Capra’s films have been referred to as “Capracorn” because of their perceived “corny,” unbelievable, or over-the top endings. The crowning example of this is the closing scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, because it can be misconstrued as being sappy and too-happy of an ending for such a dark film.
Initially, this hurt Capra’s feelings because he felt strongly about his films and the messages they carried. However, he later took this critical jab and turned it into a positive by calling most of his films “Capracorn” himself. To him, Capracorn came to mean "a brew of the comic, the sentimental, the rhetorical, the idealistic, and the melodramatic in which the values of the man on the street were raised above those of official authority in which, even at the cost of gliding over specific plot points, there was inevitably a happy ending. (Dewey 268).
Capra died Sept. 9, 1991, but not before the Mayor of Los Angeles and the city council declared May 12, 1962 to be Frank Capra Day (Capra 488).
If Capra were alive today, he would be 118 years old
Dewey, Donald. James Stewart: A Biography. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc., 1996.
Capra, Frank. Frank Capra: the Name Above the Title, an Autobiography.
New York: DaCapo Press, 1997.