. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Frank Capra Interview with John Mahoney – May 15, 1971 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
One of the most notable figures in the history of American Film is that of Frank Capra. Responsible for some of the most iconic moments in cinema, his trademark and point of view became so embedded in our national psyche that the mere mention of a movie whose characters, storyline and plot involved redemption and human emotions became known as a Capraesque Film.
That he was something of an Everyman filmmaker rang true with most people, particularly those people living through the Depression years in America. Frank Capra’s characters fought the good fight and won out over adverse situations. His was a celebration of the Human Spirit – the spirit that came with flaws and doubts, but the spirit that was, above all things, good.
And of course, there was a time when cynicism poked holes in the Capra style; wanted to deflate the notion that people could ultimately be good and that a common cause was a virtue and not a vice. In the 1950s his films were considered simplistic and over idealistic – that he was portraying America in an idealized version and not the real one. And a Capraesque Film came to mean a film that was, for all intents and purposes, sugar-coated and not life-as-it-was. The term Capraesque became Capra-Corn.
But the films have endured, and opinion on the style and substance have changed considerably over the years. In this interview, done in May of 1971 with film critic John Mahoney, Capra has published his autobiography The Name Above The Title, Capra discusses his life in films, and with his disillusionment of Hollywood in the 1950s.
If you are one of the millions who have seen It’s A Wonderful Life, and are not sure who was responsible, here is a chance to spend an hour with one of the great American filmmakers of the 20th century, and to learn who he was and what he was all about.