Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: You Can't Take It With You

A sweet ol' movie about by Frank Capra about doing what you want and love, and how the Lord will provide. Set on the cusp/midst of the Depression, the story concerns a wealthy investor (Edward Arnold), desperate to get his hands on that last plot on a block that will complete his "big deal."

The house happens to belong to a very unconventional family, led by an untraditional grandfather (Lionel Barrymore) with no interest in selling out. In fact, he'd left the business world behind 35 years earlier to "do what I want," including collecting stamps, playing the harmonica and not paying his taxes. His daughter (Spring Byington) writes plays in the middle of the living room, her husband concocts fireworks in the basement, their daughter (Ann Miller) makes candy and dances around the house in ballet costume, her husband (Dub Taylor) makes up tunes by Chopin on the vibraphone, and the daughter's ballet instructor stops by for dinner regularly.

The other daughter (Jean Arthur) is the most straight-laced of the family. She works as a secretary for - coincidentally - the investor's son and vice president of his corporation (James Stewart). The two are in love and want to marry. Of course, the girl's family is happy and enthusiastic. The corporate magnate and his wife (Mary Forbes) are dead-set against it, thinking the the fiancee is gold-digging.

As comic mayhem goes on, it's interesting to see the interaction between Arthur and Stewart and compare it to to their interaction in another Capra film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Likewise, comparing Stewart's interaction with Barrymore, the "scurvy old spider," in Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is also fun.

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