American Madness

1932

Drama

3
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 82%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 1878

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
June 02, 2021 at 05:39 PM

Director

Cast

Walter Huston as Thomas A. Dickson
Charley Grapewin as Mr. Jones
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
708.09 MB
968*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 17 min
P/S 6 / 15
1.28 GB
1440*1072
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 17 min
P/S 8 / 28

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Larry41OnEbay-2 7 / 10

Director Capra and writer Riskin's first socially conscious collaboration, the cornerstone of great films to come.

Director Capra and writer Riskin's first socially conscious collaboration, the cornerstone of great films to come.

To start off Frank Capra is my favorite director because his best films are stories of regular people who have faith in the inherent goodness of the average person.

When I watched American MADNESS, I was surprised to see this 1932 movie is not as dated as you would expect. It moves quickly, has modern characters and dialogue and the drama is balanced with some comedy. The opening scene introduces one of those wonderful telephone operators with a voice that is instantly recognizable and funny at the same time.

American Madness' timely story is about bank president Thomas Dickson played by Walter Huston who has a lending policy that shows great faith in ordinary people but irritates his board of directors, as does his claim that an increased money supply will help end the Great Depression.

Walter Huston's character obviously embodies the wide-eyed hope found in such Capra films as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which also explore what it means to be a "little guy" in a world where millionaires and power brokers usually pull the strings. In some respects, American Madness amounts to a rigged argument in favor of Capra's most optimistic views. But along the way it shows his nagging awareness of the American dream's darker, madder side.

The Great Depression started on Oct. 29 of 1929 when the stock market crashed and it spread to almost every country in the world. US unemployment eventually rose to 25%. Bank failures snowballed as desperate bankers called in loans which the borrowers did not have time or money to repay. With future profits looking poor, capital investment and construction slowed or completely ceased. In the face of bad loans and worsening future prospects, the surviving banks became even more conservative in their lending. Banks built up their capital reserves and made fewer loans, which intensified pressures. A vicious cycle developed and the downward spiral accelerated. By 1933 more than 5,000 banks had failed.

American Madness was the first of Frank Capra's "social dramas," anticipating his later work in this sub-genre with Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Meet John Doe. After WWII his Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life would reuse two vital scenes first used in this movie. And for fans of the filmmaker's uplifting, socially conscious comedies as It Happened One Night and You Can't Take It With You this film is an early cornerstone of a great career.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. The best of stories work because they have elements of truth in them and the basis for this film came from a banker named Giannini who started a small but successful lending institution in San Francisco called the Bank Of Italy that made loans to working class people not based on collateral, but based on the character of the borrower. Harry Cohen, the head of Columbia Studios that made tonight's movie was one such borrower who went to Mr. Giannini's bank to start his own business.

This story of banking opened in the dark heart of the Great Depression. It was risk taking too and it was not entirely well-received in cities that had seen bank runs in recent months.

But let's talk about what does work in this movie. First, there is the script that is economical and yet gives every character a full personality. Next the actors play real, flesh and blood people. Capra always brought a natural comfort level to his characters making them people we recognize and want to spend time with. Finally there is the crew behind the camera who must have enjoyed their jobs and believed in this director's vision.

There are two parallel stories, Dickson's battle with his board of directors and the personal lives of the bank's employees that lead to events that cripple the bank.

The cinematographer was Capra's favorite, Joseph Walker. Walker and Capra made 22 films together. And I've always appreciated Walker's camera work because it is so smooth, his shots seem to dove-tail together. I hate it when a cameraman tries to bring attention to what he's doing -- jarring you out of the story. Walker sometimes used 2-8 cameras to shoot a scene as it happened to later cut it together so you wouldn't notice the cuts, just smooth transitions.

Let's talk about the life lessons we can take away from these quaint old movies. Not only do we learn a few good moral lessons but I can't think of a better example of the dangers of gossip. The power and poison of gossip can quickly escalate to become a sinkhole of quicksand that swallows even the exaggerators!

Screenwriter Robert Riskin and Capra liked each other's work, and, as a result, Riskin contributed the wisecracking dialogue for Capra's Platinum Blonde. After American Madness future Riskin/Capra collaborations included Lady for a Day (later remade as Pocketful Of Miracles), It Happened One Night (first film to win all five major Oscars), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (Oscar for Best Director), Lost Horizon and You Can't Take It With You (which won Oscars for Best Picture & Director). Free of their Columbia contracts in 1941, Riskin and Capra formed their own production company to put together Meet John Doe. In later years, Capra would sometimes comment that he'd often have to tone down Riskin's cynicism; Riskin bristled at Capra's tendency to appear to take all the credit.

One last thing in closing, I forgot to mention to you what happened to the Bank Of Italy, they changed their name to Bank Of America and are now one of the largest banks in the world. Well when I learned that, you could have knocked me over with a pin!

Reviewed by mukava991 8 / 10

winning combo: Huston and Capra

Fast-moving story about how a banker (Walter Huston) with down-to-earth values weathers a financial storm. Plusses: Huston's consummate performance. The bank itself: grand and gleaming in the style of a great palace. The care with which the cumbersome, downright ritualistic opening and closing of bank's massive vault is photographed. A nicely written part for Kay Johnson as Huston's neglected but gallant wife. A more or less constant parade of bit players that at one point ricochet across the screen, in a sequence illustrating how a rumor can start a firestorm of exaggeration - hence the title, "AMERICAN MADNESS." Robert Riskin's realistic, casual-sounding dialogue presented in overlapping fashion - an early Capra trademark. Exciting mob scenes as the depositors rush into the bank in panic. Cinematography from many different angles and plenty of tracking shots through busy frames. Supporting player Gavin Gordon's curiously plucked eyebrows. A minus: The resolution of the plot's financial crisis is too sudden and arbitrary, but the way the personal relationships work out is clever and believable. The positives, however, far, far outweigh the negatives and again it must be said that this is an outstanding Huston performance which shows his great range; for him alone the movie is well worth seeing.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 7 / 10

Peter Bailey In The Depression

American Madness is a somewhat dated film from the Depression made dated by the banking legislation of the New Deal. This film was made in the last year of the Herbert Hoover presidency. In the following year, in one of the landmark reforms of the first hundred days of Franklin Roosevelt was the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Banks in fact have failed since then, but we've never seen the disastrous runs on them that characterized previous times, that are shown so graphically in this early Frank Capra film.

Comparing this with another Capra classic, imagine if you will instead of old man Potter running the bank in Bedford Falls, we had kindly old Peter Bailey instead. The man who believed in investing in his clients at the Building&Loan and passed that philosophy on to his son George.

That's what bank president Walter Huston believes in as well. But he's got a board of directors on his case just as Samuel S. Hinds as Peter Bailey. But he's got one thing that Hinds didn't have, a bored and flirtatious wife in Kay Johnson, ready to respond to the amorous advances of Gavin Gordon, one of the bank vice presidents.

Huston has a surrogate son though, like his George in the person of head teller Pat O'Brien. Pat works some wonders, save's Huston-Johnson marriage, helps stop a bank panic that results from a holdup that was clearly an inside job, and gets out from under suspicion of being involved in that same crime.

The climax of American Madness might be tied up a little too neatly, but Capra was honing his populist movie making skills in this film.

And if it's dated, there's reason to be thankful it is.

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