Frank Capra  

Academy Award-winning Director Frank Capra didn't serve at the Signal Corps Photographic Center, but his involvement in military film during World War II had important effects on the content and methods of film production by the military.  (Capra's films became important additions to the Army Motion Picture Depository at Astoria.)  His influence reached SCPC. 

In his autobiography, "The Name Above the Title," Capra wrote,

"And the Army film program caught fire. 

"Together with General Harrison and Lieutenant Colonel Sam Briskin, one of the ablest Hollywood studio executives (retired to civilian life because of a heart ailment), Munson reorganized the whole military film empire.

"As expected he found (already in uniform) many patriotic film talents to head the many film enterprises; Colonel Emmanuel "Manny" Cohn, a former head of Paramount studios, was put in charge of the important Photo Center at Astoria, Long Island; Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lord, a Hollywood writer-producer, became the producer of all training films ...."

Capra dramatized the political infighting over control of film in the Army.  His 1971 autobiography, "The Name Above the Title," was published by The MacMillan Company.

Capra's Army films -- the famous "Why We Fight" series -- include:

Prelude to War (1943)
The Battle of Russia (1943)
The Nazis Strike (1943)
Divide and Conquer (1943)
The Battle of Britain (1943)
Tunisian Victory (1944)
The Battle of China (1944)
Two Down and One to Go (1945)
War Comes to America (1945)
Your Job in Germany (1945)
Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945)


Frank Capra won an Academy Award for "Prelude to War," but that Oscar isn't one of the ones held by the Army.  Robert P. Anzuoni, director of the Signal Corps Museum at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, wrote, "As far as I can tell, it was an individual award to him for best director, and was therefore not Signal Corps property.  It may be with his family."


(Updated August 14, 2006, and July 9, 2019.)





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