Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – You Can’t Take it with You (1938)


Starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore & James Stewart

Rating 9/10

Prepare yourself for a rave! This movie was brilliant. Full of heart and soul and humour. This is a timeless story, as relevant today as it was in 1938. It bravely tackles the pitfalls of Capitalism and the greed it feeds. This is a story of one family that throws out modern ideas of success and lives for the moment with spectacular humour and life!

The horrendous greed of banks is once again causing havoc in the West. Banks and commercialism dictate whether we are successful as in 1938.  Power is corrupted, life is dulled and peace and happiness are left in the sticky hands of those with the means to enjoy life without having to work menial jobs just to look the part.

But then there are people like the Vanderhofs who refuse to play the modern game and instead live out their days doing exactly what they want. Grandpa Vanderhof (Barrymore) is under pressure from banker, Anthony P. Kirby (Edward Arnold) to sell his house so the developers can move in and build an ugly old warehouse producing goods, increasing their wealth! Grandpa stands his ground refusing all attempts of bribery, holding on to his way of life.

Enter Alice, the Vanderhof granddaughter. She works for Kirby Jnr (Stewart) and they are madly in love. Here the fireworks literally start flying as the two families collide; one wildly weird with all kinds of eccentricities and the other prudish and materialistic. A huge dose of humility, humiliation and perspective gets thrown into the mix and you have a story and a half.

The characters make this film. And I’d like you to meet (most of) them. Grandpa is father of Mrs Sycamore (a budding amateur playwright), Mr Sycamore (plays with fireworks), Essie Sycamore (granddaughter, sister of Alice and try-hard dancer = hilarious), she is married to Ed (who seems to spend all his time playing the xylophone and peering out windows), two servants, a few more tinkers (who work in the basement on all kinds of STUFF) and the dance teacher Boris Kolenkhov (Essie’s teacher who only comes to the house for the food).

Add to this list the Kirby family who bring their wealth, their power and their manners. These contrasting characters serve a greater purpose than simply humour. It is a comment on the western world; how money consumes us and puts us on unhappy paths where we no longer do what we enjoy, rather, we get bored to death in order to serve the mighty dollar. In the end, as the title suggests, you cannot take all this stuff with you!

On the whole this is a highly entertaining and soulful film. My favourite scenes were: the child band in the park (cool kids with cigars demanding a dollar for their services – including some crazy dancing), Alice sliding down the bannister in front of her future in-laws, the restaurant scene (classic slapstick), the russian dance teacher wrestling Kirby Snr. These are just a few. You must see this movie. It is beautiful, funny, deep and ultimately satisfying!!!!!!

You Can’t Take It With You Trivia:

  • Budget – $1.5 Million dollars
  • This film is based on the Pulitzer winning play by Hart and Kaufman
  • Lionel Barrymore was suffering from severe arthritis during the shooting of this film which is why he uses the crutches. He had to have injections every hour to help with the pain. Poor Grandpa!!!
  • Ann Miller, who played Essie, was only 15 years old and cried after every take as the dancing took its toll on her body. James Stewart sent her chocolates to make her feel better. Sweet!
  • Frank Capra (Director) shot the film in 2 months and used over 41 times the amount of film

That was spectacular! Now get ready for next week, we are going south. You may need to block out a whole day for this adventure. That’s right, it’s Gone With the Wind. Don’t forget to share your ideas, trivia, impressions and controversial opinions here at Oscar Club!

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One comment on “Best Picture – You Can’t Take it with You (1938)

  1. Pingback: 1957 Oscar Winners | Guide to be a winner

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