POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES (Frank Capra, 1961) and LADY FOR A DAY (Frank Capra, 1933)

Pocketful of Miracles, from a Damon Runyan story, did not fare well with reviewers; their savaging of it convinced Frank Capra, its director, to retire from filmmaking. It is overlong, opulent and inflated, in the reigning Hollywood style of its day. Everyone agrees that its Great Depression fairy tale about Dave the Dude and Apple […]

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (Frank Capra, 1938)

Frank Capra won his third directorial Oscar for the zany, frequently hilarious social comedy You Can’t Take It with You, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Robert Riskin wrote the film, which also won the best picture Oscar, to neutralize the tart Leftist politics of the original and […]

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Frank Capra, 1934)

Frank Capra won an Oscar for directing It Happened One Night, penned by Robert Riskin (who also won an Oscar, as did the film) from a short story, “Night Bus,” by Samuel Hopkins Adams. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert—both Oscared for their most charming, fullest, most vulnerable performances—play newspaperman Peter Warne and Ellie Andrews, both […]

AMERICAN MADNESS (Frank Capra, 1932)

Written by Robert Riskin, American Madness, a great film of the Great Depression, may even be director Frank Capra’s masterpiece. Perhaps he could be so patiently and penetratingly objective about the times because, a right-wing Republican (who veered into fascism with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939, and Meet John Doe, 1941), Capra wasn’t seduced […]