“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
— Ray Bradbury
— Ray Bradbury
Joseph McBride’s 1992 biography Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success was described by Barry Gewen in The New York Times Book Review as “Masterly, comprehensive, and frequently surprising.” What readers did not know then was how arduous it was to reveal the hidden truth about this iconic American figure. While McBride was researching and writing for more than seven years, he was fighting a pitched legal battle with his original publisher and allies of the celebrated film director. Frankly is McBride’s revealing, harrowing, often darkly comical account of that Kafkaesque but ultimately successful struggle.
Joseph McBride’s many other books include biographies of John Ford and Steven Spielberg, three studies of Orson Welles, and an investigation of the murders of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit. McBride is a professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University.
available on Amazon
Paperback available here.
preview the book
We’ve made the prologue and Introduction of the book available here.
Behind the Scenes with Joseph McBride and Frank Capra here.
About the Author
Joseph McBride was born in Milwaukee and educated at Marquette University High School and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He lives in Berkeley, California, and is a professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University.
McBride is the author of seventeen previous books, including biographies of Frank Capra, John Ford, and Steven Spielberg; three books on Orson Welles; and Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit.
Read more about the author here.
Reviews & Interviews
THE CRITERION COLLECTION May Books
Originally Posted on https://www.criterion.com/ By David Hudson ON FILM / THE DAILY — MAY 6, 2019 This month’s round of book reviews, excerpts, events, and lists is top-heavy with titles rooted in Hollywood’s golden age. Let’s begin with Joseph McBride, the author of critical biographies of John Ford and Orson Welles (McBride appears as a film critic in Welles’s The Read more about THE CRITERION COLLECTION May Books[…]
Book Review: Negotiating the Perils of Biography
Originally published in THE BIOGRAPHER’S CRAFT The newsletter of the Biographers International Organization, May 2019 By Carl Rollyson I dropped everything to read this book, and so should you—if you are willing to confront the corruption endemic in writing certain kinds of biography. The plot involves a celebrated archivist, a famous editor, a respected lawyer, Read more about Book Review: Negotiating the Perils of Biography[…]
MWN Episode 117 – Joseph McBride on Unmasking Frank Capra (and Unearthing George Bush)
Midnight Writer News Interviewed by S. T. Patrick, April 25, 2019 1 hr 49 min Author, Film Historian, and JFK assassination researcher Joseph McBride joins S.T. Patrick to discuss his newest book, Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra. The book is about the “Kafkaesque” journey McBride endured in trying to publish a truthful biography of director Frank Read more about MWN Episode 117 – Joseph McBride on Unmasking Frank Capra (and Unearthing George Bush)[…]
“How Did Lubitsch Do It?”: Joseph McBride’s engaging study of filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch [with questions about “Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra”]
Originally posted on World Socialist Web Site wsws.org By David Walsh, April 24, 2019 . . . [After interview questions about Lubitsch:] DW: Finally, tell me about your new book, Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra. JM: This is a book about my struggle to tell the truth about Frank Capra, the celebrated American film director. I’ve Read more about “How Did Lubitsch Do It?”: Joseph McBride’s engaging study of filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch [with questions about “Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra”][…]
Reader Reviews from Amazon.com
James Naremore 5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and Revealing April 10, 2019 McBride is one of the great biographers of film directors, and in this book he gives us what you could call an autobiography of one of his biographies. Highly readable, at times absorbing, this book is valuable not only for what it Read more about Reader Reviews from Amazon.com[…]
KBOO Interview with film historian Joseph McBride on Frank Capra
Produced by: KBOO, Program:: The Monday Sampler Hosted by: Matthew Clark, Air date: April 25, 2019 Calling into the studio will be film historian Joseph McBride, to talk with us about his new book on legendary filmmaker Frank Capra titled, “Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra”. It details the troubles he had in writing and publishing his 1992 biography Read more about KBOO Interview with film historian Joseph McBride on Frank Capra[…]
FRANKLY: UNMASKING FRANK CAPRA by Joseph McBride
Originally posted on SilentComedyMafia.com by Richard M Roberts » Mon Apr 15, 2019 Joseph McBride published his veil-lifting and controversial biography of Frank Capra, THE CATASTROPHE OF SUCCESS in 1992, a fascinating and enlightening read that debunked the myths of Capra’s basically fictional and self-serving autobiography THE NAME ABOVE THE TITLE, showing Capra to have been essentially living the lie in his pose as Read more about FRANKLY: UNMASKING FRANK CAPRA by Joseph McBride[…]
Film historian explains difficult journey in ‘Unmasking’ famed filmmaker Frank Capra
Originally posted: Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican and masslive.com By Ray Kelly | email@example.com Writing a biography is often a voyage of discovery. But for noted film historian Joseph McBride, writing the 1992 biography “Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success,” took him into unchartered waters. McBride, a former reporter and critic for Daily Variety, was no stranger to Read more about Film historian explains difficult journey in ‘Unmasking’ famed filmmaker Frank Capra[…]
Q&A With Author Joseph McBride On The Contradictions Of Frank Capra
Originally posted on Local News Matters (Oakland, California) By Chris De Benedetti April 12, 2019 Joseph McBride is a film professor and author who has written or edited 18 books about the history of cinema, including compelling and extensively researched biographies of John Ford, Steven Spielberg and Frank Capra, as well as three books on Orson Welles. Read more about Q&A With Author Joseph McBride On The Contradictions Of Frank Capra[…]