Frank Capra (1897-1991), American motion-picture director and producer, noted for his idealistic comedies. Born in Palermo, Italy, Capra was six years old when his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles. His first important job in Hollywood, California, was as a writer for the Mack Sennett studios. He subsequently worked as a scriptwriter and director for comedian Harry Langdon, directing Langdon's three best films, notably Strong Man (1926). Capra later joined Columbia Pictures, where he gained his greatest success as a director of comedies that had appealing characters, social and political themes, and happy endings. These films include three that won Capra Academy Awards for best director: It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and You Can't Take It With You (1938). During World War II (1939-1945), Capra produced military documentaries. Other films he directed include Platinum Blonde (1931), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), Lost Horizon (1937), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), State of the Union (1948), Here Comes the Groom (1951), and Pocketful of Miracles (1961; a remake of his 1933 film Lady for a Day); most of these films he also produced. It's a Wonderful Life, a box-office failure in 1946, later acquired a small but enthusiastic following. By the late 1980s the film was being shown every year at Christmas, although it had been allowed to fall into public domain and Capra received no royalties from its belated success. His autobiography, The Name Above the Title, was published in 1971 (reprinted, 1985).

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