You Can't Take It With You (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

You Can't Take It With You (1938)



Critic Consensus: It's predictably uplifting fare from Frank Capra, perhaps the most consciously uplifting of all great American directors -- but thanks to immensely appealing performances and a nimble script, You Can't Take It With You is hard not to love.

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Movie Info

This film focuses on the zany Sycamore household. At the Sycamores, everyone does just what he or she pleases. The one normal member of the household, Alice Sycamore, is in love with Tony Kirby. Naturally, when the stuffy Kirbys come to the Sycamores for dinner, the event is a disaster.more
Rating: G
Genre: Romance, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Riskin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 18, 2003
Columbia Pictures


Jean Arthur
as Alice Sycamore
Lionel Barrymore
as Martin Vanderhof
James Stewart
as Tony Kirby
Edward Arnold
as Anthony P. Kirby
Mischa Auer
as Kolenkhov
Ann Miller
as Essie Carmichael
Samuel S. Hinds
as Paul Sycamore
Spring Byington
as Penny Sycamore
Donald Meek
as Poppins
Dub Taylor
as Ed Carmichael
Mary Forbes
as Mrs. Anthony Kirby
Clarence H. Wilson
as John Blakely
Clarence Wilson
as John Blakely
Josef Swickard
as Professor
Ann Doran
as Maggie O'Neill
Bodil Rosing
as Mrs. Schmidt
Charles Lane
as Henderson
Dorothy Babbs
as Dance Teacher
Pierre Watkin
as Attorney
Edwin Maxwell
as Attorney
Russell Hicks
as Attorney
Byron Foulger
as Kirby's Assistant
Ian Wolfe
as Kirby's Secretary
Kit Guard
as Inmate
James Burke
as Detective
Ward Bond
as Detective
Edward Hearn
as Court Attendant
Edward Keane
as Board member
Dick Curtis
as Strong arm man
John Ince
as Neighbor
Paul Irving
as Office Manager
Eddie Kane
as Kirby's Attorney
Gene Morgan
as Reporter
Lou Davis
as Reporter
Lester Dorr
as Reporter
Jack Gardner
as Reporter
Bill Dill
as Reporter
Bill Lally
as Reporter
Walter Walker
as Mr. Leach
Robert Greig
as Lord Melville
Edwin Stanley
as Executive
Lawrence Wheat
as Secretary
Edward Earle
as Bank Manager
Boyd Irwin
as Attorney
Pat West
as Expressman
John Hamilton
as Capt. Drake
Margaret Mann
as Neighbor
Laura Treadwell
as Mrs. Drake
Doris Rankin
as Mrs. Leach
Hilda Plowright
as Lady Melville
Jim Farley
as Police Sergeant
Edgar Dearing
as Plainclothes policem...
Lee Phelps
as Bailiff
James Millican
as Policeman
Bud Wiser
as Policeman
Jack Grant
as Policeman
Bruce Mitchell
as Policeman
Vernon Dent
as Expressman
Anne Cornwall
as Blakely's Secretary
Larry Wheat
as Secretary
Frank Mills
as Trustee
Alex Woloshin
as Russian General in J...
Dick Rush
as Bank Guard
Jimmy Anderson
as Bank Porter
Dick French
as Bank Clerk
Carlie Taylor
as Bank Clerk
Bruce Sidney
as Bank Clerk
Arthur Murray
as Elevator Boy
Joe Bordeaux
as Taxi Driver
Mario Rotolo
as Accordion Player
Nell Roy
as Woman
Frank Austin
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Harry A. Bailey
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Beatrice Blinn
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Beatrice Curtis
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Howard Davies
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Betty Farrington
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Eddie Featherston
as Worried Neighbor (un...
Bess Flowers
as Martin's Neighbor in...
Joe "Corky" Geil
as Child Dancer (uncred...
Eva McKenzie
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Stella LeSaint
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Bessie Wade
as Neighbor (uncredited...
Dorothy Vernon
as Neighbor (uncredited...
James Farley
as Police Sergeant
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News & Interviews for You Can't Take It With You

Critic Reviews for You Can't Take It With You

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (7)

The comedy moves smoothly and briskly under Capra's canny method of direction.

Full Review… | February 18, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

It's a grand picture.

Full Review… | January 13, 2014
New York Times
Top Critic

Easily the No. 1 cinema comedy of 1938.

Full Review… | February 17, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The tempo is generally fast and there are no sudden spurts or sharp letdowns.

Full Review… | February 20, 2008
Top Critic

The cast is appealing, particularly Stewart and Arthur, but it's not enough.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Please see this one. Heck, see any Frank Capra movie.

Full Review… | February 18, 2015

Audience Reviews for You Can't Take It With You


A son of a business magnate proposes to a lower class girl whose eccentric family stands in the way of business's progress.
Frank Capra is a legendary director, and everybody loves him. But I don't. I didn't like It's a Wonderful Life mostly because it isn't. I didn't like Mr Smith Goes to Washington mostly because it was overly simplistic. And "You Can't Take It with You is so remarkably preachy that I found myself rolling my eyes so often I soon developed a headache. I'm essentially politically aligned with Capra's left-wing compassion, but the characters seem more motivated by the director's political arguments than they are motivated by specific characterizations or the story's demands.
I also found the antics of the Sycamore household ridiculous. The ballet dancer, the Russian, the fireworks -- all of it just seems so off the wall that I had trouble suspending my disbelief, and once again, I rolled my eyes.
Overall, I'm aware that I'm in the minority with my dislike for Capra, but I still think this film is great if you want to roll your eyes a lot

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The well-born Tony Kirby (James Stewart) falls in love with Alice (Jean Arthur), whose family, the Sycamores, are eccentric, to say the least. Her maternal grandfather (Lionel Barrymore) supports a cast of inventors and dancers and always has one more place at his table for guests, no matter where they come from, while on the Kirby side, it's not acceptable to associate with anyone not of the upper crust. What else could this setup provide other than a lesson about the worth of one's name and reputation versus that of one's money? To this fable add some wacky comedy and some stirring speeches, and what you get is another working class classic from Frank Capra that's not to be missed.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


This is Frank Capra's Oscar winning adaptation of a play about a family who helps show a wealthy financier that there's much more to life than money.

Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) is the only person in her eccentric family who seems rather normal. She falls in love with a nice young guy (James Stewart) whose parents are incredibly wealthy and don't approve of his relationship to Alice, nor his desire to marry her. Alice tries to change Tony's parents's minds by inviting the mto dinner, but, thanks to her family, things don't go as planned.

All in all, this is typical Capra schmaltz: sentimental, charming, hard to really hate, and very populist. I enjoyed the film, but it's overrated, and maybe not necessarily deserving of Best Picture. The problem is not the message or the acting from an excellent cast (which includes a delightful Lionel Barrymore), but the execution. The first half is slow, meandering, and thigns don't really pick up or get interesting until the latter half. Even then, the film is predicatble, and doesn't really do anything new or groundbreaking.

However, it is still pretty entertaining, well-meaning, and humorous, so, despite it's flaws, it's an old fashioned feel-good film worthy of a watch.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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