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L to R: ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard’ highlight common themes covered by their directors. (photo: Columbia and Paramount Pictures)

Opposites and kindred spirits, directors offer stories showcasing the power of goodness, while acknowledging that evil exists.

Even those who may not be familiar with Hollywood director Frank Capra certainly know his work, as every Christmas season his now-classic film It’s a Wonderful Life is shown.

As beloved as this film is now, it was originally a flop and signaled the beginning of the decline of Capra’s filmography. Audiences in 1946 just didn’t warm up to this film, and it vanished from movie theater screens a few weeks after its initial release. Only when this forgotten film fell out of copyright did it begin building cultural momentum, as local TV stations across the country could show the film at no cost. The rest, as they say, is cinematic and television history. …

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