blogger, Classics, Movies, The 'Stringbean' Effect, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

#431: You Can’t Take It With You

Good morning everyone.


Sorry for this late post, I was completely distracted after watching this, plus I was eager to finish my thoughts on Waiting for Forever. I’m prone to having writer’s block so I have to be weary of my ideas.

3 May 2011

Anyway, I’ve finally found a copy of this 1938 film by Frank Capra starring Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, James Stewart and Jean Arthur in a screenplay by Robert Riskin, and based upon a play by George S. Kaufman. This film was done before Capra and Stewart went to the war. This film won 2 Oscars for best picture and best director.

Upon reading Frank Capra’s biography written by James McBride, I have concluded that Capra is fond of the idyllic image of the American family, which I guess he plans on incorporating in other families that might stumble upon his movies. Most of his best loved films such as this are in black and white, and I can’t help but imagining when the technicolor paint might come in and fully add color to his characters.

In this film wherein he works firsthand with his soon to be Mr. Deeds star James Stewart, one of MGM’s fresh studio actors, and Lionel Barrymore whom he both works with in his Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, and other studio actors at the time such as Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur. This film is about an eccentric family who’s only normal daughter is soon to be engaged with the vice-president of the company she works for. Along with this engagement is the arrangement that the two families should get along, or at least get to know one another before the couple weds.

One night, as Tony Kirby (Stewart) invites Alice Sycamore to dinner for her to meet his socialite mother and his rich-banker father. After a huge embarrassment which the couple are able to escape from and ends the night in a rumble of rich socialites in fear of a potential rodent, Alice tells Tony that unless his parents wouldn’t get to know her casual self along with her family then it’s no sense for them to get married at all. Under the impression that all Alice wants is for him and his family to arrive to the Vanderhof household without further notice — meaning, to surprise them at their most casual evening — he invites his parents to the Vanderhof household where they catch the odd family, yes, in their most casual evening where everyone is allowed to play any musical instrument, dance to any music they want, while others basically do what they want to do.

I have not seen the play version of George S. Kaufman (if only I could, of course) but in this genre of family and fun loving films, You Can’t Take It With You is easy to like and to have a good laugh at. My favorite scene would have to be Barrymore’s discussion about the difference between his life and that of the Kirby’s. This movie is best watched at night when you’ve already done the dishes and all you want is a classic feel-good movie from one of America’s greatest film directors.