Monday, November 2, 2015

Book Review - Frank Capra: The Name Above the Title

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

Frank Capra: The Name Above the Title, by Frank Capra, 1971.

Frank Capra Commemorative Stamp
Source: http://goo.gl/2aWrKI
I have mixed feelings about this book, and I’m going to lay them open here.

The bad news is that Capra’s ego is so huge, it smacks you in the face on darn near every page. Half of what I read, I found myself shaking my head literally not believing what he was telling me.

Even Jeanine Basinger, a Capra scholar, who wrote an introduction to the edition I read (printed in 1997) tells readers that Capra combines conversations and punches up his actions and speeches, along with the reactions of others in order to make himself look better. Capra goes on to admit it himself.

My copy of this book.
The good news is that if just half of what Capra is telling us is true, he not only is a pompous jerk, he also was a genius. There are lessons to be learned here about how to chase your dream, how to stand up for yourself, and how to work your way through a sewer tank and come out smelling like roses (sorry about the cliché).

Not only that, but Capra tells a heck of an entertaining story. It was written before the modern push for political correctness, so it reflects his honest opinions.

He calls a spade a spade (and an Italian a Dago). He does it in a disarming way that won’t get you all huffy if you’re a believer in all that is PC. That is, unless he uses that language to invoke pity for himself. After all, he does have a complex and a need to be noticed, and to be the center of attention, and to have his name precede the names of the actors in his films, the names of his films, and even the title of his book).

Just keep that in mind and read it with a healthy dose of skepticism.