You Can't Take It with You (1938) Poster

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Capra at his best!
mjpooch25 March 2005
For film-goers and movie fans that are from my generation, it is easy for these films to get lost in the shuffle. Ask someone my age, who would now be 25, what the best movie of all time is, they're likely to say Pulp Fiction or Fight Club.

Not to take away from today's movies, but for anyone who has not gone back and viewed classic Capra, such as "You Can't Take it With You," then they are truly missing out.

This movie is pure magic and beauty. Lionel Barrymore gives a performance as relevant in 2005 as it was in 1938. And what can you say about Jimmy Stewart?? This is a rare gem of a film and in true Capra fashion, the climactic final scene brings tear to the eye, much the same way as Harry Bailey's toast in "It's a Wonderful Life."
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Welcome To A Home Where You'll Feel Loved & Wanted
Ron Oliver29 January 2000
Take a large free-spirited family without visible means of support. Add a large mean-spirited tycoon intent on taking over their neighborhood. Mix in a romance between their daughter & his son. Sprinkle with zaniness & bake for two hours. Enjoy while hot.

This is one of those big comedy productions with a huge cast that only someone like Frank Capra could have pulled off. That he did so, winning the 1938 Best Picture Oscar, is immensely to his credit.

Hobbling on the crutches that signaled the crippling arthritis that would soon confine him to a wheelchair, Lionel Barrymore is the focal point of the film as the grandfather of a wacky clan that believes in doing whatever makes them happy. So they dance, make fireworks, bake candy, paint, write novels, and construct toys with equal joy - laughing through the Depression with much love & great contentment. Jean Arthur, James Stewart & Edward Arnold co-star, with a mammoth cast of supporting players.

This is the movie for viewers who want to feel warm & safe & cuddled & protected.
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It Always *Is* A Wonderful Life...
gaityr11 July 2002
I wouldn't exactly call YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (YCTIWY) Capra's forgotten movie--after all, it *did* win the Best Picture Oscar in its year. And I *have* heard of this film by word of mouth previously, though perhaps not as frequently or with as much ubiquity as some of Capra's other films. Compared to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, for example, YCTIWY distinctly has the status of a 'minor classic'. I don't believe this is deserved, even if themes and (co-)stars are shared between these movies: YCTIWY should definitely be far better known and remembered than it actually is.

First of all, the story-telling is flawless. It very cleverly sets up the two very different families, the Vanderhof/Sycamores (an offbeat family trading most importantly in happiness) and the Kirbys (a stiff up tight banking family trading mostly in weapons). To complete the biggest deal of his career, Anthony Kirby Sr (Edward Arnold) must buy up the last house in a neighbourhood, and of course, this house belongs to Martin Vanderhof (a delightful Lionel Barrymore). The movie pleasantly surprised me in *not* having young Tony Kirby (James Stewart) be assigned to get Vanderhof to sell his house and thereby falling in love with Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) and her zany family. Rather, he was in love with her to begin with, and loved her regardless of what he thought of her family. (Though it would be impossible to hate any of them, I feel!) The story really is simple: Tony loves Alice no matter what, and doesn't want her or her family to put on a show to impress his own family. When he surprises her by turning up a day early for a dinner engagement, the Kirbys meet the Vanderhof/Sycamores for who they truly are, wind up in jail, and along the way, learn a little bit about being real human beings.

There are several delightful scenes in the film as well, all beautifully filmed and connected such that the story is a coherent whole. I'm especially partial to practically any scene with James Stewart wooing Jean Arthur (those two, quite seriously, make the cutest couple imaginable)--I love it when he sort of proposes to her. "Scratch hard enough and you'll find a proposal." Or that lovely intimate scene in the park where he directs her to a seat like he would at the ballet, or when they start dancing with the neighbourhood children. The scene in the restaurant was also amusing, when Tony kept warning Alice that there was a scream on the way, building it up so perfectly that *she* wound up screaming before he did. It's hard to beat the scene in night court too, when Capra foreshadows pretty much the exact same scene and sentiment in the forthcoming IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, when all of Vanderhof's friends chip in to pay off his fine. It's sweet, it's real, and it's something you really do wish could still happen in this world. Even the littlest things like Grandpa Vanderhof's dinnertime prayers are enough to remind the viewer of what a world could be like if we kept our values simple, our wants satisfied, and ourselves happy.

