on 1 March 2016
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU [1938 / 2015] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Release] The Great Pulitzer Play . . . Becomes The Year’s Outstanding Picture!
Academy Award® winner James Stewart [Best Actor for ‘The Philadelphia Story’ 1940], Jean Arthur, Academy Award® winner Lionel Barrymore [Best Actor for ‘A Free Soul’ 1931] and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. Jean 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 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart 1936 play, “You Can't Take It With You” was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards® [1938 Best Picture for Best Director]. Now fully restored in 4K, this heart-warming and timeless classic is perfect for every family.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nomination: Academy Awards®: Win: Outstanding Production for Columbia Pictures. Win: Best Director: Frank Capra. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress for Spring Byington. Nominated: Best Writing (Screenplay) for Robert Riskin. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Joseph Walker. Nominated: Best Film Editing for Gene Havlick. Nominated: Best Sound Recording or: Columbia Studio Sound Department for John P. Livadary [Sound Director]. ‘You Can't Take It With You’ was adapted as a radio play on the October 2, 1939 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Edward Arnold, Robert Cummings and Fay Wray.
Cast: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold, Mischa Auer, Ann Miller, Spring Byington, Samuel S. Hinds, Donald Meek, H. B. Warner, Halliwell Hobbes, Dub Taylor, Mary Forbes, Lillian Yarb, Eddie Anderson, Clarence Wilson, Charles Lane, Christian Rub, Bodil Rosing, Harry Davenport, Eugene Anderson Jr. (uncredited), Stanley Andrews (uncredited), Dorothy Babb (uncredited), Ward Bond (uncredited), Anne Cornwall (uncredited), Edgar Dearing (uncredited), Jim Farley (uncredited), Pat Flaherty (uncredited), Chuck Hamilton (uncredited), John Hamilton (uncredited), Edwin Maxwell (uncredited), Frank McLure (uncredited), Rosemary Theby (uncredited), Larry Wheat (uncredited), Bud Wiser (uncredited), Ian Wolfe (uncredited), Billy Wolfstone (uncredited) and Alex Woloshin (uncredited)
Director: Frank Capra
Producer: Frank Capra
Screenplay: Robert Riskin
Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Italian: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Spanish [Castilian]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese [Brazilian], Portuguese [Portugal], Spanish [Castilian], Spanish [Latin America], Swedish and Turkish
Running Time: 126 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Director Frank Capra was a superstar Hollywood director in the 1930s. He had a string of critically-acclaimed and successful pictures after joining Columbia Pictures and elevating the studio from “poverty row” to a force that competed with the big leagues. Two of Frank Capra’s Columbia movies won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Frank Capra became the first filmmaker to win the Oscar® for Best Director three times, all within five years. ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ was Frank Capra’s second Best Picture winner and his third Best Director achievement.
Sometimes his films have been called “Capra-corn,” because they are usually steeped in Americana, explore themes of social class inequality, feature casts of eccentric, but lovable protagonists and greedy, heartless villains, and contain stories about the Everyman’s struggle against the Establishment. Frank Capra was also one of the developers of the screwball comedy, in which mismatched couples, usually from different social classes, fall in and out and back in love.
‘You Can’t Take It With You’ was based on the Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, which was still playing in New York when the film opened. It’s a story with Frank Capra’s classic oddball characters and this time a whole family of them and their clash with the moneybags banking world, which was a hot topic in the Depression-weary 1930s.
