Notable Signaleers


Signal in the Movies – Frank Capra


Frank Russell Capra (May 18, 1897 – September 3, 1991) was a Sicilian-born American film director and a creative force behind a number of films of the 1930s and 1940s, including It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).


He was a part of the 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment which was headquartered in Astoria, N.Y. at the Signal Corps Photographic Center.


Frank Capra was commissioned as a major in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II. He produced State of the Union and directed or co-directed eight documentary propaganda films between 1942 and 1948, including the seven-episode U.S. government-commissioned Why We Fight series—consisting of Prelude to War (1942), The Nazis Strike (1942), The Battle of Britain (1943), Divide and Conquer (1943), Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945), Tunisian Victory (1945), and Two Down and One to Go (1945)—as well as produced the African-American targeted The Negro Soldier (1944).


Why We Fight is widely considered a masterpiece of propaganda and won an Academy Award. Prelude to War won the 1942 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Capra regarded these films as his most important works. As a colonel, he received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945.





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