- Capra, Frank
- (1897-1991)Frank Capra was born in Sicily, and his family moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1903. Capra obtained a degree in chemical engineering from Throop college of Technology in 1918, and served briefly in the army until the end of World War I. He began to direct silent movies in the early 1920s, and moved to Hollywood in 1923, where he directed a number of Harry Langdon films. In 1928, Capra began working for Columbia Pictures. After a number of average successes, he achieved a major breakthrough with It Happened One Night (1934), starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. The film won five Oscars, including best director. In 1936, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town with Gary Cooper was another prize winner, with an Oscar for best direction. More awards and nominations came for You Can’t Take It with You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Capra volunteered for service in the army and became head of the Army Pictorial Service. He directed and produced the propaganda series Why We Fight, and one of the films, Prelude to War, won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 1942. Capra was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Order of the British Empire, and French Legion of Merit in recognition of his services.In 1947, Capra produced and directed It’s A Wonderful Life (1947), starring James Stewart. Although not an immediate success, the film became recognized as a classic and is shown regularly at Christmas on television across the world. After a number of unnoteworthy films and television documentaries, Capra made A Hole in the Head with Frank Sinatra in 1959. His last film, Pocketful of Miracles (1961), was neither a commercial nor critical success, and Capra retired in 1966. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 1982.See also Cinema.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.