Today, the highly celebrated movie director Frank Capra would have been 122 years old! For the occasion, I thought, what would be a better way to pay him tribute than with a top list of my favorite films of his?! I liked the idea of the top 5 format that we did for the Five Favourite Films of the Fifties Blogathon hosted by Classic Film & TV Café. It presents essential favourites. Plus, so far, I’ve only seen eight of Capra’s films, so it’s not very possible to make a top 10+! And 5 is a more “complete” number than 8.
Anyway! There are three films I’ve seen that obviously won’t be on this list and the ones I haven’t seen of course. So, don’t be too surprised if you don’t see one you were expecting! But, even if I haven’t seen many of Capra’s films, I have to say that some of the ones I saw are among my very favourite films which make, after all, Capra one of my favourite movie director. But, honestly, it doesn’t take much to be charmed by his films!
As always, I remind you that this is a list of my personal favorites. So, it’s very subjective. I’m in no way claiming that #1 is better than #2, just that I personally prefer it. We all have different tastes, and let’s respect them. So, there’s no use telling me “you should have put this instead of this”.
Well, here we go!
5- Meet John Doe (Frank Capra, 1941)
I was a bit hesitant about what to put in the fifth place. To be honest, I’ve seen this film quite a long time ago, so I don’t remember everything about it BUT I remember loving it. Also, this is quite a special film for me as it is one of the first Barbara Stanwyck films I ever saw and she’s now one of my very favorite actresses! Well, the first one I saw was either this or Fritz Lang’s Clash By Night. I’m not sure! Like many of Capra’s films, I remember it as a touching picture and one that makes you think. Gary Cooper also delivered some of his best performances when he was directed by Capra.
4- Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944)
Arsenic and Old Lace proves Capra’s talent to master the comedy genre. This film is CRAZY from its beginning until its en0d but that’s why we love it! Like Victor Kong from Popcorn & Flickers made me observed, Cary Grant might be at his best when he’s not taking himself too seriously and this film proves it perfectly. I know this is a film adaptation from a play by Joseph Kesselring. This is surely something I would love to see on stage!
And it’s also the perfect Halloween comedy!
3- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra, 1936)
What I like the most about this film is its main character: Longfellow Deeds. How can you not like this guy? And it totally breaks my heart when big leaders are against him because, for them, a good person must be insane! Jean Arthur shows a beautifully nuanced acting game. Once again, this is one of those Capra films that make you realize there is a bit of good in this world and that people can always change for the best. And also, that being rich doesn’t mean the same thing for everybody. If you haven’t seen it, do it as soon as possible!
2- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
To be honest, before I saw this film for the first time, I never thought I would like it so much. I’m not too much into politics, so I expected the subject wouldn’t really be of interest for me. But I was wrong. As a matter of fact, this is the type of film that pretty much everybody can enjoy. It shows the clash between different mentalities and just like Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, it proves us that the said more “powerful” people aren’t always the right ones and aren’t always the winners in the end. James Stewart’s 24 hours-speech reminds iconic. I mean, does that ever happened in real life? It’s a serious question. When the film was released, political heads accused it of being anti-American. Well, too bad for them. They were completely missing something.
PS: Does Jean Arthur ever aged? She was almost 40 when this film was released and she doesn’t look older than 30!
1- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Well, #1 shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for you. If you’ve been following my blog for quite some time, you know that this used to be my 3rd most favourite film of all times. It’s not in the third position anymore but it reminds a huge favorite of mine. It kind of inspired the name of my blog too. The film stars my favourite actor, James Stewart, but it made me discover Donna Reed, as well as a bunch of other fantastic actors. Once again, It’s a Wonderful Life presents you beautiful life lessons and makes us realize what really counts. And, if Frank Capra gave us an excellent Halloween movie, this one has to be my favorite Christmas movie! More precisely for the fact that it’s not too Christmas-focused either. I mean, it ends during that holiday but the whole story takes place during different stages of George Bailey’s life. It’s a film guaranteed to warm your heart and one of the most beloved classics of cinema history.
Tears every time!
I know it might come as a surprise to you that It Happened One Night (1934) is not on this list, so I think you deserve an explanation. It’s actually quite simple. I’ve seen It Happened One Night but once and that was four years ago. I remember liking it but not loving it. But, most of all, I have pretty much forgotten everything about the film. Therefore, it’s not very obvious to place it in a top! But, I agree with you that I’m due for a re-watch! Anyway, this is the kind of top that can often change!
Please don’t hesitate to tell me what are YOUR most favourite Frank Capra’s films!