Posts Tagged ‘frank capra’

It’s A Wonderful Life

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!… How Could It Be Anything Else!

Starring – James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch Bailey), Henry Travers (Clarence Oddbody), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Henry F. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy Bailey).

Released – January, 1947

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Liberty Films (II)

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Businessman George Bailey is on the edge, literally. Deeply frustrated and troubled, George’s family and friends are worried enough about him to pray, and pray hard, on this Christmas Eve, 1945.

Their prayers are heard loud and clear in heaven and novice angel (yet to get his wings) Clarence Oddbody is sent to earth to prevent George from taking his own life. Prior to the trip, Clarence is shown George’s life.

And an eventful life it has been. At the tender age of 12, George saves his younger brother Harry from drowning in an icy pond. However, this act of heroism left George with a bad cold that resulted in the loss of hearing in his left ear.

While working a part-time job, after school in the local pharmacy, George notices that the druggist, Mr. Gower, who has recently lost his son, is mistakenly filling a child’s prescription with arsenic. He stops Mr. Gower from a mistake that would have resulted in tragedy and promises to never tell anyone about the incident.

That same evening, at younger brother Harry’s graduation party, George finds himself attracted to Mary Hatch, a girl who has had a secret crush on George since childhood. As the two talk about their idea’s for the future, George’s uncle brings him the news that his father has suffered a stroke which proves fatal.

While planning to leave for college, George learns that his father’s business, the Bailey Building and Loan Association, is in serious financial trouble and that the board of directors will shut it down unless George stays and takes over the management of the business.

In the background, majority shareholder Henry F. Potter is working hard to convince the board to stop making loans to the working poor. George is able to prevent this from happening and gives his college money to his brother Harry with the understanding that when Harry graduates he is to return and take over the business.

Again, George’s dreams for himself are crushed when Harry returns with a wife and an excellent job offer. Unable to deny his brother the opportunity, George continues running the business.

Finally, something positive happens in the life of George Bailey as he and Mary are wed. This new found happiness is short-lived as a run on the bank again puts the Building and Loan on the verge of collapse, World War II erupts, and a company bank deposit of $8,000 never gets to the bank, ending up in the hands of Henry F. Potter.

Always wanting George out of the picture, Potter, as majority shareholder, has an arrest warrant written against George for bank fraud claiming that George has stolen the money.

This has been the life of George Bailey. This collection of events has led him to consider suicide and his only hope is with angel Clarence Odbody whose strategy is to show George what life would have been like had he not been born.

NOTABLE: It’s A Wonderful Life received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Stewart), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound,
Recording.

In 1990, It’s A Wonderful Life was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Drained from his service to his country during World War II, James Stewart was hesitant to accept the role of George Bailey. Fortunately for everyone, Lionel Barrymore convinced Stewart to take the role.

Films made prior to this one would use painted corn flakes to give the appearance of snowfall. However, director Capra felt that they were too loud and did not want to add the dialogue after scenes were filmed. To solve the problem of recording the sound live a new method of creating snow was invented. The fire-fighting chemical of foamite, combined with soap and water was pumped at high pressure through a wind machine producing a silent, falling snow. This new method garnered an award for the RKO effects department from the Motion Picture Academy.

Actress Jean Arthur was director Frank Capra’s first choice to play Mary Hatch, but she was committed to a play on Broadway which opened the door for Donna Reed’s first starring role. Popular actress Ginger Rogers also turned down the role.

Actor Cary Grant was to play the role of George Bailey, but when Frank Capra inherited the project from another studio he rewrote the part for James Stewart who would later state that this was his favorite film role.

This was the first, and only time, that Frank Capra would produce, direct, finance, and co-write one of his films.

It’s A Wonderful Life was voted the #1 Inspirational Film of All Time by the American Film Institute as well as the 20th Greatest Movie of All Time.

In the film, actress Beulah Bondi plays the role of Jimmy Stewart’s mother. It was one of five times that she would play the mother of Stewart in his films.

Personal Note: While high production costs and stiff competition at the box office, primarily from the opening of The Best Years of Our Lives, the popularity of this motion picture has done nothing but grow with the passing to time. It’s A Wonderful Life now stands as one of the most loved Christmas films of all-time.

httpv://youtu.be/LJfZaT8ncYk

 

The Awful Truth Delights

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

November, 1937Columbia Pictures screwball comedy The Awful Truth has proven to be a tremendous success for Director/Producer Leo McCarey.

As a graduate of the Hal Roach studio, and the man credited with the pairing of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, McCarey uses the screen talents of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne to absolute perfection. The duo play Jerry and Lucy Warriner a married couple who suspect each other of being unfaithful.

But, the big winner may just be Columbia Pictures. No longer will the studio have to depend, almost solely, on Frank Capra for comedy genius. Leo McCarey has demonstrated that he will be more than capable in guiding the production and direction of great comedy.

Impending divorce has never been more funny then in The Auful Truth. And, the supporting cast is pitch-perfect including Ralph Bellamy as Lucy’s post-separation suitor, Alexander D’Arcy as Lucy’s handsome music teacher and possible lover, Cecil Cunningham as Lucy’s Aunt Patsy, and Molly Lamont as heiress Barbara Vance and Jerry’s post-separation suitor.

Jealously rears its ugly head as both Jerry and Lucy will try just about anything to ruin the other’s new romantic interests.

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne skillfully, and very appealingly, play a couple who can’t live with or without each other and will sooner or later have to face The Awful Truth.

