Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

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telical

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Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostThu Dec 06, 2012 9:36 pm

I just saw the Dr. Christian films for the first time and I am
wondering what are some other films in this genre, which might
be called Capra-esque? In particular, I saw The Courageous Dr. Christian, which I understand
may be a little different than the others. I had a problem staying
with the other one I tried, but I'm sure I'll come back to it at some
point. I guess I'm looking for films that aren't aimed too much
towards children, and have some style and skill to them, but I
also tend to like some offbeat films even if the production values aren't
that high.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 1:11 am

I've always had the feeling that THEODORA GOES WILD (1937) was planned as a Frank Capra film, perhaps because it came out of Columbia during his tenure there. Another one, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES (1941) had story elements that would have appealed to Capra including Jean Arthur in the cast.
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Christopher Jacobs

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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 2:25 am

Leo McCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) has something of a Capra-eseque feel to it (even starring Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi), although it's a bit more downbeat than most Capra by the time it's over, whereas even downbeat Capra like MEET JOHN DOE and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE tend to have reasonably happy conclusions.

There's an excellent Blu-ray of MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW available from Eureka in the U.K., but unfortunately for those without multi-region players it's region B only.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 1:42 pm

I always think that all those comedies about wacky families full of eccentrics owe a little something to You Can't Take It With You, but they may be more influenced by the original Kauffman play moreso than the fact that Capra directed the film version (and there are enough examples that predate the film).
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 5:44 pm

Christopher Jacobs wrote:Leo McCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) has something of a Capra-eseque feel to it (even starring Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi), although it's a bit more downbeat than most Capra by the time it's over, whereas even downbeat Capra like MEET JOHN DOE and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE tend to have reasonably happy conclusions.

There's an excellent Blu-ray of MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW available from Eureka in the U.K., but unfortunately for those without multi-region players it's region B only.


A "bit more downbeat"? That's kind of an understatement. The ending of MWFT is devastating.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 6:59 pm

What IS Capra-esque, exactly? Must be more than a happy ending--that's merely "Hollywood." That idea that everyone, including the apparent bad guy, is, "deep down," good...or at the very least, not so bad? Hard to reconcile that view with the facts of life.
Last edited by entredeuxguerres on Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 8:56 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:I always think that all those comedies about wacky families full of eccentrics owe a little something to You Can't Take It With You, but they may be more influenced by the original Kauffman play moreso than the fact that Capra directed the film version (and there are enough examples that predate the film).


Like Three-Cornered Moon? The Merry Frinks?
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Dec 07, 2012 10:58 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:What IS Capra-esque, exactly? Must be more than a happy ending--that's merely "Hollywood." That idea that everyone, including the apparent bad guy, is, "deep down," good...or at the very least, not so bad? Hard to reconcile that view with the facts of life.


He seems to have some social activism themes in his works, done in an almost
surreal style. I understand the problem people have with him because of what
he said about Langdon, which I don't condone, but I guess he was just following
the lead of many others in Hollywood that exaggerated the part they played in various things.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostSun Dec 09, 2012 11:16 pm

I wonder if Capra and/or Riskin might have been inspired by The Cat's-Paw (1934) which seems to foreshadow both Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith in some ways. This very unusual, and very funny, Harold Lloyd vehicle stars our hero as a naive man inexperienced with modern big city American ways, who somehow ends up as puppet Mayor through the scheming of crooked politicians. Una Merkel has what would be the Jean Arthur role of the street-wise, cynical dame who winds up falling in love with the poor sap.

Frank's buddy John Ford, perhaps a tad over-fond of injecting raucous comedy bits into his westerns and dramas, rarely made out-and-out comedies. One fine exception was The Whole Town's Talking (1935) which has some of the Capra ingredients: Jean Arthur, a Jo Swerling/Robert Riskin script, and made at Frank's place, Columbia Studios.

Some of the elements in The Fountainhead (1949) make me think of the film as "Frank Capra gone berserk", specifically the power of the press and the way "the people" are so easily swayed from one standpoint to another led by shallow demagoguery.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostMon Dec 10, 2012 1:40 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:I wonder if Capra and/or Riskin might have been inspired by The Cat's-Paw (1934) which seems to foreshadow both Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith in some ways.


That's because THE CAT'S PAW and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN were written by the same author, Clarence Budington Kelland, who wrote two other novels for Harold Lloyd at that time, Footlights and Dreamland. However, Lloyd passed on those. Instead, Footlights became a vehicle for Buster Keaton under the title SPEAK EASILY, and Dreamland was later filmed as STRIKE ME PINK with Eddie Cantor.

MR. DEEDS was based on Kelland's novel Opera Hat, which was serialized in The American Magazine (the other three novels mentioned were serialized in the Saturday Evening Post). Opera Hat is a delightful read with varied and vivid characters, and the movie follows it fairly closely in its first half. Unlike the movie, the book remains firmly in the world of opera, as Longfellow Deeds has inherited an opera house and its company as part of his fortune. Once he sees an opera for the first time, he is eager to find ways to make it more palatable for the man on the street. But along the way, one of the company's divas is murdered, and Deeds eventually solves the crime.

As much as I like MR.DEEDS, I wish someone would film Opera Hat as it was originally written. Great musical and mystery possibilities there . . .
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostMon Dec 10, 2012 8:03 am

And of course, there's the "Capra" movie IF YOU COULD ONLY COOK (1935). :wink:
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Budington

PostMon Dec 10, 2012 8:05 am

CoffeeDan wrote:THE CAT'S PAW and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN were written by the same author, Clarence Budington Kelland...


