You Can’t Take It With You (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 9, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic. Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 1939, renewed 1968 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: You Can’t Take It With You
YEAR OF FILM: 1938
DURATION: 126 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, black and white, English 1.0 DTS-HD MA, French, German, Italian, Spanish Monoraul, Subtitles: English, Arabic, Czech, Dutch Fininish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Turkish
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: December 8, 2014
Directed by Frank Capra
Based on the Play by George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart
Screenplay by Robert Riskin
Produced by Frank Capra
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography by Joseph Walker
Edited by Gene Havlick
Art Direction by Stephen Goosson
Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore
Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof
James Stewart as Tony Kirby
Edward Arnold as Anthony P. Kirby
Mischa Auer as Kolenkhov
Ann Miller as Essie Carmichael
Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore
Samul S. Hinds as Paul Sycamore
Donald Meek as Poppins
H.B. Warner as Ramsey
Halliwell Hobbes as DePinna
Dub Taylor as Ed Charmichael
Mary Forbes as Mrs. Anthony Kirby
Lillian Yarbo as Rheba
Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Donald
Clarence Wilson as John Blakely
Josef Swickard as Professor
Academy Award(r) winner James Stewart (1940 Best Actor, The Philadelphia Story), Jean Arthur, Academy Award(r) winner Lionel Barrymore (1931 Best Actor, A Free Soul) and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. 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 Kaufman-Hart play, You Can’t Take It With You was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards(r) (1938 Best Picture, Best Director). Now fully restored in 4K, this heartwarming and timeless classic is perfect for every family.
As the legendary Frank Capra was known to churn out box office hits and win several Academy Awards with films such as “It Happened One Night”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, “Lost Horizon”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.
While Frank Capra and James Stewart have had a wonderful work collaboration, it began in 1938 with the romantic comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” and the first collaboration between Stewart and Jean Arthur (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”).
While the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards (and winning two Academy Awards for “Best Picture” and “Best Director”) and was the highest grossing picture of 1938, the film would continue to elevate Frank Capra’s career as a filmmaker as the film was his third Oscar for “Best Director” in five years.
The film is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play (of the same name) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and was released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2015 and the film has received a full restoration in 4K and will be released as a Digibook, with rare behind-the-scenes photos and an all-new essay about the making of the film.
The film begins with an introduction of wealthy banker Anthony P. Kirby (portrayed by Edward Arnold), who has returned from Washington D.C. after being granted a government-sanctioned munitions monopoly, which will make him and his partners even more wealthy. But he needs to buy the property within a 12-block radius around a competitor’s factory in order to put them out of business, and as all owners were quick to sell, only one has resisted, no matter how much money they are offered.
Kirby tells his real estate broker, John Blakely (portrayed by Clarence Wilson) to cause trouble for the family in order to get them to move.
Meanwhile, his son Tony (portrayed by James Stewart) is the vice-president and possibly successor to the family’s business. Tony is in love with the company’s stenographer, Alice Sycamore (portrayed by Jean Arthur) and wants to marry her.
When Tony’s mother (portrayed by Mary Forbes) sees him flirting and kissing Alice, Alice is scared because she feels that her parents will look at her family as poor and not want Tony to marry her. But Tony doesn’t care, he wants to marry her.
Alice also turns out to be the granddaughter of Grandpa Vanderhof (portrayed by Lionel Barrymore), the patriarch who is holding out of selling his home to the Kirby’s (Tony is unaware of this).
At the Vanderhof home, this is where many people live and do experiments for their inventions. It’s also the home that Vanderhof does not want to sell because it’s where he and his deceased wife had lived, and will never let the home go.
Meanwhile, without Alice’s knowledge, Tony has his parents come to her home and visit her parents. But unfortunately, the home is in disarray and it leads to more trouble for both sides of the family.
“You Can’t Take It With You” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic as white and grays are well-contrast while black levels are sharp. The film shows amazing clarity on Blu-ray showcases the detail of the film in high definition.
The print features the digital restoration that was done by Sony Colorworks in 2013 and the digital pictures were frame by frame digitally restored and dirt, tears, scratches and artifacts were removed. I personally did not notice any damage to the film and was very content with the beautiful picture quality of this classic film.
Comparing to the original DVD releases that I’ve had, clarity is evident. Sharpness was evident, along with the black levels which were inky and deep. There is a good amount of grain throughout the entire film and no doubt, this is the definitive version of “You Can’t Take It With You” in terms of picture quality!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is presented in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. The monaural lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss, crackle or any popping.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish and Thai.
“You Can’t Take it With You” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and author Cathrine Kellison.
- Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “You Can’t Take It With You” – (25:37) Frank Capra Jr. talks about his father and his father working on “You Can’t Take It With You”.
- Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “You Can’t Take It With You”.
“You Can’t Take It With You” comes in a digibook package with 28-pages. Featuring photos from the film plus “The Making of You Can’t Take It With You” essay by Jeremy Arnold plus an ultraviolet code for the film
When “You Can’t Take It With You” was released in theaters, there was a lot of speculation of how the film would hold up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning play.
If anything, becoming the box office hit of 1938 and also earning seven Academy Award nominations, suffice to say, “You Can’t Take It With You” was a major success. And for many film critics, the majority were positive about the film adaptation but with those who were passionate about the original play, were the main viewers to criticize the film for not being a 100% faithful adaptation.
I personally enjoyed Frank Capra’s “You Can’t Take It With You”. In a historical cinema sense, both James Stewart and Jean Arthur had amazing chemistry which would get even better with each Capra film afterward.
It’s also one of the more joyful romantic comedy’s from Frank Capra considering that his films later in the ’30s become more darker, but the film does have a little touch of darkness but not as much as we would see later in Capra’s films.
The film has its moments where the character Martin Vanderhof is presented with doses of reality, that wealth is not everything and when you go on the path of not caring, bad things can happen.
But as Lionel Barrymore did a wonderful job as playing the elder Vanderhof, as did Edward Arnold did in playing Anthony P. Kirby, with a large cast, the film does rely on the talent of James Stewart and Jean Arthur.
From their tender moments and scenes of flirtation early in the film, as Martin holds on to Alice’s hand, while the phone is ringing. She answers the phone by using her teeth on the telephone cord. It’s a scene that you just don’t see happen in Hollywood films.
But the film and future films would escalate the popularity of James Stewart as an actor and as for Jean Arthur, cementing her role as the “Queen of Screwball Comedy”. Both were true professionals and for Jean Arthur who looked as natural onscreen, is surprising that in reality, during the time of the film and even later in her career, had extreme stage fright during production, which Capra would write about in his autobiography.
But for Capra fans, the film is entertaining but as Screwball Comedy fans of the 1930’s, the film is truly heightened by its significant collaborations.
While I have owned various versions of “You Can’t Take It With You” throughout the years, this is no doubt the best version to date. Fully restored in 4K, the picture quality looks absolutely amazing. The film is sharp, white and grays are well contrast and black levels are nice and deep. I saw no blemishes while watching this film (which I was expecting, considering the restoration that took place in 2013) and I was absolutely pleased with the overall look of the film. The lossless soundtrack is in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. The special features includes a wonderful documentary but also good insight of the making of the film courtesy of Capra’s son, Frank Capra Jr.
And last, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is released in digibook format with 28-pages and for anyone who is not familiar with digibook, they look like a book. There are pages, but at the front and back is where the Blu-ray’s are inserted. Also, digibooks are released for a short time and are often changed to the usual Blu-ray casing later on. If you are a digibook collector, you will definitely want to get this film when it’s released.
Overall, “You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic. Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!
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