Capra himself has many deeply instilled values and all of his films portray that being a great example for auteur theory. Though some of his films show these morales more forth right than others, all of them contain a bit of Capra somewhere, or in one of the characters. In Capra’s films “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Pocketful of Miracles” there are many similarities and differences between Capra’s characters, and thematic elements. Though Capra is known for having very wholesome, American, do-gooders as his main men, this film goes slightly off course and has a good hearted, superstitious angster.
Compared to the all american, small business owning, dream filled George Bailey, Dave the Dude the gangster is unconventional at best. Both characters choose to do the right thing and have the same good heart that makes the film a Capra classic. In “Pocketful of Miracles” though, Dave the Dude does need a bit more persuading from his leading lady than George Bailey did. Bailey ultimately made all of his own decisions and was fully supported by his wife, whereas Dave needed some help realizing that he should help the women who ‘gives him good luck’ everyday rom his fianc?©e Queenie.
With George and Mary, both had good intentions for their community and their friends the whole time, whereas Dave and Queenie (or David and Elizabeth) have some other intentions that are superstitious or may hurry along their awaited wedding, and try to pass the buck off on each other. Another theme in characters in Capra’s films is the very prominent and strong female counterpart of the male character. Capra’s films generally have a male leading character, but those men have women (usually fianc?©es, wives, or girlfriends) ho are their to support them, balance them, and lead them in the right direction.
When George Bailey loses hope in his life, his ever-loving wife Mary fgures it out and gets him back on track. Similarly when Dave the Dude starts to go awry from helping Annie, Queenie plays to what is important to Dave and explains the importance Annie’s apples, which in turn makes him aid Annie in the charade of her daughter. The difference between these women is that Mary plays her role as supporting actress well by always being at George’s side, having the same friends and elationships as George, and always being their for the community.
Dave and Queenie go back and forth from supporting each other, to fghting, to trying to aid Annie to not, to being not so nice to the reporters or other panhandlers. Both leading ladies play large roles, but Mary Just may be slightly more supportive and positive overall in general, but also towards her man. Another very Capra aspect is the values and themes in all of his films. Capra is all about community, thriving in America and in American dreams, and generally having happy ending. Both of these films portray these Capra like elements, Just it may be a little more clouded in “Pocketful of Miracles”.
In “it’s a Wonderful Life”, Bailey and Mary always were involved in the community since they were young, and throughout the montage they show before they had citizens. They helped out their community by using their own money to help keep the community afloat, and they had many friends supporting them when they moved into their new home and when they really needed their help at the end of the film. George and Mary had many dreams, and even though their were tough times, all of them had more than they needed financially, and emotionally in the end, and ultimately lived out the try American dream.
In “Pocketful of Miracles”, the American dream is present in Annie’s alter ego, Queenie’s Maryland move, and Dave the Dude’s deal with Darcey. These dreams are jaded with darkness and lies and not as pure as the Bailey’s dreams, but they are dreams all the same. In a strange way they are also a community. Dave the Dude helps Apple Annie even though he does not need to. The panhandlers respect Apple Annie, so by Dave helping Annie, he was ultimately helping the community as a whole. They take care of each other. And in the end, everyone gets what they want.
Dave the Dude realizes he wants something more and decides that Queenie and her dream will be more fulfilling than a deal with Darcey, and Annie’s daughter goes back to Spain to have her wedding and keep living the life Annie wants for her. Though this version is more clouded, the same morales show through overall. One thing that is not a theme or character difference but is present nonetheless, s the lack of the magic that Capra’s films usually have. “Pocketful of Miracles” was released in the last year Capra made a full length film. Many critics did not like it, similarly to “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
People thought “Pocketful of Miracles” it was lengthy, outdated, and repetitive, which was worse than people thinking that “It’s a Wonderful Life” was Just outdated and cheesy. There is a lack of luster and dream in this 1961 film that is present. maybe it is the colors and how it is filmed in a darker, dreary setting, or maybe it is that Capra himself was feeling down about the last ouple decades of his career and it showed in his film that his values were still present Just not as strong. Whatever the case is, the lighting, the characters, the plot, the setting, all of these things seemed darker and not as magical as other films.
This film was grounded and more real. In the end, Annie’s daughter’s life stays the same, but Annie’s does too unfortunately, Queenie gets her dream of moving to Maryland, which she only has because her dad was a wanted gangster, Dave the Duke follows Elizabeth because he finally decided she was more important than running a mob ity, but he still didn’t succeed in his dream empire. So overall each of the main characters ends up slightly better off, but they are still stuck in situations that are not ideal, and there are still lies and deceit present.
Overall, the morales in this film are much more skewed than the whole hearted, warming “It’s a Wonderful Life” crew. Though Capra’s films all have elements and small stamps of Capra present, there are definitely differences between all of his films throughout the years. In the two films that were mentioned above, there are very apparent similarities between haracter archetypes and thematic developments, but there are also man differences between values, morales, and technical aspects of filming.
The overall time period and scene setting have a lot to do with these changes, as well as the introduction to color films, and straying away from using high key lighting to keeping the films darker. Frank Capra’s films all have community, the American Dream, and success as a ‘community’ and many different vessels and ways to achieve those dreams, whether they be bright, happy and wholesome, or hard-earned, slightly shady, and impure.