Frank Capra DVD Premier Collection

Notes on the Sony 2006 Frank Capra Premier Collection

6-disk DVD set

This is one of the nicer box sets I have seen for a classic movie collection. But the packaging, though very respectful and well designed (particularly the 96 page "scrapbook") is second to the high quality of the transfers for the movies themselves upon the DVDs. The following five Columbia Pictures Capra films are in the set:

  1. American Madness (Walter Huston, Kay Johnson) 1932

  2. It Happened One Night (Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert) 1934

  3. Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur) 1936

  4. You Can't Take It With You (Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur) 1938

  5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur) 1939

also included is a "bonus disk" which contains the following features;

  1. Frank Capra's American Dream (1997) : By Ron Howard 109 minutes

  2. Conversation with Frank Capra Jr: A Family History 25 minutes

  3. Conversation with Frank Capra Jr: the Golden Years 18 minutes

  4. Frank Capra: Collaboration: Produced by John Paul Rosas 19 minutes

  5. The Frank Capra I knew: By Jeanine Basinger 13 minutes

On the Bonus Disk: Jeanine Basinger
Basinger has a 13 minute mini feature talking about her experiences with Frank Capra beginning in the 1960s. She is also featured in the "Collaboration" mini-feature. (Basinger has written a number of film books, for example The Star Machine]

The design work throughout the set and the disks is very good. Above, the title menu to the bonus disk.

Richard Pena is featured on the "Frank Capra Collaboration" mini-feature on the bonus disk.

Even the disks themselves are handsome looking. Six altogether make up the set. Certainly this appproach should be applied to any further Capra releases coming from Sony.

Screenwriter Robert Riskin (1897-1955) was the principal Capra collaborator talked about in the mini-feature "Frank Capra Collaboration."

Frank Capra Jr turns to the task of explaining his fathers work; his personality; the impact of the success he had with Columbia Pictures; the impact Capra's work in World War II had on him, particularly Capra's reaction to his exporsure to the Nazi death camps in Germany. Basinger also discusses this in her talks on the Bonus Disk.


Mr. Smith and the Premiere Capra DVD Collection

I recently ran across an interesting discussion at Home Theatre Forum which talks about the amount of labor that went into putting together last years "Frank Capra Premiere Collection" DVD set from Sony. In particular, the DVD transfer of Mr. Smith is based upon a newly discovered print, and over thirty sections of the film were rebuilt using other elements, and all of it is not even apparent in the finished print (!) which is the best looking "Mr.Smith" in many decades. Also, there were significant amounts of work put into restoration on the other films (It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, American Madness). Apparently, only You Can't Take it With You was included without a major overhaul.

Here's hoping that Sony will get a second volume of Capra's Columbia films out on DVD - - In particular, The Bitter Tea of General Yen should be made available. Its reputation continues to climb with a new generation of film enthusiasts (as is actress Barbara Stanwycks) , and as sometime is said, it's what "Lost Horizon" could have been - Capra's "exotic" masterpiece.

Capra DVDs
[Above: Promotional photo of the Sony Frank Capra Premiere Collection.

Original Page November 2007 | 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