Second of all, the acting is superlative. How could it *not* be, with a cast like this? Evidently I was completely charmed by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, who are both incredibly believable both as real people and movie stars, and who together make Tony and Alice an utterly credible, true-to-life couple. Edward Arnold was great as the stuffed shirt Anthony Kirby Sr too--his eventual 'thawing' was something that could easily have been played in too exaggerated a fashion, but both the actor and director, I suspect, are too good to have allowed that to happen. I also had great fun watching Ann Miller in her secondary role as Essie Sycamore, Alice's dancing sister. I sincerely hope that every person making this film had just as much fun as I did watching it, because the whole secondary cast was excellent, and I loved all the characters we were introduced to, particularly the entire Sycamore family with their attendant friends (the ex-iceman DePinna, or the toymaker Poppins) and even their servants Rheba and Donald, who were treated almost as much as part of the family as could be expected at that time. But my greatest praise would have to be reserved for Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof--a sweeter, lovelier old man you just couldn't imagine, and a complete change from his much-better-known Mr. Potter in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. He really does make Grandpa Vanderhof very much a real person, from his reminiscences about Grandma Vanderhof, to his messing around with the IRS agent, to his harmonica-playing and evident love of life and people.

I really could not say enough good things about this movie (which I prefer to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE). It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and quite frankly, it'll make you glad to be alive. Not many movies can do that. And it's most certainly true that you can't take your money with you... but what you *can* do is take this movie and its message to heart. 10/10, without a doubt.
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Dated but still charming.
dbborroughs12 August 2004
This is not the play. This is better.

The madcap adventures of a crazy family during the depression is a life affirming film that shows us that money isn't everything and that yes, you can't take it with you.

One of the joys of this film is the cast Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, Ann Miller, Dub Taylor, Edward Arnold, Eddie Rochester Anderson, Misha Auer and just about every great supporting actor and actress under the sun, all acting completely and wonderfully mad. They sell the story and make you smile from ear to ear.

I can't be rational where this film is concerned.

Just see it.

You'll feel good for days.

10 out of 10.
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Edward Arnold
Signet28 February 2004
Among all the enthusiastic reviews for this movie, it is hard to find a sufficiency of praise for the work of Edward Arnold. A familiar face on the screen in the thirties and forties, with his round face, solid body, and trademark pince-nez, Arnold surpasses himself in this film

Too often type-cast as a plutocrat, Arnold nevertheless demonstrates nuance and sensitivity as a man who, despite many flaws and faults, is redeemed by his love for his son. Arnold is seldom credited with the subtlety and poignancy of his characterizations, probably because he generally played greedy capitalists in a time when greedy capitalists were even more frightening than they are (and properly so) now, but this is an omission that should be corrected. His characterization in this comedy is a powerful performance, and grossly under-appreciated. He was one of the masters of American cinematic acting, with never a false note on his performances, and it is shameful that he is not so acknowledged.
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Hilarious and entertaining Capra classic
dave fitz22 May 2000
You Can't Take it With You is a very funny and entertaining film. Bringing Up Baby is probably the only film that has ever made me laugh as hard as this one. James Stewart and Jean Arthur are magical together, just as they were in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is yet another great film by Frank Capra and was rewarded with an Oscar for Best Picture in 1938.

Stewart comes from a rich and completely uptight family. Miss Arthur is the only relatively sane member of a very wild family. Lionel Barrymore is wonderful as the grandfather here. He is so warm and funny in this movie, it's hard to believe he's the same man who played the evil Mr. Potter in It's A Wonderful Life. Edward Arnold who was known for playing slimy villians, is great as Stewart's very wealthy and totally stuck-up father.
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A Familyof Free Spirits
bkoganbing8 August 2006
You Can't Take It With You won for Best Picture of 1938 and got Frank Capra his third Oscar for Best Director. Looking at it now it is firmly anchored in the decade that spawned it and the Oscar is a tribute to authors Kaufman and Hart and their popularity in that time. You Can't Take It With You came off a Broadway run of 838 performances for the 1936-1938 Broadway seasons.

