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The stenographer Alice Sycamore is in love with her boss Tony Kirby, who is the vice-president of the powerful company owned by his greedy father Anthony P. Kirby. Kirby Sr. is dealing a monopoly in the trade of weapons, and needs to buy one last house in a twelve block area owned by Alice's grandparent Martin Vanderhof. However, Martin is the patriarch of an anarchic and eccentric family where the members do not care for money but for having fun and making friends. When Tony proposes Alice, she states that it would be mandatory to introduce her simple and lunatic family to the snobbish Kirbys, and Tone decides to visit Alice with his parents one day before the scheduled. There is an inevitable clash of classes and lifestyles, the Kirbys spurn the Sycamores and Alice breaks with Tony, changing the lives of the Kirby family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
George Kaufman and Moss Hart, the playwrights of the original play in which this film is based, seemed to have been keenly aware that most people in their pursuit of wealth and success in life basically forget the most important point of all: To live life to its fullest, enjoying every minute of it and sharing with loved ones and friends everything, good, or bad.
"You Can't Take it with You" is an enormously satisfying theater play, which must have drawn Frank Capra's attention to bring it to the movies. In fact, it meshes well with most of his films, in that this is a film with a social conscience, after all. The screen play by Robert Riskin has some awkward moments, but the finished product proves that Mr. Capra could turn any script into a movie with great success. While this film is not in the same league as his other masterpieces, it is still a good way to spend some time with good company.
Much has been said in this forum about the merits of YCTIWY. The cast of this film is Hollywood at its best. Lionel Barrymore makes a great contribution with his Martin Vanderhof, the patriarch of the crazy household where happiness lives. Vanderhof's life is full because of his family and the friends he welcomes to share whatever he has, asking nothing in return. He is a rich man, indeed.
By contrast, Anthony Kirby, the Wall Street millionaire, is a miserable human being. His whole aim in life is to amass a fortune that he will not be able to spend at all. He is reminded by Vanderhof that his life is worth nothing because he has no friends. Edward Arnold does wonders portraying this unhappy man, in perhaps, the best performance of his long film career. Mr. Arnold was a great actor.
The other notable character in the film is Alice Sycamore, the young secretary that happens to fall in love with the rich Kirby heir. In fact, she has the pivotal role of telling off the father of the man she loves because she sees the older Kirby for what he really stands. As Alice, the wonderful Jean Arthur takes the role and makes a splash with it.
James Stewart has a minor role in this film, in comparison to the above mentioned ones. Ann Miller is charming as the happy would be ballerina Essie. Spring Byington makes a great Penny, the woman who can write plays in the middle of all the confusion going on in the Vanderhof household. There is a small scene where the incomparable Charles Lane, an actor that has been seen in innumerable films in minor roles, who plays a tax collector. The rest of the cast is excellent.
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