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You Can’t Take It With You

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You Can't Take It With You (1938) starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, directed by Frank Capra
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You Can’t Take It With You (1938) starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, directed by Frank Capra

In You Can’t Take It With You, Lionel Barrymore is the eccentric patriarch of a clan of frustrated artists. 30 years ago, he retired from the rat race and use his fortune to encourage people to pursue their passions. At the center of his family is his granddaughter, Jean Arthur. And she’s carrying on a romance with her boss’ son, James Stewart.

I’m a failure as a father

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Oh, yes I can. Scum, are we? What makes you think you’re such a superior human being? Your money? If you do, you’re a dull-witted fool, Mr. Kirby. And a poor one at that. You’re poorer than any of these people you call scum, because I’ll guarantee at least they’ve got some friends. While you with your jungle and your long claws, as you call ’em, you’ll wind up your miserable existence without anything you can call friend. You may be a high mogul to yourself, Mr. Kirby, but to me you’re a failure – failure as a man, failure as a human being, even a failure as a father. When your time comes, I doubt if a single tear will be shed over you. The world will probably cry, “Good riddance.” That’s a nice prospect, Mr. Kirby. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I hope you’ll get some comfort out of all this coin you’ve been sweating over then! 

Thank you prayer

Grandpa Martin Vanderhof: [offering grace] Quiet, please, quiet! Well, sir, here we are again. We’ve had quite a time of it lately, but it seems that the worst of it is over. Course, the fireworks all blew up, but we can’t very well blame that on you. Anyway, everything’s turned out fine, as it usually does. Alice is going to marry Tony; Mr. Kirby, who’s turned out to be a very good egg, sold us back our house – he’ll probably forget all about big deals for a while. Nobody on our block has to move; and, with the right handling, I think we can even thaw out Mrs. Kirby here. We’ve all got our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we still leave that up to you. Thank you. Bring it on, Reba! 

Cast of characters in You Can’t Take It With You

The Vanderhofs

  • Jean Arthur (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Only Angels Have Wings) as Alice Sycamore. The young lady, in love with a rich young man. She fits in with the rest of the ‘zany’ household. While still keeping a foot in the “real” world.
  • Lionel Barrymore (On Borrowed Time) as Grandpa Martin Vanderhof. The head of the household. He can’t stand to see people being miserable, instead of following their dreams. Even if some of those dreams are unrealistic. He encourages people to come join his large household, and follow their heart. If he’s crazy, it’s in the best way possible.
  • Ann Miller (Reveille with Beverly) as Essie Carmichael. Essie’s dream is to become a dancer. Seeing as how she’s played by Ann Miller, it’s a dream come true.
  • Spring Byington (In the Good Old Summertime) as Penelope “Penny” Sycamore. Grandpa’s daughter, trying to write a play. Or several.
  • Samuel S. Hinds (In Person) as Paul Sycamore. Penny’s husband, puttering with fireworks.

The Vanderhofs’ extended household

  • Donald Meek (State Fair, Blondie Takes a Vacation) as Mr. Poppins, an accountant at Kirby’s bank. Who follows Grandpa like the Pied Piper, to follow his dream. He makes wonderful, animated, musical toys. Instead of his job as an accountant, that bores him to tears.
  • Halliwell Hobbes (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931) as DePinna. “Model” who helps with the firecrackers.
  • Dub Taylor (The Rescuers) as Ed Carmichael. Part of the zany hospital, who suggests the “red flags” advertising for the firecrackers. Which leads to the police eventually arriving.
  • Lillian Yarbo as Rheba. The cook, maid, etc. of the zany Vanderhof household.
  • Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (Topper Returns, The Jack Benny Show) as Donald. Rhea’s fiancée.
  • Mischa Auer (My Man Godfrey) as Potap Kolenkhov. Essie’s pretentious dance teacher. He thinks she’s hopeless, but he enjoys the free food and laundry services!

The Kirbys

  • Edward Arnold (Cardinal Richelieu) as Anthony P. Kirby. The very (financially) successful banker. Strait laced, but not a bad person. Due to his stressful job, he has a very sensitive stomach. And he and Grandpa provide a conflict in world views. Neither is totally wrong, and neither it totally right. And they’re both stubborn men …
  • James Stewart (The Greatest Show on Earth) as Tony Kirby. The son of a rich man, in love with Alice. At first, he’s confounded by her zany family … But then he remembers the dream that he left behind. He slowly comes to agree with her family’s perspective.
  • Mary Forbes as Meriam Kirby, Anthony’s wife. Society matron, who does not approve of her son wanting to marry a lowly stenographer! At first …

Everyone else

  • H. B. Warner (Lost Horizon) as Ramsey. Kirby’s competitor, whom Kirby’s munitions monopoly will drive out of business. He dies after confronting Kirby for being ruthless — and a failure of a man. This leads to Kirby reassessing his life.
  • Clarence Wilson as John Blakeley, Kirby’s real estate broker. Who has to buy all of the buildings in a 12-block radius, or the deal’s off! But Grandpa doesn’t want to sell …
  • Charles Lane (Miss Grant Takes Richmond, The Invisible Woman) as Wilbur G. Henderson, IRS agent. The poor man who has to try & explain to Grandpa why he has to pay his income tax.
  • Ann Doran (Blondie!) as Maggie O’Neill. Neighbor about to lose her home due to Kirby buying up all the property.
  • Christian Rub (Suzy) as Mr. Schmidt. Also about to be dispossessed.
  • Bodil Rosing as Mrs. Schmidt. Ditto.
  • Josef Swickard as the Professor. The same. Kirby’s been busy!
  • Harry Davenport (Gone with the Wind) as the Night Court Judge. He rules over the chaotic courtroom when both families are arrested.

Product Description 

Academy Award(r) winner James Stewart (1940 Best Actor, The Philadelphia Story), Jean Arthur, Academy Award(r) winner Lionel Barrymore (1931 Best Actor, A Free Soul) and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. Arthur stars as Alice Sycamore, the stable family member of an offbeat clan of free spirits who falls for Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son of a snooty, wealthy family. Amidst a backdrop of confusion, the two very different families rediscover the simple joys of life. Based on the phenomenally successful Kaufman-Hart play, You Can’t Take It With You was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards(r) (1938 Best Picture, Best Director). Now fully restored in 4K, this heartwarming and timeless classic is perfect for every family.

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