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Pocketful of Miracles

Pocketful of Miracles(1961)

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Although copyright records list the color process as Eastman color, HR lists it as Consolidated Color and FD lists it as Technicolor. Pocketful of Miracles, Frank Capra's last feature film, was a remake of his 1933 Lady for a Day, starring Warren William and May Robson (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). Pocketful of Miracles was the first and only film to be produced by Franton Productions, an independent company co-owned by Frank Capra Productions and Glenn Ford's Newton Productions. A modern source notes that Abe Lastfogel of the William Morris Agency was brought in to settle any disputes that might arise between the two producers, who had equal votes in all matters concerning the picture. As mentioned in his autobiography, Capra disliked this arrangement, which, he believed, gave Lastfogel the power of executive producer. Capra also expressed his displeasure with the United Artists' decision to release the picture with saturation booking in some 200 cities across the country, without first putting it into a first-run engagement in either Los Angeles or New York. However, Capra's recollection of the film's opening was not completely correct. While the film did open on Christmas Day in Los Angeles with the saturation booking, the film had a conventional opening in New York, playing at the Victoria and Trans-Lux 52nd Street theaters only. Pre-release news items indicate that James Cannon, a sports writer whose writing talent was discovered by Damon Runyon, was signed to write the dialogue for the film. According to Capra's autobiography, Cannon did not get a writing credit because of a WGA rule at the time that allowed only two writing credits per screenplay. In an April 1960 NYT interview, Capra mentioned that he wanted either Helen Hayes or Shirley Booth for the role of Apple Annie, and according to subsequent news items in Hollywood Reporter, Hayes made a verbal agreement to play the role in June 1960. According to his autobiography, Capra had also sought Shirley Jones for the role of Queenie. News items also note that Capra sought Tony Franciosa for an unspecified "starring role," and that Edward G. Robinson, Charles Laughton, Fredric March and Burl Ives were all in the running for the role of Judge Henry Blake, which was later assigned to Jack Oakie. When Oakie became ill with a lingering intestinal virus, he was replaced by Thomas Mitchell and his scenes were reshot. Contemporary sources also note that the film, which would cost an estimated 2.5-3 million dollars to produce, marked the screen debut of Ann-Margret, who had been previously set to make her debut in State Fair, a film delayed until 1962. According to a contemporary interview with actress Hope Lange, costumes from Paramount's 1920s and 1930s wardrobe department were deemed too daring for modern censors. A week before Pocketful of Miracles had its Los Angeles release, Los Angeles Times ran ads featuring Richard Nixon endorsing the film. Peter Falk received an Academy Award nomiation for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the picture, which also received a nomination for Best Costume Design (color) and for its title song for Best Song. According to modern sources, Capra wrote the special lyrics for "The Riddle Song," which Ann-Margret sang without musical accompaniment in the film. Modern sources list Frank Capra, Jr. and Ralph Axness as additional assistant directors.