Saturday, July 06, 2013

An American Film Icon

The Name Above the Title: An AutobiographyThe Name Above the Title: 
An Autobiography 

by Frank Capra

"To my family, I was a maverick. I was jeered at, scorned, and even beaten. But I wouldn't leave school. That meant not only paying for my own education, but putting some change in the family kitty as well. Oh, I loved my family and respected their thrift. But how could they know what I knew, that sure I was born a peasant, but I'd be damned if I was going to die one." - Frank Capra

Before I discovered film culture I was entranced by the 'old-fashioned' Americana that has become known as 'Capraesque'. As a family each Thanksgiving we watched Miracle on "Thirty-fourth Street". I loved Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" and Gary Cooper in "Mr. Deeds goes to Town". Later I would learn about other great films of Capra like "Arsenic and Old Lace", Meet John Doe", and "It Happened One Night". One indication of Capra's greatness as a director is a partial list of leading actors that he directed including, in addition to Cooper and Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Kathryn Hepburn & Spencer Tracy, Donna Reed, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, and Frank Sinatra.
This autobiography was a natural for me to read when it was first published and I was not disappointed. It is an inspirational book and offers insights into the nature of artistic creativity. Anyone interested in the background of Frank Capra should consider reading his inspiring autobiography.

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