Friday, March 19, 2010

'You Can't Take it With You' Open Thread

What do you think?


  1. Well, I found it interesting the difference in tone comparing this film to some of Capra's later works. There is a lot more innocence here. It is a warm story, but being filmed in 1938, at the very opening of the Second World War in Europe, with the idea of war still a distant threat to America, there is a playfulness to even the dark characters. Just eight years later Jimmy Stewart, home from the war and ready to try to return to the movie industry, teamed with Capra for the now classic "It's A Wonderful Life". I think the differences both in Stewart as an actor and Capra as a director were significant.

    As to the story, what in the world was Tony Kirby (Stewart's charcter) thinking bringing his folks over to dinner at Alice's an evening early? That is a major oaf like move, to be sure. Alice is clearly upset and unable to present her family in the most favorable manner, which she quite rightly wanted to do. Embaressing her before his parents, making her feel awkward and ashamed of her own family, ended up with the Toe taking it on the chin, poor schmuck that he is.

    It's hard to watch this and not think of "It's a Wonderful Life", which though being an uplifting and innocent story, is still far more gritty than You Can't Take It With You.

    What did you think?

  2. Well, I did enjoy the movie, although at first I didn't think I would. Once the cartoonish characters became more life-like -- and once I adjusted to the more leisurely pacing of some of the scenes, I started to feel the affection that people seem to have had for this movies for 70 years. And I dearly loved seeing the "good guy" side to Lionel Barrymore -- he makes it easy to believe that everyone truly loved him.

    I expected the romantic comedy elements from all the descriptions, but I had no idea how significant the father-and-son love story would be. Kirby Sr. learns before it is too late (for everyone except the ruined Ramsey) how much more precious relationships are than "more money than you can use." (When we meet Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, he is too far past the point of being able to change, the bitterness, the hatred towards those who have what he had turned his back on, are too entrenched. It is, in some ways, a much darker movie, isn't it? But, then, America had been through some darker times than the Depression by then...)

    The eccentrics at Vanderhof's I found quite engaging, even plausible, after the initial introduction, except for the dancing sister (but I've always found Ann Miller too exuberantly in-your-face, so actually, she wasn't so bad in this). * And I liked that they weren't just a bunch of weird dilettantes in some mysteriously supported artists' colony, but rather people who had found a way to make a living doing what they loved.

    What was the significance of stressing that the cook's fiance was "on relief" ?

    I really liked the scene with the IRS agent, Vanderhof driving him batty with his "What do I get?" routine. And I loved the night-court judge. (Some of the political conversations were almost unnerving in their weird relevance -- but I'd have to watch them through again, to be able to offer anything coherent.)

    I've been thinking about the coming-on-the-wrong-night trick; I think it shows one side of the immaturity that Tony must be willing leave behind. He's used to getting his own way (ever since he was a baby) and he has to face the consequences of his putting what seemed like a good idea to him (I wanted them to see the real you; What they think doesn't matter.) ahead of someone else's very real concerns (I don't want [my mother-in-law] looking at me like a thief). The other side of that growing up he has to do, is to stop taking the easy way out, and face the risks in doing something that matters to him.) (Do you suppose this was the first "green" movie? :)

    * And the mom. She may have been just a little too dropped-on-her-head-as-a-baby-ish.

    How did they get that kitten to just sit on that stack of paper? And I'm really intrigued by Capra and the trained crows.

    Perhaps the best part, though, is my new favorite line:

    I feel so good, Life is running around inside of me like a squirrel!

  3. Would you have any interest in any old Hitchcock movies? Not the fright-fest type, but maybe one of the espionage or murder mysteries? I have only vague recollections of The Man Who Knew Too Much, but I liked Strangers on a Train and Rope, kind-of liked Vertigo, loved Rear Window, and... I think that might be all I've seen.

    Of course, we could transition more gently and try Arsenic and Old Lace!

    But then, perhaps you have something in mind?

  4. I believe the cook's fiance was getting government assistance, so he didn't want to leave New York for Connecticut unless he would still be getting relief there. They assured him he would.