It's a tale of two men and their families. Edward Arnold plays Anthony Kirby millionaire banker and industrialist who is obsessed with both making money and his social position, though the latter is more in deference to his snooty wife Mary Forbes. Their son James Stewart is preparing uneasily to step into his father's world. What really is Stewart's main interest is the romance he's got going with the only normal member of that other family, Jean Arthur.

Her grandfather is the second man with a family. A very extended family that all lives under one roof because that's how Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Vanderhof likes it. He's got a daughter who writes unpublished plays, a son-in-law who likes to experiment with fireworks, a granddaughter who aspires to be a ballerina, her husband who is a xylophone virtuoso and an iceman who was so taken with the house he just quit his job and stayed there. I can't really blame Halliwell Hobbes the iceman. If I was being supported by Jean Arthur's salary as a secretary and Lionel Barrymore's investments, I'd quit working myself.

In fact I can understand Barrymore's sentiments. I had an opportunity to retire early myself and took it and don't regret it. Of course I'm not supporting a whole extended family either. Let Sanuel S. Hinds, Spring Byington, Ann Miller, and Dub Taylor go out and earn a little and then become bohemians.

Both Arnold and Barrymore are extreme in their philosophy and the play and film are weighed heavily in Barrymore's balance. But looking at it objectively, Barrymore has a more realistic outlook for most people. There are a couple of dinner scenes at the Vanderhof house and it looks like quite a feed. Who's paying for it?

This was James Stewart's first and Jean Arthur's second film with Frank Capra. Next year they would do their second and last in the much acclaimed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

In doing the screen adaptation, Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin created a whole new character in Mr. Poppins played by Donald Meek. Poppins is an inoffensive little bureaucrat who would rather make little toys than add columns of figures all day. One meeting with Lionel Barrymore persuades Donald Meek to follow his dream. He blended so well into the Vanderhof household that Kaufman and Hart praised his creation.

Though You Can't Take It With You is dated it is still funny as all get out. And you haven't lived until you've heard Brahm's Hungarian Dance Number 5 done as a xylophone solo.
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Don't worry, be happy!
jotix10021 August 2005
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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Absolutely satisfying Capra!
Calysta23 January 2000
One message. "Nothing is worth doing if you can't enjoy it, and when it's over- you can't take it with you!"

Do any of Capra's works actually speak 'that' one particular message? Perhaps the closest to the above is "It Happened One Night". "Lost Horizon" is about rediscovery and peace of mind. "Mr Smith" is politically and small town oriented and "Mr Deeds" deals with the same except without some political yawn. George Bailey should have had a better dosage of the "You Can't Take it With You" policy in "It's a Wonderful Life".

Here is a play that exercises Frank Capra's famous adage with all humour already built in. Why shouldn't it work?

The stage version was a phenomenal success, written superbly by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. If their story is slightly lacking, look no further than the delightful cast of characters. Mr Poppins, toy and mask maker. Alice's Father who meddles with fireworks. Essie the ballerina, Penny the playwright and the wonderful Russian ballet teacher. The uptight Kirby banking corporation. Then there's the "Mr Smith" duo, Tony (Jimmy Stewart) and Alice (Jean Arthur).

The stand out performer here, is naturally the lovable Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Vanderfhoff. Although the first film in which the damaging effects of his arthritis began to show, Capra had his leg put in a cast and had him move around on crutches. He relishes his performance.

I have heard of complaints which discuss the fact this film fails to address corruption and greed in a similar manner to "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" which successfully played its part going against the American capital. Once again, Capra emphasises his favourite theme of the little guy up against the world and succeeds, but "You Can't Take it With You" basically does not even make a mild attempt to criticise the American system of government, past or present, even though I know very little about it.

On different levels, look at this film in the light of discussing heavier issues, as the aforementioned greed and corruption. I just don't think Mr Capra would have liked it as much for one of his works to be remembered like that, especially with the basic message staring at us right in the face.

Nevertheless, it is another of Capra's life saving feel good movies. All it is encouraging us to do is to have a little fun.

