December 10, 2015


Starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold, Ann Miller, Mischa Auer, Donald Meek, Dub Taylor. Directed by Frank Capra. (1939, 126 min).

I must confess a certain level of ignorance when it comes to Frank Capra's lengthy filmography. Sure, I've seen some of the obvious ones, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It Happened One Night and It's a Wonderful Life. And yeah, I've always been well-aware of his enormous impact and influence on Hollywood. Even today, a film described as Capraesque is generally considered a compliment (the term is even included in some modern dictionaries).

One only has to watch 1938's You Can't Take it With You to appreciate Capra's style and the common themes he effortlessly infused into his greatest movies, and why so many modern filmmakers are still respectfully ripping him off.

Still, I'd never seen it until asked to review this disc. Shame on me, because while You Can't Take it With You isn't quite as revered today as Capra's most renowned work, it's a wonderful film which transcends the "old movie" baggage that keeps many so-called movie lovers from dipping into the past (which I'm sad to confess I've been guilty of on occasion). Part slapstick farce, part charming romance, part poignant character study & part social commentary, it's totally predictable in the best possible way because you've undoubtedly seen countless later movies which took all the same basic tropes, stirred them up and presented them all over again (if not for this film, many subsequent others we love so much wouldn't exist).

"Of course I washed my hands afterwards."

But what ultimately makes this such a great film is that the performances are outstanding (especially by Lionel Barrymore and Edward Arnold), the comedy is genuinely funny and the screenplay is sharp, clever and complex, even by so-called 'modern' standards. Simply put, You Can’t Take it With You is a hard movie not to love and a must-own for anyone interested in classics which continue to influence how similar movies are made today.

Remastered in 4K, this is arguably the best transfer the film has ever been given. But best of all, it makes me want to check out all the other Capra film's I've been missing out on.

  • Booklet featuring a making of essay by Jeremy Arnold
  • "Frank Capra Jr. Remembers...You Can't Take it With You" (25 minute featurette, mostly featuring the director's son, as well as comments by a few historians)
  • Audio Commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and author Cathrine Kellison
  • Trailer
(NOTE: Being that Frank Capra Jr. died in 2007, with the exception of the booklet, none of these extras are anything new, but still pretty interesting if you haven't already seen them)


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