Frank Capra is one of the greatest directors of the 20th century. He originally went to Caltech (when it was still known as "Throop College of Technology") for a degree in chemical engineering, and then got a job making a small film for a couple of guys because he needed the money. That was during a recession in the early 1920s and he had trouble finding work.
From this, Capra did more film work, his chemistry degree long forgotten. Consider this: Capra had absolutely no training or education in film work, and he made some of the greatest films in cinema history.
His first major Hollywood experience was with Hal Roach in the mid 20s writing scripts for Our Gang
, then from 1928 to 1939 he worked under Columbia Pictures making some of their most successful pictures. When he was drafted in World War II, he produced the Why We Fight
set of seven propaganda films for the War Department, to explain what the war meant. (Using the term 'propaganda' in its classic sense, as in public relations material created by and for a government; what he says in the films about the Nazis and the Nationalist Japanese, that they want to take over the world and make everyone else into slaves, is correct. Much of the material was in fact translations of their own propaganda pieces.)
In the mid-1940s, Capra attempted to establish himself as an independent filmmaker by forming his own film company, Liberty Films, in partnership with fellow directors William Wyler
and George Stevens
. The only two films produced by Liberty Films were Its A Wonderful Life
and State Of The Union
, neither of which was a success (at the time
). The company was sold in 1947, before its latter film was released, to Paramount
, an event which Capra claimed in his memoirs started "the more or less continuous downward slide of Hollywood's artistic and economic fortunes."
Films he directed include: