You Can't Take It With You (1938)

You Can't Take It With You (1938), produced and directed by Frank Capra.

Capra turns up the sweetness with this adaptation of a stage play about an eccentric family and their collision with a tycoon who wants their house and the whole neighborhood for a factory expansion. The needful complication: the daughter of the house and son of the tycoon are in love.

I think 2h6m is plenty long for this. Funny but too sweet for comfort. An unexpected good bit: rich Edward Arnold could be our stock Depression era villain, but he shows signs of humor and humanity from the start, and is won over entirely in the last scene. His wife remains the unpleasant rich society matron.

Jean Arthur and James Stewart have warm but gentle screwball chemistry and will return in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Grandpa's prayer: "Remember all we ask is just to go along the way we are, keep our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we leave that up to you. Thank you".

Lionel Barrymore is using crutches here, which he really needed because of hip fractures and arthritis. Afterwards he worked from a wheelchair, as in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Key Largo (1948).

The oddball family is an early example of a sort of counter-cultural set. That same year Holiday (1938) had a similar subplot and we see it again in All That Heaven Allows (1955).

Capra and Howard Hawks did a lot to develop funny, chaotic scenes and overlapping dialogue, continued by Robert Altman in later years.

Dub Taylor's first film; he's supposed to be married to dancer Ann Miller, age 15. With Eddie Anderson, last seen in Tales of Manhattan (1942). Many other familiar faces.

Joseph Walker photography, Dimitri Tiomkin score.

Available on Blu-ray with a chatty conversation track featuring a film scholar and the director's son.