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Last on

Sun 29 Dec 2013 00:15 BBC Radio 4 FM only

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 18 April 2013

"The art of [my films] is very, very simple... it's the love of people. Add two simple ideals to this love of people - the freedom of each individual and the equal importance of each individual - and you have the principle on which I've based all my films." Frank Capra, 1982.

This programme explores the filmmaker Frank Capra's enduring vision of the American dream. The man behind It's a Wonderful Life, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Mr Deeds Goes to Town and It Happened One Night, he remains one of America's most popular directors - yet his movies can still divide critics.

Was he simply a peddler of sentimental 'Capra-corn' or do his films offer a much more complex view of American life?

We consider what makes a movie 'Capra-esque' - looking at the balance of humour and heart in his films through to their occasional dark, noir-like edges - as well as unpicking how the 'Capra-esque' has filtered down into the contemporary American political landscape.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

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