Lost Horizon

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Lost Horizon

Tagline – Frank Capra’s Greatest Production

Starring – Ronald Colman (Robert Conway), Jane Wyatt (Sondra Bizet), Edward Everett Horton (Lovett), John Howard (George Conway), Thomas Mitchell (Barnard).

Released – March, 1937

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Colombia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Colombia Pictures

Description – Millions to make it!…Two years in production!…The best seller that set a new style in romance floods the screen with splendor and drama!

Writer, soldier, and diplomat Robert Conway is about to become England’s new Foreign Secretary. Before returning home from China to assume his new position, Conway has one more assignment to complete. He is to rescue 90 Westerners in the city of Baskul.

This mission is accomplished, with little time to spare, as the plane carrying Conway and the remaining evacuees, takes off just before the area is overrun by armed revolutionaries. While it seems to be a clean escape, Conway and the rest of the passengers are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.

The new route results in the plane running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayan Mountains. The hijacker is killed in the crash. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the desperate group are rescued by a mysterious people led by a man named Chang and taken to an Eden-like valley called Shangri-La where they meet the people’s leader known as the High Lama.

Initially, the group are anxious to get back to civilization. As time passes many in the group begin to believe that Shangri-La is not only beautiful, but magical and want to stay. Among them is Conway himself who has met and fallen for the enchantingly beautiful Sondra. Paleontologist Alexander Lovett, swindler Henry Barnard, and terminally ill Gloria Stone, who miraculously seems to be recovering, also want to stay. Conway’s younger brother George and another local young woman named Maria want to leave.

The High Lama, who is the founder of Shangri-La, and is said to be hundreds of years old, wants to meet with Conway. He has been preserved, along with the paradise’s other inhabitants, by the magical properties of Shangri-La.

However, his time to pass is near. He would like to pass on his responsibility of keeping Shangri-La safe to someone who is wise and knowledgeable of the modern world. Having read the writing’s of Conway, and with Sondra’s suggestion that Conway is “the one”, they arranged for his abduction. The High Lama passes quietly after naming Conway as his successor.

Conway’s brother George refuses to believe the Lama’s story and his position is supported by Maria. Giving in to loyalty, Conway agrees to leave the paradise with his brother and Maria. Their departure comes with a warning. It is said that Maria, like the Lama, is much older than she appears.

Grueling travel, changes in Maria, a loss of sanity that results in death, a rescue, memory loss, and regret soon follow.

NOTABLE: Lost Horizon won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, and Best Film Editing. The picture was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (H. B. Warner), Best Assistant Director, Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

The film exceeded its original budget and almost doubled in cost. It took five years to earn the money back causing a serious financial crisis for Columbia Pictures and damaging the relationship between director Frank Capra and studio head Harry Cohn.

David Niven and Louis Hayward tested for the role of George Conway before it went to John Howard just two days prior to filming.

A scene where a model was used for Jane Wyatt that depicted her swimming in the nude caused some trouble with the California State Censor Board. The board required two signed affidavits from Columbia stating that the models breasts were covered. Columbia complied, but the scene was shot with the model bare-breasted.

The blizzard sequences shot in the film were done using bleached corn flakes.

The characters portrayed by Jane Wyatt and Edward Everett Horton were not in the original novel by James Hilton. They were added to provide romantic interest and comic relief.

Personal Note: This is one of the great film classics of the late 1930’s, providing a rare film experience with a strong finale.

httpv://youtu.be/rt79tqEzt1o

httpv://youtu.be/EE2VUhGDu5Y

 

Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Gets Great Reception

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

May, 1936 – Hollywood’s hottest director, Frank Capra, has another winner with his film Mr. Deeds Goes  to Town.

Gary Cooper plays the role of Longfellow Deeds, a young tuba-playing hick from the small hamlet of Mandrake Falls, Vermont, who inherits a cool $20 million dollars and must fend off those looking to get their hand in his pocket. Jean Arthur provides great support as Babe Bennett, a smart big-city reporter who tricks her way into Deeds life and his heart.

Director Capra, a big fan of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Columbia Pictures released this film at a time when the President’s New Deal was being introduced to the country and hopes to accurately display the decency of the common man.

Capra is determined that his films have a “message” and are capable of conveying “fantasies of goodwill.” While there is still a very strong feeling of cynicism and corruption in the minds of American people as a result of the Great Depression, it is the hope of Frank Capra that a film like Mr. Deeds Goes to Town can help restore faith in the inner goodness of man.

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Remastered)

Tagline – Rocking America With Laughter!

Starring – Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Babe Bennett), George Bancroft (MacWade), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb).

Released – April, 1936

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Colombia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Colombia Pictures

NOTABLE: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town won the Oscar for Best Director (Frank Capra) and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Cooper), Best Writing, Screenplay, and Best Sound, Recording.

Director Frank Capra was convinced that Gary Cooper was the perfect choice to play Longfellow Deeds. This decision required he wait until Cooper was available. Production was delayed for six months at a cost of $100,000.

Actress Carole Lombard was originally set to play the role of Babe Bennett, but she dropped out of the project three days before scheduled shooting in order to appear in My Man Godfrey. Director Capra was able to convince Columbia head Harry Cohn to cast Jean Arthur.

Although co-starring in the picture, Jean Arthur had never watched the film until seeing it at a film festival in 1972.

The film introduced the word “doodle” into the English language to mean “the sense of absent-minded scribbling.”

httpv://youtu.be/GaYi4RxEOHc