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critics 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. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Sweet-natured Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) falls for banker's son Tony Kirby (James Stewart). But when she invites her snooty prospective in-laws to dinner to give their blessing to the marriage, Alice's peculiar extended family -- including philosophical grandfather Martin Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore), hapless fledgling ballerina sister Essie (Ann Miller) and fireworks enthusiast father, Paul (Samuel S. Hinds) -- might be too eccentric for the staid Kirbys.

Cast & Crew

Jean Arthur
Alice Sycamore
Lionel Barrymore
Grandpa Martin Vanderhof
Edward Arnold
Anthony P. Kirby
Ann Miller
Essie Carmichael
Spring Byington
Penny Sycamore
Samuel S. Hinds
Paul Sycamore
Moss Hart
Writer (Play)
Dimitri Tiomkin
Original Music
Joseph Walker
Cinematographer
Gene Havlick
Film Editor
Stephen Goosson
Art Direction
Irene
Costume Designer
Bernard Newman
Costume Designer
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Critic Reviews for You Can't Take It With You

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for You Can't Take It With You

  • Jan 07, 2020
    While the effort is delivered efficiently, nonetheless it is awfully contrived, strained, and artificial. Lionel Barrymore helms this Capra(corn) vehicle, heading a cast of notables that inhabit a world that strains credulity. In an amazing circumstance (for Hollywood at least) only the black players are grounded in reality, servants for the rest of the cast---and that don't happen much. For a Hollywood vehicle that told people what they wanted to hear, okay, but this fantasy lacks the grounding in reality that most fantasies begin with as a set-up. For myself it was a strain to last it out to the ending.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 26, 2016
    Frank Capra would win his third Oscar for Best Director for the 1938 Best Picture winner "You Can't Take It With You" starring James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Jean Arthur. The Best Picture win gave him five of the six Oscars he would win, he would win an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1943. In his film career, Capra made "rags to riches" stories about self-made men, and in tune with his political beliefs (he was a lifelong Republican who opposed Roosevelt's New Deal programs), were entirely made without the assistance of government. His characters were the common man up against those who are greedy. His films often had a moral character to them as well relying upon the goodness in human nature, the value of unselfishness and dedication to hard work and feel-goodness of his films led film critics to refer to many of his films as "Capra-corn" or "Capraesque." The film begins with Anthony P. Kirby (Edward Arnold), a shrewd businessman, returning to New York after a trip to Washington, D.C., where he notifies his staff that his plan is in motion to become a munitions monopoly won't be interferred with by the government. Kirby realizes the threat of war and the possibility of making millions. His plan can only be realized if he is able to put a competitor out of business. He plans to do this by buying up a 12 block radius around his competitor, he is notified that there is one holdout, Grandpa Vanderhof, a kind, old gentleman played by Lionel Barrymore. Kirby gives explicit orders to his real estate broker to make him sell his property by any means possible, even force if necessary. The real estate broker John Blakely (Clarence Wilson) is a stressed out man with an eye twitch, who is denied his commission until Vanderhof sells. Kirby's son, Anthony Kirby, Jr. (James Stewart), called Tony, falls in love with stenographer Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur), who is Vanderhof's granddaughter, and proposes marriage to her. Unbeknownst to everyone is that this is the house that refuses to sell. Tony and Alice come from different worlds. Alice came from a family where her grandfather stopped working in order to have fun and taught his family to value fun over anything else. Tony has been brought up in a banker's family told that he will be a banker. Alice's family is much more accepting of Tony then his family is of them. Capra has always shown the upper class to be snobbish towards the everyday working class in his films. Alice comes up with an idea, she asks Tony to invite his family to her house to meet her family. The families are so different and contrast each other. The Sycamores are a madcap mischivous bunch just trying to enjoy life in the simplest of terms. The Kirbys are stiff, snobby and absolutely uncomfortable and embarrassed to be out of their elements in the Sycamore home. During the first meeting between the families, everything that could go wrong goes wrong. The police comes to question them about leaflets they have been printing going into the granddaughter's Love Dreams cookies that say things like "Watch out for the Revolution" and "The Red Flag is sweeping the country." The police come to the conclusion that they are Communists and suddenly dozens of fireworks go off. Now the Kirbys and Sycamores are locked up in the drunk tank in the local jail. The film leads up to a courtroom scene that shows Kirby starting to have a little change of heart, though his wife isn't exactly warming up to the idea. Lionel Barrymore is absolutely delightful as the kind grandpa Vanderhof. He steals the show amongst a great cast. The movie has some great moments, but it has a slow pace. It builds up for two hours to an unsatisfactory ending. It's a bit more dated than other great Capra films like "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life." Kirby may have all the money in the world and all the power, but as Vanderhof points out to him, he has no friends. What's all that wealth worth? You can't take it with you when you're dead.
    Joseph B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2015
    In a time where It's a Wonderful Life is known now as one of the greatest films of all time, I think a lot of people forget about the greatness that is, You Can't Take it With You. Capra's films often deal a lot with the essence of community and family that trumps all. This film does just that and does it to perfection. It stars James Stewart but the entire cast is incredible. Stewart is very young and in the early stages of his career so the rest of the actors really nail each and every scene they are in. In particular, Lionel Barrymore has about as good as of a performance you can have and the entire Vanderhof family gets their time to shine. Much like It's a Wonderful Life, this film is not only very enjoyable, but it's highly re-watchable. Capra does a great job of directing his actors to some of their best performances of their career, along with creating a unique household full of what is probably one of my favorite families in film history. Everyone loves the Vanderhof's, and so do I. The film is very light hearted and I can understand if people think it could be corny, much like It's a Wonderful Life, but I don't think there's anything wrong with having a story that everyone can enjoy. It's the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet/Cinderella but it's told and structured in a unique way that really hits home. It's a predictable but really sweet script that plays out just that way on screen. I love everything about You Can't Take it With You. +Sweet story +Everyone in the family is interesting +Twist on the R&J story +Barrymore carries the film 10/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2014
    A far superior effort by Capra than It's a Wonderful Life but unfortunately this film gets overshadowed. I find the Sycamore family members to be terribly wonderful in their eccentric existence. It breathes life into a lovely film.
    John B Super Reviewer

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