Skip to content

Directed by Frank Capra

United States 1932 75 mins. In English

Producer Harry Cohn made Columbia Pictures one of the key studios of the early 1930s, perhaps the greatest purveyor of screwball comedy, and he forged a long and wildly successful relationship with Frank Capra, still one of Hollywood’s most revered filmmakers. Before films like It Happened One Night and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Capra directed several films during the pre-code era, of which American Madness is perhaps the finest and most relevant to our times. In this breakneck bank crisis drama, a cowboy-esque CEO (Walter Huston) undergoes simultaneous personal and professional crises—and the latter threatens to topple his bank in one afternoon. Meanwhile, the general public, the bank’s board, and its employees all converge in a frenetic climax—only mildly touched by the endearing, populist “Capra-corn” we know and love.