Rating: 8/10
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Three Cheers To The Vanderhof Family,Three Cheers To Lionel Barrymore.
vivian_baum_cabral3 July 2003
My favorite american director is Frank Capra."It Happened One Night" is his first great film."Mr.Deeds Goes To Town","Mr.Smith Goes To Washington" and "Meet John Doe" are perfect examples of how to make a great film about simple,ordinary man."It's A Wonderful Life" is everybody's favorite holiday film.But "You Can't Take It With You" is Capra's masterpiece.The story is perfect,The direction is brilliant and it's impossible you don't get tears in your eyes with the sweetness and shear simplicity of Martin Vanderhof.That leads us to the best thing in this classic:Lionel Barrymore,one of the greatests actors in film history.All you have to do is see this film and "It's a Wonderful Life" and see for yourselfs.Mr.Potter is cruel,heartless,despicable and absolute fascinating(I still can't believe it ranked only 6 in the AFI list,because for me he's the greatest villain in film history)All Mr.Potter lack,Martin Vanderhof has to share.He is absolutely adorable,he has a lot of friends.(The scene in the court room is magnificent)he is sweet,and equally fascinating.(Not to mention that Lionel is really gorgeous in this film)One must remember the shining presence of Jean Arthur,and equally portrayal of good and young Jimmy Stewart.Not to forget Edward Arnold and his greedy Anthony P. Kirby,who tries at all costs to buy Grandpa's house.But Lionel teaches him in a marvelous harmonica duet,how to enjoy life.The Plot is simply and delightul.Jean is Lionel's granddaughter,and she loves Jimmy Stewart,who is the son of the blood sucking banker Arnold.Jean decided that the two family's shall met,But Stewart's family will have a shock when they meet the wonderful and very eccentric Vanderhof family with Lionel,the grandfather anyone would love to have,Spring Byington as the writing mother(Only because someone forgot a typing writer in her house)Ann Miller as the adorable dancing sister,Essie,and a very funny Mischa Auer as the russian dancing teacher,who always arrives just in time for dinner.Pay also attencion in a small but memorable perfomance of the forgotten silent actor H.B.Warner as the broken Mr.Ramsey.I believe I already say to much,but not all this site will be enough to say what this masterpiece and Martin Vanderhof means to me

My Rate:1000 Out Of 10
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"Maybe it'll stop you trying to be so desperate about making more money than you can ever use? You can't take it with you, Mr. Kirby."
elvircorhodzic3 May 2016
YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU The film is a romantic comedy that at times treated very serious topic. The rich snobs against wacky, eccentric but, it seems to me very nice people. Conflict of family, property and way of thinking. Meeting of two different social categories shaken "most beautiful" thing in the world - love. My impression is that most Capra's protagonist finds happiness in small things. Of course, there must be a difference between a good and successful man. These little things may act strange, but certainly not negligible. Source of happiness and satisfaction is at hand, only it needs to be open.

Martin "Grandpa" Vanderhof's (Lionel Barrymore) house is the film's utopian space. All are happy and satisfied, somewhat eccentric and definitely crazy. Of course, everyone is doing only what they want. Penny Sycamore (Spring Byington), Vanderhof's daughter, writes plays because a typewriter was accidentally sent to the house eight years ago. Her daughter, Essie Carmichael (Ann Miller), practices dance even though she exhibits no talent for it. Ed Carmichael (Dub Taylor), Essie's husband, plays xylophone in order to accompany her dancing. The house in which all are welcome. The basement is the right valley of creativity.

Important segments of the story are the government and capital. One individual resists both. Grandpa Martin Vanderhof is incredibly calm and positive character and he "protest" in a specific way. You Can't Take It With You also subtly links class with gender. Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur), of the lower middle-class, is engaged to Tony Kirby (James Stewart), son of millionaire. This proportion is slightly idealized. How important vision is? The vision is temporary? At different moments of most of the characters accept the truth in this or that way. For this reason I do not like the idyllic ending of the film. I convinced myself that this is a romantic comedy.

Capra has again been very careful with cinematography, framing and dialogue. Acting is at a high level. Of course Lionel Barrymore is masterly. The film is a good way out of the dark for two hours. It's very funny.
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"Sometimes you're so beautiful it just gags me."
utgard1429 April 2015
A stenographer (Jean Arthur) from a family of free spirits and a bank vice-president (James Stewart) from a wealthy family fall in love. But the different lifestyles of the two families comes between the couple after a crazy night where everything that can go wrong does.

