Frank Capra’s Rags-to-Riches Story Defined the American Dream

Capra, a leading director from Hollywood's Golden Age, created some of the best films of the 1930's and 40's.

Frank Capra, born on May 18, 1897, was an Italian American film director, producer and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Born in Bisacquino, Italy and raised in Los Angeles from the age of five, his rags-to-riches story has led film historians such as Ian Freer to consider him the “American Dream personified.”

Capra became one of America’s most influential directors during the 1930s, winning several Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture.

Among his leading films were It Happened One Night (1934), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

During World War II, Capra served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and produced wartime films, such as the Why We Fight series.

Frank Capra cuts Army film as a Signal Corps Reserve major during World War II in 1943.

Yet today, Capra is remembered for Its a Wonderful Life (1946), starring Jimmy Stewart, which opened to unfavorable reviews but has become a beloved film that is watched by millions of people each year during the holidays.

Capra lived until he was 93 years old and passed away in 1991 in La Quinta, Calif.

“In these days of wars and rumors of wars, haven’t you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight?” -Frank Capra (1897-1991)

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