Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chris' #95: You Can't Take It With You (Frank Capra, 1938)

Starring: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, Edward Arnold
Director: Frank Capra
Writer: Robert Riskin (based on the play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart)
Release Date: August 23, 1938

Quick Synopsis: A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

First Time
June, 2012. Another Netflix DVD rental.

Why it's on the List
I remember liking this one more the first time I saw it. It's still a solid, enjoyable movie but I had it higher on my list during the early stages of this project. The theme speaks to me. Rich people and bankers used to be the antagonists in movies; I miss those days. But the film isn't anti-rich or anti-capitalism and makes its points without being too preachy.

The film isn't quite a screwball comedy, but it does have some ridiculous moments (which is a compliment). My favorite scene is when the Kirby family shows up to the Sycamore house. What can I say, I enjoy it when rich snobs are taken out of their comfort zones.

I like that Jimmy Stewart's character isn't completely innocent in this. Stewart is his usual charming self, but his character doesn't always do the right thing. It's also nice to see Lionel Barrymore play a good guy, considering how nefarious his face looks. Seeing him as anyone other than the evil Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life is difficult.

Jean Arthur is the top billed actor in this one, which is nice to see. I have to highlight Arthur here because she has to be one of the most underrated actresses of all time, right? I mean, just look at this list: No room for Arthur?! Come on, AFI. Arthur could do it all - she was smart, tough, vulnerable, confident, and always seemed to breathe more life into the characters she played. She had a real calming presence and I always enjoy her performances.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is one of two Capra movies on my list.
  • This is one of five Jimmy Stewart movies on my list.
  • Despite my glowing review of Jean Arthur, this is the last time I'll get to talk about her. She's also great in Only Angels Have Wings, The More the Merrier, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but they didn't make the cut. I've never seen Shane but want to. Fun fact: Jean Arthur and I were both born on October 17th.


  1. Huge fan of this, even if it didn't make my list. And for all the reasons you stated. This gets unjust hate from some critics who consider it a glorification of libertarianism (bleh), but I don't buy it.

  2. Also not buying it. Lionel Barrymore gives the IRS agent some shit, but he also admits that he doesn't mind paying taxes if that money is put to good use. The IRS agent does give an awful defense of income tax, which always bugs me...but whatevs.