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Five Early Frank Capra Films Coming to DVD

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 25, 2012

The Capra/Stanwyck collaboration "Meet John Doe" was on earlier today, and made me want this set all the more. It includes Rain or Shine (1930), and four  early Capras  with Stanwyck: Ladies of Leisure (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), Forbidden (1932) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933).

The official word: Frank Capra is one of the most popular and beloved filmmakers of all time, but many of his earlier films have never been made available on DVD. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) are joining forces with The Film Foundation on Frank Capra: The Early Collection, a box set of five 1930s pre-code Capra classics coming to DVD for the first time on Monday, Sept. 3.

Among the collection's many special features are video introductions by TCM host Robert Osborne and Oscar®-winning filmmakers Martin Scorsese (Best Director, The Departed, 2006), Ron Howard (Best Director, A Beautiful Mind, 2001) and Michel Gondry (Best Original Screenplay, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004), as well as audio commentaries by film historians Jeanine Basinger and Jeremy Arnold.

Frank Capra: The Early Collection will be available exclusively through TCM's online store (http://shop.tcm.com) as part of the TCM Vault Collection. The set includes re-mastered editions of Rain or Shine (1930), and four early collaborations with his legendary leading lady Barbara Stanwyck: Ladies of Leisure (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), Forbidden (1932) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933). The collection also includes extensive on-screen digital bonus materials including production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, lobby cards, movie posters and more.

"Frank Capra is one of the most popular and influential filmmakers in Hollywood history, making this set an invaluable addition to any lover of great cinema," said Nancy Rewis, vice president of Commerce Enterprise for TCM, TBS and TNT. "We're proud to be working with some of today's greatest filmmakers in ensuring that these great films are not only preserved but also made available to fans everywhere."

"TCM has done a great job carrying on the legacy with this seminal Frank Capra release," said Marc Rashba, vice president, Catalog, TV & Shopper Marketing Group at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. "Our partnership continues to deliver high quality DVD packages that fans will appreciate."

"The Film Foundation is proud to partner with Sony and TCM in making these early films of Frank Capra available to audiences for the first time on DVD," said Margaret Bodde, executive director of The Film Foundation. "Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Michel Gondry each have fascinating things to say about these films, making this a must-have collection for all those who treasure Capra's films."

Frank Capra immigrated from Bisacquino, Sicily, as a child and went on to become one of the great American success stories. After growing up in Los Angeles and serving in World War I, he found his calling in the burgeoning film industry of the early '20s. Working at a variety of jobs, from lab assistant to film cutter to gag writer, Capra was promoted to director by silent comedian Harry Langdon, who scored several box-office hits with Capra at the helm.

The Frank Capra: The Early Collection features five key movies made after Capra struck out on his own in the early sound era and became Columbia Pictures' most important and financially successful director, transforming the company from a poverty row studio to a major player in Hollywood. The films in the collection demonstrate the first evidence of Capra's emerging directorial style, his keen interest in subject matter that dealt with social issues and his ease at mastering any genre he tackled.

The following are the five films included in Frank Capra: The Early Collection:

Ladies of Leisure (1930) – This drama marked Frank Capra's first collaboration with Barbara Stanwyck. The film tells of a Depression-era romance between a working-class model and a high-society artist, played by Ralph Graves. The film is based on the 1924 play Ladies of the Evening, written by Milton Herbert Gropper.

Rain or Shine (1930) – This rollicking comedy-drama follows the ups and downs of a struggling traveling circus. Joe Cook, Louise Fazenda, Joan Peers and William Collier Jr. star in this film, a non-musical version of a Broadway musical of the same name.

The Miracle Woman (1931) – In this dramatic exposé of religious charlatans, Barbara Stanwyck stars as a female preacher modeled on Aimee Semple McPherson. David Manners co-stars as the blind man who falls in love with her.

Forbidden (1932) – This charming, romantic drama depicts the intense relationship between librarian Barbara Stanwyck and a wealthy married man, played by Adolphe Menjou. Ralph Bellamy and Dorothy Peterson co-star.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) – This once-controversial drama depicts an affair between the fiancée of an American missionary, played by Barbara Stanwyck, and a Chinese warlord, played by Nils Asther. Toshia Mori shines as General Yen's concubine, Mah-Li. The film, which was the first ever to play Radio City Music Hall, also features a memorable dream sequence in which Yen seduces the young missionary. The interracial aspect of the story led the film to be banned in many areas where miscegenation laws were in place.
 

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