75 minutes| U.S.A.| 1932| Black and White| 35mm

Although made nearly 80 years ago, this film could hardly be more topical. A stressed-out bank manager (Walter Huston), who loans money on the basis of character more than collateral, finds himself in conflict with greedy board members who put profits before people. When a robbery precipitates a run on the bank and threatens its survival, Capra evokes the panic and fear of Depression-hit America with unnerving power: this superb sequence anticipates a similar turn of events in It’s a Wonderful Life.

American Madness was Capra’s first film to engage directly with contemporary social issues and also to state his faith in the basic decency of ordinary people, who will rally to the defence of the beleaguered banker against his opponents. Robert Riskin’s script is one of his sharpest and, in a fine cast, Walter Huston amply demonstrates why many thought him America’s supreme screen actor of that time.

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