Dan,
I always have trouble coming up with a rhyme for Budington.
Don't you?
:)
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostMon Dec 10, 2012 10:37 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:Some of the elements in The Fountainhead (1949) make me think of the film as "Frank Capra gone berserk", specifically the power of the press and the way "the people" are so easily swayed from one standpoint to another led by shallow demagoguery.


That Capraesque formula wouldn't work today--the modern public, everyone knows, are too sophisticated to be thus led astray.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostTue Dec 11, 2012 3:50 pm

Rollo Treadway wrote:Frank's buddy John Ford, perhaps a tad over-fond of injecting raucous comedy bits into his westerns and dramas, rarely made out-and-out comedies. One fine exception was The Whole Town's Talking (1935) which has some of the Capra ingredients: Jean Arthur, a Jo Swerling/Robert Riskin script, and made at Frank's place, Columbia Studios.

Funny you should mention that, The Whole Town's Talking is the subject of the latest post over at MovieMorlocks.com. I saw this for the first time this year on TCM and thoroughly enjoyed it, a great Jean Arthur role as well as a fun double act by Edward G. Robinson as a tough gangster and his meek, office-bound lookalike. I wonder if this was supposed to be a Capra film initially, but for some reason was handed over to Ford (I don't have a Capra bio handy, but I see there's a two year gap between 1934's Broadway Bill and 1936's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, the same time period when The Whole Town's Talking was made. Curious.).

The only other Ford comedies I can think of offhand are his Will Rogers films, but they're a very different kind of comedy from this film.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostTue Dec 11, 2012 4:06 pm

Quote: "Funny you should mention that, The Whole Town's Talking is the subject of the latest post over at MovieMorlocks.com. I saw this for the first time this year on TCM and thoroughly enjoyed it, a great Jean Arthur role as well as a fun double act by Edward G. Robinson as a tough gangster and his meek, office-bound lookalike."

EGR did his "double act" again years later on radio's "Suspense" in a clever yarn called, "The Man Who Wanted To Be Edward G. Robinson." He again plays a Wilbur Milqtoast type who is continually belittled by his domineering wife so he decides to contact the "real" EGR for advice on how to bump her off. Eddie is quite nimble where he's having a conversation with himself managing to convey each character's personality with just an infliction of his voice. He must have worried that listeners would contact him for real so he points out in his curtain speech at the end, "Look folks, it's just a story."
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 3:01 am

The closer Italian cinema ever came to Capra: L'onorevole Angelina (Angelina, 1947), starring/co-written by Anna Magnani. Trying to obtain better condition for her poor family, stormy housewife inadvertently starts a political movement...
http://journeys-italy.blogspot.com/2013 ... -1947.html
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 3:16 pm

GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE comes to mind as being particularly Capraesque, even having some qualities that later show up in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostThu Nov 20, 2014 11:10 pm

Lost Angel (1943)
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Nov 21, 2014 9:50 am

More than GABRIEL, I might suggest WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostThu Nov 12, 2015 6:00 pm

Father Is a Bachelor (1950).

Things work out surreally well for the main character. Nice movie.
Doesn't have those unfortunate twists of fate that play like a melodrama,
but one thing after another keeps working out well for William Holden
who plays a drifter who inherits a bunch of kids whose mother all of a
sudden disappears.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostThu Nov 12, 2015 6:07 pm

Mr. Lucky

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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostThu Nov 12, 2015 6:24 pm

I always thought George Stevens' Talk of the Town was a lot like a Capra film. It's got a wrongly accused underdog hero fighting big business, and it's got Jean Arthur.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Nov 13, 2015 12:16 pm

Yes, and adding to the confusion of Jean Arthur's pseudo-Capras,(No one's mentioned "The More The Merrier"(1943)) is that two bear exceedingly similar names, "The Whole Town's Talking" (1935)and "The Talk of The Town"(1942).

I much prefer the "The Whole Town's Talking": too, too much talking in "The Talk of The Town".
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostFri Nov 13, 2015 3:45 pm

Also the James Stewart-starring, Robert RIskin-written Magic Town always struck me as Capra-inspired in it's mix of comedy, sentiment and a bit of social consciousness, though the film was directed by William A. Wellman.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostTue Nov 29, 2016 11:47 pm

A STRANGER IN TOWN (1943) Frank Morgan - Richard Carlson - Jean Rogers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIeOpo_FB5Q
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostWed Nov 30, 2016 12:49 am

Monogram's Borrowed Hero (1941) strikes me as somewhat Capraesque, particularly the premise - a crusading attorney accidentally catches a wanted criminal and is turned into a folk hero.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostWed Nov 30, 2016 8:15 am

To me, a Frank Capra film is one which embodies hope in the face of adversity and spotlights the quiet heroism of the average Joe. He is one of my very favorite directors of all time.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostWed Nov 30, 2016 10:43 am

WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND.
Classic Film Scores on CD
http://www.chelsearialtostudios.com
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostSun Feb 26, 2017 11:27 pm

The Guv'nor (1935) George Arliss, which is on YouTube now.
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Re: Non-Frank Capra Capra-esque Films?

PostMon Feb 27, 2017 11:03 pm

Much more recently, there's Hero (1992), starring Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, and Andy Garcia. I actually really like this film, except for Chevy Chase as Geena's boss. He plays it like a parody of a 30's newsroom movie.

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