You Can't Take It With You (1938)
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A huge thank you to our patriots subscribers you make this show possible. You can read about all our support tears, and their awards over at patriot dot com slash classic movie musts. Thank you for joining me this week as we discussed Frank Capra's. You can't take it with you in this episode. We kick off a four episode. Look at the films of nineteen thirty eight and the crisis. The Hollywood was facing at that time, but first, let's get into this week's opening credits. Our film this week is you can't take it with you, which was directed by Frank Capra and was released in nineteen thirty eight you can't take it with you stars Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy, Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Edward Arnold, a successful banker. Anthony p Kirby played by Edward Arnold has just returned from Washington DC where he was effectively, granted a government sanction munitions monopoly which will make him very rich. He intends to buy up a twelve block radius around competitors factory to put him out of business, but there is one house that is a hold out to selling Kirby instructs his real estate broker. John Blakely play by Clarence Wilson to offer a huge sum of money for the house, and if it's not accepted to cause trouble for the family. Meanwhile, grandpa vendor Hof played by Lionel Barrymore convinces, a banker named Poppins to pursue his dream of making animated toys Kirby son. Tony played by Jimmy Stewart, a vice president in the family company has fallen in love with a company stenographer Alice sycamore, played by Jean Arthur when Tony proposes marriage Alice is worried that her family would be looked upon poorly by Tony's rich and famous family. In fact, Alice is the only relatively normal member of the eccentric. Sycamore family led by vendor off unbeknownst to Tony Alice's family lives in the house that will not sell out, Kirby and his wife played by Mary, Forbes strongly disapprove of Tony's choice for marriage before she accepts Alice forces. Tony to bring his family to become better acquainted with their future in laws. But when Tony purposefully brings his family on the wrong day, the sycamore family is caught off guard and the house is in disarray, as the Kirby's are preparing to leave after a rather disastrous meeting the police arrive in response to the printed threats on Ed car Michael's flyers. And when the fireworks in the basement. Go off. They arrest. Everyone in the house held up in the drunk tank, preparing to see the night court judge, MRs Kirby repeatedly insults, Alice and makes her feel unworthy of her son, while grandpa explains to Kirby the importance of having friends and that despite all his wealth and success in business. You can't take it with you at the court hearing, the judge played by Harry Devonport allows for grandpa and his family to settle the charges for disturbing the peace and making illegal fireworks by assessing of fine, which Grandpa's friends pitch into pay for he repeatedly asks why the Kirby's were at the vendor Hof house when grandpa says it was all to talk over selling the house. Alice has an outburst and says it was because she was engaged Tony, but is spurning him because of how poorly she has been treated by his family. This causes a sensation in the papers and Alice flees the city with Alice, gone grandpa, decides to sell the house, thus meaning the whole section of the town must vacate. In preparation for building a new factory. Now the Kirby companies merge, creating a huge fluctuation in the stock market when Kirby's competitor Ramsey played by HP Warner dies after confronting him for being ruthless and failure of a man Kirby has a realization that he is heading for the same fate and decides to leave the meeting where the signing of the contracts is to take place, as the vendor Hoff's are moving out of the house, Tony tries to track down Alice, Kirby arrives and talks privately with grandpa, sharing his realization grandpa response by inviting him to play Polly while doodle on the harmonica that he gave him the to let loose with the rest of the family joining in the merriment. And with Alice taking Tony back later at the dinner table, grandpa says grace for the sycamore family and the Kirby's revealing Kirby has. So back the houses on the block. You can't take it with you was nominated for seven Academy Awards winning two. It was nominated for best sound recording. Best film, editor. Eating best cinematography best writing and best supporting actress it won the awards for best director, Frank Capra, and best picture. Now, are you ready to kick off motion pictures, greatest year because it's time for our feature presentation. The American film industry, faced a bewildering array of problems in nineteen thirty eight most of which were only resolved, or more accurately postponed, by the box office miracle known as World War, Two in unanticipated decline in attendance, and revenues began in the fall of nineteen thirty seven with the recession that brought more than a year of economic recovery to a halt. There were labor troubles television loomed. Politicians were already sniffing around for communists legislators again, sought to ban certain trade practices. And in July of nineteen thirty eight the US Justice department filed an antitrust lawsuit against the eight major film companies. The industry was in crisis, what distinguished nineteen thirty eight. What gave this year of crisis its unique texture its, particularly hysterical edge was not so much the concern that the antitrust suit would finally force changes to the film industry's basic. Economic structure, rather. There were fears the movie going public was it self irrevocably changing industry, executives and commentators in the trade press periodically invoked the recession to account for the distressing drop in business. But by media, other reasons for the disappearing audience had begun to emerge the cry of nineteen thirty eight was not that poverty and unemployment. The