03 The “Capra Touch” from Why I Created a History of Screenwriting Course [Video] (1:08)

A clip from my presentation at the 11th Annual Screenwriting Research Network conference. Held on the campus of the beautiful Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

Watch the entire presentation 

03 The

In the presentation, I covered the reasons writers have been marginalized – and the reasons they oughtn’t to be so disrespected. Then I talked about how my course works, what books I assign, what guest speakers I invite, what research the students do – and ended on a high note by introducing ‘When Women Wrote Hollywood’ – the book of essays from our inaugural class which has now been published by McFarland.


You’ll notice in this particular poster it’s Frank Capra’s film and we have to really down here to see who wrote the movie right? Who broke the movie is this marvelous couple Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, a married couple who wrote for 50 years together. They wrote the play and the film version of The Diary of Anne Frank. They won a Pulitzer Prize for that. Capra never won a Pulitzer Prize. Why is that Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life? Explain that to me. I don’t like that. They also adapted the Thin Man films which were highly successful and there’s a book about them which is lovely but much less read than the biography of Frank Capra. There is a Capra story that I tell my students it may be anecdotal but Robert Riskin — who wrote many of Capra’s best films and won Academy Awards in his life — was said to have heard often Frank Capra say “I have the Capra touch”. It makes the movies beautiful and one day Riskin handed in 200 blank pages said put your fucking touch on that! Excuse the Americanism but seriously Riskin in the man who made all those films. Why is it we are not talking about him?

Watch the entire presentation

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