Frank Capra

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It’s a Wonderful Life is a far bleaker entry than many of the other beloved films in the Christmas cinema canon. A Christmas Story is all about familial quirks, painted in Norman Rockwell hues. Even Die Hard never sees its everyman hero losing hope that he’ll save the day. But Frank Capra’s inspiring masterpiece puts us — and its protagonist George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) — through an emotional wringer and to the very brink of death before delivering a happy ending. Before we are shown the reason we must hang on to hope, even when life seems far from wonderful, we follow George through a fierce storm of emotional upswings and free falls. Through melodrama, Capra’s film communicates the intensity of our inner passions in a way that always rings true. Being something of a softie, it’s no surprise most of my favorite scenes in It’s a Wonderful Life are the ones that celebrate love. Here are six of the best.

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Frank Capra‘s adaptation of You Can’t Take It With You is one of the least favorite Best Picture winners. For many critics, but not for me. Outside of It’s a Wonderful Life, this film was my gateway to Capra, who I consider one of the most fascinating Golden Age directors. It was also my introduction to Jean Arthur, forever since my primary Hollywood crush. My interest in the film initially came about through a high school production of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, in which I played an FBI agent. As an idealistic teen, everything from the title to the anarchic yet loving clan of eccentrics spoke to me. It’s fair that some people don’t think YCTIWY deserved the top Oscar, especially since it was up against such great movies as Grand Illusion and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Also, if you know Capra was at the time president of the Academy and was supposed to host the ceremony again that year and he threatened both a resignation and a massive boycott of the event out of support for the near-to-strike Screen Directors Guild and is said to have been honored for his leadership in resolving the whole matter, well all that seems to make the wins for Best Picture and Best Director (out of seven nominations) a little fishy. Awards matters aside, though, it’s hard not to like YCTIWY with its perfect ensemble cast and its happy-go-lucky political hodgepodge. It’s far from perfect, hardly Capra’s […]

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One of the most famous films that Jimmy Stewart ever had to stand to the point of exhaustion in was Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Made almost a decade before his even more famous yet less senatorial It’s a Wonderful Life, the film tells the story of a small-town man who is appointed as a U.S. Senator to replace one that has suddenly died. Stewart stars as Jefferson Smith, an idealistic man who takes his new job almost too seriously. However, Smith’s wide-eyed wonder at the seat of government is soon rocked by political corruption and dirty dealings. Smith tries to arrange the use of public land for boy rangers in his home state, causing a problem for the building of a dam in the same area — a dam that’s a critical part of a bill being pursued by local tycoon and political heavy Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) who has the state’s other Senator, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), as well as the media back home, in his pocket. When Smith sees he’s being railroaded out of the process, his secretary Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur) helps him use the political machine to uncover the truth. Smith is forced to take the Senate floor, beginning a one-man filibuster to delay the voting on the bill until the people from his home state cry out to support his cause. Without pink sneakers, Smith makes it just shy of 24 hours before collapsing from exhaustion. So it got us wondering: can a […]

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These 20, alongside hundreds of others, redefine what it means to be a movie veteran.

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Recently, Flavorwire got a kick out of a post from Slacktory where they used that ever-present man behind the curtain called Google to see what our internet age connects with celebrities. Then, we got a kick out of Flavorwire’s answer which involved 25 famous authors and what the search engine had to say. The experiment is simple. Type a name into Google Image Search, and the program automagically suggests more words to narrow down your search. Judging from entries like “white people problems” for J.D. Salinger and “death, oven, daddy” for Sylvia Plath, it seems like Google might be kinder to famous movie directors. Some of the responses fully encapsulate the person’s artistic output while others push toward the fringe, but all are shaped by what we’re searching for. Here’s a few things Google thinks you should add to the names of some of your favorite filmmakers.

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Every year, the National Film Registry announces 25 films that it will toss gently into its vault for safe keeping. This year, they’ve chosen a hell of a list, but (like every year), the movies saved act as a reminder that even in a digital world where it seems unfathomable that we’d lose art, we’re still losing art. The task of actively preserving films is an honorable, laudable one, and it’s in all of our best interests to see movies like these kept safe so that future generations (and those attending Butt-Numb-a-Thon 55) will be able to screen them as they were meant to be seen. So what 25 movies made the cut this year? Let’s explore:

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Why Watch? Because Dr. Seuss wants to tell you how to behave now that the war is over. Dr. Seuss and Frank Capra teamed up for this educational film shown to military personnel stationed in Germany after the war was won. As they point out, it’s a delicate peace. There can be a comedic quality to the way this film is presented (especially in light of its treatment of German history), but it’s also important to see this in the context of when and why it was created. It was a film specifically meant to keep its audience on its guard long after they finished watching it. It was also a serious flick made by two men with strong senses of humor. Sadly, unlike Seuss’s other work, none of it rhymes. What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out Your Job in Germany for yourself:

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as MrSmith1939 and 2BorNot2B in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two daydream the ultimate reboot – an entire era of filmmaking brought back to life through the lens of modern directors. What styles should we bring back and homage? It is a good idea to let nostalgia drive us artistically? Will people in 30 years be harkening back to the Abramsian style?

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of two women who kill old men for charity, their nephew who wants to get married without being sent to prison, his brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and his other brother who looks like Boris Karloff and has killed plenty of people himself. Insanity might run in the family, but it’s also the story of the bodies buried in the basement and the one still hanging around the living room. Yes. It’s a comedy.

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In WWII, Dr. Seuss worked for the War Department creating educational cartoons for troops. They just happened to include some fantastic racial stereotypes, bare-breasted ladies, and dirty double entendre.

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Will the young festival’s move to a ski resort in the dead of winter be counter to its celebration of small, independent film?

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This week’s Culture Warrior gives an exhaustive review of the decade that you won’t find anywhere else on the Interwebs.

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You Can’t Take it With You one of Frank Capra’s biggest Depression Era hits, is a rambunctious, hopeful story that’s still relevant today.

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It’s Christmas Eve. A desperate man is suicidal, certain that his entire life has been worthless, and he’s facing a ruinous scandal. But heaven has better things in store for George Bailey.

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