1934, Sony Repertory, 105 min, USA, Dir: Frank Capra

The first film to win all five major Oscars (as if a comedy could ever pull that off today!) remains a jewel of timing and charm, as runaway bride Claudette Colbert finds herself saddled with pushy reporter Clark Gable, who smells the story of his career. The legendary hitchhiking and “Walls of Jericho” scenes are only the tip of this matchless comic tour de force. Screenplay by Robert Riskin; with Walter Connolly, Alan Hale and Roscoe Karns.

1936, Sony Repertory, 115 min, USA, Dir: Frank Capra

When rural poet Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper at his most engaging) inherits a fortune, he moves to the big city and uses his newfound wealth to benefit his fellow man - much to the chagrin of various corporate and political interests. Jean Arthur is the jaded, cynical reporter whose idealism (and sense of romance) is reawakened by Deeds. Capra combines an awareness of man’s capacity for corruption with an optimistic belief in the possibility of positive change, making this a political comedy that’s angry and inspiring in equal measures.

1939, Sony Repertory, 129 min, USA, Dir: Frank Capra

Naive, straight-shooting idealist Mr. Smith (James Stewart) is elected to Congress, then used and eventually framed by his corrupt mentor Claude Rains and fat cat Edward Arnold. Still an incredibly topical slice of Americana with unflinching insights into how easily a free-enterprise system can be debased and exploited by ruthless profiteers. Smith pleading his case before a cold-hearted, unbelieving Congress sends chills down the spine and remains one of the most moving sequences in the history of cinema. Jean Arthur is the worldly cynic who has her heart melted when she realizes Smith is the real thing. With Thomas Mitchell.

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