Title: American Madness
Director: Frank Capra
Writer: Robert Riskin
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff, Karl Hajos
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
This mini 75-minutes early work of Frank Capra is truly a surprisingly excellent discovery for me. Set up in the Depression era, the film is famous for its “mad crowds in the bank” scene, which projects Capra’s impressive directional ability, it’s a great achievement at that time, also I think its comedic tone is enjoyable most of the time (except the over-repeated You Coulda Knocked Me Over with a Pin joke).
The cast gives a solid ensemble performance, Walter Huston as the bank president, his eloquent verbal battle with other bankers is so fun to watch, plus he renders his character some deeper emotional empathy in the latter half of the film too. Pat O’Brien and Kay Johnson did a decent job as well.
I have watched many Capra’s films, I have three ranks, the first rank includes IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), which are par excellence, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) are nice drama-comedies belong to the second rank and the third rank such as LOST HORIZON (1937) is not on a par with those I mentioned. As for AMERICAN MADNESS, I will classify it in the second rank largely thanks to Capra’s talent work and Robert Riskin’s marvelous script, it is a simple film about how to overcome a plight and encourage people to rebuild faith and love for the one they trust.