Tuesday, January 13, 2015


JANUARY "You Can't Take It with You"

There is a reoccurring theme in every Frank Capra movie that I have watched so far. It has been described as the Capra Touch and his messages are as relevant today as they were when the movies first came out. This only adds to his directorial genius, he was definitely a visionary, and a man before his time. He takes these deep seeded moral debates and creates something magical. The characters are well developed and the plots carry you through a process, so by the time the movie is over you have been a witness to something extraordinary. As a writer I have a love for words and wording, following the progression of the plots, the character lines, and the debates within them is a complete logophile seduction. If you don't know what I mean, then you are missing out!

"You Can't Take It with You"  (1938) headlines Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, and Edward Arnold. All of whom have appeared in other Capra productions such as It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). While this marks Stewart's and Capra's first collaboration, Barrymore plays Arthur's grandfather who was only 22 years older than her, and also Barrymore suffered severe arthritis which was written into the script to accommodate his needs (IMDb Trivia). You Can't Take It with You is the "first of only two Best Picture Academy Award winners to have been adapted for the screen from plays which won the Pulitzer Prize" (IMDb Trivia).

Barrymore, Steward, Arthur, and Arnold
Encompassed around a charming love story is the complication of society standards, expectations, and plenty of eccentric charm. Lionel Barrymore portrays Martin Vanderhof who owns a home within a district that Edward Arnold's character, Anthony P. Kirby, wants for his financial gain. They are two very different men; Vanderhof (known as "Grandfather") is a man that cultivates the unique characteristics of everyone he knows; while Kirby (Mr. High-Class) is a top banker "building his castle" not caring about a person or their individualism. Even though the Kirby's are every bit the snobs of high-class society, they are ignorant to the fact that their own son, Tony Kirby (James Stewart), is as eccentric and unique as anyone else they look down their noses at in the Vanderhof home.

Complications arise when Mrs. Kirby doesn't approve of her son (Stewart) and Alice Sycamore (Arthur) engagement. Since Miss Sycamore comes from a lower-class family, Mrs. Kirby is dead-set against their romance. What I loved was Stewart's portrayal of a love-sick man proposing to the woman who takes his breath away; it's very endearing. Barrymore also portrays a man who's love crosses time and death, as he talks about his love for his deceased wife. It's a primal beating drum calling to the need within every human to find that one proverbial love. One of my favorite scenes includes when Tony (Stewart) takes Alice (Arthur) out to dinner. When Tony and Alice are talking in the park, Tony discussed Solar Power Energy, which is another example of how the movies are ahead of their times.

Another great scene is when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) arrives at the Vanderhof home and the debate Grandfather (Barrymore) has with the IRS agent. It is something that people have been debating for years, the money we pay in taxes, and what the government uses it for. Grandfather is a heroic figure as he explains to the agent how ridiculous his claims on his money is, how he expects his money to be used, and how he deals with the agent. Unfortunately, his antics leads to further complications when they are arrested. Of course this was all done with the attempt to gain Vanderhof's home. Unknowingly to Mr.Anthony P. Kirby (Arnold), he just wanted the property for his financial gain and for his agenda, what he didn't know was that his future daughter-in-law's family owns the property he's trying to claim; before all of this he sends his goons to try to obtain the property, and as such they resort to their antics (IRS) for the property - resulting in everybody being arrested!

"You may be a high mogul Mr. Kirby... but, you're a failure..." Mr. Vanderhof

Overall, You Can't Take It with You is definitely a genuine marvel of movie majesty. Not only did it win for both Best Picture and Best Director for the 1938 11th Annual Academy Awards, the original written (George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart) play won the Pulitzer Prize as well (Wikipedia). The numerous accolades are also further proof behind the brilliance and tremendous wonderment that both the written work, the plays, and the big-screen adaption provide. With the other titles previously mentioned, the collection of Capra films should be marked as American's Filmography Nobility, studied, and implemented within the moral foundations of our most principal teachings. You Can't Take It with You further reminds us to have more focus on who we are inside rather than what money and wealth can provide, as stated within the movie "you can't take it with you" reminds us that the wealth people sacrifice to obtain superficially cannot be taken with them after death; whereas, the relationships we build and invest in are the legacy that's worth much more, and the very fabric that expands eternity.