Frank Russell Capra was an Italian-born American film director, producer and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Italy and raised in Los Angeles from the age of five, his rags-to-riches story has led film historians such as Ian Freer to consider him the "American Dream personified".
Capra became one of America's most influential directors during the 1930s, winning three Academy Awards for Best Director from six nominations, along with three other Oscar wins from nine nominations in other categories. Among his leading films were It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Capra was nominated as Best Director and as producer on all three films, winning both awards for the first two. During World War II, Capra served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and produced propaganda films, such as the Why We Fight series.
After World War II, Capra's career declined as his later films, such as It's a Wonderful Life, performed poorly when they were first released.