robert Williams, Jean Harlow, Halliwell Hobbes Dir: Frank R. Capra BW-89 mins, TV-G

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I watched It Happened One Night for the hundreth time last night and still love it. I was paying attention to the lighting, the composition and all the million teeny "touches" put in, like the gas station attendant who "never owned a hat like that before." Capra will give screen time to an incidental charactor (like the bridge attendant who falls off his chair in IAWLife) that just adds humanism to the main story. And he knows just where to cut.

 

I watched Stagecoach the other night and was actually jarred by Ford's misuse of close-ups, medium shots and long shots. It was as if he didn't realize the inpact a close up has (intimacy) and overused it because Wayne had such a beautiful face. It ruined the telling of the story, in my humble opinion.

 

Capra used the camera to create intimacy and tension by his compositions. There was even a scene between Gable and his boss where Gable's back was to the camera, then he got up, turned and faced him. Capra directed composition and movement to help tell the story with body language. And who could forget the long shot of Ellen Andrews running across the dark lawn in her white gown & jumping into the car? We saw it just like the wedding guests and news cameras saw it.

 

It's a visual art form, isn't it? I think Capra was a master at visual film story telling.

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*It Happened One Night* is one of my faves and I got to see it on the big screen a couple weeks ago and it was great. The crowd was loving it and there were actually two scenes during the film where people clapped and cheered: when Claudette stops the car by flashing her gams and when Clark admits he loves her and says ?but don?t hold that against me, I?m a little screwy myself?. The ending had barely begun to fade out when everyone erupted into cheers again. I love seeing the old comedies especially on the big screen and with a crowd, and we laughed through the whole thing even though many of us had already seen it too many times to count.

 

Capra is my fave filmmaker and one of the things that?s always stood out to me is what you said about incidental characters. They seem like real fleshed out people even if they only have a minute or two on the screen. He did a wonderful job of picking people for his films and then gave them so much to work with. His collaborations with Robert Riskin (the best screenwriter of all time in my opinion) are absolutely top notch and always entertaining no matter how many times you see them.

 

One part that always gives me a little giggle is when Clark has run off Roscoe Kearns character ?Shapeley? into the woods and then spits. He gets a little on his coat and wipes it off before he heads back to the bus. That was something Capra came up with back in his silent days and Harry Langdon used it first in some of his shorts. Gary?s character in *Mr. Deeds* also does it when he and Jean Arthur are on top of the Empire State Building and he spits over the side and she has to wipe it off his coat. It was a cute little thing to try and show they were cool or tough but by spitting on themselves it showed they were really just nice, regular guys that people could relate to. It?s a little thing but all those little things add up to realistic, believable characters and Capra was the master at that.

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I don't consider "It Happened One Night" to be one of Capra's best. Maybe becuse it's not typical Capra. My top 5 Capra films, in order, are "It's a Wonderful Life", "You Can't Take It With You", "Lady For a Day', "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", and "Meet John Doe".

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My all time Capra fav is Lost Horizon but seeing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington last night on TCM for the first time was pretty amazing. I mentioned the fact I was watching it on Facebook and by the time I was done had about five responses from people telling me how much they love that film. Was still thinking about it at 2:00a.m. and so I blogged about it also:

 

 

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> {quote:title=coopsgirl wrote:}{quote}

> One part that always gives me a little giggle is when Clark has run off Roscoe Kearns character Shapeley into the woods and then spits. He gets a little on his coat and wipes it off before he heads back to the bus. That was something Capra came up with back in his silent days and Harry Langdon used it first in some of his shorts. Garys character in *Mr. Deeds* also does it when he and Jean Arthur are on top of the Empire State Building and he spits over the side and she has to wipe it off his coat. It was a cute little thing to try and show they were cool or tough but by spitting on themselves it showed they were really just nice, regular guys that people could relate to. Its a little thing but all those little things add up to realistic, believable characters and Capra was the master at that.

 

Capra also uses it during the "Archangel Gabriel's" telling of George Bailey's life story to Clarence in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE; in a short, wordess vignette, World War II air-raid warden George orders a Bedford Falls resident to turn out a light to conform to blackout regulations, then spits as if utterly full of himself to be vested with so much power over his fellow citizens. Capra turns George's momentary arrogance upside-down an instant later, bringing him back to earth as he notices the spittle he's launched onto his own collar -- reward for that uncharacteristic arrogance.

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Did anyone else notice how Capra used popular music--"The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" in It Happened One Night and "Oh, Susannah" in You Can't Take It With You--as an illustration of the vital popular culture that the upper-class outsider needs to appreciate and join? On the bus in IHON one man asks for the song, the singer begins it, others know additional verses, and finally Claudette Colbert is singing along with the chorus. Something similar happens in YCTIWY with "Oh, Susannah." Edward Arnold is finally saved when he plays this song on the harmonica, definitely an instrument of the people. An important theme of both films is that the upper classes need to connect with and appreciate the "little people." Music is a good way to demonstrate this. Capra picks songs that everyone in the audience will know.