    I was really impressed with Jean Arthur. She was so warm and engaging. And I loved it when she gave Tony what for in the kitchen, pointing (a knife!) at him while she was making her point, and then telling him to "Break the eggs, brilliant" or some such. It was very nice.

    Hitchcock would be great. Rear Window was very good, kind of creepy but well done. My favorite Hitchcock movies are the spy suspense stories. Notorious, To Catch A Thief and North By Northwest are all well worth seeing again. The Jane Austin stories are very good, and there are a number of good productions that could be seen again with pleasure, and I would include in that Becoming Jane as a period piece with a meaningful love story. There is an old classic by "The Archers" (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) that few people recall that I would love to get your opinion on, titled "I Know Where I'm Going", the Film Noir movies, of which Out Of The Past is the classic, Humphrey Bogart's Casablanca, To Have and Have Not and The African Queen, and a great many others. Also, we just observed St Paddy's Day, John Wayne had a fine performance in John Ford's The Quiet Man, and Eem Irish.

    After watching Splendor In The Grass, I had a hankering to see some of Natalie Wood's other work, and I should be getting Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice pretty soon. I also would like to see another Warren Beatty movie - It's been a long time since I last saw Bonnie and Clyde, and I've never seen Red's.

    Anything in there sound like fun?

  5. I think it takes me as long to pick a movie as to watch it! I'm having the best time, just working up my Queues for Netflix. (All the fun of shopping, none of the guilt!)

    So -- I've put Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice at the top of my dvd queue, but it will take a few days, since I'm sending one back today.

    In the meantime -- they've got I Know Where I'm Going as a watch-it-now. So I will! (Either this evening or tomorrow, that is.)

    They've got both Notorious and To Catch a Thief as dvd's ( I forgot to look for North by Northwest, but they probably have that too). Also a delicious assortment of Jane Austen pieces. I was thinking it might be fun to watch a couple of different movie versions of the same book, to see the different approaches, but I would need to re-read whichever book it was, so would want to plan it a little farther out. If that appeals to you, I'm fine with any book you want to do. If you'd rather not OD on Austen, they do have the Persuasion you mentioned, as a DVD, which I haven't seen.

    I know I'm forgetting something.

  6. I saw Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice last night. I think it really had potential to be funny, if the director was clear in his mind what he wanted to do with it. I thought if he was to lampoon the open mind mentality of the free love movement it could have been great fun, but unfortunately he seemed to somewhat embrace such thoughts, blind to the destructive aspects of living without the commitment that true intimacy requires, so to watch the Robert Culp character (Bob) guiding the Natalie Wood character (his wife Carol) into bad decision after bad decision was a tad hard for me to watch. Especially when you realize that she loves him and wants to support him, and he's a mixed up ass.

    Elliot Gould and Diane Cannon almost redeemed it. They were pretty funny as Bob and Carol's friends. I really enjoy Elliot Gould.

    But "I Know Where I'm Going"...with a young Wendy Hillar and Roger Livesay, now there is a hopeful film. It's been years, but I remember it fondly. I am most keen to watch it again and hear what you have to say about it. Let's put that one up for next!

  7. Great! I Know Where I'm Going it is. And I'm perfectly happy to ditch ol' Bob et al. But if you'd still like to see more of Natalie Wood, there's always Gypsy. ;)

    Oh -- I remembered what the other thing was -- movies set in Ireland. The only thing I remember of The Quiet Man is a (you've seen it, right?) fist-fight that staggers through the countryside. Obviously, a good one to watch as a dvd, so to enjoy the scenery on a larger screen. Do you want to line that up, or would you rather do a Hitchcock or Austen?

  8. Ah yes, we mustn't be forgetin poor Sean Thornton, and that tempestuous red head Irish lass that stole his heart and drove him to such madness. Sure now, I'm on the side of the angels. So then, be off with ya, first North to North Scotland and the Hebrides Islands, and you'd do well to watch it on a dark stormy night. And if not stormy, at least dark. Then sail South to that peaceful, emerald green country of our cousins across the sea.

    God bless all here.

  9. You found pictures! Jean Arthur was quite sweet-looking, wasn't she. And the movie poster-- "YOU'LL LOVE THEM ALL" -- what a hoot.