“Grandpa” Martin Vanderhof [Lionel Barrymore] is the patriarch of a poor but extremely happy freedom-loving houseful of misfits that include his daughter Penelope "Penny" Sycamore [Spring Byington] as a pulp writer and painter, and her husband Paul Sycamore [Samuel S. Hinds] who is a maker of fireworks, his granddaughter Essie Carmichael [Ann Miller] as a would-be ballerina taking lessons from a mad Russian instructor Potap Kolenkhov [ Mischa Auer] and her husband Ed Carmichael [Dub Taylor] as a vibraphone player and printer, a couple of other hangers-on who create things in the basement Poppins [Donald Meek] and DePinna [Halliwell Hobbes], and the obligatory comic African-American maid and butler Rheba [Lillian Yarbo] and Donald [Eddie “Rochester” Anderson]. Oh, and then there’s the other granddaughter, Alice Sycamore [Jean Arthur], who is relatively normal and works as a secretary in the big bank building owned and run by Anthony P. Kirby [Edward Arnold], who wants to buy Grandpa’s house and land so that he can develop on it. Grandpa is the only holdout in the area and refuses to sell. The complication comes when Alice Sycamore and Anthony P. Kirby’s son Tony Kirby [James Stewart] in his first major role and first for Frank Capra and falls in love and want to marry. Socialite Mrs. Meriam Kirby [Mary Forbes] disapproves with such viciousness that she practically becomes the real villain of the piece.
Thus, the Frank Capra ingredients are all there, odd and funny characters, a conflict between upper and lower classes, and a screwball romance. Add in a healthy dose of Americana songs like “Polly Wolly Doodle” and you have a classic that in many ways still resonates today as a cautionary tale of greed. As the title states, you can’t take your money with you when you’re gone, so you might as well have fun and not worry about it while you’re here on earth.
The performances are first rate all, and the adaptation by Robert Riskin is superb, despite radical changes to the third act of the play. There are some very funny moments, such as when the Kirby’s come to the Vanderhof home for dinner on the wrong night, causing the nutty household to spring into action to accommodate them. Familiar-face Harry Davenport has a wonderful comic turn as a night court judge when everyone is thrown into the drunk tank for disorderly conduct and illegal manufacture of fireworks.
And yet, of Frank Capra’s most well-known pictures of the 1930s was ‘It Happened One Night;’ ‘Mr. Deeds Goes to Town;’ ‘Lost Horizon;’ ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ and this one, ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is perhaps the weakest. The problem is that it is slightly too long, at times ponderous, and it takes a while to get going. I do question whether or not it really was the Best Picture of 1938 and other nominees such as ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood,’ ‘Grand Illusion’ and ‘Boys Town’ may have been more deserving. Though other films in Frank Capra's repertoire have eclipsed it over the years, its simple yet important themes continue to strike a chord, and its earnest, winning performances enhance the story's underlying warmth. Many who watch it might detect a hint of old fashioned home spun philosophy, but for the most part, this engaging, often goofy, and occasionally sentimental ensemble piece is honest, straightforward, and wise...all hallmarks of one of the finest directors of Hollywood's Golden Age.
Finally, in the Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook you have the Frank Capra’s forward from the 1938 souvenir programme, where he quotes:
“When I saw the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart stage play, “You Can’t Take It With You,” I was convinced that here is one of the finest comedy-dramas of our time – a great idea told through comedy.
Any story or play with universal appeal, with a theme that reaches into the hearts and minds of humanity, makes for great screen entertainment.
These fundamental qualities are present in an unusual degree in “You Can’t Take It With You.” That is why I believe the picturization of this delightful story will have widespread appeal to everyone everywhere. – Frank Capra
Which sums up the film 100% and especially as it is a Frank Capra film, that always has magical image quality and one of the best directors to come out of America, as his films are always a joy to watch and makes you want to actually meet the characters in the real life and shake their hands and say, “well done, you was totally enthralling and entertaining, and you deserve all the plaudits for your performance in this film.”
