“Suspicious Minds”

in Nixon at the Movies

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780226239682
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226239705 | DOI:
“Suspicious Minds”

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The most characteristic title of all Capra's films belongs to the period, that is, American Madness (1932), which offers a sense of vibrant topicality, which it proceeds to undercut with an implausibly plot-saving recourse to sentimentality. Capra's rapid cross-cutting and pioneering use of overlapping dialogue are scarily effective and “American madness” is an all too apt description for what we see on the screen. The film's emphasis is on Huston's populist lending policies and how they prevent the bank's failing, but what is unforgettable about American Madness is the all-too-believable tableau it presents of a society out of control. It was Capra who might have best captured the upheaval that the nation experienced during the first week of May in 1970, might have made an updated American Madness.

Keywords: Capra; American Madness; plot-saving recourse; sentimentality; vibrant topicality

Chapter.  11997 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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