A sheer delight from one of the legendary directors of yesteryear. This is the first of three collaborations between Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. I doubt I have to tell anybody what the other two were since they're well-known classics. Well this one deserves wider praise because it's simply magical. The four leads are all perfect. Stewart and Arthur have amazing chemistry that they would repeat the following year in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But perhaps the real stars of the show are Edward Arnold and Lionel Barrymore as the respective patriarchs of the two families. Two immensely talented actors that never gave a bad performance (that I've seen). You always get your money and time's worth with these two. As with Stewart and Arthur, both of these gentlemen would return for future Capra classics. Aside from the four stars, we have great support from Donald Meek, Spring Byington, Samuel S. Hinds, Mischa Auer, a 15 year-old Ann Miller, Halliwell Hobbes, and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson. Dub Taylor also makes his film debut here. What a cast!

It's one of those films, like Sullivan's Travels or Lady for a Day, that just gets better and better each time I see it. The first time I saw it was probably close to twenty years ago. I liked it then but I love it now. This movie leaves a huge smile on my face and I think, unless you're an extreme cynical type, it will do the same for you. It's a warm, uplifting comedy with romance, drama, and lots of little bits for people who like "windows into the past." Just a real treat for anyone who loves getting lost in classic films.
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Forgotten gem, although creaky by today's standards
ctomvelu17 December 2011
Unjustly forgotten screwball comedy about class differences, marred only by a sappy, antiquated message that money won't buy happiness. Having no money and playing the harmonica apparently will. But then again, this was made for Depression-era audiences, so the notion of money as the root of all evil and being happy derived without benefit of money must have been a sure crowd pleaser in its time. Very populist, right down to repeated crowd shots of everyday folks in a courtroom scene. Jean Arthur lives with an eccentric, extended family that does not worry about money (although its is made plain early on that family patriarch Lionel Barrymore earned quite a bit of moolah in his time, so no one in this crazy family need worry about where their next meal is coming from or whether they will have a roof over their heads. Heck, they even have a pair of black servants! Arthur falls in love with her boss at the bank, played by rising start Jimmy Stewart. Stewart's stuffy old dad, bank president Edward Arnold, is all about money and status, nothing else. A plot element has Arnold trying to buy Barrymore's house for some nefarious project. Arthur insists on Stewart's family meeting her family before they tie the knot. You can imagine what transpires when they finally gather (collide might be a better word) for dinner at the Barrymore household. We get a little bit of "A Christmas Carol" thrown in when an old tycoon and crony of Arnold's, now destitute, confronts Arnold about his greedy and sinful ways. For this scene, the camera is stationed behind and to the left of the old tycoon, with Arnold standing several feet away intently and silently listening to him. We never get thee expected reverse shot as the tycoon delivers his sermon. Only after he finishes his speech and turns to leave, do we see him plainly. In this way, the fellow seem almost spectral and unreal, like Marley's ghost, and this makes his speech all the more powerful. Or maybe it's just me. A stellar supporting cast includes Donald Meek, Spring Byington, Mischa Auer, Eddie Anderson, Harry Davenport and several others. By today's standards, the film is much too preachy and dated. But it is still lots of fun. Wait until you see the wildly improbable jail sequence about halfway through.
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Being Poor is Better.
Robert J. Maxwell3 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I've watched this a couple of times, always hoping this time would be an improvement over the last. It hasn't worked. I hate saying that. Not just because there is so much talent invested in what appears to me to be a relative failure -- play by Kaufman and Hart, screenplay by Morrie Riskind, directed by Frank Capra, a cast including Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, and a host of other accomplished performers -- but because my not being able to enjoy it as much as I properly should deprives me of smiles and laughter that there are times I desperately need.

Basically, Jimmy Stewart is the scion of a -- well, a not merely "rich" family, but an immensely wealthy family able to spend a quarter of a million 1939 dollars a year on lawyers alone. They're humorless, driven, and arid. All except Jimmy, who falls in love with his peppy blond secretary, Jean Arthur.

