Favorite things about… You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

(Image via Oscar Winning Films)

(Image via Oscar Winning Films)

The favorite film:
You Can’t Take It With You, a 1938 romantic comedy directed by Frank Capra

The synopsis:
When Alice and Tony fall in love and decide to marry, in-law introductions bring trouble, as the eccentric Sycamores clash with the wealthy and refined Kirbys.

The cast:

  • Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore
  • Jimmy Stewart as Tony Kirby
  • Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof
  • Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore
  • Ann Miller as Essie
  • Edward Arnold as Mr. Kirby
  • Mary Forbes as Mrs. Kirby
  • Donald Meek as Poppins
  • (and many more!)

Fun facts:

  • This was the first of three films directed by Frank Capra to star Jimmy Stewart. The follow-ups: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life, also enduring classics!
  • Frank Capra won an Academy Award for this film — his third Best Director trophy. TCM also notes that this was the sixth straight Capra film to be a big hit at the box office.
  • In addition to Capra’s win as director, the film also took home the Oscar for Best Picture, and was nominated for five more!
  • The play on which the film is based ran for 838 performances on Broadway in its original two-year run. The play was actually still running when the film was released! And it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, so the film clearly wasn’t the only critically and commercially successful telling of this tale.
  • Capra was a big fan of Jean Arthur as an actress, having previously worked with her on Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. She was his first choice for the role of Alice.
  • Ann Miller was just fifteen years old when she appeared in this film.
(Image via Oscar Winning Films)

(Image via Oscar Winning Films)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • “Why, a war wouldn’t be possible anywhere without us!”
  • “Now, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten the slingshot market!”
  • “I make up things.”
    “Poetry?”
    “No, just… things.”
  • Ann Miller!
  • I just adore the quirky Sycamores.
  • Cute kitten bonus!
  • “A young gentleman is calling for me.”
    “Oh, is that all, Alice?”
  • “You can’t even talk about him, can you?”
    “Not rationally.”
  • Grandpa’s sweet story about Grandma, and why he can’t bring himself to move out of the house they shared. Waterworks!
  • The opportunistic dance teacher conveniently showing up just in time for dinner
  • Jimmy and Jean are SO. CUTE.
  • “That’s against the law, you know.”
    “So’s neckin’!”
  • Alice screaming in a crowded restaurant… and Tony making up a story about rats to cover for her!
  • “Oooh, it’s my painting of you as a discus thrower! Look, grandpa!”
  • “I’m in time for dinner, no?” (Again!)
  • The prototype of awkward in-law meetings! Complete with Alice sliding down the staircase rail for her grand entrance. “WEEEEEE! Without holding!”
  • The enormous lighter Essie brings out for Mr. Kirby’s cigar (and the look on Mrs. Kirby’s face when she sees it)
  • “Oh, J-men!”
    “G-men, Penny.”
  • The jailhouse song and dance party
  • “Oh, why don’t you go out and get yourself a pulpit somewhere?”
  • Harry Davenport as the judge!
  • “Quite an array of talent for a misdemeanor.”
  • Alice standing up for her family
  • Newspaper montage!
  • Alice’s letter: “Mrs. Kirby was right. I should have stayed in my own backyard.” HEARTBREAKING.
  • “Of course I sold the house! I got tired of it, that’s all.”
  • Tony and Alice arguing. “Scream your head off and see what it gets you now!”
  • Such a sweet ending! So many hugs, so much joy.

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