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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

You Can't Take It With You (1938)



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In this brilliant screen adaptation of Kaufman and Hart's stage play of the same name, Jean Arthur plays Alice Sycamore, one of the only normal members of her eccentric family. She wants to marry her boss, Tony Kirby (Jimmy Stewart), but the class difference is an obstacle. The Kirby family is of the stereotypical stiff, humorless upper class. The two families make arrangements to have dinner, and Alice is worried sick that Tony's family won't approve of the engagement afterward.

I dare not give anything away, but suffice it to say that all heck breaks out. The chaos and havoc is a hoot, in the best tradition of the screwball comedies of the thirties. Sparkling dialogue, a breakneck pace, and the occasional quiet moment of profound introspection are all parts of what make this riotous film the classic that it is. (It even won a Best Picture Oscar, one of the few comedies to earn the honor.) Although the ensemble cast is superb throughout, keep an eye on Edward Arnold, who plays Tony's father. His moving performance is one of his best -- and central to the film's success.