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SPOILERS

 

I think The Lost Horizon has some of the best camera shots in the cinema history. The casting was great too. Like Hitchcock, Frank Capra knows the right person for the role. I cannot see anyone other than Ronald Colman for the role "Robert Colman."

 

When Frank Capra makes film outside of his usual films, he makes it really different and brilliant. In Arsenic and Old Lace, we see brilliant scenes like shadow of Raymond Massey talking to Peter Lorre's Dr. Einstein, Graveyard Sequences, the scenes where Mortimer is tied up with curtain cords, and other great scenes.

 

Many People realize that about last 24 minutes of Arsenic and Old Lace contains no music at all. We only hear the music after the last line "I am not a cab driver I am coffee pot."

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> {quote:title=konway87 wrote:}{quote}

> SPOILERS

>

> I think...Lost Horizon has some of the best camera shots in the cinema history. The casting was great too. Like Hitchcock, Frank Capra knows the right person for the role. I cannot see anyone other than Ronald Colman for the role "Robert Colman."

 

If that were true, Capra never would have cast the shrill, shallow and inept John Howard as George Conway (had he never heard of David Niven?). He practically destroys the film, single-handedly.

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I thought John Howard was alright. Capra and Riskin changed the character Mallory (in the novel) to George Conway. John Hilton (who wrote the novel "The Lost Horizon) was very happy with the film version by Capra.

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> {quote:title=konway87 wrote:}{quote}

> I thought John Howard was al[l] right. Capra and Riskin changed the character Mallory (in the novel) to George Conway. John Hilton (who wrote the novel "The Lost Horizon) was very happy with the film version by Capra.

 

Book and movie are titled simply "Lost Horizon," no article "the."

 

And John Howard's performance is ghastly, nothing less.

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"And John Howard's performance is ghastly, nothing less."

 

Its really a matter of opinion. Some People say "Citizen Kane is greatest film ever made." Other People says "Citizen Kane is one of the most overrated films."

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> {quote:title=konway87 wrote:}{quote}

> "And John Howard's performance is ghastly, nothing less."

>

> Its really a matter of opinion. Some People say "Citizen Kane is greatest film ever made." Other People says "Citizen Kane is one of the most overrated films."

 

The first statement is probably right.

 

The second statement is undoubtedly wrong.

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  • 1 month later...

Capra was not a happy camper during the shoot of "Pocket Full of Miracles", the main problem was Glenn Ford. Him and Ford butted heads all through the film.Capras first choice was Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin, but both passed and he signed Ford as co producer and was ready to sign Shirley Jones as Queenie Martin and Helen Hayes as Apple Annie. Then Ford refused to sign unless his friend could play "Queenie", Hope Lange, Capra was against her for the role but Ford helt out and when Capra gave in , he lost Helen Hayes because of the delay and was able to sign Bette Davis. Then Ford gave an interview about Davis helping him get started in his film career and he was glad he demanded that she be given the role of Annie and be rescued from obscurity. When Davis read it she went through the roof. She hated Ford, she hated the role of "Annie" and she hated Capra for getting her to do the lousy film.As Capra stated in his book "The Name Above the Title" the only real joy in the film for him was working with Peter Falk..To quote Capra,"He was my joy, my anchor to reality, he presence in the film made me forget my pains, tired blood, and the hankering to kill Glenn Ford. It was not the picture I set out to make, it was the picture I chose to make for fear of losing a few bucks...The film was a failure.....

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As readers of, or contributors to, the now-locked MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON thread (thanks, TCM Adminstrator, you censorious nitwit), my criticism of Capra runs pretty deep, though I could not agree more with his reaction to, and estimation of, Glenn Ford.

 

Capra obviously had to be on a set with him all day; I've only had to watch Ford onscreen (I did know an actress/nurse who took care of him for an extended time during his dotage, and she didn't like him, either) and he's always struck me as a 100% phony. The sort of guy who, when out of the public eye, performed heinous experiments on kittens and puppies. Also not a terribly interesting actor, if truth be told. How and why that man had a career, I'll never know.

 

Capra was right, too, about Peter Falk, one of the truly wonderful, unsung masters of his craft. Falk, whom I have met on numerous occasions (now, sadly, suffering from Alzheimer's Disease) saved any number of films from ignominy by injecting exactly the amount of often-wacky life into them (remember THE GREAT RACE? Tony Curtis is okay; Jack Lemmon -- a lovely man -- is very good; Peter Falk steals the movie as Professor Fate's devoted, but inept, henchman, Max).

 

Falk's a nice man, if a bit distant. Maybe it was always just the glass eye.

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