Watch American Madness putlocker
||IMDB Rating: 7.5/10 from PASSED votes
||Release: 15 Aug 1932 /
||Director: Frank Capra, Allan Dwan, Roy William Neill,
||Synopsis: Socially-conscious banker Thomas Dickson faces a crisis when his protégé is wrongly accused for robbing the bank, gossip of the robbery starts a bank run, and evidence suggests Dickson's wife had an affair...all in the same day.
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Director Capra and writer Riskin's first socially conscious
collaboration, the cornerstone of great films to come.
To start off Frank Capra is my favorite director because his best films
are stories of regular people who have faith in the inherent goodness
of the average person.
When I watched American MADNESS, I was surprised to see this 1932 movie
is not as dated as you would expect. It moves quickly, has modern
characters and dialogue and the drama is balanced with some comedy. The
opening scene introduces one of those wonderful telephone operators
with a voice that is instantly recognizable and funny at the same time.
American Madness' timely story is about bank president Thomas Dickson
played by Walter Huston who has a lending policy that shows great faith
in ordinary people but irritates his board of directors, as does his
claim that an increased money supply will help end the Great
Walter Huston's character obviously embodies the wide-eyed hope found
in such Capra films as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington, which also explore what it means to be a "little guy" in a
world where millionaires and power brokers usually pull the strings. In
some respects, American Madness amounts to a rigged argument in favor
of Capra's most optimistic views. But along the way it shows his
nagging awareness of the American dream's darker, madder side.
The Great Depression started on Oct. 29 of 1929 when the stock market
crashed and it spread to almost every country in the world. US
unemployment eventually rose to 25%. Bank failures snowballed as
desperate bankers called in loans which the borrowers did not have time
or money to repay. With future profits looking poor, capital investment
and construction slowed or completely ceased. In the face of bad loans
and worsening future prospects, the surviving banks became even more
conservative in their lending. Banks built up their capital reserves
and made fewer loans, which intensified pressures. A vicious cycle
developed and the downward spiral accelerated. By 1933 more than 5,000
banks had failed.
American Madness was the first of Frank Capra's "social dramas,"
anticipating his later work in this sub-genre with Mr. Deeds Goes To
Town, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Meet John Doe. After WWII his
Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life would reuse two vital scenes
first used in this movie. And for fans of the filmmaker's uplifting,
socially conscious comedies as It Happened One Night and You Can't Take
It With You this film is an early cornerstone of a great career.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. The best of stories work because
they have elements of truth in them and the basis for this film came
from a banker named Giannini who started a small but successful lending
institution in San Francisco called the Bank Of Italy that made loans
to working class people not based on collateral, but based on the
character of the borrower. Harry Cohen, the head of Columbia Studios
that made tonight's movie was one such borrower who went to Mr.
Giannini's bank to start his own business.
This story of banking opened in the dark heart of the Great Depression.
It was risk taking too and it was not entirely well-received in cities
that had seen bank runs in recent months.
But let's talk about what does work in this movie. First, there is the
script that is economical and yet gives every character a full
personality. Next the actors play real, flesh and blood people. Capra
always brought a natural comfort level to his characters making them
people we recognize and want to spend time with. Finally there is the
crew behind the camera who must have enjoyed their jobs and believed in
this director's vision.
There are two parallel stories, Dickson's battle with his board of
directors and the personal lives of the bank's employees that lead to
events that cripple the bank.
The cinematographer was Capra's favorite, Joseph Walker. Walker and
Capra made 22 films together. And I've always appreciated Walker's
camera work because it is so smooth, his shots seem to dove-tail
together. I hate it when a cameraman tries to bring attention to what
he's doing -- jarring you out of the story. Walker sometimes used 2-8
cameras to shoot a scene as it happened to later cut it together so you
wouldn't notice the cuts, just smooth transitions.
Let's talk about the life lessons we can take away from these quaint
old movies. Not only do we learn a few good moral lessons but I can't
think of a better example of the dangers of gossip. The power and
poison of gossip can quickly escalate to become a sinkhole of quicksand
that swallows even the exaggerators!
Screenwriter Robert Riskin and Capra liked each other's work, and, as a
result, Riskin contributed the wisecracking dialogue for Capra's
Platinum Blonde. After American Madness future Riskin/Capra
collaborations included Lady for a Day (later remade as Pocketful Of
Miracles), It Happened One Night (first film to win all five major
Oscars), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (Oscar for Best Director), Lost Horizon
and You Can't Take It With You (which won Oscars for Best Picture &
Director). Free of their Columbia contracts in 1941, Riskin and Capra
formed their own production company to put together Meet John Doe. In
later years, Capra would sometimes comment that he'd often have to tone
down Riskin's cynicism; Riskin bristled at Capra's tendency to appear
to take all the credit.
One last thing in closing, I forgot to mention to you what happened to
the Bank Of Italy, they changed their name to Bank Of America and are
now one of the largest banks in the world. Well when I learned that,
you could have knocked me over with a pin!
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