Back in the 1920s and 1930s, Columbia Pictures was a joke. Of the big movie companies, Columbia was the least prestigious and had the worst reputation. Columbia movies had glasses and a runny nose and got pushed around by the other movies on the playground.
But then, one day, a savior came over, wiped Columbia's nose, got it stylish glasses and taught it super-karate so it could beat up all those other movie bullies.
The savior's name? Frank Capra.
Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) won a staggering five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing Adaptation (by Robert Riskin; see Screenwriter). All the other movies stood around with their thuggish jaws hanging down. Suddenly their punching bag was the hero of Hollywood
But everything between Capra and Columbia wasn't always awesome. In fact, Capra had a falling out with the studio heads the very next year, and tried to cancel his contract. Columbia won him back around, though, and he stayed. He made You Can't Take It With You in 1938— the highest-grossing Capra film at Columbia— and the American classic Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in 1939. He and Columbia then parted ways, but he had permanently altered the studio's reputation: because of Capra, the lowly, sniffly Columbia came to mean quality.