You Can't Take It With You

Screening on Film
Directed by Frank Capra.
With Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart.
US, 1938, 35mm, black & white, 127 min.

Why this mania to film Kaufman and Hart’s play? Because it was a laugh riot? A Pulitzer Prize play? Of course. But I also saw something deeper, something greater. Hidden in You Can’t Take It With You was a golden opportunity to dramatize Love Thy Neighbor in living drama. What the world’s churches were preaching to apathetic congregations, my universal language of film might say more entertainingly to movie audiences [...].

The conflict: devour thy neighbor versus love thy neighbor. The weapons: a bankful of money against a houseful of love. The stakes: the future happiness of two young people, a Kirby son and a Vanderhof granddaughter; and more important, the viability of a lamb when confronted by a lion.

But, you may ask, can a defenseless lamb cope with a lion armed with fangs and claws and a willingness to use them? He can. And how he does was, for me, a new dramatic format that I used in practically all my future films.— FC

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