familiar, villains of depression, era, box offices were to blame rather the industry had lost touch with the public the attitude toward the movies had within a short time gone from apathetic to definitely adverse, and I rate disgusted public with staying away from theaters in July at the apex of the catastrophe, Oskar Dube, head of advertising for lows identified a new nationwide pessimism about the movies the dark gloomy feeling that the. Movies are on the downgrade than it is. In fact, a great risk to buy a movie ticket with all the chances against you're getting your money's worth that Hollywood is nuts, and that the stars are poison that show. Business is racing to hell. There is nothing like this language earlier in the nineteen thirties, even in the midst of the box office, abyss or the controversies over movie Morales amid industry quarrels about what might have made the public, so mad and uncertainty about what might pacify it executives from all branches decided to launch the motion pictures, greatest year campaign, and unprecedented, four month public relations offensive designed to sell the public on movies, again hatched over the summer and inaugurated during the September opening of the nineteen thirty eight nineteen thirty nine movie year motion pictures greatest year. Brought together producers distributors and exhibitors across north. Erica to win back audiences by establishing, the centrality of movies and movie going to people's lives and communities. A budget of almost one million dollars was raised from the major companies, as well as from independent exhibitors, large and small in institutional advertising campaign ran in virtually every newspaper in the United States and Canada proclamations by governors. Mayors and other fficials urged public support for the campaign theaters organize local events, and tie-ins and promoted a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar movie quiz contest organized around ninety four films, the finest array of productions ever released or so. The ads claimed well today's episode and the next three episodes are going to examine some of the movies, as well as their campaigns that looked to make nineteen thirty eight motion pictures greatest year. You can't take it with you was. Columbia Pictures motion pictures, greatest year blockbuster based on the Pulitzer prize winning play by moss Hart. And George s Kaufman, you can't take it with you was one of the most claimed films of the year, perhaps, the likeliest candidate to convince the public it was, in fact, motion pictures, greatest, both screwball comedy and Capra a kind of generic signature in its own right. It appeared on many ten best lists and one Academy Awards for best picture investor rector, the film, success may well have put screwball comedy back on track. It took the cycles of Aleutian in nineteen thirty eight to its logical extreme. You can't take it with you is a domestic, as well as a romantic comedy organized around a family Kapatid's enough to include anyone who embraces its eccentric lifestyle. It's center is the family home, who's demolition is threatened. It was embraced as one of the most human movies of the campaign. You can't take it with you could scarcely have been received. Otherwise Capra was the most popular and critically acclaimed director of the nineteen thirties. And the famed Capra touch was a uniquely down to earth. Quality, a human touch above all it described a relationship to people both characters, and actors Capra insisted that actors even extras come across as flesh and blood human beings living in a story quirky distinctive business, individualized, and humanized characters while providing audiences with a pleasing and convincing image of themselves their own lives. And their dreams you can't take it with you takes the revision of screwball comedy, a step further than other motion pictures, greatest year films, the eccentricity, that is one of the hallmarks of the cycle, the behavior in values that set scruples apart from the forces working against them becomes the new. Normal dizziness is not simply compatible with, but in fact, the vehicle for the fundamentally human, the project of you can't take it with you is to make ordinary people different. It was in many ways, the perfect film for campaign that rejected the idea of a mass audience, but needed to attract as many people as possible to theaters, honoring the differences that make us all unique. The film is committed to a radical individualism that embraces them as something we all have in common. You can't take it with you bears. A family resemblance to the films that make up the Capra trilogy. Mr. deeds goes to town, Mr Smith goes to Washington and meet John Doe, along with several actors in common. Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart Edward Arnold. They are all movies with a message of sorts sharing trajectory in which I deal ISM sincerity and sentiment triumph over cynicism and the forces of. Good transcend, the forces of greed. But in you can't take it with you. There is no plucky young man from the provinces who battles corruption as well as his own demons before getting the girl, instead Martin grandpa, Vander Hof play by Lionel Barrymore could have been rich man, but turned his back on business thirty years ago because he wasn't having any fun. He harbors a posse of individualists committed to his ideals, which do not include allegiances to the people nor to democratic principles beyond a commitment to the freedom to do as you please. The vanderhall home is a paramedic extreme of the idea that a man's house is his castle, the tangible brick and mortar symbol of a deeper, spiritual freedom, the eccentricity that sets the quirky individualist in screwball. Comedies apart from others is here. The glue that binds the family together. The range of their interests is underscored by the breadth, and distinctiveness. Of an excellent on samba cast Grandpa's daughter, penny, writes and paints, his son-in-law Paul makes firecrackers in the basement granddaughter ESI dances, and makes candy. Her