She's normal, but her family and their friends are outlandish. A visit to their household is like a child's fantasy of a mad house. There is the cheerful, tolerant patriarch, Lionel Barrymore, who hasn't paid income taxes in 20 years because he doesn't want to own any battleships. There is his daughter, Ann Miller, imitating a clumsy would-be ballerina who, under the tutelage of her lunatic Russian instructor, dances wildly to Hungarian dances played prestissimo on a wooden xylophone by her sulky husband. One old man poses as a discus thrower for a lousy painter. Another builds fireworks in the basement, which we know are bound to explode sooner or later.

It all sounds hilarious, and it must have been a considerable success on the stage. I understand there were a number of changes in the adaptation designed to introduce "serious" ideas into the story.

Yet, it comes across as thoroughly schematic. The peasants are lively, spiritual, loved by their neighbors, generous, proud of their independence. Their goal is to "have fun." The rich are materialistic and emotionally bankrupt. Until the predictable end, when they are converted to the First Church of Epicurus and its pursuit of ataraxia.

If you haven't seen it before, you might not want these comments to discourage you. Evidently a lot of people have gotten more out of it than I have. Maybe I've mistaken profundity for silliness.
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Bohemians will love it...others beware...
Neil Doyle13 January 2006
Let's face it--time has not been kind to this one.

YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU is played so broadly and written with such simplistic and obvious platitudes coming from the mouths of its cast, that I can't possibly see why the Academy voted it Best Picture of 1938. After all, everyone knows money isn't everything.

Today, whatever charm it may have had has dimmed very much over the years and it appears more dated and foolish than ever. The household of eccentric bohemians are supposed to be wildly funny, but instead they become more than mildly annoying, especially when they have anything to say--which, unfortunately, is quite often. As is often the case when a film is based on a stage play, there is too much fast paced dialog going on at almost any given moment.

Not even stars like JEAN ARTHUR and JAMES STEWART can overcome this sort of Capra-corn which is so thick you could cut it with a pocketknife.

You have to be in a mood to watch this, willing to suspend all belief in reality and succumb to the notion that doing nothing for a living is better than having an honest job or worrying about the rent. So simplistic are the messages trying to get through that it becomes clear we are just supposed to sit back and watch the shenanigans of a bunch of eccentrics play out to a silly and predictable conclusion.

In a year that included such standouts as THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, considered a classic piece of cinema entertainment in gorgeous three-strip technicolor, it's sad to learn that Capra's stagey comedy, hammed up by a large cast that plays the comedy for sledgehammer delivery, was the winner in 1938. Furthermore, most of the unrestored prints available today are not easy to view, with a muffled soundtrack and dark prints.

Whatever social significance the Academy found in this one is buried under tons of broad characterizations and contrived situations.
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Love the whole idea.
pegdennis122 January 2006
I have done the role of Grandpa twice in local theater(a 3rd time hopefully this summer) and have fallen in love with the play, the movie, and the whole "philosophy" expounded by Martin Vanderhoff. Despite the differences between the film and stage versions(number of roles, locations of 'new' scenes, etc.), it never does one harm to try and see both whenever one has the chance. Better yet, if some local group is producing the play, you should jump at the chance to become a part of this great American work.

Contrary to many peoples belief that it goes against the ethic of hard work, this film,(and play),encourages a person to seek out and find what they do well and do it to the best of their ability. As life WILL sometimes imitate art, I've gotten into some good "discussions" with folks about Grandpas way of thinking.

By all means, purchase this film, see the play, and learn from it.
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I Don't Want To Take It With Me...
Rich Wright18 November 2012
ts easy to be cynical and sneering at this film... so I will be. The supposedly happy, carefree family in this film consists of old men who make fireworks in their cellar, a woman who dances everywhere instead of walking and a patriarch who never gets cross and doesn't stop dishing out fortune cookie advice. They also carry musical instruments and break out into song whenever the mood takes them, even in a prison. Capra wants us to think that these nutcases, because they do whatever they please and spend so much time together rather than accumulate money, are living a perfect life. If such a bohemian philosophy leaves you dirt poor and acting like a bunch of escaped mental patients, then get me a job as a 9-to-5 bank clerk pronto.

