The Name Above the Title

An Autobiography (1971)
The Name Above the Title

In my opinion, this is the best book ever written about Hollywood and the making of movies.  It’s the autobiography of Frank Capra, the director of such classic films as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It’s a Wonderful Life.  It was a difficult life for Capra, as he began in poverty, emigrating from Italy as a child and struggling to make a living through odd jobs as he stumbled into the movie business.  He struggled there, too, but innate talent and tremendous hard work made him, by the 1930s, the world’s most famous film director, and the winner of three Best Director Academy Awards in just five years.  Capra provides an enthralling account of his rise, filled with fascinating details about the making of his films, and his work with legendary Hollywood figures like Harry Cohn, the ruthless boss of Columbia Pictures, and actors such as Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, and Jimmy Stewart.  Particularly good is Capra’s description of the production of It’s a Wonderful Life, which he considered his masterpiece.

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