critics and reviewers have said about Ray Carney's American
Vision: The Films of Frank Capra
here for best printing of text
and eloquent book [that] reads extraordinarily well. Carney speaks
with freshness, clarity, and an absence of theoretical claptrap. He
produces thoughtful and sometimes exuberant analyses of such Capra
perennials as Meet John Doe and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,
as well as It's a Wonderful Life. . . [American Vision is]
a book that should advance the reputations of both Frank Capra and
Poague, author of Frank Capra in Film Quarterly
achievement and undertaking.... A true fruition and a powerful defense
of the auteurist impulse in film studies.
fresh insights into Capra's career and the characters he created for
the screen. Particularly impressive is the author's ability to tie
the filmmaker's work to elements in the traditional arts and to Capra's
peers in the film industry . . . The skill with which the author develops
his thesis provides a model for future studies of this type.
makes a convincing case for his view of Capra as an 'American dreamer.'...
His subtle analyses of individual films consistently reveal new slants
even on movies already well covered in film criticism.... Carney opens
new widows onto the important achievement of this major American director,
and provides a framework for appreciating the depth and artistry of
Capra's 'American Vision.'
examples he cites of the strategies the films share with specific
paintings by Homer, Eakins, and Sargent support Carney's fresh insights
into the stylistics Capra developed and make the reevaluation he urges
of the films all the more compelling. Recommended.
exciting art criticism book . . . so different from the many film
criticism texts published in America and Europe.
Journal of American Studies
constantly makes revealing and instructive comparisons with novelists
and painters to link Capra to the themes and forms of American Romanticism.
He advances his thesis further in a closely argued and densely detailed
discussion of the individual films, assessing design, lighting, music,
cutting, staging and acting styles.... All this is immensely valuable
and Carney assembles a persuasive case.
Vision] is a challenging, invigorating, and masterful work....
Carney's book allows us not only a greater appreciation of Capra's
genius, but a greater understanding of film and what film can accomplish
in its efforts to entertain us, challenge us, and, perhaps, inspire
Basinger, Curator, Wesleyan University Frank Capra Archives and
author of the It's a Wonderful Life Book
most detailed, intelligent, original, and accurate interpretations
of [Capra's] work.
* * *
Cassavetes on Ray Carney's American Vision
such a pleasure to see energy flow in a positive direction. I share
your love for Capra, in my estimation the greatest of all American
directors, a man who was so beautiful, so forgiving, so democratic,
so damned talented, so full of life and energy that his films patrol
the imagination of America today. He represents a country that perhaps
never was. We see his heavies and they are the mighty, the unbeatable,
no longer caring until they are made to care by the innocent persistence
of the heroes. The villains continue to be greedy until Capra's people
make them realize that there's joy to living. He is the American dream.
Ray Carney, American
Vision: The Films of Frank Capra (Hanover, N.H. University Press of
New England, 1996), 88 illustrations, paperback, 510 pages. This book
is available directly from the author for $20.
first interdisciplinary study of America's best-known filmmaker. In this
daring and unorthodox study, Ray Carney places the work of Frank Capra
in the great tradition of American transcendentalismalong with paintings
by Homer, Eakins, Sargent, Hopper and the writings of Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne,
and William and Henry James, among others.
Interweaving wide-ranging discussions
of American literature, drama, and painting and the work of other filmmakers
with detailed analyses of such films as Its a Wonderful Life,
Meet John Doe, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Carney
finds in Capras life and work a classic American struggle for self-expression
within the repressive structures of ordinary life. In this larger cultural
context, Capra emerges as something far more radical than the social realist
he is often taken to beas a visionary determined to unleash mysterious,
distinctive, personal energies that defy social understandings or control.
American Vision was
reprinted in 1996 with a new Preface, outlining recent developments in
Capra criticism, and detailing the shortcomings of current Cultural Studies
approaches to his work.
* * *
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