If you disagree with the central premise, then you really have no room to maneuver. I suffered through scene after scene of sappy speeches and events pertaining to the views of Mr Capra, each one more tiresome than the last. Rich = Unhappy and no idea of community. Poor = Salt of the earth and always there for each other. What a crock. Capra's other films may have extolled the same virtues, but at least they didn't ram them down our throats. And they had the added advantage of having non-annoying characters and well thought out plots. Watching this is was for me akin to listening to a lecture by a BNP representative... I don't agree with your opinions, and that's all you have to offer. So... I quit. 4/10
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Dated and contrived
lord_cadbury2 March 2012
I love Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", so it pains me to admit that this film is a flop. It has high ideals, but is ultimately contrived and simplistic at the same time. The movie hinges on the notion that having money is less important than having friends (ala Wonderful Life), but gets a little to black and white with the characterizations - deep down, the wealthy folks are miserable people, and the poor and middle class are noble citizens. Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur have great chemistry, and there are some nice moments between them, but it all sort of gets lost in this heavy-handed morality play.
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So Dated, It Can Be Painful To Watch
ccthemovieman-119 June 2007
Here's another film that just doesn't date well but, hey, it's almost 70 years old. I have found most of the comedies (the Marx Brothers are an exception) of that time period aren't very funny these days. Humor has changed a lot.

There is a crazy family in this film and these crackpots are pretty humorous the first time you see them, in their first scene, but not the subsequent ones. They only get more and more annoying as you hear them.

The romance between Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur is sappy and bogs down the film. How they advertise that Arthur is the beautiful lead female romantic in here amazes me. She was talented actress but "beautiful" or "glamorous?" Hardly, plus she had an awful voice. She does better as a comedienne or straight dramatic actress than playing the "beautiful romantic" as one known national critic labeled her. Maybe it is just this film because normally I like Arthur, but she's awful in here.

When you add Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Micha Auer and Spring Byington and have the famous Frank Capra directing, you would think this is going to be topnotch, but the movie is anything but impressive or entertaining, especially now in this day-and-age. In fact, many parts of this story have such an absence of credibility to them that you'll cringe watching. With the big awards it won, I expected a better movie.
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Jimmy, how could you?
annmason127 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I love old movies. I love Frank Capra. I love Jimmy Stewart. I do not love "You Can't Take It With You." Like other would-be-likers, I kept hanging in there, fighting sleep; waiting to laugh, to cry, to stay awake. I groaned and grabbed the remote when Gramps talked whatever his name was to join along and play the harmonica. Good God! And there was that twit dancing dancing dancing...and the wrestling Russian and the black couple dancin' and every other hokey junk Capra could throw in! I couldn't even hear Jean Arthur, she talked so low and ducked her face behind her hair so often I can only conclude she was hoping to avoid any association with this stinker.

To say this movie insults one's intelligence is a compliment. It attempts to tug at your heartstrings so much that it chokes you with them.

Do yourself a favor, replay "It's a Wonderful Life" instead.
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Not for all tastes
ichimaru23 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen a lot of praise for this movie and assumed it would be good; after all, I love James Stewart, I love romantic comedies, everyone else seems to love it, so how can it possibly go wrong? It can. It did. I had to force myself to sit through the entire movie, hoping it would get better. The message of the story is something akin to the more commonly known "A Christmas Carol". Unfortunately, where "A Christmas Carol" was an easily enjoyable read with a moral to it, this movie was a moral forced into the form of a romantic comedy. What it lacked in subtlety must have been made up for in something, but I can't exactly imagine it was the comedy or the romance.

Where I should have loathed Kirby parents, I found myself feeling pity for the most part. The story at parts was so blatantly one-sided... even though Alice Sycamore's entire family enjoyed themselves and did only what they wanted (to a such a degree that was even illegal), there was no real consequence and no real lesson on their part learned. They may have been, in part, in the wrong, but they're still not in the wrong. This makes no sense, but whatever. It's not meant to make sense, it's comedy - so goes the excuse. The house should have burnt down when the fireworks in the basement went off, there should have been a more extreme fine and the revolutionary pamphlets were completely forgotten about after the single mention.

