The Capra Touch

A Study of the Director’s Hollywood Classics and War Documentaries, 1934–1945


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About the Book

During World War II, Academy Award–winning director Frank Capra (1897–1991) made propaganda films for the U.S. Government, such as Prelude to War, The Nazis Strike, The Battle of Britain, War Comes to America and The Negro Soldier. These entries in the Why We Fight documentary series have been largely neglected by Capra scholars. This work analyzes the cinematic and thematic techniques Capra employed in these films, linking them to the techniques and ideology of the director’s popular mainstream narrative films, including It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Also analyzed are the manners in which Frank Capra’s war service affected his later films, notably his 1946 masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life, and how Capra’s belief in individual liberty shaped both his films and his career under the oppressive Hollywood studio system.

About the Author(s)

Matthew C. Gunter is Department Chair of the Film and Video Program at Everest University in Orlando, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Matthew C. Gunter
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 250
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6402-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8828-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1

1. Pre-War Capra 11

2. The Capra Formula 59

3. The Roots of Why We Fight 101

4. Mr. Capra Goes to War 117

5. The Capra Formula in His War Documentaries 138

6. It’s a Wonderful Life and Beyond 172

7. Capra’s Legacy 207

Chapter Notes 221

Bibliography 233

Index 237