Books on Frank Capra

The paperback name Above Title Frank Capra

The Name Above The Title:
An Autobiography of Frank Capra

By Frank Capra
New York, Macmillan
513 pages, illustrated.

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The Catastrophe of Success

By Joseph McBride
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000
New York City
799 pages, illustrated

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Frank Capra American Dream

Frank Capra's American Dream

(1997, 105 minutes)

Available from DVD or VHS

A straightforward telling of the Capra legend with numerous film clips. Many Hollywood directors, stars and film-scholars are given screen-time to talk about Capra's films, their meanings (some with obvious enthusiasm). A running narrative by Ron Howard keeps all of the information organized in the interesting format of a story that moves from Capra's birth to the event of Capra publishing his autobiography. Capra's deep retirement years are not covered in any particular depth, and perhaps it was still too recent at the time of the making of this film. The documentary features home movies, interviews with Capra's sons, and a broad overview of Capra's evolution from Hollywood novice to established director. It is a well-made overview of Capra's oeuvre with a quick sketch of his personal life at each step along the way.

Frank Capra
Authorship and the Studio System

Edited by Robert Sklar & Vito Zagarrio
Temple University Press, 1998, 293 pages

This collection is a nice little Capra Reader, and is chock-full of differing and varied ideas about Capra's major films.

This book contains an introduction and nine essays. The essays are: Anatomy of a House Director: Capra, Cohn, and Columbia in the 1930s (By Thomas Schtz); A Leap into the Void: Frank Capra's Apprenticeship to Ideology (By Robert Sklar); It is [not] a Wonderful Life: For a Counter Reading of Frank Capra (By Vito Zagarrio); Capra and the Abyss: Self-interest versus the Common Good in Depression America (By Charles J. Maland); It Happened One Night: The Recreation of the Patriarch (By Richard Maltby); Roosevelt, Arnold, and Capra, [or] the Federalist-Populist Paradox (By Giuliana Muscio); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Democratic Forums and Representational Forms (By Charles Wolfe); Studio Metamorphosis: Columbia's Emergence from Poverty Row (By Brian Taves); Notes on Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1926-1941, with a New Afterward (By Edward Buscombe).

The book also has a Bibliography and Filmography, as well as notes on the individuals contributors to the volume.

Six Screenplays by Robert Riskin

Edited with an Introduction by Pat McGilligan
University of California Press, 1997, 696 pages

Six Screen Plays by Robert Riskin - AMAZON

This book has an informative and well-written 89 page introduction which easily doubles as a loose-biography of Riskin while also analyzing Riskin's impact on Frank Capra's film work. The information put forward (a significant amount via Riskin's widow, actress Fay Wray) helps to flesh out some of what Joseph McBride brought up in his biography Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, particularly how Riskin and Capra worked together. That the two men liked each other, and Riskin's loyalty to Capra even after there appeared examples of Capra hedging credit on his films at the expense of Riskin, is a cause for pause. Frank Capra was certainly "the name above the title," yet it seems that Riskin was at the heart of many of the major Capra films. Film fans who subscribe completely to the "one man, one film" dictum of the auteur have a gordian knot of puzzles to separate when it comes to Riskin/Capra.

The six screenplays for Capra reprinted herein are: Platinum Blonde, American Madness, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, and Meet John Doe.

"Riskin's populism (he hated the word) was from the heart. Over and over again his scripts affirmed their "faith" (a word that recurs in Mr. Deeds) in "the people," his optimism often founded upon lead characters who were strangers or nobodies. Critics still prefer to call that formula "Capraesque," although some think it should be known, at least equally, as "Riskinesque." (page 45)

American Vision : The Films of Frank Capra
By Raymond Carney (Published by Weslayan University Press, 1996.
Trade paperback, 6x9 ". 510 pp.)

Carney discusses Capra in regards to American transcendentalism, including the paintings of Homer, Eakins, Sargent, and Hopper and the writings of Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne, and William and Henry James, and others. Includes analysis of Capra's films.

British Film Institute
New Index Series #3

Time Magazine
Article on Frank Capra
(Published August 14, 1938)

Frank Capra: American Film Institute
Televised program (Published 1982)

Another Frank Capra: Cambridge Studies in Film
By Leland Poague (Published 1995)

Columbia Mirror
October 1939
Columbia Pictures promotional magazine
Features Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Frank Capra
By Charles J. Maland (Published 1995)

Frank Capra's American Dream
By Ron Howard
VHS Tape program1997

Meet John Doe : Frank Capra, Director:
Rutgers Films in Print Vol 13
By Charles Wolfe (Editor) (Published 1989)

The Complete Films of Frank Capra
By Victor Scherle, William Turner-Levy (Published 1992)

Examination of Narrative Structure in
Four Films of Frank Capra
By Brian G. Rose (Published 1980)

The Films of Frank Capra (Retrospective)

Special Program to the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts Capra film retrospective.
(Publishing date: unknown)

It's a Wonderful Life
(St. Martins Original Screenplay Series)
By Frances Goodrich (Published 1986)

Literature Film Quarterly : Fictional Realism
Frank Capra Interview. Vol IX Vol 9
(Published 1981)

Populism and the Capra Legacy
(Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture, No 44)
By Wes D. Gehring (Published 1995 )

American Madness : The Life of Frank Capra
Joseph McBride / Published 1990

The Cinema of Frank Capra : An Approach to Film Comedy
By Leland A. Poague (Published 1975)
Tantativy Press. 252 pgs

The Films of Frank Capra
By N.J. Secaucus (Published 1977)

The Films of Frank Capra
By Donald C. Willis (Published 1974)

Frank Capra : A Guide to References and Resources
(A Reference Publication in Film)
By Charles Wolfe (Published 1987)

Frank Capra the Man and His Films
By Glatzer R (Published 1975)

Identity: Italian Americans Magazine

(Published May 1977)

The Men Who Made the Movies :
Interviews with Frank Capra, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock,
Vincente Minnelli, King Vidor, Raoul Walsh (Published 1975)

More info coming
Original page 2003 | Updated April 2013

The Frank Capra Premiere Collection 5 Films

AMAZON: The Premiere Frank Capra Collection (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington / It Happened One Night / You Can't Take It with You / Mr. Deeds Goes to Town / American Madness / Frank Capra's American Dream)

Frank Capra Film Director 1897 - 1991