Hollywood director Frank Capra directed many classic films including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. However, he thought his best work was the Why We Fight series of films that he directed for the Army during World War II. Sicilian born Capra was the son of Italian immigrants and was an American patriot to his fingertips. He served in the Army during World War I as a Second Lieutenant. Immediately after Peal Harbor he enlisted in the Army. He was put to work making films explaining to American GIs why the US had to fight and win World War II. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall explained to Capra the importance of this task:
Now, Capra, I want to nail down with you a plan to make a series of documented, factual-information films – the first in our history – that will explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting … You have an opportunity to contribute enormously to your country and the cause of freedom. Are you aware of that, sir?
The films he produced are widely considered to be masterpieces today.
Capra left the Army in 1945 a Colonel. He attempted to re-enlist at the outbreak of the Korean War but at the age 0f 53 was rejected as too old. Capra retired from the film industry in the mid-sixties. His comments on what the film industry was becoming could well be a commentary written today:
The hedonists, the homosexuals, the hemophiliac bleeding hearts, the God-haters, the quick-buck artists who substituted shock for talent, all cried: “Shake ’em! Rattle ’em! God is dead. Long live pleasure! Nudity? Yea! Wife-swapping? Yea! Liberate the world from prudery. Emancipate our films from morality!”…. Kill for thrill – shock! Shock! To hell with the good in man, Dredge up his evil – shock! Shock!