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American Madness


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American Madness + Meet John Doe (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) + Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
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Product Details

  • Actors: Pat O'Brien, Walter Huston, Kay Johnson
  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Producers: Harry Cohn I
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: SPE
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2011
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005KR6NY0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,460 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Walter Huston stars as an idealistic bank president who has been making loans to depositors without sufficient collateral. When there's a run on his bank, his loyal staff rallies local small businessmen to make more deposits which moves the directors to keep the bank afloat. Released shortly after FDR's New Deal, this film whole-heartedly espoused Roosevelt's ideals.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.

This product is expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This is a riveting film and has all of the elements that made Frank Capra an enormously popular and distinguished director.
John H. Flannigan
Perhaps his most immediate examples of this are Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, Mr. smith Goes To Washington, and Meet John Doe, but American Madness is where it all started.
Collin O'Donnell
A bank is thriving during the Great Depression and is still able to lend large sums of money in hopes of pushing the economy back up to it's height.
Samantha Glasser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Frank Capra's fast-paced Depression-era drama stars Walter Huston as a bank manager facing a financial panic that leads to a run on his bank. It's easy to peg this early talkie as a dry run for "It's A Wonderful Life," but it also stands on its own as a fine film, shot with a nice noir-ish feel. The desperation and panic of the time is painfully palpable throughout this film, and the indiscriminate hysteria of the opening sequences ratchets up into individualized, personal agony as Huston steels himself to lose all that he's ever worked for. Tense and anxiety-provoking; worth checking out!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Samantha Glasser VINE VOICE on December 18, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
American Madness is a film about the insanity of a crowd and the way a rumor can turn into a major problem. For fans of It's a Wonderful Life, this film is the problems of the Savings and Loan under a microscope. A bank is thriving during the Great Depression and is still able to lend large sums of money in hopes of pushing the economy back up to it's height. This is all thanks to the man who runs the bank (Walter Huston), fighting against his superiors the whole way. However, one of the workers (Gavin Gordon) gets into trouble with a group of gangsters, and out of fear, he aids them in robbing the bank. Now the bank has two major problems. There is a run on the bank as soon as the public finds out (and believes millions of dollars were stolen). Also, there is a murder/theft investigation among the employees for the money stolen and the guard who was killed.

This film takes a bit of time to get going since it is important that we gain some sort of fondness for all of the characters but also to understand the situation of the bank and the reasons why it is so important that it stay open. As always in Frank Capra's typical films, there is a great deal of comradory and the idea that good can triumph over adversity. It doesn't matter how many times you've seen his films or heard that theory, you can't help but get caught up in it when it's happening on the screen. This, like most of Capra's other films, is a true classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Collin O'Donnell on June 10, 2014
Format: DVD
Frank Capra is known for making socially/politically charged films that center around a hopeful American man whose morals supersede all else. Perhaps his most immediate examples of this are Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, Mr. smith Goes To Washington, and Meet John Doe, but American Madness is where it all started. Taking place just a few years after the stock market crash, the film follows Mr. Dickson as he battles with the Board of Directors to keep his bank. Meanwhile, a bank employee named Cluett is in debt to the mob and pays them off by letting them steal the money from the bank. When word gets out that the bank has been robbed, the bank members arrive in droves to reclaim their savings. American Madness is very much a film of its time, but has also aged remarkably well. The hysteria of the bank members mirrors the nationwide recession frenzy that occurred only a few years ago. Many of Capra's films have that very same timeless quality to them. He and his longtime writing partner Robert Riskin penned a sociopolitical drama that escapes the genres rather boring trappings by infusing humorous, relatable characters and a little domestic drama for good measure. Walter Huston is on par with Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart with his portrayal of the lively Mr. Dickson who believes in faith in customers over more traditional banking practices. Kay Johnson as Mrs. Dickson is a beautiful troublemaker who has fantastic on-screen chemistry with Huston. For a relatively early talkie, Frank Capra directed American Madness with the confidence of a seasoned vet. This isn't exactly hard to believe seeing as how he directed nearly twenty films beforehand. He may have been smack dab in the middle of his career, but Frank Capra was just finding his footing as a socially astute director with a heart of gold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John H. Flannigan on July 9, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
This is a riveting film and has all of the elements that made Frank Capra an enormously popular and distinguished director. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is magnificent and can hold its head up alongside his other screenplays for Capra ("Lost Horizon," "It Happened One Night," "You Can't Take It with You," and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town"). Walter Huston's performance in the lead role of honest bank president Tom Dickson is one of his finest (meaning one of the finest of the period), as is Pat O'Brien's as bank-robber-turned-honest-bank-cashier Matt Brown. The sprawling plot--a lucrative bank merger driven by a hostile board of directors, a bank heist that triggers a panic, a suspicion of infidelity that causes Dicson to turn on his wife, a long engagement seemingly going nowhere between Brown and Dickson's secretary Helen--culminates in a full-blown run on the bank that is magnificently choreographed and startlingly real.

There are many beautiful things in this movie: close-ups of the locking mechanism on the bank's safe deposit door, close-ups of clock faces, wide shots of the bank lobby, broodingly-lit scenes of the vault that anticipate Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity," and marvelously crisp editing throughout. One of Capra's best achievements is the underlying feeling of control and watchfulness at one level while everything else in the movie's world seems to descend into madness. It would not be a Capra film if there were no humor in it, and there are many charmingly funny moments throughout. Dickson's banter with his employees, from encouraging the romance between Brown and Helen to polishing the star on the breast of the bank's security guard to ordering a uniform for a lowly janitor sweeping the lobby floor, are pure Capra and, with Huston's acting, utterly believable.
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