The son of a rich tycoon falls in love with a daughter from
a poor but loving family that is more than a little eccentric.
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
Directed by Frank Capra
Written by Robert Riskin
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Edward Arnold, Spring Byington, Ann Miller, Mischa Auer, Dub Taylor, Samuel S. Hinds, Donald Meek, Mary Forbes, Lillian Yarbo
Based on the stage play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Director
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actress (Spring Byington), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography,
Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing
I'd like to start off this review by saying that it is so strange to see Lionel Barrymore play such a heroic character, since all I'd seen him in prior was 1946's It's a Wonderful Life. In the same vein, James Stewart plays a man from a snobby, miserly family. It's like Bizarro World, but I digress. You Can't Take It with You is a delightful comedy full of rich, eccentric characters and an engaging story. I can understand it nabbing Best Picture, although it certainly had some stiff competition (Boys Town, Robin Hood, etc.). Its humor still holds up, and that's owed mostly I think to the flawless direction of the legendary Frank Capra.
Meet Martin Vanderhof (Barrymore), an elderly gentleman known throughout his community as a generous, kind man. His family is made up mostly of eccentrics who all abandoned their normal lives in the pursuit of happiness and love. His granddaughter, Alice (Arthur), falls in love with her boss, Tony Kirby (Stewart), son of the rich and powerful tycoon A.P. Kirby (Arnold). Alice wants Tony's parents' blessing, but they come from a different world and see Vanderhof's family as poor, ridiculous rabble. But in the end, who is truly happy? The man with a million dollars, or the man with a million friends? That's the question this film asks, and though it's one Capra would ask a lot, the film is still a joy to watch.
You Can't Take It with You sports a fantastic cast, some hilarious moments, and an ending that will bring tears of joy to your eyes. Visiting these old films is so much fun, because I never know what I'm in for. Cinema has been inspiring people for nearly a century now, and there are thousands of untapped wells out there full of new films to discover for the first time. This was one of those, and I am very glad to have seen it.