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Frank Capra

 
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 4:51 am    Post subject: Frank Capra Reply with quote

Though I may be drawn-and-quatered for admitting this, I'm not entirely fond of Frank Capra movies. Okay, honestly, I don't like them at all. I didn't even like The Majestic. Am I a black-hearted fiend? Well, put down your torches and pitchforks, I'm asking for help. Recommend me some Capra movies. These I have seen:

It's a Wonderful Life

Arsenic and Old Lace

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
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matt header
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, I personally love Capra. His sense of aw-shucks innocence just gets to me, even though I've heard he was a complete ass in real life. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is my second favorite movie ever (I've cried every single time I've watched it - seven times), and "It's a Wonderful Life" is, to me, magical.

That said, I haven't seen much by him and don't know much about him. "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" is sweet escapism, and "Lost Horizon" has its moments (the ending, especially). The one that a lot of people are fond of that I don't care for is "It Happened One Night," but the last time I saw it I was 14, so I should probably check it out again.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, maybe it's a matter of taste. I didn't know he directed Lost Horizon; I'll check it out along with Mr. Deeds. Thanks. Smile
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've only seen It's a Wonderful Life!, which, byt the way, is a masterpiece. I just love the optimism that constantly lurks in the film and Stewart is remarkable.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
I've only seen It's a Wonderful Life!, which, byt the way, is a masterpiece. I just love the optimism that constantly lurks in the film and Stewart is remarkable.


Huh. I've always liked it for the darkness that constantly lurks in the film.

A lot of the pictures Stewart made after returning from WWII revealed a darker, more complex man--especially the Westerns he made for Anthony Mann. Winchester '73, for example, stunned audiences.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen 17 Capra pictures, and the only one I love without reservation is It Happened One Night.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is very well-made, very idealistic, and very naive. It fails to recognize that compromise is part of the intended nature of democracy--it's what protects us from fascism and dictators. The slowness of the democratic process, and its system of checks-and-balances, is what prevents extremists (like those willing to tyrannically filibuster) from imposing their will.

It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful nightmare, even though Clarence the angel survived the cutting process.

I also really like The Strong Man, but that's more of a Harry Langdon picture than Capra, I suppose. Meet John Doe has a terrific view of the "heelots," and You Can't Take It With You seems to love everybody.

After that, things get dicey. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is fun and certainly better than Sandler's version, but nothing more. The Why We Fight series is pure propaganda. (My favorite line, forcefully stated as pictures of Hitler and Mussolini are on screen: "If you see these monsters, don't hesitate.") Lost Horizon and Arsenic and Old Lace are arch comedies, stuck in resin. The first gets bogged down in theoretical conversations too early and too often, and Shangri-La is presented as a monolithic studio--a place only Hollywood might consider utopia on earth. The second is pure farce, and I grow tired of its relentless frenzy--it's hard to separate the sane characters from the insane. Cary Grant ramps up his overreactions and double takes, eliminating, for the most part, his trademark wit and sophistication. And the less said about Pocketful of Miracles the better.

Also worth mentioning is The Name Above the Title, an autobiography that reduces Capra to the standard-issue immigrant (from Sicily as a boy), seeking to take advantage of the opportunities American offers. It's a book in which readers must read skeptically and question the narrator, always looking between the lines to glean truth. Capra wrote like he directed.

Eric
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Huh. I've always liked it for the darkness that constantly lurks in the film.


True, there's a lot of darkness found within the film. What I meant is that I simply love the way Capra includes that constant optimism which suceeds despite all odds in the end. Christmas wouldn't be the same without it.

beltmann wrote:


A lot of the pictures Stewart made after returning from WWII revealed a darker, more complex man--especially the Westerns he made for Anthony Mann. Winchester '73, for example, stunned audiences.


I always considered his role in Vertigo to be the darkest of his career.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
Christmas wouldn't be the same without [It's a Wonderful Life].


Yeah, family gatherings at Christmas just aren't the same without thinking about the temptation of suicide.

Eric
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being ironic, are we?
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.21.2003 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Yeah, family gatherings at Christmas just aren't the same without thinking about the temptation of suicide.


LOL! My Xmas movies are A Christmas Story and Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (I know the latter takes place during Thanksgiving, but what the heck).

I completely agree with your assessment of Arsenic, Eric. Cary Grant's performance practically makes most of Jim Carrey's work look restrained by comparison.

I'll add It Happened One Night to my list.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.25.2003 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
My Xmas movies are A Christmas Story and Trains, Planes, and Automobiles


Those are my two as well! Love 'em both--and I truly, genuinely believe in my critic's heart that Planes, Trains is a classic of modern comedy.

"Those aren't pillows!"

Eric
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