Blu-ray Video Quality – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings us this classic film ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ that has been “digitally restored and remastered” in 4K and offered up on Blu-ray in an encoded 1080p image that looks quite remarkable given the 1938 vintage of the film. Source damage is minimal, and while the grain structure does look quite coarse, it is organic and filmic. The Black-and-White photography looks striking, with strong contrast and only the slightest hint of crush in some of the blacks. The restorative efforts have delivered elements that are largely free of any major cases of damage, and aside from some very minor wobbliness at some transition points, which I assume may be "joins" between the various sources, and there are no other issues of image instability. According to the liner notes, the 4K restoration of 'You Can't Take It With You' "proved to be a complicated mix and match of sources" due to the film's horrible state of disrepair and lack of any original camera negative. Moments of softness come and go, and - typical of the time - close-ups flaunt a diffused gauzy quality, but considering what the restorers had to work with, this is quite an admirable effort that rightfully honours this Oscar-winning film.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings us this classic film ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ in the original monaural soundtrack sounds about as good as it can for a recording from 1938 in this 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track on Blu-ray. It is basically clean and free from excessive noise, and is very intelligible. While obviously unable to overcome the technological limitations of the original recording, the track is decently clear, with good prioritisation. Strangely enough, 'You Can't Take It With You' received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Sound Recording, despite the fact that aside from an explosive fireworks sequence in the film, it contains few showy sonic moments. The dynamic range is limited and there's not much resonance to the track, but it serves the material well and does its job without incident.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Frank Capra, Jr. and Author Cathrine Kellison: The director's son, Frank Capra, Jr., delivered an astute and engrossing commentary for Sony's 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' release a year ago, but he and cohort Cathrine Kellison drop the ball here, providing a dreadfully dull, uninspired track that's only rarely enlivened by a few choice anecdotes and observations. The pair spends too much time watching and reacting to the action on screen and their incessant laughter wears thin very quickly, and merely scratches the surface regarding production details, cast and crew biographies, and narrative themes. Frank Capra, Jr. sprinkles in a few colourful stories and the best of which focuses on the adversarial relationship between his dad and Columbia studio chief Harry Cohn, quotes from his father's writings, and cites some differences between the play and its film adaptation, but Frank Capra, Jr. and Cathrine Kellison struggle to sustain listener interest over the course of this two-hour-plus film. But despite this situation, there is some other interesting information about this film from Frank Capra, Jr. and Author Cathrine Kellison, like they point out that the name of Frank Capra’s name is above the title of the film and they talk about the composer Dimitri Tiomkin who Frank Capra, Jr. tells us that he use to visit their home regular and found his strong Russian accent very amusing. We are also informed when we first see Jimmy Stewart, that he was a very young 30 year old in this film, who originally was training to be an architecture and his Father had a hardware store and was contemplating to go back and work in his Father’s store, but of course fate propelled him into a very prominent actor. We find out that in the original Broadway play, there were only 19 characters that appear throughout the play, but in the film, Frank Capra had it extended to over 153 character actors. We also find out that Lionel Barrymore had crippling arthritis, that is why his character is always with crutches, which was brought into the story line, but over time his arthritis got even worse with his follow up film, he had to play out his character in a wheelchair. We also find out that Ann Miller was only 14 years of age in this film, but told the studio that she was 18 years of age. With the main scenes in the lounge, if you look carefully you will see dotted around all the walls only have photos of Jean Arthur, which is not really explained why this was. They talk about Jean Arthur who was known to be paralysed with stage fright, but in this film you see her look so comfortable, but unbeknown to us is that Jean Arthur would always throw up in her dressing room before appearing on the film set, so to calm her down, Frank Capra would work on her beforehand to boost her confidence, which seem to calm her down, but deep down jean Arthur felt that she was not a very good actress. At one point in the film when Jimmy Stewart and his Parents arrive without warning to the house, but instead of talking about this part in the film, Frank Capra, Jr. decides to ramble on about something I have mentioned in the next special feature, where Frank Capra had a falling out with Harry Cohen and Frank Capra, Jr. just goes on and on to total boredom and does like the sound of his own voice, and should of stuck to talking about unknown facts about the film. Despite this little bit of boredom it was quite an interesting audio commentary and they both sure make out they love the film. Their remarks most of the tie are well intentioned and appropriately reverent, but the lack of some sort of focus at times and also the lack of further information regarding the film and their sort of enthusiasm makes this track only a meagre 50% success, still it is entirely up to you to decide whether you fancy hearing their ramblings and agree with the information I have informed you, as their remarks are well intentioned and appropriately reverent, but definitely lacks any kind of focus, and if they were still at school, their report would say, “they could do better.”
