American Madness

American Madness is a 1932 American pre-Code film directed by Frank Capra and starring Walter Huston as a New York banker embroiled in scandal.

American Madness
Film poster
Directed byFrank Capra
Produced byFrank Capra
Harry Cohn
Written byRobert Riskin
StarringWalter Huston
Music byMischa Bakaleinikoff (uncredited)
Karl Hajos (uncredited)
CinematographyJoseph Walker
Edited byMaurice Wright
Release date
  • August 4, 1932 (1932-08-04)
Running time
75 min
CountryUnited States


In the Great Depression era, the Board of Directors of Thomas Dickson's bank want Dickson (Walter Huston) to merge with New York Trust and resign. He refuses. One night, Dickson's bank is robbed of $100,000. The suspect is Matt Brown (Pat O'Brien), an ex-convict whom Dickson hired and appointed Chief Teller. Brown, who's very loyal to Dickson, refuses to say where he was that night. He has two witnesses for his alibi, Mrs. Dickson (Kay Johnson) and fellow worker Cyril Cluett (Gavin Gordon), but Brown is protecting Dickson from finding out that Mrs. Dickson was with Cluett having a romantic evening. Cluett, who has a $50,000 gambling debt, is responsible for the robbery, but lets Brown take the rap.

Word of the robbery causes a run on the bank, but friends of the banker come to his aid, and the bank is saved.



American Madness marked the first in a series of legendary collaborations between Capra and Robert Riskin. It was also Riskin's first original screenplay.[1]

The film contains one zoom, which is notable for its use of the then new three element Cooke-Varo lens.[2]


  1. Corliss, Richard (1972). "Capra & Riskin". Film Comment. 8 (4): 18–21. JSTOR 43752927.
  2. B, J; T, L (1980). "A Short History of the Zoom". Film Comment. 16 (5): 14–15. JSTOR 43451432.
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