You Can’t Take It With You

I first watched this 1938 movie in the 90s and I still watch it from time to time. Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur had great chemistry on screen. The following year they would be in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”…another great movie. Capra wanted Jean Arthur in It’s a Wonderful Life but she was committed to a Broadway show.

This movie is about a rich man named Tony Kirby (Jimmy Stewart) who is working reluctantly for his ruthless banker dad. He falls in love with his stenographer Alice (Jean Arthur). The father doesn’t really care but his mother is outraged that he would love someone beneath him. This part of the story you have seen before but it’s when the great Lionel Barrymore who plays Alice’s grandfather Martin Vanderhof enters… the movie gets going.

Martin and his family do exactly what they want, his daughter Penny received a typewriter in the mail by mistake and thinks she is a novelist, Alice’s sister dances every time music is played and a basement full of unemployed older gentlemen who like to invent things…especially firecrackers… It’s a crazy household but they live life and are not bothered by a thing.

This is the opposite of the Kirby family who is uptight, overwhelmed, and disgusted by this family…except Tony of course.

The movie is full of off-the-wall humor and Alice’s family is great. Anyone that comes to the house wants to stay…and sometimes does. The grandfather goes out and finds one person (Mr. Poppins) who invents things but works at a terrible job and Martin invites him to live at the house with his family to be…”a lily of the field” and quit his dreadful job.

Here are some quotes from the meeting

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: How would you like to come over to our house and work on your gadgets?

Poppins: Your house? Well I don’t know, thank you.

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Oh go on, you’ll love it. Everybody at over at our place does just what he wants to do.

Poppins: Really?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Mmm-hmmmm.

Poppins: That must be wonderful. But how would I live?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: The same way we do.

Poppins: The same way? Well, who takes care of you?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: The same One that takes care of the lilies of the field, Mr. Poppins, except that we toil a little, spin a little, have a barrel of fun. If you want to, come on over and become a lily too.

This is a screwball comedy and a good one. Lionel Barrymore is magnificent in this. Just a few years later he would play mean Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.

This movie was directed by Frank Capra. Some critics in his day called him “Capra-corn” because of the optimism he showed for the everyday man. I think he was a great director. This is one of his best movies.

It’s a very good movie…any movie with Jimmy Stewart can’t be bad. The comedy holds up today. After the movie, you will want to be a lily of the field.

This movie is based off a play written by the great George Kauffman and Moss Hart.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “You Can’t Take It With You”

  1. That does look like a lovely movie. Coincidentally, I included “As Time Goes By” in my just-posted “Sunday Six”. If there is one old movie I’ve watched repeatedly since I first saw it in Germany many moons ago, it would be “Casablanca.” There’s just something about certain old pictures, which truly makes them timeless gems – the black and white cinematography, a strong focus on plots (rather than special effects) and the class of certain actors like Stewart or Bogart for that matter! I know it sounds a bit cliche, they just don’t make ’em like that any longer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No they don’t make them like them anymore. I like Casablanca…I need to see it again…it’s been a few years ago. I just watched The Birds by Hitchcock last week. I love classic movies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “The Birds” is fantastic as well. The filming of the bird scenes is just unbelievable. That picture, which I’ve seen various times as well (though not as often as “Casablanca”), is one of my all-time favorite classic movies as well!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hitchcock used a lot of space in his films to build tension…new movies…well some don’t take the time to character build as much as older ones it seems.
        Casablanca is so classic….


  2. Sounds decent – it would be hard to watch it though I bet now without looking and seeing it as George and Potter! We watched ‘the Shop Around the Corner’ not long back… it was alright though I do think Nora Ephron really improved the story when she remade it as ‘You’ve Got Mail’. But Stewart was a great actor and pretty versatile.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She was in quite a few movies back then and then vanished for a while. She was in Mr Smith Goes to Washington with Stewart and Capra wanted her in It’s A Wonderful Life…Stewart and her went well together.


  3. I remember the play; I saw a production of it on TV with Jason Robards as Martin Vanderhoff. They tried to turn it into a weekly sitcom with Harry Morgan as Grandpa, but it didn’t go over that well. I always loved the way Grandpa would say grace before meals, starting out with “Well, sir, here we are again” and ending with “We’ve all got our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we leave that up to you. Thank you.” I always saw that as one of the most sincere prayers to the Creator ever.

    Ann Miller, by the way, was one of the hottest and flashiest dancers I ever saw.


  4. This made me think about The Twilight Zone. Unbelievably, I saw an episode I had never seen a few nights ago. Called “Come Wander With Me”. What happened to the Twighlight Zone blogs you were doing? You were doing a good job with that. I was enjoying them.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: