The Los Angeles Times has a interesting story today about the filming of Frank Capra’s "It’s a Wonderful Life." Life on the set of the movie wasn’t always so wonderful, apparently. Nevertheless, Stephen Cox, who wrote the article and "I’ts a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book," calls the movie the American equivalent of Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol."
I interviewed Frank Capra for television years ago when he spoke at the University of North Dakota at the invitation of the excellent film prof Don McCaffrey. For someone with such enormous stature in the movie industry (he directed several other classics), I remember thinking how little this guy he was. (Yes, he was considerably shorter than me.) For all his accomplishments, he seemed to me sincerely humble. I remember he told me he considered actors "gods." This was at a time when Alfred Hitchcock was making headlines calling them stupid people.
He said his favorite film (of those he directed) wasn’t "It’s a Wonderful Life" or "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," but rather "Lost Horizon." At the time I talked with him, as it turns out, there was a (extremely bad) re-make of it that had just been released. He declined to criticize it, even though just about everyone else was. He was a very classy man.
His book "The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography" looks to be still in print. It’s a great read if you’re interested in early movie-making.