The most honored and well-liked director of his generation, Sicilian-born Frank Capra graduated from the California Institute of Technology as a Chemical Engineering major. Down on his luck after service during World War I, he bluffed his way into the movie business and learned films from the bottom up, from the film lab to the prop department to the editing department. He settled in as a gagman during the 1920s, and soon became a director specializing in comedy. After a stint with Mack Sennett, Capra moved to Columbia Pictures, where he came into his own as a filmmaker.
Displaying a good feel for drama as well as comedy, and a common touch with which ordinary viewers could resonate, Capra quickly became the star among the tiny studio’s stable of directors. His pictures, starting with American Madness in 1932, displayed themes that audiences regarded as important and uplifting during the worst days of the Great Depression, and Capra, despite the relatively modest budgets with… read more
Adventure in many forms is the theme of many of John Huston’s films. His characters are constantly searching for “the stuff that dreams are made of” (the famous closing-line of his debut film The Maltese Falcon). Huston glorified this chase despite its frequent disillusionment and false promise, since it represented a flight from the complacent virtues of ordinary life. Like Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Conrad, Huston regarded civilization as a false surface which thinly veiled a hostile nature. Only those who lived at the edge, on the margins of society were regarded by Huston as fellow travellers. In films as diverse as The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle and Under the Volcano, Huston celebrated men who circled the abyss; characters who are driven to plunge head first into the void.
The son of the great theatre and film actor Walter Huston (who would win an Oscar under his son’s direction for his role in The Treasure of Sierra Madre) and crime journalist Rhea Gore… read more