Frank Capra : Quotes

Behind every successful man there stands an astonished woman.

Compassion is a two-way street.

My advice to young filmmakers is this: Don't follow trends. Start them!

I thought drama was when the actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.

There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.

[on Marilyn Monroe] "Breasts she had. And a wiggly figure. But to me sex is class, something more than a wiggly behind. If it weren't, I know 200 whores who would be stars.

[James Stewart]'s appeal lay in being so unusually usual.

(upon receiving his AFI Lifetime Achievment Award) I'd be the first to admit I'm a damn good director.

Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film.

[on his early dream to be an astronomer] I could study the stars and the planets forever. I always wanted to know why, why . . . Pictures changed my mind. I was too far along in the movie business. But when I go back to Caltech now and hear about things I'm not familiar with, like black holes, goddamn! I get mad. How the hell I ever refused that I don't know . . . But it seems like motion pictures have a terrible hold on me. I don't know what it is . . .

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.

Do not help the quick moneymakers who have delusions about taking possession of classics by smearing them with paint.

In our film profession you may have [Clark Gable's] looks, [Spencer Tracy's] art, [Marlene Dietrich's] legs or [Elizabeth Taylor's] violet eyes, but they don't mean a thing without that swinging thing called courage.

[on Preston Sturges] Jesus, he was a strange guy. Carried his own hill with him, I tell you.

[on Jean Arthur] Never have I seen a performer with such a chronic case of stage jitters. They weren't butterflies in her stomach. They were wasps.

There is one word that aptly describes Hollywood - 'nervous.'

[on directing Claudette Colbert in 'It Happened One Night'] Colbert fretted, pouted, and argued about her part. Challenged my slaphappy way of shooting scenes. Fussed constantly. She was a tartar, but a cute one.

[on It's a Wonderful Life] It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen! The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I'm like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I'm proud...but it's the kid who did the work. I didn't even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.

[on Philip Van Doren Stern] The man whose Christmas tale was the spark that set me off into making my favourite film, It's a Wonderful Life.

[on It's a Wonderful Life] I thought it was the greatest film I ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody had ever made. It wasn't made for the oh-so-bored critics or the oh-so-jaded literati. It was my kind of film for my kind of people.

It's a Wonderful Life sums up my philosophy of filmmaking. First, to exalt the worth of the individual. Second, to champion man - plead his causes, protest any degradation of his dignity, spirit or divinity. And third, to dramatize the viability of the individual - as in the theme of the film itself...there is a radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see, and to see we only have to look. I beseech you to look.

[when asked if there was still a way to make movies with the values and ideals in his films] Well if there isn't, we might as well give up.

[the theme of It's a Wonderful Life] The individual's belief in himself. I made it to combat a modern trend toward atheism.

[to James Stewart when he hadn't yet figured out the story for "It's a Wonderful Life"] I haven't got a story. This is the lousiest piece of cheese I ever heard of. Forget it, Jimmy...Forget it!

[after Philip Van Doren Stern sent him a Christmas card that formed the basis for "It's a Wonderful Life"] I thank you for sending it and I love you for creating it.

[returning to directing after World War 2] I was scared to death.

[on "The Greatest Gift," the short story that inspired "It's a Wonderful Life"] My goodness, this thing hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the story I had been looking for all my life. The kind of an idea that when I get old and sick and scared and ready to die - they'd say "he made The Greatest Gift".

[on the coming of sound] Everybody in Hollywood was scared to death of sound, but I knew all about sound waves from freshman physics.