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The Name Above The Title

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  352 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Although Frank Capra (1897–1991) is best known as the director of It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, and It's a Wonderful Life, he was also an award-winning documentary filmmaker as well as a behind-the-scene force in the Director's Guild, the Motion Picture Academy, and the Produce ...more
Paperback, 513 pages
Published March 22nd 1997 by Da Capo Press (first published 1971)
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Apr 12, 2013 Abigayle rated it it was amazing
I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on a book about Frank Capra; he is my late great-uncle and his nephew (my maternal grandfather also deceased) were amazing people and I have cherished memories of growing up watching the career of my grandfather unfold and also conclude. Mostly I remember the stories told about Frank although I was only 10-12 when he passed. Seeing his work live on and his movie It's a Wonderful Life still played every Christmas is something I can't put into words. T ...more
I read this in high school long long ago at a time when I was devouring Capra's films for the first time. (Back then you either had to wait years for them to show up on TV or at a retrospective movie house. If you missed your chance, you were fucked. No internet, no Netflix, no home video VHS/DVD/blu-ray rental options.) Now, of course, you can easily see them all, although not quite in the right way. These gorgeous old films with their glowing moody black-and-white cinematography really should ...more
Oct 21, 2007 Kenny rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring filmmakers
Shelves: film, memoir
Truly, Capra was one of filmdom's greatest auteurs, and he managed to do it without producing vile, venal garbage. Admittedly, in his day there was the Hayes Code which enforced strict moral parameters on filmmakers, but he still managed to make not only family-friendly films like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but also infused them with wit and pathos. No one can watch George Bailey down and out in the bar, hanging by a thread, and think Capra is all sweetness and light. A great book, told in the first ...more
Nancy Loe
Oct 30, 2007 Nancy Loe rated it it was amazing
Soft spot for this autobio, even though I'd be surprised if even half of it is actually true. I got him to sign my copy when I met him.
Aug 01, 2011 Ellen rated it it was amazing
It was indeed a great read. I very much enjoyed experiencing his perspective on his lengthy career, movie icons, as well as so many amazing films – admittedly some of which I was not aware were his. My next step, of course, will be to seek out some of those movies and view them from a different point of view.
Mar 03, 2017 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Capra's autobiography is more than a bit of a brick, still for the most part he is entertaining, if more than a bit self-congratulatory. By the end Capra has become more than a bit out of place and reactionary, it's not hard to see why his later films weren't as successful, but when writing about the Hollywood of the '20s and '30s he's generally interesting. Still I can forgive a lot from the man who gave us It's A Wonderful Life and anything after that was going to be an anti-climax anyway.
Scott Stambler
Aug 08, 2012 Scott Stambler rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for anyone in the film business. It describes process, creativity, and the physical stress put on a director. It's been a long time since I read it, but I do remember Capra getting so ill after having made five very successful films, that he thought he was dying. There's a great deal of financial and peer pressure on directors to succeed with each film they make. And that pressure hasn't changed.

I have a theory that modern-day directors who've made a few good fil
Jul 26, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. As always…when it’s a book I buy at a sale…I always hope to read it and give it away. Then I read it and wind up wanting to keep it!
So much to be impressed with…..Capra was just like his movies. Honest, candid…very real and down to earth…at least that’s how he reads to me.
I think I like the man even more than his movies. I do enjoy reading the behind the scenes info…and Frank Capra is plenty interesting. I didn’t know he was from Italy and his folks came here and started from n
Jul 06, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I discovered film culture I was entranced by the 'old-fashioned' Americana that has become known as 'Capraesque'. As a family each Thanksgiving we watched Miracle on "Thirty-fourth Street". I loved Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" and Gary Cooper in "Mr. Deeds goes to Town". Later I would learn about other great films of Capra like "Arsenic and Old Lace", Meet John Doe", and "It Happened One Night". One indication of Capra's greatness as a director is a partial list of lead ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Laurah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I liked this book. I really dug the first half, I liked the first two/thirds, but the last third or so reallllllyyyy dragged for me. It actually took me nine months to get through this book. It got to a point where I would pick it up, read a paragraph and remember what I wasn't liking about it and put it down again.

There are some great anecdotes about him hustling on the streets when he was a kid. He was scrappy; he'll tell you over and over. I loved the stories of Frank writing for Ou
Paul Johnson
Apr 23, 2015 Paul Johnson rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this 5 stars for one reason and one reason alone: Frank Capra himself. While the book, I think, is longer than it should be, or at least reads longer, and there is more detail than needed (long citations of names and players), the man, Frank Capra, for his work, for his ideals, for his love of God and this country rates 5 stars. We are blessed to have had such an ardent fan of America and humanity to have immortalized it in film - even to have developed the craft. As the biography win ...more
Jan 31, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
A few times in my reading about the history of film, I ran across a recommendation to read Frank Capra's auto-biography. So this year I put it on my Christmas list and it was, indeed, a treat.

This is a history of the Hollywood movie industry from its bare beginnings at the turn of the century all the way through to the 1970s.

People, places, events of that time--Capra was around them all.

So many interesting tidbits and not enough room to relate them all.