husband, Ed, plays, xylophone and operates. A printing press grandpa collect stamps attend. Graduation exercises plays the harmonica and fosters the interest of others. They cohabit with a few unrelated free spirits, who have been persuaded to pursue their crooked genius there. Mr. Pena delivered ice, nine years ago, and never left and he spends much of the film dressed in a toga, Mr. Poppins is at timid rabbit of a man who designs mechanical timid rabbits. Granddaughter Alice is the most conventional family member. It is while working as a secretary that you becomes engaged to the owner's son, Tony Kirby. But when the couple takes an impromptu dance lesson in central park from some freakishly precocious children. We know that Alice is in the family. Fold and Tony is a kindred soul as well. The outliers are Tony's upper-crust parents, the original play, lacked, a certain tension, and so the film expanded the minor role of the generic uptight businessman father into financial tycoon. Anthony, Kirby of veracious symbol of capitalism at its worst whose conversion to the vendor. Hof way is in itself, a triumph, you can't take it with you open in the forbidding. Skyscraper canyon of Wall Street where Kirby is in the process of creating the largest individual monopoly in the world. Indeed. Although you can't take it with you has tended to be seen then. And now as endorsing the blessings of proverty and treating idleness as kind of higher wisdom, the Arctic home harbors a bustling hive of entrepreneurs rather than slothful, nonconformists Grandpa's, an expert stamp collector paid to appraise collections Paul, and Mr. Pena. Firecrackers for ten cents string SE dances, while filing orders for her homemade candy, which Eddie delivers along with add prince for his fireworks. One of the industrious, Mr. Poppins inventions plays the tune whistle while you work. And the pet raven is admonished to go back to work when it slacks off even the dance lesson in central park, which strives for something of the casual pleasure of the man on the flying. Trapeze seen from it happened. One night is not a spontaneous eruption of communal. Good spirits, but the kids way to earn money and it costs Tony a dime. The fun ethic of you. Can't take it with you is a back door work ethic an invitation to pleasurable labor and its rewards or material, as well as spiritual. The alternative to curbs munitions monopoly is not unproductive individuality Runamuck, but candy and fireworks businesses. The point is not to do nothing but to do what you love. Kirby doesn't he suffers from an unsettled? Stomach and bankrupt soul. The man who would control the country's access to weapons in a world on the brink of war needs to be saved more than he needs to be stopped, both Mr Smith. Goes to Washington and meet John Doe illustrate the crushing effects of monopolies so powerful they are never fully vanquished. There was no monopoly in the original. You can't take it with you. And in the film, it is primarily a sign of values gone. Awry, Tony's arsenal of objections to it includes an unsurpassed yawn during a business meeting and the ironic inquiry about whether his father has forgotten the slingshot market. The whole thing is a bore Capra takes monopoly seriously, but not as an economic or political threat, one of his favourite themes as a filmmaker was resistance to mass everything in his words Capra sought to amplify the rebellious cry of the individual. Against being trampled by or of massive nece mass production, nast, thought, Masic, -ation, meth politics, mass, wealth, and mass conformity. His comet helps us to understand not only the ethical value assigned to the vanderhall home, and it's artisanal practices, but the problem with the monopoly as such, it is just too big too far out of human scale, a point reinforced by Arnold distinctive corpulence, as well as by the early shot of Kirby in the lobby of his building intent on finalizing the big deal. The extreme low angle shot reveals a man at his ostensible moment of triumph dwarfed, by the monumental scope and space of his endeavors, monopoly is a symptom of the massive nece that besets the individual from all sides, which is brought home by their choir meant that the intimate seat of vendor Hof originality, be sacrificed to his project monopoly can't be vanquish. And you can't take it with you, because business is just another hobby. As Kirby calls it during his uncomfortable meeting with his perspective, in-laws. They must help him substitute something more congenial Kirby must learn. That is what hobbies really are the defense against the massive nece and impersonality of monopoly is symbolized by the little harmonica, grandpa, whips his out in jail, where everyone is taken following the fireworks explosion at the house and accident caused by Kirby's henchmen. The men's cell is huge. It seems to get bigger and more crowded as the scene progresses drawing attention to the dozens of random, and disconnected strangers who share it with the vendor Hof Kirby contingent the crowd behaves, like one they do a group double take threatening yet amusing. When Kirby is identified as the framed banker and they spring into immediate mass action when he throws aside barely smoked cigar, the one man to refrain from his. Dr scramble while wordlessly marveling at the spectacle is rewarded as much for his individuality, as his restraint by Tony who gives him cigarettes, both grandpa and Kirby. Find the Francis distasteful. But only the latter is contemptuous of these scum grandpa angrily inquires. What makes him such a superior human being because Kirby lacks friends, he is a failure of a man as a father and as a human being Kirby tells him to get a pulpit but grandpa, prefers the harmonica the way to make friends to be fully human is to entertain be entertained. Never a dull moment, grandpa, happily remarks, not only once but twice from his perch in the cell, unlike the cigar, they will shortly fight over the harmonica, which grandpa, spontaneously plays Polly, Wally doodle unites these men in singing and