Tuesday, September 12, 2006

1938 You can't take it with you

Stars: Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Ann Miller

Before there was "It's a wonderful life" and "Mr Smith goes to Washington", there was "You can't take it with you". Those on low-carb diets should avoid the saccharine that this movie represents. Don't get me wrong, I love Frank Capra. Despite being Sicilian, he is the quintessential American film-maker whose movies are somewhat wholesome, but brimming full with messages of good will and niceties.

James Stewart became the poster-boy for Capra films, encapsulating all that American audiences wanted to see on their silver screens. His charming, and somewhat goofy, demeanour ensured his success with ordinary people. Not being classically good-looking, and with a unique timbre to his voice, he is often the apple-pie romantic lead. This movie is yet another vehicle for this yearning for innocence by movie-makers.

Barrymore is delightful as the kooky grandfather, whose simple manner belies a great depth of people and the pleasure that life should bring. Of course, it is all too easy to say that the rich are evil and heartless, and those with less, are obviously more in touch emotionally. But in the world of Capra, this distinction is what drives the movie vehicle. I enjoyed Jean Arthur's presence on the screen, and her ability to cope with the snobbery of Stewart's screen parents, and the idiocy of her own relations. Ann Miller annoyed me no end. Her character was meant to be creative and unique, but I just found her socially incompetent and annoying.

One of the other contenders for that year's Oscar was "Boys Town", for which Spencer Tracey won the Best Actor Award (plus a few other awards). There are reviewers who feel that this movie is Capra's masterpiece, I have to disagree. But maybe a movie where everything turns out ok, is just too Hollywood for my taste.


Blogger Chai said...

Where do you find all these old movies?

Friday, January 05, 2007 7:32:00 am  
Blogger Cath said...

Amazon.com and I are great friends.....

Sunday, January 21, 2007 5:50:00 pm  
Blogger coffeesnob said...

cath, you are a clever woman. but saying an american film is "too hollywood" is just dumb. susan sontag dumb.

is that you lurking in the foyer of the astor with a choc-top in each hand?

capra is best as a writer of light energetic comedies, like it happened one night. he got a bit didactic when he decided he had to make the world safe for democracy.

Friday, June 08, 2007 4:04:00 pm  

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