Reviews & Ratings for
"Great Performances" You Can't Take It with You (1984)

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Why oh why is this tape out of print? It's marvelous!

Author: FilmNutgm from Texas, USA
22 January 2002

I'm so happy to hear others speak of this wonderful film. I too found it at Kmart years and years ago and snapped it up! I loved this tape so much and watched it regularly until my VCR ate it. I agree with those who mentioned the great Jason Robards' performance and those who pointed out that this is more like the play. The whole cast just hums along as if they really were that family and any work that tries to get us to, as some wise person has said, "make a life, not just a living," is sorely needed. When I first saw this, I thought some of the cast playing the younger generation were a bit mature for their parts, but the heartfelt acting won me over. I still wish the characters of Donald and Reba did not have to be treated in such a stereotypical way, but the play was very much of the 1930's and this performance reflects that. What a cast of Broadway legends--Robards, Dewhurst, Rose, etc. And it was such great fun to see the wonderful Jack Dodson who was so great as Howard Sprague on "The Andy Griffith Show" get to play a different role. Why isn't this marvelous film still available on tape? So many of that wonderful cast has died since this was made in the mid-1980's that it would be nice if these actors' fans had a souvenir of their superb work. See it if you can and if you're fortunate enough to have a video copy of it, don't let a hungry VCR get it!

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Comedic acting at its finest!

Author: peacham from Pa.
12 November 1999

Quite simply the greatest Made for Television adaptation of a comedy ever! Robards delivers one of his greatest performances ever. He was born to play loveable,blunt and carefree Grandpa Vanderhoff. his timing,delivery and facial expressions are those of an expert comedian. George Rose shines as the Russian Choreographer.Rose was one of the last great "music hall" style comedians and This role along with his Major General in "PIRATES OF PENZANCE" have given the general public a record of his great gifts for all posterity. Hart and Kaufmann's Play has held up remarkably over the years and Director Rabb has created a loving homage to 1930s theatrical comedy, and to this particular play in general. Avoid Frank Capra's 1936 film version it is nothing like the play. if you can find this gem ( I did for 9 dollars at a local Kmart) purchase it on the spot!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

You Can't Take It With You

Author: Tim Cox from Marietta, OH
9 June 1999

Robards carries this lively remake of the Kaufman and Hart play with the Oscar winner easily fitting the shoes of Grandpa Martin Vanderof. Robards had just finished a run of the play on the stage that had also co-starred James Coco as the mad Russian ballet instructor, Kolenkhov. Here, it is played by Rose. The play still runs quick and has a lot of fun. It's one of those gems that should be in the Comedy Hall of Fame.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Highly recommended. Wonderful nonsense.

Author: gv416 from Texas
17 November 1999

Highly recommended. Have seen it many times and could watch it many more. Wonderful nonsense from start to finish. The cast is wonderful. Anderman is wonderfully mortified by her crazy family, and Dewhurst and Rose are excellent as the Russians.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good!

Author: RosalieBustingMyBowls from U.S.A.
10 October 1999

This is a very funny play that i thoroughly enjoyed watching. It's really funny but makes you think at the same time. Our school is doing this play and I can't wait! I am an understudy for Mrs Kirby, it should be really fun! Everyone should see this funny play!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Production I saw on television and on Broadway

Author: theowinthrop from United States
1 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1984 I was more active in going to Duffy Square in Manhattan and seeing what plays I could get tickets to on Broadway. One that I saw was YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, which (as I had seen productions of it in the past) I was acquainted with. I decided to see it again because this production had gotten good reviews, and it starred Jason Robarts, with Ellis Rabb and Colleen Dewhurst in the cast. Actually while it was exciting to see a play with Robarts and Dewhurst in it the latter had a small cameo role and only appeared in the final act (where she did a comic bit about dancing with Rabb). But watching Robarts (the only time I saw him on stage) was wonderful. I was so close to him that I could see his character (Grandfather Martin Vanderhof) perusing his "stamp collection" (the small collection book actually did have stamps in it!).

It is fortunate that a video record of the production still exists, complete with performances by Robarts, Dewhurst, Nicholas Surovy, Bill McCutcheon (as Mr. DePinna), Jack Dodson, and others of the original cast. Only Raab was not in it - ironically his role of Boris Kolenkhov the Russian dance master is played by George Rose, who I also saw on stage in other plays. But Rose was a fine comic performer and gave proper distinction to the Russian's famous put-down ("It stinks", said with a friendly dismissive air).

The story by Kaufman and Hart is about the eccentricities of the Vanderhof - Sycamore clan, which does not pay taxes (why should it? taxes are only used to support the Navy, and the last time it was of use was in 1898!), which gives free room and board to several people like DiPinna and Kolenkhov, and which encourages freedom (Penelope writes stories because a typewriter was once delivered to the house by mistake, her daughter paints DiPinna as a discuss thrower, her husband makes illegal firecrackers in the basement,and her son-in-law earns his living with his small printing press (unfortunately printing Communist posters). When her more staid daughter falls for a normal boy, and the family of the boy is invited over, all hell breaks loose.

The movie version of the play (directed by Frank Capra) expanded the philosophy of enjoying life into another assault on the super-rich, with Edward Arnold as Mr. Kirby...not as a stockbroker as he is in the play or in this video production, but as a banker and empire builder, who gets emotionally twisted and lost, and then finds himself again. While certainly an interesting variant on the original play it was unnecessary. The original has a lot of nuttiness and common sense mingled into it, and is one of the few comedies of the 1930s that are still capable of revival. The production here keeps the single stage production of the Broadway revival (which is possibly a mistake - they could have shown say the basement of the house). On the other hand the single set keeps the record of the original revival production in tact. I can only say it is worth watching.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: buxtehude99 from United States
21 August 2005

Jason Robards, at this point in his career, seemed to specialize in patriarch roles, such as in "All the President's Men", "Max Dugan Returns", and "You Can't Take it With You". And in this case, those of us who never saw him on the stage get a big treat, because this was a taped Broadway production. He dominates every scene, but in his natural "Grandpa" way, and only within the character. This is an ensemble play, which is why it's good for high school and community groups. But every actor has the chance to shine and does. Old television watchers will spot veteran actors Bill McCutcheon and Jack Dodson. I want to single out Elizabeth Wilson as the Mother, who exudes warmth and love, though in a contextually "loopy" way. Oddly bland are the romantic leads, although their characters put them at a disadvantage, since every one else is over the top. I enjoy the Frank Capra film, but he gets preachy in the second half (which has nothing to do with Kaufman/Hart), and it is an entirely different animal. This is a case where less is more. I guarantee you'll get misty eyed when Grandpa leads them in the blessing of the meal.

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