dancing, and humanizes them without the necessity of individualizing them. In an instant and foreign instant the handy folk instrument makes folk of the crowd in the end, the harmonica will humanize Kirby to when he recalls his childhood passion for it, and joins grandpa in duets of the same song, folk culture, is the common ground on which middle and upper class movie eccentrics can meet even snooty MRs Kirby has a hobby spiritualism penny scoffs at this, which draws a reproach from Paul now, penny, you mustn't criticize other people's hobbies. You've got one or two of your own, you know Paul's criticism of criticism is not in the original play, and it speaks on behalf of the same values as another notable motion pictures greatest year. Patriarch the average moviegoer Paul rejects criticism, while the movie goer acknowledges its inevitability by way of disabling it. We're all different and our differences, set us free adult world. It would be if it weren't. Grandpa's quest for never a dull moment. Drove him back down the elevator thirty years ago. And he rescues Mr. Poppins from dullness at the adding machine the worst horror that MRs Kirby at first imagines is that Alice is probably from some dull middleclass family. Capela himself wrote that the cardinal sin in filmmaking is dullness, Hollywood perpetually worried that sermons, in films were synonymous with dull and hence unprofitable, but you can't take it with you embraces the intrinsic entertainment value of differences among individuals who are as delightfully individualized as possible pitching itself as an all-star cinematic antidote to boredom many reviewers observed the play had been content to feature a mad cap family whose enjoyment of life required. Neither explanation nor justification the film on the other hand turn these delightful eccentrics, especially grandpa into philosophers with a point to make about enjoyment most. Reviewers welcomed the changes and found the film as good as and usually better than the play one affect downplaying the madness that had already fallen out of screen fashion was to make the characters far more likable, far more human Capra Riskin, the film screenwriter humanize, everything according to one reviewer, another was to improve upon the movie eccentrics merely adorable predecessors by making them profoundly wise following the pattern set by Mr. d goes to town after Capra famously decided his films had to say something you can't take it with you offered. Audiences profound lesson in life and learning most critics applauded the effort and the way the film made ideas palatable after all as one reviewer wrote, this serious thoughts are coated with the sugar of fun. It provided a message with laughter, one viewer wrote to Capra that quote seldom have ever known production that so carefully. Served its moral without having any effect on its entertainment value. There was a tendency to marvel Capra's ability to pull off the allusive combination of ideas and fun of messages and entertainment, but you can't take it with you. The synthesis was total. It was the point of the film, the moral about the primacy of enjoyment had to be expressed by demonstrating its commitment to entertainment value. At every point the something that you can't take it with you stood for was the basic human right to enjoyment. Elevated to an obligation, and it is only by exercising this right that we become human. The film did not simply represent the delights of escape and wish fulfillment as well as any movie of its time, it promoted them explicitly energetically as higher goods available to anyone from the industry's perspective. It was hard during motion pictures, greatest year to improve on an. Entertaining. Sermon about escapist pleasure. You can't take it with you was like an institutional add come to life, do as you please might be a creed to which few intelligent persons, would subscribe. But it was also seductive, of course Capra notoriously launched himself against the forces conspiring against the individual with his own rebellious cry of one man, one film, taking credit for his films vision, and artistry at the expense of talented collaborators as well as the studio under, whose constraints he achieved his greatest success critical of the studio system, and the practices that reinforced its methods of production, Capra put himself forward and was accepted more than any other filmmaker as the maverick who booked their bad effects, the motion picture director, who does as he pleases, the humanity. You can't take it with you displayed was not only the act. Ters or characters that human quality, which pervades the film, from beginning to end is Capra thus. It was also from first to last stamped with one man's individuality, just as its characters do Capra and you can't take it with you makes mass production go away. The film's faith in the concrete economic value of eccentricity is something that Capra's idiosyncratic and wildly successful filmmaking was inefficient not only to inculcate but to exemplify its success might be measured by the fluctuation that it was the film that turned the now familiar Capra esque formula into a commodity. That concludes our episode on. You can't take it with you. I would love to hear what you think of this classic movie must feel free to tweet at movie must pot or E mail classic movie Mussagy, mail dot com can listen to all our epic Soad's and learn more about the show on our website. Classic movie must dot com. You can support the show and receive cool. Perks on patriot like becoming a producer of the show. Get your name read at the end of every episode just like Don Hoffman. Lee Eleanor be max on redid. Thank you, all for your generous, patronage checkout, all our support tears, and their awards over at patriotair dot com slash classic movie musts on the next episode. We continue our look at the films of nineteen thirty eight with Michael critise four daughters. Remember episodes release every Friday on all podcast services. Thank you so much for listening. Tell the next episode keep up with their classics.