Legendary film director Frank Capra composed a unique American vision, but how was that vision influenced by the strategies and production style of Columbia Pictures?
Authorship and the Studio System
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edited by Robert Sklar and Vito Zagarrio
Frank Capra's films have had a lasting impact on American culture. His powerful depiction of American values, myths, and ideals was central to such famous Hollywood films as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It's a Wonderful Life. These pre-war films are remembered for their depiction of an individual's overcoming adversity, populist politics, and an unflappable optimist view of life.
This collection of nine essays by leading international film historians analyzes Capra's filmmaking during his most prolific period, from 1928 to 1939, taking a closer look at the more complex aspects of his work. They trace his struggles for autonomy against Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, his reputation as an auteur, and the ways in which working within studio modes of production may have enhanced the director's strengths.
The contributors also place their critiques within the context of the changing fortunes of the Hollywood studio system, the impact of the Depression, and Capra's working relationships with other studio staff and directors. The contributors' access to nineteen newly restored Capra films made at Columbia during this period fills this collection with some of the most comprehensive critiques available on the director's early body of work.
"The essays in this book are revealing and rich in insight into one of cinemas most important early directors and the economic entity which brought his work into being. Anyone interested in film history will find this to be a very readable and illuminating work."
Contributors: Edward Buscombe, Charles J. Maland, Richard Maltby, Guiliana Musico, Thomas Schatz, Brian Taves, Charles Wolfe, and the editors.
In the series
Culture and the Moving Image, edited by Robert Sklar.
The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.