Monday, November 22, 2010

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

One of the best filmmakers of all time, Frank Capra, directed this week’s film recommendation.

Maybe you don’t know that name, or perhaps it does sound familiar but you can’t put a film title to it, but I’ll bet you’ve seen his work at least once – It’s a Wonderful Life?

While I could recommend that movie with all enthusiasm, as well as several others I’ve seen credited to Mr. Capra, the one I’d like to highlight this week hit theatres in 1938, starring Lionel Barrymore, Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart and many other recognizable faces.

It is You Can’t Take It With You.

For those of you wary of the classics, let me warn you that at first glance, this film appears nauseatingly cheesy – an easy label for most Capra films, actually.

However, if given a chance, You Can’t Take It With You will entertain, inspire, and touch your funny bone as well as your heart.

Patriarch, Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, acted by the great Lionel Barrymore, heads up an eccentric household. His flighty daughter is an amateur mystery writer, one of his granddaughters is an inspiring ballerina (sort of), the grandson-in-law hammers out sweet tunes on the xylophone, and the son-in-law makes fireworks in the basement. Most of this is happening at the same time, all of the time.

If I lived in a house like that, my brain would curdle with the chaos.

But Mr. Vanderhof takes it all in stride and ease. In fact, he’s so laid back, he’s not even that concerned about paying taxes, which he makes a point of never doing.

The main plot point, though, revolves around his other granddaughter Alice, played by Jean Arthur, who has fallen in love with her banker boss, Jimmy Stewart’s Tony Kirby, who reciprocates her affections. But would Tony’s rich parents approve?

A lot goes on in this movie, a comedy of errors of sorts. But underneath the clamor and chaos, several really good points emerge.

My favorite of them all is the importance of community. A certain kind of community, though, in which while sharing certain commonalities, the thing that makes everyone click are individualities and the absolute acceptance of each unique individual.

See, Alice encounters problems with Tony’s family partially because shame concerning her unconventional relatives seeps into her thoughts in light of the Kirby’s social status. I don’t think she means to feel that way, but the world’s pressures can be overwhelming. Resolution to her problems doesn’t start until she stops comparing and starts accepting.

The individuality emphasized here does not, however, advocate an anything goes policy. Decency still applies. Kindness and love are promoted and practiced. And respect for everyone, not the least of whom is God Almighty.

Like other Capra films, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and Arsenic and Old Lace, You Can’t Take It With You is an up-beat take on serious issues spotlighting courageous, faithful, patriotic characters who will inspire. The laughs are an extra bonus.

If you’d like to check out You Can’t Take It With You, TCM is showing it this Thursday, November 25th at 11:30AM (EST). Really, I can’t think of a better show than this to watch Thanksgiving Day.

Mr. Vanderof offers a couple of well-put prayers that sum up the attitude displayed in this movie. I’d like to wrap up today quoting one of them:

Well, Sir, here we are again. We’ve been getting along pretty good for quite a while now – we’re certainly much obliged. Remember all we ask is just to go along the way we are, keep our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we leave that up to you. Thank You.

Be blessed, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by


Anonymous said...

I've never seen this movie. Love your view on it, though.