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You Can't Take It With You


Home » Film Reviews » You Can't Take It With You

You Can't Take It With You (1938)

Starring: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore   [See details]
Directed by: Frank Capra
Runtime:2 hours and 6 minutes
MPAA rating:Rated G
Genre(s): Drama, Romance
Synopsis:Receptionist/secretary Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) is the beautiful and sane daughter of an eccentric, poor but happy family, run by philosophical patriarch/grandfather Martin Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore). Family members are involved in free-wheeling activities including painting, sculpture, ballet, fireworks invention, and more. Alice works in the offices of capitalist Anthony P. Kirby (Edward Arnold), a rich conservative banker. She becomes engaged to Kirby's son Tony (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son. Problems erupt when the two incompatible families are to meet for dinner at the Sycamore's house before the wedding.
Catalog #:GU-X4112
Price: $19.99
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Brief Cast Overview
Harry Davenport    ...    Judge
Ian Wolfe    ...    Kirby's Secretary
Jean Arthur    ...    Alice Sycamore
Lionel Barrymore    ...    Grandpa Martin Vanderhof
Spring Byington    ...    Penny Sycamore
Halliwell Hobbes    ...    DePinna
H.B. Warner    ...    Ramsey

Technical Specification
Encoding: Region 0*  [See details]
Format:    Fullscreen
Color: Black and white
Edition: Import
Language: English
Sound: Digital Sound
Subtitles: Not available
*DVD will play on any regional DVD player

Film Review
Legendary director Frank Capra’s Oscar-winning—1939 Best Picture and Best Director—“You can’t Take it with You” turns 65 this year. Adapted from a hit Broadway play, the film is most memorable for its portrayal of an endearingly eccentric American extended family. Alice, the only normal member of this modest family, falls in love with Tony Kirby, the son (Jimmy Stewart) of blue-blooded leading Wall Street financier Anthony P. Kirby (Edward Arnold) and a series of comical complications ensues. This clash of values is made all the more entertaining by the amazingly rich supporting cast (including a spectacular trained blackbird) Capra assembled. Indeed, so good are their performances that the “headlining” romantic stars—Stewart and Jean Arthur—are to some extent eclipsed. Foremost among the supporting cast, of course, is Lionel Barrymore, who play Grandpa, the patriarch of the zany Vanderhof family, who delivers a characteristically impressive performance, effortlessly blending great gentleness, strength, with an essential humanity. But the good acting is hardly confined to Barrymore—Spring Byington, who portrays Alice’s mother also delivers a performance that earned her a 1939 Academy Award nomination. And mention must be made of “heavy” Edward Arnold’s complex rendition of the financier Kirby. Adding to this mix are Donald Meek, Mischa Auer, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, and Harry Davenport, all of whom do excellent service.

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU was made in 1938, in long-ago world traumatized by the Great Depression and teetering on the brink of the Second World War. Still, the relevance of its central theme—the truism that Love, not money, status, nor material trinkets, is the fundamental value in life—remains as valid in 2003 as it did three generations ago. Capra’s fine art is managing to create a film that is at once funny, touching, and entertaining while retaining a meaningful social/moral content. 

Rating:  (3.5 out of 5 stars)

- John E. Epson

Awards and Nominations
Academy Award, The® (USA):
Winner = Indicates winner

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