Kirby Sr. eventually does make a bit of a change because of the ordeal he goes through (and in my opinion it was an ordeal. For me if not for him!), but there is no real change to Alice's family (whom I spent most of the movie wishing would end up in jail if not for their illegal activities, then for their unwarranted obnoxiousness). It was good to see the older Kirbys end up in jail, but the whole manner of it and the way things went made me feel very sorry for Mr. Kirby even as the moral of the story was repeatedly being thrown about by the dialog. Okay, we get it... rich, selfish, stuck up banker will die friendless and alone if he doesn't change - got it, can we move on yet? Apparently not.

The comedic parts were more obnoxious than humorous, or was of such a humor I couldn't enjoy it even for the romantic parts, which I actually felt were decent.

Overall, the sense of humor wasn't great, the "villains" weren't anything to be awed about (honestly, even in comedy I don't want to be caught dead feeling sorry for a villain), and there was a lack of reality that even comedy can't cure. As a comedy, it might fly for a lot of people, but to me it's a near total failure.

Recommended for: people who can ignore reality and absolutely hate rich bankers so much they willingly side with eccentric old men who refuse point-blank to pay taxes. If you can get past those things, which I could not and shouldn't be forced to, then go ahead, by all means... maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did. Maybe.

Rating: 3 out of 10 because that's about as much enjoyment as I got out of it (though that's me being generous, I'm afraid, it was more like a 2 out of 10, but the popcorn was good...).
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Everybody Is Afraid to Live
Claudio Carvalho12 June 2007
The stenographer Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) is in love with her boss Tony Kirby (James Stewart), who is the vice-president of the powerful company owned by his greedy father Anthony P. Kirby (Edward Arnold). 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 (Lionel Barrymore). 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.

The humanist Frank Capra certainly was a shine man. His movies, at least those I have seen again and again, are very beautiful, with wonderful messages of love and harmony and many nominations and awards. I have just watched "You Can Take It With You" for the second and third time, sixty-nine years after its release, and again I loved his direction, the story, the performances, the cinematography and mostly, the awesome message in the end. Lionel Barrymore and Edward Arnold have a magnificent duel of philosophies of life, and Jean Arthur and James Stewart a perfect chemistry in this lovely romantic comedy. The crazy Sycamore family is responsible for the funniest moments, in a house that looks like an insane asylum. Men like Frank Capra give hope and make our world better, and I believe right in this moment Frank Capra is in Heaven listening to "Polly Wolly Doodle" and dancing the "Big Apple". My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Do Mundo, Nada Se Leva" ("From the World, Nothing is Taken")
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Just never takes off
bluemax-42 October 2003
This is one of my favorite plays when well done. This movie is not. It is flat all the way through. These are good actors, but it seems like a readthrough where each one waits for the other to read his line then reads this one back with no true interaction. The zaniness and quirkiness never comes to life. Painfull for me to admit about this cast--many of my favorites, including the director--but I have seen better performances of this work in community theater.
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contrived, forced, unsatisfying
Robert D. Ruplenas18 January 2000
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", though replete with exaggeratedly patriotic idealism and sharing the white hat/black hat dualism of contemporary westerns, worked perfectly well because at its core it painted a true picture of government's susceptibility to corruption, a picture that rings even truer today than when the picture was made. It also boasted a script that had some real dramatic tension, beautifully carried out by Jimmy Stewart.

However, this effort, released just a year earlier, tries to hang the same ideals - faceless, heartless, and greedy corporate (as opposed to governmental in "Mr. Smith") anonymity versus the charming goodness of "little folks" - on much shakier plot devices. The quirkiness of the Vanderhof/Sycamore household is totally contrived, and the aristocratic snottiness of the Kirbys is drawn with an absurdly broad brush. Jimmy Stewart, who carried "Mr. Smith", has much less to do here and does it much less effectively. The whole thing just doesn't ring true enough to give us any sense of sympathy at the final resolution.

As an aside, note how the Judge, wonderfully played by Harry Davenport, foreshadows the role of the Senate President in "Mr. Smith", even to the odd way he rests his head against his right hand as he surveys the chaotic chamber before him with resigned bemusement. Too similar to be done other than intentionally.
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