Friend, you are a divine mingle-mangle of guts and stardust. So hang in there! If doors opened for me, they can open for anyone.”

—Frank Capra

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean was going to be the biggest adventure of Frank Capra’s life, but the five-year-old Sicilian boy soon became feverish and weak. Separated from his family, Frank suffered the seemingly endless voyage through roiling seas, frightened in the isolated sickbay.

Emerging from the darkness into a new world, Frank craned his neck to see the torch atop Lady Liberty’s reaching arm. Awestruck, his heart swelled with a hope and gratitude that came to define his life and his work.

Frank Capra’s movies celebrated the individual’s power to define their own destiny through hard work and selflessness. Today, It Happened One Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and other classics elicit nostalgia for an America that was, and continue to inspire audiences with the deep-rooted sense of patriotism and optimism held by their director.

By Kate Fuglei

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