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Frank Capra - The Catastrophe of Success

Frank Capra

The Catastrophe of Success

By Joseph McBride
Paperback : 9781604738384, 824 pages, February 2011

The story of a life tragically at odds with the idealism of Capra's Americana


Moviegoers often assume Frank Capra's life resembled his beloved films (such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life). A man of the people faces tremendous odds and, by doing the right thing, triumphs! But as Joseph McBride reveals in this meticulously researched, definitive biography, the reality was far more complex, a true American tragedy. Using newly declassified U. S. government documents about Capra's response to being considered a possible “subversive” during the post-World War II Red Scare, McBride adds a final chapter to his unforgettable portrait of the man who gave us It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and Meet John Doe.


Masterly, comprehensive, and frequently surprising

- Barry Gewen, New York Times Book Review

While the book may crumble our iconic preconceptions of who Frank Capra was, it does a greater justice to him in its documenting the life of a complex man, who struggled for respect from his peers and family, but never received it on his own terms or to his own satisfaction. . . . The reader is likely to be left with a compassionately balanced understanding of what was both good and bad about Frank Capra as a human being and artist, and also a great appreciation of the mammoth work turned in by McBride.

- Carl Bennett, Silent Era website

The dramatic story of one of the most interesting characters ever to emerge in Hollywood

- Philip Dunne, Chicago Sun-Times

A major book . . . superbly researched and almost continually surprising

- Gavin Lambert, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Easily the best—certainly the most realistic—biography of a film director in the age of the auteur, to which this is a counterbalance.

- Gore Vidal