This study proposes a new definition of Frank Capra’s work as a cinema of identity, focusing on his reflection on American national identity as well as his own positioning as a US immigrant. The interplay of celebration and interrogation is used to show the two poles of his films’ narrative structure, placing in a new critical light the supposed «happy endings» of this complex filmmaker. All of his films are discussed, including his feature films (both silent and sound, grouped thematically and in broad chronological order) and wartime documentaries. There are separate chapters on controversial works like Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe and It’s a Wonderful Life. Not intended as a biography of Capra but as a study of his career and ideas on film, the book takes into account the views of numerous earlier critics and writers and offers a fresh appraisal of this celebrated director and his often problematic films.
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After studying at the Universities of Hull, Montpellier and Oxford (BA and DPhil), Malcolm Scott became Professor of French at the University of St Andrews, serving for twelve years as Head of French and a similar period as Head of the School of Modern Languages, as well as founding the St Andrews Institute of European Cultural Studies. The author of a dozen previous books on French literature and politics, he is a leading authority on the work of François Mauriac and a member of the French-based International Society for Mauriac Studies. He was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques «for service to French culture». Throughout his career, film, especially American film, has remained one of his great passions, now combined with his interest in identity studies to produce this book on Frank Capra.