If you like the movies, especially the old
Cynthia Whittington
Sep 02, 2013 Cynthia Whittington rated it really liked it
Shelves: film-history
Capra describes coming up from the slums by wit, bluster, and determination to become a world-famous director, making films for the army during World War II, and readjusting uneasily to Hollywood after the war. His great theme is courage; he prizes the ability to make decisions rapidly with incomplete information but without looking back. I have read reviews saying that some of the facts in this book are inaccurate; not being a scholar, I cannot judge. However, what any self-portrait reveals abo ...more
Sharon Lawrence
Aug 22, 2016 Sharon Lawrence rated it it was amazing
If you enjoy books written by a real Hollywood insider, I think highly of
the late Frank Capra's autobiography THE NAME ABOVE THE TITLE.
Capra was one of the finest film directors ever. He shines as a writer, too.
I couldn't put this one down. I laughed, sympathized, cheered as he
tells what the movies were like from the "silent" onward.

I have been reading since the age of 2. These days I read at least
fifty books a year. This is one of the best books I've ever read.
Michael Ritchie
Jun 23, 2013 Michael Ritchie rated it really liked it
Autobiography from one of the great classic-era directors. It's overblown in style and in Capra's sense of self, and I imagine it was at least partly ghostwritten, but it's fun to read. I wish he'd gone into a little more detail on the making of his classics (Lost Horizon, You Can't Take It With You, It's a Wonderful Life), though I love his dishy digs as obnoxious folks like Claudette Colbert and Glenn Ford.
What an interesting book! What an interesting man! If you like the movies, and especially the old movies, this is a must read. Frank Capra made some wonderful movies that are still worth watching today and this book provides a lot of interesting facts about how he made them. He also talks a lot about his war-time service and how difficult it was to get through the Army bureaucracy to get training films made for the troops about why they were fighting. Hated for it to end.
Richard Blankman
His ego was through the roof, and a few passages were sexist or homophobic. That annoyed me. Moreover, he aged into a curmudgeon who couldn't stand what film had become, a vantage point I fundamentally disagree with.

Nevertheless, I enjoy reading about entertainment in the 30s, and it was interesting to read about his life and his films. I learned from the adventure.
Oct 30, 2009 David rated it it was ok
Entertaining for awhile but eventually the self-congratulatory pumping gets to be too much. One can conclude from the book that Capra was a talented directory and a complete megalomaniac. That said, he did direct "It Happened One Night", one of my all-time favorites, so all is forgiven.
Johanna Cormier
Mar 08, 2013 Johanna Cormier rated it it was amazing
I found a paperback ISBN 553-07306-195 of this book in the free bin outside the library book sale. I can't believe they tossed it there. This book is wonderfully funny and fascinating. Great read for anyone who, like me, is a fan of pre 1950's film era. (My review from 2011)
Sep 25, 2013 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the most moving and inspiring book about movie making I've ever read. Capra's autobiography is a portrait of Hollywood's long gone Golden Age, and it's just as powerful and uplifting as his many films.
Nov 14, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Great life story of Frank Capra.
Mar 10, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant autobiography. It has been a great inspiration to me and a large influence on my choice of careers. I love this book.
Jul 07, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: film, favorites
A fantastic novel by one of the greatest directors. Anyone who is interested in hollywood history and film in general need to read this book.
Oct 01, 2012 Carly rated it really liked it

Agreed! Should be read by anyone interested in film!
Feb 26, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
One of the best books about the movie industry in its heyday...
SALLY HAVERLY rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2015
Laurie rated it liked it
Sep 14, 2009
Dan Eggleston
Dan Eggleston rated it it was amazing
Feb 16, 2016
Mark Horowitz
Mark Horowitz rated it liked it
Mar 17, 2017
Jamie Bloss
Jamie Bloss rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2017
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“Someone should keep reminding Mr. Average Man that he was born free, divine, strong; uncrushable by fate, society, or hell itself; and that he is a child of God, equal heir to all the bounties of God; and that goodness is riches, kindness is power, and freedom is glory. Above all, every man is born with an inner capacity to take him as far as his imagination can dream or envision-providing he is free to dream and envision.” 7 likes
“The world was in a confused turmoil-wars, H-bombs, confrontations, fear, hate, hate. And Hollywood was feeding the confusion with a steady diet of sex, violence, and lewdness. What wisdom needed, to catch up with our runaway technology, was time. And time might be bought not with violence, but with compassion-that divine unguent that lubricates and soothes our abrasive human hates. Compassion might just possibly slow down the ticking till we could defuse the world with reason.
And we had an outside chance of buying a little precious extra time by filming the life of Schnozzola, the great compassionate clown. A chance that got lost among stars and their satellites. Pity Pity.
Now what would I do? Certainly the world didn't need more films about sex, violence, and lewdness. Judging by contemporary Hollywood films, the United States was made up of sexpots, homosexuals, lesbians, Marquis de Sades, junkies too! too! beautiful people, country-club liberals, draft-card burners, and theatrical and religious figures bleeding make-believe blood for cause and camera. "Shock films," they called them; "skin flicks" that dealt not with the humorous, honest, robust, Rabelaisian earthiness that nurtures life, but with the cologned, pretentious, effete, adulterated crud that pollutes life.”
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