Special Feature: Frank Capra, Jr. Remembers . . . ‘You Can’t Take It With You’  [1080i] [1.78:1] [25:42] This breezy yet intimate special feature begins with Frank Capra, Jr. recalling his parents taking a trip to Europe and especially England and when he visited the London office, and found out his name was linked with a film that was a total flop and his name splashed all over the cinema posters and other printed material advertising the film ‘If You Could Only Cook’ and was seething with anger. So immediately flew back to Hollywood to berate Harry Cohen, especially informing what he did was wrong and wanted his contract with them cancelled, but was warned it would be a breach of his contract and wanted a lawsuit between his father Frank Capra and Columbia Pictures, but with a total bluff from both sides, eventually Harry Cohen caved in and visited Frank Capra in his home to eat humble pie, and in doing so resulted in the studio acquiring the rights to 'You Can't Take It With You' and for Frank Capra to start working on this film. It then covers such topics as the film's themes, the casting of James Stewart, and how director Frank Capra opened up the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart 1936 play, balanced comedy with meaning and messages, and paid close attention to small details and minor character actors. Though it concludes with a seemingly irrelevant and funny anecdote about Frank Capra's affinity for tennis, in thinking he was the best, especially with one particular tennis match, where unknown to him, he was duped into playing a game with a well know professional French tennis player, which people in the crowd knew of this situation, in the end of course Frank Capra found out about the joke and had a good laugh about it. All in all this is a worthwhile piece that reflects on the humour and humanity that distinguish Frank Capra's best works. We also get contributions from Richard Peña [Associate Professor of Film at Columbia University] and Jeanine Basinger [Curator of the Frank Capra Archives, Wesleyan University]. But what was nice is right at the end, we get a nice dedication that reads as follows:
And of course, a very special thank you to Frank Capra, Jr. His good-natured flexibility, prodigious memory, grace, dignity, and humour are at the core of this project. Mr. Capra’s quiet devotion to and respect for his father’s life and work continue to keep the Capra flame and name burning bright.
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [1.37:1] [1:00] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU.’ More of a teaser than a trailer, this preview also includes snippets from previous Frank Capra's successes, which includes excerpts from ‘It Happened One Night;’ ‘Mr. Deeds Goes To Town’ and ‘Lost Horizon,’ and premieres what a genius Frank Capra was as a director.
BONUS: This beautiful collectible Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook Blu-ray packaging contains a thorough essay entitled “The Making of ‘YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU’ by Jeremy Arnold. You also get extensive Key Credit Film Lists of James Stewart; Jean Arthur; Lionel Barrymore and Frank Capra. You also get information on the restoration of ‘YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU’ in 4K by Grover Crisp. Plus load of beautiful black-and-white production stills and extensive credits information.
Finally, ‘YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU’ is a beautiful timeless classic film filled with laughs and humour that is still relevant today. The running social commentary on wealth and class disparities is far from subtle, but certainly in tune with the day. It is also a lovely piece of escapist fare, an amusing screwball comedy with a bit of serious subtext which seems simplistic by today’s standards and informed specifically by the period in which it transpires. Bottom line, it’s a must for all cinephiles fans, especially Frank Capra fans, like me, also any Jimmy Stewart enthusiasts, and lovers of glorious Black-and-White films. The film contains wonderful performances from a cast that includes bubbly Jean Arthur and James Stewart as her drawling fiancé, and also a vast comic talent on display from all the other characters in the film. If you haven't seen it, then make a point of catching this Frank Capra classic, as it is a joy to behold and will entrance you forever, as I think it is a totally brilliant film and a great honour to have it in my ever increasing Frank Capra Blu-ray Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom