Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Can't Take It With You

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Kaufman and Hart, You Can’t Take It With You is a comedy with a message (some viewers prefer it to Capra’s more famous It’s a Wonderful Life). Though the family, presided over by Grandpa Vanderhof (Barrymore), sits down to dinner twice in the movie, the more memorable meal is the one that isn’t served, because Tony (Stewart) deliberately brings his parents to meet Alice (Arthur) and her family one day early. The household goes hysterical to put together a decent repast, but it is certainly an “eclectic” menu: beer, frankfurters with mustard, canned salmon, canned corn, sauerkraut, pickled pigs’ feet, scrambled eggs, and plain salad. Most fortunately for the guests, intrusion by the “police” and a cacophony of fireworks prevent the meal from ever taking place.

(A scene of enthusiastic pandemonium in the living room: Essie and Boris are dancing; Ed is playing the xylophone; Penny is painting; Grandpa is throwing darts.)
Mrs. Kirby: Are we too early?
Donald: I’ll say. (whistles)
Grandpa: It’s perfectly all right.
Penny: Why, of course. Only we thought it was to be tomorrow night.
Mr. and Mrs. Kirby: Tomorrow night?
Tony: That’s very funny.
Mrs. Kirby: Really, Tony, this is most embarrassing.
Grandpa: No, we weren’t doing a thing.
Penny: Why no, just having a quiet evening at home.
Grandpa: Yes, but don’t let that bother you. Please, come in. Come in, won’t you?

Released 1938
Directed by Frank Capra
Play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Starring Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, James Stewart as Tony Kirby, Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore, Edward Arnold as Anthony P. Kirby, Ann Miller as Essie Carmichael, Mischa Auer as Boris Kolenkhov, Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore, Samuel S. Hinds as Paul Sycamore, Donald Meek as Poppins, Dub Taylor as Ed Carmichael, Mary Forbes as Mrs. Anthony P. Kirby, Lillian Yarbo as Rheba, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Donald, and Halliwell Hobbes as Mr. DePinna

Awards: 1939 Academy Awards for Best Director (Capra) and Best Picture

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